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Creative Indoor Play Ideas for Your Toddler

Too snowy to go outside? Bust your toddler's cabin fever with these creative ideas for indoor play.
Young Child Playing with a Bucket of Dried Beans
Updated: December 1, 2022

After getting nearly 20 inches of snow this past weekend, I have accepted the fact that winter has arrived in New England. Bundling up a toddler to play in the snow often takes more time than you actually spend outside. Rest assured, because I have discovered indoor play activities that are creative and affordable.

Cardboard Crafting

Yes, you read right -- good ole cardboard shouldn't make it to the trash! Gather a few unused boxes and let your imagination run wild. It's fun to have a brainstorm with your child about what kind of things you can make together. I like to create things that complement toys we have; projects like train tracks, sandpits, garages, or a house are big hits in my home. Once you construct the base, you can let your child decorate with crayons, paint, glitter and stickers. Unusual items like old buttons, yarn, or uncooked pasta can be fun to introduce. Be sure to glance at this supermom's take on cardboard toys!

Playroom Crafts

My son loves to paint, and it's a creative outlet that he enjoys. Since things can get messy, I make sure he wears an old shirt, or smock -- and all paint must be washable. Since toddlers are learning how to hold small things like crayons and paintbrushes, try purchasing a few wider brushes. My son loves using his fingers and makes "unique" color combinations to say the least. Homemade art looks beautiful framed in your child's room or playroom!

You can go to your local dollar store and give your child several dollars to pick out his or her very own crafts for indoor play. Items like pom-poms, pipe cleaners, stickers, and beads are great to bring home. Don't be afraid to improvise with items. I cut a few holes in an old gift bag and my son had so much fun putting the pom-poms into the bag. Basic games that involve sorting, stacking, or building are usually well received.

Little Boy Painting


Think basic -- games like cornhole, kid-friendly bowling and golf, and ball pits can be built at home. Google "homemade games for kids," and you will find such awesome ideas that are doable. Depending on your child's interests, you can decide which games are best to try.

Basement/Garage Play

Bring outdoor toys into your basement or garage to be used all year. I've brought my son's water table and sandbox into our basement. I've put a few cheap shower curtain liners underneath the toys because things may get wet. We bring cars, diggers, and characters into the sandbox. Another fun idea is to "hide" items in the sand and have them hunt for the items. We also fill our water table and add in food coloring. This is a great way to inspire imaginative play and entertain your child.

If you have a trampoline, ride on car, scooter or bike, be sure to bring them inside. Your child can still play with all of these toys and it's sure to burn their energy.

I hope that these ideas keep your little ones entertained during this cold winter. And I always tell myself, if all else fails, there's lots of wonderful educational TV shows!

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