Easy At Home Activity Ideas For Pre-Schoolers, From A Mum Who Hated Crafting

August 15, 2020

During lockdown, like everyone else, I suddenly found that all our go-to activities were not an option and we had to find things to do at home. 

I hit Pinterest hard, saving all the craft ideas I could find that would be suitable for my 3.5 year old and then I set about ordering ALL the supplies on Amazon. We had never been into crafting, I’m just not that kind of parent but lockdown forced me to find new things for us to do at home. Nothing you’re going to see here is difficult or requires supplies you can’t easily pick up at the supermarket or on Amazon. 

Even though lockdown is lifting and we have a little more freedom (depending where you live of course) I thought I would share some of our favourite activities because it’s one of the things we’re going to keep as part of our ‘new normal’. 

One of our very first activities was to make a rainbow elephant out of a milk carton and tissue paper.

You will you need:

  • empty milk carton with the bottom half cut off 
  • torn up tissue paper 
  • PVA glue 
  • stick on eyes 

This was a sensory activity aimed more at Taya (15 months old at the time) but Amelia had just as much fun with it, the idea was to use scoops and tweezers to get the pom poms out of the rubber bands. You could ask you child to match them up by colour or size to keep the activity going a little longer. 

You will need:

  • muffin tray 
  • coloured pom poms in various sizes
  • elastic bands large enough to stretch over the tray 
  • scoops (we use measuring spoons) and children’s tweezers
  • bowls/jars/containers to put the pom poms in 

To keep a memory of all our activities during Lockdown we made a craft wall, all our crafty makes were stuck up on a wall in the play room and we made these 2020 pieces to go at the top. Something to remember this time. I found colouring number pages on Google Images and printed them out at home. You could do your child’s name, a special date for your family or something simple like ‘art’ ‘play’ ‘create’ to give a heading to their creative space.

Amelia had the choice of how she wanted to decorate them to keep her interested in the activity longer. 

You will need:

  • numbers or letters cut out on paper or card
  • your choice of decorating materials, we used: paint, cotton bud sticks to make paint dots, glitter, colouring pens, blow pens. 

This is a nice quick way to make painting a little more fun; add small drops of paint all over the paper and then use a ruler or comb to drag the paint down the paper to make a rainbow pattern. Beware of excess paint at the bottom of the paper, wear an apron or old clothes. 

You will need:

  • paper or card
  • washable paint in various colours
  • ruler or comb 

Make holiday decorations; ours were made for Easter but you can do any season holiday or birthday/anniversary or just decorations to brighten up your home. I hand drew out the shape of eggs and bunnies and glued the paper to some cardboard I’d saved from recycling boxes. 

We decorated them all differently to keep it interesting; we used: wool, sticky tapes, feathers, pom poms, gems, paints, glitter glue pens, pipe cleaners. 

You will need:

  • paper or card cut out in your desired shapes
  • any craft items you want to use to decorate your shapes 
  • ribbon or string to hang them up 

Sensory painted rice play, this was an activity I put together for Taya but in hindsight its just a mess with a really little one so we now only play with the rice with Amelia (during Taya’s naps). I painted the rice the night before and then hid puzzle pieces in the rice for them to dig out and make up the puzzles. 

Amelia also likes to use the rice for scooping and pouring, pretending to bake and mix cakes. 

You will need:

  • large bag of cheapest rice from supermarket
  • zip lock bags
  • washable paint 

Add rice to bag, pour in paint and seal the bag. Shake, rub, squeeze until the rice is all covered in the paint. Add more paint if you want a deeper colour. Leave bag open to dry, periodically shake bag to get the rice all mixed up and allow the rice at the bottom to dry. 

  • tray or large bowl to pour rice into 
  • puzzle pieces, small toys to hide
  • scoops
  • bowls/jars/containers
  • bags of patience to clean it all up afterwards 

Tissue paper jellyfish, this one was really good fun and was the reason I bought some of the supplies that we then used for other activities. 

You will need:

  • paper plates – cut the bottom off
  • hole punch to make holes along the bottom
  • tissue paper 
  • PVA glue 
  • wool/string/ribbon
  • stick on eyes 

Rainbow salt jars, this one is quite self explanatory but really good fun and looks really effective when finished. We’ve kept ours, up on a shelf in the play room and they still look really cool after months in the sunshine. 

You will need:

  • table salt, a lot of it
  • zip lock bags 
  • washable paint 

Pour the salt into the bags and pour in the paint. Seal the bags and shake, squeeze until all the rice is covered in paint. Open the bags to allow to dry over night. 

  • plastic cups or containers to pour the salt into to make it easier to scoop 
  • scoops or spoons 
  • jar to pour the salt into and keep

Toilet roll flowers, using empty loo rolls and paint cut the ends and flatten them back to make petals of the flowers, dip and print, layering the colours or just stick to one colour. I’ve also seen this done with white paint on black card and it’s very effective. 

Amelia added a stem using her finger in the paint and then also sprinkled glitter over the flower head to make it sparkly once it dried. 

You will need:

  • toilet roll insert, one roll for every colour of paint you want to use 
  • paper plates to pour paint on to 
  • washable paints
  • paper or card 
  • glitter (optional)

Tissue paper sunshine, you could do this with any shape you can think of but we kept it simple with a sun using a paper plate. 

You will need:

  • paper plate 
  • tissue paper
  • PVA glue 
  • strips of coloured paper or card for the rays 

We also used a few craft kits during lockdown to fill the gaps where my ideas were running dry. This was a wind chime kit I picked up in Tesco and it contained everything we needed to make four chimes. 

Kit contains:

  • wooden shapes
  • foam stick ons 
  • paints 
  • string 
  • chimes 

Rainbows were a big thing during lockdown but they’re also just really pretty and fun to make so they don’t have to be just for global pandemics. I used a google images rainbow colouring print out but if you’re good at drawing you could just draw your own rainbow and clouds. 

You will need:

  • rainbow drawn on paper or card
  • glue stick 
  • cut out squares of coloured paper or tissue paper 
  • pom poms 

Make jewellery with beads or pasta, this was meant to be a painted pasta activity but painting pasta is harder than it sounds and mine didn’t go well so I ordered a bead kit from amazon that came with elastics and loads of different shape beads. 

We made necklaces and bracelets, even a hair band that Amelia gifted to a friend for their birthday. 

You will need:

  • elastic or string 
  • beads or coloured pasta 

There’s something really special about art using prints so this finger print dandelion is one of my favourites we have made. Using washable paint put finger prints on the tips of each dandelion stem until all the stems are coloured. 

I found the dandelion print on Pinterest and printed it out at home. 

You will need:

  • dandelion print 
  • washable paints

Fairy potions was an activity that Amelia loved so much she’s asked to do it over and over again. This is an outdoor activity if you have that option because it can get quite messy. 

Using washable paint and diluting it with water in jars, then using cups, spoons, scoops to pour into bowls and add ribbons, petals, grass anything you can find to add to a fairy potion. 

Amelia will play with this for hours, mixing the colours together, watching them change as she adds more of each shade, waiting for the petals to sink to the bottom and then try to scoop them out, pouring from one bowl to another. This activity normally ends when all the paint has been spilled on the patio and there’s nothing left to play with. 

You will need:

  • jars and bowls 
  • washable paint 
  • water
  • scoops, spoons
  • real flowers/grass/ribbon/fake flowers/petals – anything you want to add 


Have a tea party with all the teddies and dolls and add some real food for snacks or lunch. Amelia loves a tea party, she could do this all day everyday and I think she has more fun setting it all up than anything else. She likes to make sure every toy has their own plate and their own food. So sweet. 

You will need:

  • teddies/dollys/toys
  • pretend play food and cups/plates 
  • some real food and snacks to add so you can also enjoy the game, why should the toys have all the cake?

Another sensory activity for younger ones, putting pipe cleaners/feathers/spaghetti through the holes of a colander and letting them try to get them out again. For older children you could ask them to match colours or make shapes with the pipe cleaners once they have been removed from the colander. 

You will need:

  • colander
  • pipe cleaners or anything else you want to use

Painting rocks and stones has been a really fun activity during lockdown, you can leave them outside for other people to see or collect or keep them in your own garden.

You will need:

  • stones
  • washable paint and brushes 

Egg box flower mobile, using the base of an empty egg carton and decorating it however you like. We used paint, gems, glitter, pens, blow pens. Once they were all painted and dry we hung them on strong to make a mobile. 

You will need:

  • egg carton
  • paint/pens/glitter etc
  • string 
  • lolly sticks 
  • PVA glue 

Nature faces; we collected flowers and leaves whilst on a family walk and used them to make the hair on different faces. They lasted a few days before the flowers wilted and died. 

You will need:

  • flowers and leaves 
  • paper or card
  • pens
  • PVA glue 

This is our most special piece of artwork made during lockdown, it has pride of place right the top of our lockdown art wall; our family handprints. 

This is a piece that takes time; each person’s print need to dry before you do the next so it requires a little patience which can be hard for children especially when they’re the last to take their turn. 

To add the words, I used my laptop, wrote out the words in Word and found a font I liked. Tipped the screen back as far as it would go and gently traced the letters onto the paper using the light from the screen to help me see through the paper and trace. I then used a normal pencil to shade in the letters. If you have beautiful handwriting then you could do this freehand but I didn’t want to ruin our hand prints and have to convince my husband to do it all over again. 

You will need: 

  • paper or card
  • washable paint 
  • pencil/pen to add your family name or quote 

That’s all our favourite at home activities that have help to keep us busy and sane during lockdown. I hope this list can give some idea and inspire you with some really simple activities that we have all really enjoyed. 

Rachel xx 

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