I think the secret to threes is being prepared to direct a three to something that will keep them interested. Sometimes it's a kick start for independent play so you can get stuff done. Sometimes it's just shake all the energy out with something really active.
I found a lot of help with this book:
by Bobbi Conner, available here.
Unplugged Play is all about promoting old fashioned play --the simple games and activities we used to do as kids. Before Toys R Us convinced us we needed 10,000 toys and Siri became my nanny.
One of the things I love about this book is the cupboard list. I have two boxes in my house where I collect play possible items: toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, old TV dinner trays, etc... But Conner suggests some things that I never would have thought about and helps you get a vision for what to do with them.
When I first read the book, I started folding over corners, but I would forget about the things I wanted to try.
So I made this, my boredom buster bottle.
All of my favorite activities were written on large, colored Popsicle sticks. The sticks are color coded: red, easy independent play; yellow, needs some mom help; and green, outdoor play ideas.
Each stick has the name of the activity in bold. On the back is the page number of the activity description and the materials needed.
That way, I can tell Maddie, "Pick a red one!" Then I can read the instructions and know that I have all the necessary items (or tell her to try again.)
And hopefully this will keep us happy for a while, because Conner has activities all the way through school ages.