Kids learn through play and activities.

While watercolour painting and artworks are fun and educational, cleaning after their mess is absolutely not. We just don’t have the luxury of time spending an eternity on our knees, scrubbing and brushing all the dirt away.

It may be tempting to just give them mobile phones and tablets to keep them busy and entertained while you’re getting some work done, but too much screen time can be damaging to your kid’s development.

Here are 10 of my favourite educational and engaging activities for your little rascals that won’t result in what feels like a century of cleaning afterwards.

So say goodbye to messy art activities and do these fun and educational alternatives instead.

coloring book and set of crayons

1. Alphabet Match Tray

What you need:

  • Magnetic letters
  • Handwritten lowercase letters
  • Plastic jug
  • Cookie sheet

Place the magnetic letters inside the plastic jug. Then tape the handwritten lowercase letters to your cookie sheet. Let your kid shake the plastic jug and as one magnetic letter comes out, have him match it to its corresponding lowercase. Don’t forget to have them say the letter as they do this, the phonic sound not the name of the letter.

2. Cardboard Box Colouring

What you need:

  • Huge cardboard box
  • Crayons or any colouring materials

Sometimes, it only takes a cardboard box and some colouring materials to keep your little one busy for hours. Let them go inside the box and colour or scribble on it to their heart’s content. Instead of your wall, this cardboard box will serve as the mural for your Leonardo da Vinci in the making. This is also a great activity for those kids who just love to decorate your walls for you!
You can also add stickers to the fun!

3.  Sticker Line-Up

What you need:

  • Butcher paper
  • Dot stickers

Improve your child’s fine motor skills while having some quiet time for yourself.

Draw a mixture of swirly, loopy, curly and zigzaggy lines down the centre of your butcher paper. Have your kid trace this line using the dot stickers.

You will be surprised at the level of concentration your little one puts into this kind of activity. From peeling off the stickers to sticking them to the line, your child won’t even notice that you exist.

4. Number Hunt

What you need:


Let the hunt begins!

Write down numbers from 1 to 10 on your post-its and hide these numbers on the different areas of your house.

Instruct your child to find the number in chronological order. If your child is just learning their numbers you can give them a set and stick the second set around the house.

They pick the first one and go and hunt for it’s matching partner (if you do this make sure they are on the same colour note as not to confuse the child!)

But it doesn’t have to stop at numbers, you can write words, letters, pictures of animals… if you have an older child, task them with being the “teacher”.

kids playing colorful blocks

5. DIY Toddler Dominos

What you need:

  • Coloured sharpie markers
  • Mini craft sticks

Colour the end of your craft sticks using the sharpie markers. Make sure that you use each colour the same number of times.

Instruct your kid to form a domino by matching the end of one stick to the end of another stick of the same colour. Can they use up all the sticks?

Got kids of different ages? Get the older one making the game for the younger one!

6. Clothespins and Paint Samples

What you need:

  • Coloured clothespins
  • Paint samples from the DIY store

Have your kid clip the clothespins on the paint sample of the same colour. Voila, it’s as easy as that!

This Montessori-type of activity is great in developing your child’s fine motor skills and strengthening those pincher muscles needed for writing and drawing. For more ideas about Montessori-inspired activities that are perfect for your preschoolers, don’t forget to check out my book.

7. Colour Sorting Activity

What you need:

  • Construction papers of different colours
  • Small toys with different colours

Tape the construction papers to the floor or table. Have your kid match the toy to its corresponding colour. Blue elephant goes with the blue paper.

Sorting is a big skill for toddlers to encourage them to think with this kind of activity.

Does your kid need to burn off some energy? Put the toys in one room and the coloured paper in another – one rule “they can only take one toy at a time!”

8. Bubble Wrap Walkway

What you need:

  • Bubble wrap

So here’s something for your future catwalk model.

Tape the bubble wrap to your floor to make it a walkway. Your kid can walk, jump, roll or do anything to pop those bubble wraps. Plus, your kid won’t stop giggling as they hear the sound of popping. Challenge them to pop every bubble.

*Not the most eco-friendly of activities but if you have some lying around that you’re not likely to use then it is a fun game.

9. Tissue Paper Tree Collage

What you need:

  • Construction paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Glue

I don’t know anybody who does not have a supply of tissue paper in their house. We managed to evolve in a period where tissue paper has become a necessity.

Show your kid how to tear or cut the tissue paper into smaller pieces. Using a glue, form these little pieces into a tree collage.

Alternatively, stick a piece of clear double sided sticky plastic to the window, sticky side out and get them to cover the who page with the tissue.

10. Indoor Ring Toss

What you need:

  • Plastic bracelets
  • Wooden spoon
  • Playdough
  • Bowl

Make the wooden spoon stand inside the bowl by using some playdough. Have your kid toss the plastic bracelets onto the spoon.

Alternatively, use plastic bottles and paper plates with the centre cut out (get the kids to colour the hoops before you play)

fun educational learning tool for kids

With these clever activity ideas, you can keep your kids busy and entertained while learning some fine motor and creativity skills. And just like winning the lottery, you’re lucky enough not to spend hours of cleaning their mess.

Or… you can let them go wild with their imagination using Boredom Busters, a collection of great open-ended activities designed to get your kids thinking, solving problems and being creative.

If you are looking for even more activity ideas, I have 50 fine motor skills activities here and if you are up for some mess, then check out the 50 easy sensory activities here.

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