General Question

RandomMrdan's avatar

I have a friend coming over, and she has a 3 year old son, what should I do that can entertain him too?

Asked by RandomMrdan (7436points) February 15th, 2009

What sorts of things are 3 year old kids into to? I don’t have any sort of toys around for him to play with, I have two cats, who I’m sure will hate him. Any ideas? I have a game system, Sega Dreamcast, and maybe a few movies he might like, like superman, spiderman, etc.

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18 Answers

laureth's avatar

Lots of parents use the TV as a babysitter. Also, crayons and plain paper are pretty cheap and might be entertaining for a while.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Depends on the 3 year old. Don’t expect the visit to last too long, and expect the child to be a distraction, because three year olds take a lot of attention.

Hopefully, the mom will bring things with her. Crayons, paper, are good. So are empty boxes, a sheet or tablecloth over chairs. Game system and the movies you mentioned are not appropriate for a three year old. If you have time, go to the video store and get Teletubbies, Dora the Explorer or Veggie Tales. I can’t believe I’m advocating that!
If visits are going to be a regular occurance, investing in sets of small animal figures, beanie babies, or a doll/house stuff is a good idea.

Bri_L's avatar

He will like cartoons, drawing.

If you have any containers with lids, take ALL of them, put the lids on and and stack them up so he sees they can be, then tell him to destroy it.

Hide a snack in a room it is safe to hide a snack in. Where you can watch him look for it.

Sellz's avatar

You should watch an animated movie (Kung Fu Panda, Over the Hedge, etc.) that is entertaining to all ages.

Sorceren's avatar

For one thing, while it’s a nice thought, no mom is going to expect a single adult friend to entertain her 3-year-old. @Bri_L is right about the containers, though. Pots and pans are also great if you don’t mind a din.

A pencil and paper, and a safe place on the floor, is always a good start. <snarky thought: Offering the tot old makeup to draw with might discourage the mom from bringing him again.> In my experience, a kaleidoscope is a nifty decor item that can be offered to (and will occupy for a bit) just about any age child.

seVen's avatar

Do cut outs from plain paper or colored one or first let the child color it. Get some glue and make faces or shapes.

susanc's avatar

@BriL: You don’t have to tell him to destroy it.

I’d strongly advocate for pencils as opposed to crayons for your own piece of mind. Again, if you have time: I offer vine charcoal and butcher paper (light brown) (cheap) (I have a roll of it for wrapping etc) (it doesn’t matter what kind of paper you give). The vine charcoal is nice because no matter what it gets on, it can be gotten off. It’s soft, make a big line, can make whole areas of “color” rather than just lines, is interestingly smudgy, and is so easily smudged that the kid’s “work” won’t last the afternoon, much less the stand up to the test of time – so no one has to get all curatorial about it. Which would be a mistake. Kids shouldn’t have that kind of pressure put on their “product”. They don’t know from “product”.
Your art therapist weighing in here.

cak's avatar

Truly, you need to let her know that you don’t have things to entertain a 3yr old. You can mention the movies you have; however, most parents – or at least the ones I know, wouldn’t be okay with those for a 3yr old. While they are entertaining, they may leave images in the child’s head that could lead to a bad nap time! Never a good thing.

Pencils are ok, but again, she might have objections to them, sharp ends, that whole chewing on lead thing – some parents would be a bit put off by this – not all; but you never know.

Plastic cups and bowls are great – if you have large spoons – even plastic ones, mixing cups, measuring spoons.

Ask her if she bring a few small things, but if you want to have something on hand, a few board books, things that roll along the floor. Bouncy balls – you know, things that a three year old can hold easily and manipulate. You can find most of these things and more, at the dollar store.

Great question – good thinking, too!

Fair warning, if you don’t want something touched by the child, put it up now! :)

Judi's avatar

depends on how far you want to go. I just had a blast playing with my 2 1/2 and 3 YO grandsons letting them frost and put candies on cupcakes. I used plastic knives and canned frosting.

Snoopy's avatar

Any video will likely physically parlyze the kid in a single spot….if you are desperate, check out sites like for kiddie content. If you subscribe to they also have video on demand that would be appropriate.

Also, my preschoolers love this site
and this
memory type game

I agree w/ those who previously mention that mom will likely bring stuff to occupy the kid….

elijah's avatar

Cheerios. Plastic dinosaurs. Blocks. Little cars. Anything that makes music, spoons and Tupperware.
Basically anything they can’t swallow.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

here watch this
“Bam, hit dat little nigga with a freeze pop” – Chi City

RandomMrdan's avatar

I busted out a dry erase board I had, and some markers that came with it, he seemed to rather enjoy that quite a bit. The cats hid the entire time. He chased them a bit, but gave up after they hid under a bed.

I guess he watches stuff like spiderman with his mom, so we put that on in the back ground, though he didn’t really watch it much…he loved the dry erase board.

Thanks for all the suggestions, it seems 3 year olds tend to like drawing, tracing hands, and things alike.

cak's avatar

Sounds like you did a great job! :)

Bri_L's avatar

AWESOME choice! Dry erase board! good job!

LKidKyle1985's avatar

so no freeze pops?

Jack79's avatar

Not sure if he’s old enough for a Sega and the cats may scratch him. But 3-year-olds can get excited about all sorts of things, and personally I’m a specialist in entertaining them for hours.

You have to get to know the kid and see what he likes, of course, since every child has a different personality. But you can figure things out sooner or later. Things a 3-year-old may find amazing include:

-your old phone
-a computer mouse
-a balloon (you can buy one for a few cents at any supermarket)
-an empty plastic bottle
-a cardboard box, which he will love and play with for several hours. He will even ask to come back to “the uncle with the cardboard house”
-The pillows on your sofa, which unfortunately your cats have already ravaged
-plastic cups and bowls. You may want to half-fill the bathtub with warm water and just let him play with them in there (as long as the parents think it’s safe enough).
-just in case, rent a cartoon from the local video club (or just download one off the net). Safe ones are things like Bugs Bunny and Road Runner, or maybe new Mickey Mouse ones (my daughter got all excited about my collection of MM cartoons but was really bored after a couple of 1930s ones). My daughter’s favourite is Blue’s Clues, which is perfect for 3-year-olds. And it’s educational, so the parents won’t mind.

…you can always just show the kid your collection of porno. His mother will hate you, but you’ll be his favourite uncle growing up ;)

90s_kid's avatar

Drawing. And make him a cupcake or some sweet treat.

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