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14 Activity books for kids of all ages

Keeping a child content is something all parents strive for and if whatever activity occupying their time offers a little skill-building, that’s always a plus. And even if you’re one of the most creative parents on the block, we all need help coming up with new ideas for projects and playtime

Activity books are a great, portable and affordable way to teach kids skills and keep them focused, whether that’s on a long plane ride or another indoor-only day. They’re low-fi, most of them cost under $10, and often require little more than a pencil or scissors on hand. This list offers options for kids from toddlers to tweens, and everything from seek-and-find puzzles to learning to draw like an architect. Here’s hoping you find the perfect fit for your next go-to when they say, “I’m bored.” 

Perfect for road trips or strolls through the park, this book features all kinds of seek-and- finds but instead of being only on the page, they invite kids to look around at the world outside. Cheerful illustrations help budding readers identify objects to discover. For children ages one to three. 

write on wipe off activity book

If your kids burn through activity books (or scribble all over them), you’ll love the write-on, wipe-off feature of this hidden pictures and puzzles book from Highlights. Kids use a dry erase marker to find hidden objects, wipe off, and do it all over again. Great for repetition or to pass around to other little kids you know. Ideal for ages three to six. 

preschool activity book

Packed with all kinds of puzzles and games, kids will discover connect-the-dot, tracing, color-by-letter, hidden pictures and more all with bright oceanic themes. From mermaids to jellyfish, each section of the book is designed to help kids learn colors, letters, numbers, shapes, and patterns. Perfect for ages three to four or any child needing a boost in learning to read through play. 

dot to dot activity book

There’s something deeply satisfying about dot-to-dots. They center kids’ attention and help with hand-eye coordination but can be significantly less frustrating than other more challenging puzzles (ahem, Sudoku). This one has a huge variety of pictures, and because of the multiple levels (easy, medium, hard, and bonus), it’s suitable for a wide age range from ages three to age eight. 

jumbo book of mazes

Another Highlights homerun, this activity book is packed with 175 mazes in classic Highlights illustration style. Winding kids from city parks to underwater scenes, kids can take on code-solving mazes, string mazes, classic mazes, quiz mazes, and more. Ages four to seven. 

paper crafts for kids activity book

For a more tactile experience and some scissor practice, try this book that invites them to cut out and make a variety of paper crafts. Because each activity helps children create something, from an Origami cat to a dancing pirate to hats and masks, there will be hours of pretend play to go along with the creations. Easy-to-follow instructions make it suitable for ages four to eight but it could go older or younger depending on skills and comfort level with scissors.

logic puzzles activity book

Challenge kids to think outside the box and encourage critical problem-solving skills with this collection of logic puzzles skewed toward younger readers (ages four to eight). Containing over 50 different “brain games” this one is great to help prevent the dreaded summer slide. Heavily illustrated, children won’t get bored reading the puzzles but will be invited to try to solve each one on their own or with friends and family.

how to draw a unicorn activity book

Foxes, llamas, owls, and of course, unicorns grace the pages of illustrator Lulu Mayo’s genius and incredibly adorable step-by-step instructions that show kids how to draw by breaking down images into shapes. Not only will they learn how to create these creatures and personalize them, but kids will also learn general drawing skills, learning to see the world in shapes and translate that into being able to draw just about anything. Geared toward children eight to 12, parents will probably learn a thing or two themselves. 

harry potter origami book

What’s more fun than origami? Origami that is themed around Harry Potter and his wizarding world! Featuring 15 foldable crafts, kids can make a howler, a tiny paper Hogwarts, the golden snitch, and a variety of other iconic Harry Potter items. The instructions are fairly easy to follow, but this one is ideally suited for wizards ages eight and up. If they like this one, you’ll find even more folding fun in volume two

destroy this book

We know we tell kids to be careful not to tear pages or draw in their books, but that’s what makes activity books so liberating. And this one might be the most exciting one of them all! Children are asked to destroy the book in order to create amazing things like a mini Marie Curie, a balancing Isaac Newton, a DIY thaumatrope, and loads of other activities that teach kids scientific principles and science history. For ages eight to 12.

architecture for kids book

For those looking to take their love of Lego building to the next level this hands-on introduction to the principles of architectural drawing will keep them occupied. Geared toward kids eight to twelve, kids will learn building basics, fun activities like planning their own room, and making their own architectural portfolio by drawing and creating directly in the book.

sudoku for kids book

If your kids are ready to tackle sudoku puzzles, this one is a great entry-level. It has tons of puzzles, clear instructions, large print, and solutions. The puzzles are challenging but still doable for younger big kids as they practice mastering the numbers game.

awesome engineering activities book

Containing more than 50 STEAM projects, kids use ordinary household items to make catapults, bridges, cars, games, and a ton of other fun creations. Your ultimate solution to any “what should we do?” days, the instructions are clear but are mostly written (versus illustrated) so younger kids might need some help to work through the activities. Ages five to nine. 

101 kids activities book

From the trio of authors who brought you The 101 Coolest Simple Science Experiments, this activity book offers step-by-step instructions to make a ton of different slime, playdough, putty, and clay recipes. Each one is a little different, and all of them result in tactile fun. Parents will love this one as a go-to for rainy days, playdates, and birthday party activities. For children ages six and up. 

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