The 9 Best Kids Activity Books to Keep Kids Busy

At home or on-the-go, these activity books are full of fun and learning

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Verywell Family / Danie Drankwalter

Activity books are a type of book that feature a variety of topics, skills, and areas of interest, like coloring or puzzles. What's great about activity books is that they're not only entertaining for kids, but they're also educational. Plus, an activity book is perfect for long car rides, screen-free entertainment while eating out, or rainy days at home.

Reviewed & Approved

The Paint By Stickers: Under the Sea includes 10 pages of intricate and unique designs that are “painted” using stickers. For toddlers, we recommend the Wipe Clean: Giant Activity Book.

Consider one (or several) activity book that's a good match for your child's preference and learning level. We carefully considered material, price value, age and grade recommendations, and educational and entertaining value when reviewing products.

Here are the best kids' activity books on the market for a brush-up on skills or to learn a new one.

Best Overall: Paint By Stickers: Under the Sea

5
Paint By Stickers: Under the Sea

Courtesy of Workman Publishing

What do buyers say? 87% of 7,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

The Paint by Stickers: Under the Sea activity book is our best overall pick because this activity book includes 10 pages of intricate designs that are “painted” using stickers. It’s similar to a paint-by-number design, but with stickers. Each of the pictures in this specific book is of some sort of underwater scene or animal.

The book comes with coordinating stickers for each page, and once all of the stickers are on the image, it comes to life as if it were actually a painting. While the stickers in this book can be enjoyed by most kids, the best results come from kids 5 years old and up.

Price at time of publication: $10

Number of Pages: 34 | Recommended Age: 5 years old and up | Skills Required: Fine motor

Best for 2 & 3 Year Olds: Wipe Clean: Giant Activity Book

Wipe Clean: Giant Activity Book

Courtesy of Roger Priddy

The best part about this activity book is that kids can play with it again and again because it uses a whiteboard marker and wipes clean after each use. It focuses on early learning topics like colors, counting, words/letters, and animals and is made for kids between 2 and 4 years old. There are 112 total pages in the book and it comes with a dry erase pen.

Price at time of publication: $17

Number of Pages: 112 | Recommended Age: 2 to 4 years old | Skills Required: Math, writing, counting

Best for 4 & 5 Year Olds: Big Preschool Workbook

Big Preschool Workbook

Courtesy of School Zone

Pre-K kids who are starting to get ready for elementary school will benefit from this activity book that is equal parts fun and educational. It has more than 300 pages of different activities in math and counting, critical thinking, letters and reading, shapes, and more.

All of the pages are bright and colorful and easily tear out (which is helpful since it’s such a thick book) with activities suited for kids between 3 and 5 years old.

Price at time of publication: $13

Number of Pages: 320 pages | Recommended Age: 3 to 5 years old | Skills Required: Reading, math, writing

Best for Kindergarten: Kindergarten Big Fun Workbook

Kindergarten Big Fun Workbook

Courtesy of Highlights Learning

All of the activities in this book are educational and aligned with kindergarten standards in the US, however, the book is by no means boring because it’s full of puzzles, games, art pages, and more. It covers sight words, colors, patterns, phonics, sorting, basic math, and more.

There are more than 250 pages in the book and it has content suiting rising kindergarteners all the way through the summer before first grade.

Price at time of publication: $13

Number of Pages: 256 | Age Recommendation: 4 to 6 years old | Skills Required: Reading, math

Best for Elementary School: Summer Brain Quest

Summer Brain Quest

 Target

After finishing first grade, kids can spend the summer prepping for second grade with this activity book that has more than 150 pages full of activities in math, history, reading, science, and writing. The book also comes with tons of fun stickers and a “Summer Map” so kids can keep track of their work as they get closer and closer to the second grade.

In addition to the in-book activities, there are also “outside quests” kids can go on that will get them outdoors and playing, while also learning.

Price at time of publication: $13

Number of Pages: 160 pages | Recommended Age: 6 to 7 years old | Skills Required: Writing, reading, math

Best for Writing: My First Learn to Write Workbook

My First Learn to Write Workbook

Courtesy of Crystal Radke

Kids 3 years old and up who are starting to learn how to write will benefit from this book which has more than 80 pages of letter and shape tracing. It’s great for kids who are learning to better control a writing utensil in their hand and will help them gradually learn the different curves and lines of shapes as well as the alphabet.

Price at time of publication: $9

Number of Pages: 84 | Recommended Age: 3 years old and up | Skills Required: Writing, fine motor

Best for Arts & Crafts: Origami for Kids: 20 Projects to Make Plus

Origami for Kids: 20 Projects to Make Plus 100 Papers to Fold

Courtesy of Amazon

While this book is aimed at kids between 5 and 7 years old, you’re never too old to enjoy some Origami crafting. There are 176 pages in this book with 20 tutorials for animals, cars, boats, fans, as well as other fun designs. In addition to the step-by-step guides, the book also comes with 100 pieces of origami folding paper as well as QR codes so kids can get video tutorials if the book guide just isn’t cutting it.

Price at time of publication: $25

Number of Pages: 176 | Recommended Age: 5 to 7 years old | Skills Required: Fine motor

Best for Reading: Wipe Clean: Learning Sight Words

Wipe Clean: Learning Sight Words

Courtesy of Roger Priddy

Kids can not only learn their sight words with this book, but they’ll also learn how to write them out with tracing activities throughout. The book comes with a dry erase marker so they can do an activity, wipe it clean, and do it again if they’d like. There are more than 50 pages of words that kids will learn how to sight-read, spell, write, and use in everyday language.

It’s great for kids between 4 and 7 years old.

Price at time of publication: $13

Number of Pages: 56 pages | Recommended Age: 4 to 7 years old | Skills Required: Reading, writing

Best for Math: STEM Starters for Kids Math Activity Book

STEM Starters for Kids Math Activity Book

Courtesy of Jenny Jacoby

Elementary-aged kids with an interest in math and science will have a lot of fun with this activity book that has 32 pages of math problems, science puzzles, and fun facts. It’s created for kids between 6 and 10 years old and balances fun, engagement, and challenge well, so even though it’s a shorter book, kids will still get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Price at time of publication: $7

Number of Pages: 32 | Recommended Age: 6 to 10 years old | Skills Required: Math, reading

Final Verdict

The Paint by Stickers Under the Sea (view at Amazon) activity book ranks highest for us because of its versatility. Kids of all ages love stickers so even though an older child is better equipped to stick to the actual goal of the book, a younger kid would still have a lot of fun coloring the pages and decorating them with the included stickers however they see fit.

What to Look for in Kids' Activity Books 

Entertainment

Entertainment is key when it comes to kid's activity books because if a book isn’t engaging, kids may see it as a chore or simply ignore it. To find one that will keep your child occupied, you’ll want to look for something that plays into their interests and keeps them busy doing things they already love. Options include:

  • Arts and crafts: There is no shortage of activity books that have space for coloring, drawing, and creating. If your child loves a good craft, then an art-centered activity book will surely keep them engaged. 
  • Puzzles and games: For kids who love a good challenge, check out activity books featuring connect-the-dots, mazes, word searches, crossword puzzles, hangman, and Sudoku
  • Trivia, riddles and word problems: Similar to activity books focused on puzzles and games, this genre is a good option for kids who love brainteasers, whether they’re math problems, sequencing/pattern games, letter scrambles, or even just general trivia questions. 
  • Writing development: Writing-themed activity books range from letter and number tracing for preschoolers to writing prompts for older kids. If your child loves to put pencil to paper, then an activity book with a focus on writing will likely be a hit. 
  • Math and science: Kids don’t have to be in school to flex their STEM muscles, and many find true joy in these academic areas. Bigger kids may even enjoy these subjects more in an activity book simply because it’s outside of school.

Age-Appropriateness

Just because an activity book says it’s made for a certain age group, doesn’t mean it’s right for your child. Scan through the pages (or read some reviews) to see if the content is below, at, or above your child’s current age and/or developmental stage.

Books that are filled with activities that are too hard or too easy will likely go unused. Similarly, if the pictures in the activity book are too “babyish” for your big kid, they won’t want to use it. 

Educational Value

An activity book does not have to be obviously educational in order for it to be a quality option for your child (if a book is full of tic-tac-toe grids and mazes, and your kid loves it, that’s perfectly fine). But many do support developing and practicing new skills and learning new concepts.

If your child is struggling in a subject, you may want to look for activity books on that topic so your kid can strengthen their skills in a fun and engaging way. Or, if your child happens to love a subject, like reading or writing, look for an activity book that lets them tap into that interest in different ways.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the benefits of activity books for kids?

    Activity books can keep kids engaged in learning, if the book is on their level and high-interest. Working on an activity book can help kids review and practice important learning concepts. And as long as they are interesting to your child, activity books can keep them busy instead of bored when waiting at the doctor's office or on a long car ride.

  • Can activity books reduce stress?

    Activity books may reduce stress if they are fun for your child. When kids are stressed, doing an activity they enjoy, like coloring, can help. Word puzzles or visual math problems found in activity books can also help kids focus on the present moment. This state of mindfulness may reduce stress.

  • How long do activity books last?

    A 100-page activity book may last your child three months if the activities are challenging enough (or longer, if the pages are reusable; some activity books offer this feature). Some kids will work through many pages each day, but they may grow bored and abandon a book whose activities are too easy for them. These books are generally paperback, so if they get wet or dirty they may fall apart before your child can work through them.

  • Are activity books good for travel?

    Activity books are a perfect addition when traveling with kids. Kids can use them in cars or on planes (unless they trigger motion sickness), or any time kids have to wait quietly and patiently during a vacation. If your child is missing school for travel, activity books are a good way to make sure they don't fall behind.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer and mom to a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. She has personal experience in researching and purchasing a variety of children’s products and key considerations she used when selecting these recommendations include materials, design, and user reviews.

1 Source
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  1. American Psychological Association. How to help children and teens manage their stress.