100+ Play Ideas for Kids: The Ultimate Collection of Boredom Buster Activities

Here is a comprehensive list of over 100  fun and simple play activities for kids to keep them busy and stretch that often under-exercised muscle of creativity! I’ve pulled this list together from the Imagination Tree archives to make one,  ultimate go-to list of  screen-free ideas for rainy days and twitchy kids.

Bookmark it, pin it or print it out and come back to visit often. I know I will be using it myself as my reference to previous activities that we have done together. These are all tried and tested with my own three kids and have helped me retain my sanity on the exhaustingly long, yet magical, days of early childhood! Click through each title to read the posts. Pin your favourites!


Over 100 simple and exciting play activities for kids!

1. Make  4 minute play dough and use it to make cupcakes, bread, cookies, sweets, chocolates or any of these 50+ other recipe variations and activity ideas!

2. Create a treasure basket

3. Make art on the window

4. Create a story box to retell a favourite story

5. Use a salad spinner to create some spin art, and turn it into leaves, fireworks, hearts and easter eggs

6. Print with broccoli, peppers, spaghetti, toy cars, muffin tins, cardboard tubes, egg cartons or cookie cutters

7. Make salt dough and use it to create hand and foot prints, ornaments,  leaf prints or letters

8. Use stickers to tell stories or make quick art work

9. Make some cloud dough and use it to make a seaside sensory box

10. Use wool to wrap around cardboard shapes, introduce weaving or make a birds nest

11. Make some sparkly soap mud

12. Set some toys in jelly(o) and dig them out, simply play and explore with it, freeze and defrost it

13. Play with shaving cream, stir in colours, write in it, lift marbled prints from it

14. Freeze some toys in ice and try and have a race to see who can excavate them the quickest

15. Stack some cups and explore coloured shadows

16. Construct paper tube chutes for dropping beans and pom poms

17. Go on a colour hunt and make a giant rainbow collage

18. Turn a box into a town and draw roads and buildings inside, or turn it into a train track with a station

19. Set up a role play coffee shop, garden centre, shoe shop, doctor’s surgery,  hospital, post office, library

19.Make some clothes peg fairies or rainbow flower gnomes

20. Practise writing letters and numbers in sensory salt

21. Make some finger-paint prints

22. Act out Goldilocks with sensory story props

23. Watch colours dance through  multi-coloured Oobleck

24. Make a favourite book character from play dough such as The Gruffalo

25. Use handprints to measure things

26. Make catchers from milk jugs and play with a ball

27. Set up a reading tent and read a pile of books together with milk and cookies

28. Freeze some rice for cool sensory play on a hot day

29. Make a rock pool and tell seaside stories

30. Have a coloured, scented bath in the middle of the day

31. Paint a table top with chalkboard paint then draw on it, make train tracks and create a city

32. Put together a sensory tub themed around fairies, baking, Christmas, patriotism, Autumn, seaside, storytelling

33. Get up to your elbows in rainbow spaghetti

34. Whisk up some coloured sensory soap

35. Mix colours with water and pipettes

36. Cut some herbs and add them to play dough, sprinkle on play pizzas, create scented water for play

37. Jump in paint and print with wellie boots

38. Decorate some gingerbread play dough people with buttons

39. Make your own edible fingerpaints, soap paints, outdoor glitter paints or natural paints

40. Make a rainstick

41. Use shells to create your own fossils in salt dough

42. Set up an outdoor concoctions area for making mud pies and grass soup

43. Make a pirate map, a treasure chest from a cardboard box, a sandy pirate island and go on adventures

44. Experiment with magnetism

45. Use an enormous cardboard box to become a crawl-through sensory tunnel or to watch glowing lights

46. Collect petals to make perfume

47. Create a dinosaur land in a tray

48. Scoop and pour with dried pulses and bottle top funnels

49. Poke pipe cleaners through a colander and into play dough

50. Make pictures with felt shapes

51. Use plastic bottles to make discovery bottles and I-Spy games

52. Make some rainbow shape and alphabet crayons

53. Collect recycled materials to make open-ended play boxes

54. Create a giant collage version of the Very Hungry Caterpillar

55. Scrape forks  or combs through paint

56. Grind coffee beans

57. Make a frozen alphabet

58. Sort colours and practise number skills in an egg carton

59. Make a sensory farmyard in a tray

60. Blow bubbles for baby

61. Jump on chalk letters

62. Make a rain gauge

63. Grow beans on cotton balls

64. Paint with fly swatters

65. Use masking tape to make tape-resist art work

66. Fold paper over paint to make blotto prints

67. Bake alphabet cookies

68. Use sticky paper to make stained glass window art

69. Weave old artwork through a paper bag

70. Grow cress seed initials

71. Paint with water on coloured chalk

72. Blow paint through a straw

73. Make wrapping paper and gift tags

74. Celebrate with a pretend play birthday party

75. Put paper all over the floor and have a huge doodling session

76. Build with blocks and set a challenge

77. Make a leaf  or flower crown

78. Thread a rainbow pasta necklace

79. Use clothes pegs to make fairies

80. Print with bubble wrap to make the ocean

81. Crush chalk to make paint

82. Use household objects to make music

83. Have an impromptu tea party

84. Plant a fairy garden

85. Paint with cotton buds

86. Decorate a flower pot and plant seeds

87. Explore shells using sand play dough

88. Create land art with natural materials found on a walk

89. Paint in the bath or on the windows with shaving cream bath paint

90. Make The Very Hungry Caterpillar from play dough and retell the story together

91. Play with real cooking equipment and dried beans

92. Add patterns and textures to play dough to make Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory

93. Decorate play dough gingerbread men with buttons

94. Make gluten free snow-dough and cut out snowflakes or roll snowmen

95. Cut potatoes to make shapes and then print them in paint

96. Make glitter sidewalk/ pavement paints for outdoor art work

97. Make a batch of homemade coloured moonsand

98. Create an ocean in a bottle

99. Make your own light box for sensory play

100. Change the colour of flowers in a science experiment


See all our other play collection posts by theme here:

40+ Fine Motor Activities



The A-Z of Play dough Recipes and Activities


12 Art Projects using Tissue Paper

15+ Spring Activities



  1. Karen says

    Thank you! This is an incredible list of ideas! I can’t wait to get started with my 3 yr old daughter. Lifesaver!!!!! You are so talented. I have added all your blogs to my IPad screen for a quick reference!


  1. […] The Imagination Tree. It has a million awesome, fun, and cheap ideas for toys and activities at home. I mean, really genius ideas. Once I browsed through this, I got many ideas and am loving the thought of making my own toys. Sometimes you don’t really have to spend money on gadgets and things that light up – babies would prefer the wrapping anyway. […]

  2. […] But it is still hard to stay inside on a wonderful day as today`s. Staying in also means I have to be more imaginative when it comes to figuring what to do together with the kids. Therefore I turned to my best friend in need – the internet. Mojca’s godmother Mici sent me a link to a site that has wonderful ideas for what to do with the kids when you are stuck inside. And they have a list of 100 really cool things to keep the young ones occupied: http://theimaginationtree.com/2014/01/ultimate-play-activities-collection-rainy-day-fun-boredom-bust… […]