5 messy games and activities for energetic 3-year-olds

Three-year-olds make mess wherever they go. Here's how you can turn that talent into a game

Games For 3 Year Olds

Most pre-schoolers love making a mess. And they can help out a toddler’s development too! So, you need some messy games for 3-years old. Now, being honest, they probably think knocking a bowlful of gloopy cereal and watching it go SPLAT on the floor (and watching you pick it up) is a fun game. And whilst that’s adorable, we’ve got some real games for you to play together: 


Keep some kitchen towels on hand for wiping spills during these activities. Plenty The Extra Big One is super absorbent and durable, and the extra-large sheets make light work of any mess.

1. Handprint painting activities for 3-year-olds

Painting is a classic activity for 3-year-olds – and they’ll have a blast getting paint squelching between their fingers and toes! Fingerprints can create flower petals, while handprints make excellent leaves, and footprints with the heels pressed together can represent fish and mermaid tails.  


Make sure you choose a non-toxic paint that’s safe for toddlers (you can even find edible paint, which is ideal for very young kids).

2. Sensory spaghetti 

Sensory spaghetti is another great game for 3-year-olds that encourages them to explore using their sense of touch. Cook a batch of spaghetti until it’s soft and then coat it in oil to make it slippery. Your energetic 3-year-old will enjoy flicking it, slapping it, and stirring it really fast. Increase the fun by adding food colouring to create rainbow spaghetti. It’s worth investing in a large heavy-duty plastic mixing tray for these kinds of messy games and activities for 3-year-olds. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for a random bit of spaghetti that might ssssslipped onto the floor during playtime! 

3. Icy games for 3-year-olds 

When cold weather stops you from getting outside and you’re looking for activities for 3-year-olds at home, you can bring some of those icy temperatures inside with an ice game. This takes some preparation beforehand – just fill up a small container with water and submerge a toy of your choice (toy dinosaurs frozen in an ice age are an awesome choice), before popping it in the freezer. Your inquisitive 3-year-old will have a ball being an excavator, trying all kinds of approaches to free the creature from its icy confines. And get ready for freezing cold hands when they hug you during this – not that you’d want it any other way. 

4. Rainbow jelly

From hard ice to soft jelly, this gloopy texture is ideal for any kid that loves squishing stuff (Hint: that’s any kid). If you’re looking for fun games for 3-year-olds that won’t cause problems if they get some in their mouths, this one’s for you. Set different colours of jelly in a variety of containers, from ice cube trays to jelly moulds and sand toys. They can then build with it, put their plastic figures through it and squish it. You can also hide toys inside, like in the ice game. Jelly play is the perfect activity for 3-year-olds who like to get their hands sticky. 

5. Pompom hockey 

If your kid’s boundless energy is drawn to kicking a ball about outside but the weather’s not on your side, try some sporty indoor activities for 3-year-olds instead, like pompom hockey. Many of the most enjoyable games to play with 3 years old involve lots of creativity and things from around the house and all this one requires is a stash of those small, soft craft balls and some form of hockey stick (an empty kitchen roll tube will do the trick). They can then push the pompoms into a ‘goal’ with their ‘stick’.

The house is probably going to have got a bit gross and sticky during all of that (especially if you did them all in one afternoon), but that’s ok. You’ve had loads of fun together and your kids will enjoy helping you out just as much you enjoyed fingerpainting for the first time in years! 

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