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Screen-free Toddler Activities for when You're Stuck Inside

I am all about gearing up and getting some fresh air whenever possible, but when bad weather keeps you and your toddler indoors, it can be challenging to keep them entertained without resorting to screens. While tablets and TVs are easy go-tos, there are plenty of screen-free activities that can engage your little one's mind, stimulate their creativity, and burn off some energy. From imaginative play, to gross motor games to simple crafts and sensory play, this blog will dive into a BUNCH of fun and educational indoor activities designed specifically for toddlers. These ideas will not only keep your child amused without digital devices but also foster their developmental skills in exciting and interactive ways.

All links in the blog post are affiliate links, which means I make a percentage off your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Games & Imaginative Play

When the great outdoors isn’t an option, transforming your living space into a playground of imagination and activity is a fantastic way to keep your toddler engaged! Here are some creative games and play ideas that will turn a dreary day inside into an exciting adventure for you and your toddler:

Indoor Snowball Fight

Who says you need real snow for a snowball fight? Create soft, safe “snowballs” from white socks or purchase plush snowball toys online. Set up barricades with pillows or furniture and let the fun begin! This activity is not only fun but it also helps toddlers develop their motor skills and hand-eye coordination as they aim and dodge.

Creating an Obstacle Course

Build an indoor obstacle course using items from around the house. Cushions, boxes, and chairs can become tunnels to crawl through, mountains to climb, or hurdles to jump over. This setup is perfect for physical development and teaches toddlers problem-solving as they figure out how to navigate the course. Just be sure to supervise closely to keep the play safe and fun!

Scavenger Hunt

Create a simple scavenger hunt tailored to your toddler’s understanding and mobility. Use pictures if they’re not yet reading and hide items around the house for them to find. Each item can be a clue leading to the next, and maybe even ending in a small prize or trea! This activity not only stirs up excitement but also sharpens their observational skills and understanding of relationships between objects.

Building a Fort

What’s more magical than a fort built from blankets and furniture? Drape sheets over chairs or a table to create a secret hideaway for your toddler. Inside the fort, you can read stories, have a snack, or play with toys, making it a cozy nook for quiet time or imaginative play. Building the fort together can be a bonding activity, encouraging teamwork and creativity. (Once you have your fort built, it might be the perfect thing to use for your indoor snowball fight!)

These activities are perfect for keeping your toddler active and letting their imagination soar, even when you're both stuck indoors. Each game provides more than just entertainment—it fosters essential developmental skills and creates joyful memories that both of you will cherish.

Sensory Play

Sensory activities are GREAT for a toddler's development, helping them explore and understand the world through touch, sight, smell, and movement. When outdoor adventures aren't an option, there are plenty of ways to engage your toddler’s senses indoors. Here are some fun and educational sensory activities that you can set up right in your living room or bathroom:

Sensory Bin

Create a sensory bin by filling a large container with items like rice, beans, or pasta. Add scoops, small cups, or toys for scooping and pouring. You can also theme your sensory bin with items like ocean creatures for a sea adventure or farm animals for a barnyard experience. It's also fun to create a sensory bin themed for the season or current holiday. Sensory bins help develop fine motor skills, encourage imaginative play, and can be a calming activity for many toddlers. Addy has LOVED every time I've created a sensory bin for her.

Bringing the Water Table Inside

Water tables are typically used outside, but you can definitely move the fun inside too! We used a kiddie pool, which was PERFECT for keeping all the water in. Fill the table with water and various water toys. You can add bubbles, small floating objects, or even washable paint for extra fun. Water play is not only so entertaining for your little one but also excellent for teaching concepts like empty/full, float/sink, and cause and effect as they watch the water move through the different elements of the table.

Fun Bath Time

If you don't have a water table, you can still create some water play for your toddler! Turn bath time into a play session with bath toys, bubbles, water-safe light-up toys, and fun ambient lighting. Introduce washable bath crayons for your toddler to draw on the tub walls, fostering creativity and fine motor skills. You can also add different household items like colanders and cups for experimenting with

water flow. Make it educational by talking about shapes, and colors, and commenting about the different toys they're playing with. Check out my Bathtime Amazon List with all my FAVORITE bath toys that Addy loves (and honestly ones that I love too!).

Bringing Snow Inside

If it's snowing outside, bring some of the winter magic indoors. Fill a large tub with snow and let your child play with it using gloves or mittens. They can scoop it, mold it, or even paint it with colored water in squirt bottles. This activity is a great way to explore temperature and texture changes, offering a unique sensory experience!

Indoor Gross Motor Toys

When the weather keeps you indoors, it's crucial to find ways for your toddler to burn off energy and develop their gross motor skills. Gross motor activities involve the large muscles of the body and are essential for overall health and physical development. Here are some toys that will keep your little one moving and grooving safely inside your home:

Click the picture below to quickly check out each of the items listed below!

Dance Party

Turn up the tunes and throw a dance party right in your living room! Dancing is not only a fantastic way to have fun and bond, but it also helps toddlers improve their coordination, rhythm, and motor skills. You can make it educational by playing freeze dance or using songs with instructions like "jump," "spin," or "crawl." This would also be the perfect opportunity to use a Toniebox. Addy LOVES hers and it's perfect because it lets your toddler control the music!

Tunnel Tent

A tunnel tent or play tunnel stimulates adventure and exploration. Toddlers love crawling through these, and doing so helps develop their spatial awareness and muscle control. It’s a simple setup that offers hours of imaginative play, whether they’re pretending it’s a secret passage or a bear cave.


A small indoor trampoline with a handlebar for safety is perfect for toddlers to jump their jitters out. Jumping enhances core strength, coordination, and balance. It’s also a great way for them to learn about their body’s capabilities and limits in a controlled environment.

Balance Board

A wooden balance board can be used in various ways: rocking back and forth, flipping it over and turning it into a slide, or just sitting on it as a boat. It encourages creativity while also enhancing balance and coordination.

Plastic Stepping Stones

Create an indoor obstacle course with plastic stepping stones. These stones vary in height and size and can be arranged in different patterns, challenging your toddler to step or jump from one to another. This activity promotes balance, planning, and gross motor coordination!

Pikler Triangle Gym Set

Inspired by Montessori principles, the Pikler Triangle is an indoor climbing structure that supports toddlers in enhancing their climbing skills, encouraging them to navigate at their own pace. It’s fantastic for fostering gross motor development, confidence, and self-directed play.

Indoor Balance Beam

Set up a low balance beam on your living room floor. This can be as simple as a piece of tape on the ground or a padded beam designed for indoor use. Walking on a balance beam helps toddlers develop their balance and concentration skills, and can be a fun challenge, especially if you add some playful elements like jumping off points or walking like different animals across the beam.

Crafts Activities

Crafts are a fantastic way for toddlers to express their creativity, improve fine motor skills, and have fun indoors. These activities not only keep little hands busy but also spark imagination and can be a great way for families to spend quality time together. Here are some engaging and low-mess craft ideas that are perfect for indoor days:

Giant Roll of Paper with Dot Markers

Unroll a large sheet of paper on the floor or tape it to a wall at toddler height and provide your child with dot markers. These markers are easy for little hands to grasp and control, and they can make colorful dots, lines, or layers of colors without the mess of traditional paint. This activity is excellent for teaching colors, patterns, and even early letter and number formation.

Mess-Free Doodle Mat

A mess-free doodle mat or water drawing mat is a magical way for toddlers to draw without any mess. These mats usually come with a water-activated pen—just fill it with water and your child can scribble away. The drawings appear on the mat like magic and disappear as they dry, ready for the next creative session. It's a perfect reusable canvas for endless creative exploration!

Tracing and Matching Dot Stickers

Peeling and placing stickers is not only fun but also a fantastic fine motor skills exercise. Provide your toddler with sheets of colorful dot stickers and some paper, a giant roll of paper that you can put on the floor would be great for this activity! Once the stickers are placed, your toddler can draw lines and match the colors!

Homemade Play-doh and Cookie Cutters

Make your own non-toxic Play-doh using common kitchen ingredients - there are a bunch of recipes online! Let your toddler roll it out and use cookie cutters to make different shapes. Here's a set of a bunch of different tools specifically made for Play-doh, but regular cookie cutters would work great as well! This activity is perfect for sensory play and motor development, and adding natural dyes like turmeric or beetroot powder can make it a multi-sensory experience!

Nature Crafts

Bring the outdoors inside by collecting leaves, feathers, and sticks during your walks or by running outside in the rain for a few minutes to gather some items. At home, toddlers can paint these items or glue them onto paper to create nature collages. Not only does this encourage a connection with nature, but it also sparks conversations about the environment, different seasons, and the variety of items you can find in your own backyard.

Embrace the Fun & Learn Alongside Your Toddler

Keeping your toddler entertained indoors doesn't always have to be a daunting task filled with screen time or monotonous activities. With the creative and engaging ideas outlined here—from sensory bins and crafts to physical games and imaginative play—you have a treasure trove of options that will keep your little one busy, happy, and learning!

These activities are not just about passing the time; they are opportunities to stimulate your toddler’s development in areas such as fine motor skills, sensory awareness, creativity, and physical health. Each game, craft, and play idea is designed to nurture their curiosity and expand their understanding of the world in a fun, interactive way. The best part is, these activities provide a wonderful chance for you to bond with your child, creating lasting memories and learning alongside them!

Remember, the key to successful indoor activities lies in preparation and flexibility. Have a variety of options available and be ready to switch things up if your toddler shows signs of losing interest. Most importantly, don't shy away from joining in the fun. Your involvement not only enriches the experience but also reinforces your connection with your child, making each indoor day a special one.

With a little creativity and enthusiasm, indoor days can be just as adventurous and fulfilling as outings to the park or playground. Embrace these moments, as much as you can!



L E T ' S B E F R I E N D S !


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