When kids are at home for long periods of time—particularly if school has been canceled—one thing that parents may hear a little too often is the phrase, “I’m bored. Can’t we do something fun?”
Though there are always television shows to watch and computer games to play, parents may be understandably concerned about their kids spending too much time staring at screens. Several studies have indicated that though tablets and computers can be fun and even educational when used appropriately, too much time on these gadgets may be detrimental to a child’s development.
In 2019, researchers reported that young children who get more screen time than doctors recommend have negative changes in parts of their brains that support language and self-regulation. This affected skills like brain processing speed and could predict future developmental delays.
Other studies have come up with similar findings. Researchers found that pre-schoolers who spent two hours a day using screens were 5-9 times more likely to report clinically significant attention problems. Children experiencing higher levels of screen time between the ages of 2-3 showed poorer performance on developmental screening tests when they got older.
So it’s best to place limits on how much time children can spend on their gadgets. After that, it’s time to do something else, but what should that be, exactly? Especially if you’re a busy parent who needs to keep kids occupied for a while?
We recently reviewed dozens of kids’ activities, looking for those that would be most entertaining and beneficial for kids, but also easy for parents to monitor while at home. We checked other things too, like interactivity, creativity, educational value, ease of clean-up, and cost, All of these top-rated kids activities can be purchased online at Amazon.
We’ve identified the VIAHART Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set as our top pick overall. Kids five and older can use these pieces to create anything they want—they’re limited only by their imaginations. Every set also comes with an idea booklet and instructions to get started.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Activities for Kids
|Best Activity for Kids Overall||VIAHART Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set||4.8|
|Best Backyard Activity for Kids||Elite Sportz Equipment Ring Toss||4.4|
|Best Budget Activity for Kids||Made By Me Create Your Own Window Art||4.6|
|Best Science Activity for Kids||National Geographic Mega Fossil Dig Kit||4.7|
|Best Creative Activity for Kids||Toyard Doodle Mat||4.5|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Best Activity for Kids Overall: VIAHART Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set
If the kids are getting restless, pull out the VIAHART Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set and let them go at it. These little child-safe, BPA-free, and phthalate-free plastic discs comply with U.S. safety regulations and can be used over and over again to create swords, vehicles, houses, animals, airplanes, rocket ships, or anything else your kids can think of.
This set also comes with a booklet that shows how to make some basic designs, and you can check VARHART’s website for more ideas, including instructions on how to make a flower, cat, seahorse, helicopter, racecar, and even an octopus.
This product contains 500 pieces, but as the price is reasonable, you can always get a second one if you need more. While your kids are having a good time, they’ll be developing spatial intelligence and thinking skills, as well as expressing their creativity. For young children, the toy helps improve coordination and dexterity.
Reviewers note that unlike some other building tools, these pieces are painless if stepped on. They are sturdy, with nothing to break, and provide a lot of fun for kids of all ages, including adults! (Do be cautious of choking hazards with very young children.)
VIAHART Brain Flakes Interlocking Plastic Disc Set Key Features:
- Stimulates the imagination and helps develop spatial intelligence
- Fun for kids ages 5 and up
- Easy-to-find instructions online for making different designs
- Stack up on more pieces for a reasonable price
Best Backyard Activity for Kids: Elite Sportz Equipment Ring Toss
To get the kids out of the house for a little while, try the Elite Sportz Equipment Ring Toss. It comes complete with 5 rope rings, 10 bonus colored rings, the Elite Ring scoreboard base, and four color-tipped pegs. It also has its own carrying bag that you can use for storage or for touting the game to the park, along with an instructional booklet that explains the rules of the game.
It takes little time to set up or take down the game, and it’s compact enough to store away easily. While the kids are competing to see who can get the most points, they’re also developing eye-hand coordination as well as fine motor skills. For young kids, adding up the scores can be used as a math activity.
Allow your little ones to play with each other or feel free to get involved yourself—Ring Toss can be a fun evening activity for everyone. If the weather isn’t nice enough to go outside, take it inside the living room or basement. It gets kids moving either way, and activity is critical to good health. Kids have to run back and forth to get the rings off the base and toss them again, giving them some good exercise while they play.
Reviewers say this is a fun game to play with the grandkids, serves as a great bonding tool, and gets kids away from their screens, which is always good. Plus it stays in good shape over time.
Elite Sportz Equipment Ring Toss Key Features:
- Fun for the whole family
- Helps build eye-hand coordination and small motor skills
- Durable and made of safe plastic materials
- Easy to set up and take down
- Comes with its own storage and carry bag
Best Budget Activity for Kids: Made By Me Create Your Own Window Art
You can get kids involved in a fun activity for about $10 with the Made By Me Create Your Own Window Art activity. It comes with 12 sun-catcher shapes, 8 vibrant window paints and an acetate sheet to create personalized window clings. It’s great for a rainy-day activity and allows kids to display their work when they’re done. Mini suction cups and cording are included so you can attach the pieces to your windows, mirrors, or other glass surfaces.
Kids can trace the illustrations included in the design booklet or create their own custom creations with the acetate sheet and paint pens included. Paint colors can be mixed to create more shades, and if kids finish with all the materials in this kit, you can always get more suncatcher refills sold separately.
This activity inspires creativity, opens up the imagination, allows for self-expression, and promotes story-telling between all artists involved. You may find it encourages concentration, too! The manufacturer recommends you protect your workspace with newspaper or scrap paper, as the kids will be using paint. It’s also best to set aside the suction cups and hanging cord until you’re ready for them.
Made By Me Create Your Own Window Art Key Features:
- Lots of fun for about $10
- Inspires creativity and self-expression
- Allows kids to display their work prominently when finished
- Refills available for more fun—sold separately
Best Science Activity for Kids: National Geographic Mega Fossil Dig Kit
For a fun activity that’s educational as well, try the National Geographic Mega Fossil Dig Kit. It allows kids to dig up real dinosaur fossils while using tools of the trade, including a chisel, brush, and magnifying glass. Let kids get a taste of what it’s really like to discover treasures from the past as they unearth dinosaur, shark, ammonite, and other fossils.
After visiting a dinosaur museum, my nephew chose a toy like this from the gift shop and it kept him busy for hours. I was amazed at how intent he was on digging so carefully with the included tools to find the fossil inside, even while his older brother was playing other, more active games. He wouldn’t be deterred—he kept digging!
This kit includes one large dig brick hiding 15 ancient fossils, so more than one kid at a time can work on it (or a kid and an adult). It also has the archaeological digging tools, the magnifying glass, and a full-color learning guide that illustrates how fossils are formed and helps young scientists identify each specimen they brush loose.
Don’t be surprised if your kids want to keep learning about archaeology and fossils after playing with this activity. It inspires young minds! Reviewers say the activity is so fun that the adults soon have to have one for themselves!
National Geographic Mega Fossil Dig Kit Key Features:
- Fun and educational—teaches kids about archaeology
- Comes with 15 real fossils for kids to discover
- Complete with a chisel, brush, and magnifying glass
- More than one child can dig at the same time, but adults may want their own!
- Full-color learning guide helps kids identify the fossils they unearth
Best Creative Activity for Kids: Toyard Doodle Mat
If the kids are getting a little squirrely and you’d like them to come together and work on something constructive, pull out the Toyard Doodle Mat. Made of soft polyester material, it’s a 40 x 28-inch mat with a large sea world pattern that you can spread out on the table or on the floor where all the kids can have access to it.
It comes with six magic pens; 8 drawing molds kids can trace to make specific shapes, like squares, hearts, stars, and even teddy bears; and four drawing templates or stencils that kids can use to make numbers and letters. The magic pens are colorful and fun to use, but they aren’t like normal markers.
Instead, they need to be filled with water, then soaked in water for about 2 minutes before use. This creates a truly water-based color that disappears off the mat automatically within about 3-10 minutes.
Because of the disappearing ink, kids will be inspired to keep drawing and perhaps even to create their own stories as they do. Plus it makes the mat reusable whenever kids need something a little different to do. Reviewers note that this activity can be used indoors or outdoors and that it’s mess-free.
Toyard Doodle Mat Key Features:
- Allows kids to have fun and be creative together
- Comes with six magic pens and 8 drawing molds
- The ink disappears in 3-10 minutes, inspiring continued drawing
- The large mat allows several kids to draw at once and interact
- Perfect for the table or floor indoors, or can be used on the patio outdoors
Next time your kids are getting a little restless, pull out one of these activities to provide a little fun and education, as well. For more kid-friendly activities, check out our Best Craft Ideas for Kids and our Best Board Games for Kids.