26 indoor games to play with your pre-schooler

Rocket building, hat making, fish racing, bus driving and dough rolling - great ideas that your young adventurers will love

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1. Homemade non-cook play dough

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Mix together the following: 2 cups of plain flour, 4 tbsp of cooking oil, ½ cup of salt and 2 tbsp of cream of tartar.

Slowly add 1 cup of boiling water and stir into the dry mix. Then add up to another 0.5 cup of boiling water until the dough becomes sticky and forms a ball.

Let the dough cool… and play. Give your toddler biscuit cutters and a rolling pin and even an old garlic press – for thin sausages.

To make coloured dough – Add a few drops of food colouring to the boiling water and mix in well.

To make shiny dough – Add a few drops of glycerine to the dough mix.

2. Card-matching
Cut some old birthday or Christmas cards in half. Give your child one half of each card and spread the others around the room. See if he can put them back together.

3. Hat-making
Cut a strip of card to fit round your child’s head, and then get him to decorate it.

4. Greeting cards
Make a card for someone in your family and get your child to draw her own picture.

5. Rocket making
Get him to cover a loo roll in foil. Stick a cone shape on one end and add orange streamers to the other.

6. Skittles
Encourage your pre-schooler to build some impressive block towers in the corner of the room. Then give your child a ball and get her to try to knock the towers down. Build ’em up, blow ’em down.

7. Karaoke
Give him a cardboard toilet roll tube, tell him it’s a ‘microphone’ and let him sing along to all his favourite songs.

8. Toy hospital
Provide loo-paper bandages and a few plasters, and then line up dolls and toys as patients.

9 Sweet shop
Use play dough in different colours and shapes to make ‘sweets’, ‘lollies’ and ‘chocolate bars’.

10.  Treasure hunt
Hide some treasure and then hide some clues leading your toddler to the treasure. Use our treasure hunt printable clues to help.

11. Crayon rubbings
Give your child some sheets of paper, place a sheet over something with texture. Coins work well, as do keyholes and Lego bricks. Let her experiment.

12. Matchbox contest
See how many small objects your child can fit into a matchbox.

13. Puppet-making
Take one paper bag or an old sock, draw on big eyes, a nose and a mouth and stick on some wool for hair.

14. Toilet roll roads
Roll out some toilet roll tissue to create a road system for toy cars and trucks

15. Magic potions
This one’s for the bathroom. Fill plastic bottles and pots with water, food colouring, bubble bath, glitter, petals and stir.

16. Noisy hide-and-seek
Hide toys that make a noise behind the sofa. See if your child can guess which one she’s hearing.

17. Play buses
Line up chairs in pairs and fill the seats with dolls. Drive your toddler and toys through wild terrain and then let your toddler be the driver.

18. Obstacle course
Use chairs to crawl under, ropes to jump over, balls to dribble or throw into a bucket. Use your imagination, indoors or outdoors.

19. Alphabet scrapbook
Cut out photos from magazines for each letter of the alphabet.

20. Beach play
Help her find her swimsuit, sun hat, bucket and spade and play-act going on holiday.

21.. Memory game
Put 10 household objects on a tray, show them to your child for two minutes, and then hide them. See how many she can remember.

22. Cinema time
Put dolls and teddies on a row of chairs and draw the curtains. Take money for tickets, then show a DVD. Have an interval with a chance to ‘buy’ a snack.

23. Make a mobile
Find three sticks. Tie two strings to one of the sticks, and then tie the bottom of one of the strings round the middle of the second stick. Tie the end of the other string around the middle of the third stick. Cut pics of animals out of a magazine, attach some string to them, and tie the strings to the sticks.

24. Home camping
Drape a sheet over a couple of chairs and leave the rest to her imagination.

25. Fan making
Encourage your child to cover a piece of paper with colour patterns, and then help her fold it into a fan.

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26. Fish race
Cut out a fish shape from a sheet of newspaper, about 30cm long. Make a tube out of the rest of the newspaper. Move the fish along by beating the tube behind its tail.

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