37 Things To Keep Kids Entertained | 22 Words

Kids. Gotta love 'em, gotta also take lots of little breaks. Usually they'll do a reasonable job of entertaining themselves, but sometimes you need a little ace up your sleeve to keep them busy and off their screens so you can enjoy some guilt-free downtime! What they need is hands-on, interactive and fun (and educational, if possible) toys to keep their attention. I work from home as a freelance writer, and my "office" is in a corner of the living room, where the kids constantly are watching TV or playing nicely together (fighting). It's a busy hub of the house and it's hard to get stuff done - unless I have some diversions on hand to keep them out of my hair.

Whether your kids are into STEM toys or outside adventures, I've rounded up the best toys to keep kids entertained for hours, even whole days! From a trampoline sprinkler to solar-powered robots, everything kids could want for inside or outside play is on the list, no screens allowed. It's really a win for everyone - they have fun and you get free time, what could be better?

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This Box of Legos Will Entertain Kids of All Ages

I love open-ended toys since kids can design their own ways to play and they'll stay busy for hours. This box of Lego is exactly the kind of toy I pull out on a rainy day to keep the kids entertained. They create all kinds of structures and it's so cool to see their imaginations run wild. This box is great for little kids through teens - it comes with a rainbow of 484 pieces to keep 'em entertained while they build to their hearts' content.

This Throw Throw Burrito Game Is Wild

How about a card game that also involves dodgeball? That's exactly what you get with this Throw Throw Burrito game! The object is to collect matching cards faster than your opponents, but you have to do so while avoiding being hit with the squishy flying burritos they can toss at you! Described as when "Uno meets Nerf", it's guaranteed to be a good time for everyone in the family. Regular card games wouldn't keep my 5 year old entertained, but if she's allowed to throw stuff at her sister? Game on.

This Glow In The Dark Rock Painting Kit Is Good Old-Fashioned Fun

We've all seen the kindness rocks people like to leave around to brighten someone's day, but now you can brighten up their nights too with this glow in the dark rock painting kit! The set includes waterproof paint so you can leave the rocks outside with no worries of it washing away. Kids can use them to decorate fairy gardens, make a glowing rock garden, or leave in random places to put a smile on strangers' faces. They also come in holiday, original and paint pour versions and include 10 starter rocks so you can get a jump on your project right away!

This Sidewalk Chalk Is A Surefire Boredom Buster

My kids are tired of playing in the backyard since we've been stuck at home forever, but one thing they don't seem to tire of is drawing with sidewalk chalk on the driveway! It seems like old-school toys always seem to beat out new-fangled inventions and gadgets in how long the kids will play with them at a time, and we've definitely gotten our money's worth out of this bucket of chalk. When they (finally) tire of screens, the chalk's always there to keep them entertained!

These Play Doh Tools Are So Fun

Play Doh is cool enough on its own, but combined with this set of tools that make food shapes, it's pretty darn awesome. My kids (still) love playing kitchen, and this set is a fun way to keep them busy longer since they have to "make" all the food! The set includes everything from rolling pins to food cutouts in tons of shapes, from veggies to eggs to waffles and more. It has everything they need to stay entertained for hours, just add Play Doh!

This Sand Art Kit Brings Back Memories

Remember these sand art things from when we were kids? Now our  kids can create their own memories making this craft with this cute sand art kit that literally has everything they need. The kit comes with (ready?) - eight sand bottles, two pendant bottles, 13 colors of sand, one pack of glow-in-the-dark sand, one funnel, three packs of glitter, two skeins of satin cord, a mixing stick and a sticker sheet - whew! I love when kits have everything the kids need to get started on the project so I don't have to run out at the last minute and hunt down some obscure ingredient at the last minute or face their disappointment!

These Squishies Are So Cute

My kids love playing with these squishy animals, pretending they're pets, playing house, whatever else they can come up with. But a package of 45 of these little guys? Minds...blown. These are also great for party favors or class Valentine's Day gifts since you get so darn many of them at once! They range in size from 1.5 to 3 inches, so they're not too tiny, either. I'm thinking of using them as homework or reading prizes to get my kids to do work without me nagging them every five seconds!

This Art Kit Has It All

When I need to keep my kids busy for more than five minutes at a time, I pull out an art kit just like this one, that comes with a ton of different art supplies to stoke their creativity. This kit contains over 1,000(!) pieces like glitter glue, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, pom poms, beads, colored popsicle sticks and more plus an instruction and idea book kids can use, or they can jump right in and start making! I set up little maker stations around the dining room table so they can craft to their hearts' content and stay out of my hair for a while.

These Sensory Beads Are So Cool

Have you ever played with these water beads? I'm just as obsessed with them as the kids are, they're such a sensory delight and feel amazing to plunge your hands into. What I like even more is that this sensory bead kit comes with little figures so kids can play longer - there's a sea creature set with aqua and green beads, a mermaid set with purple and blue beads and a shark set with white and blue beads all in one package! If kids ever get tired of playing with the figures, they can use measuring cups and spoons to scoop and pour the beads back and forth. So much squishy fun.

These Rapid Fill Water Ballons Have Self-Sealing Technology

Filling up water balloons one by one takes for.ev.er, and tying them is even worse! I've seen these rapid fill water balloons at a birthday party and the kids were going nuts for them. You can fill and tie 100 water balloons in 60 seconds thanks to the cool filling mechanism and self-sealing technology. This pack comes with 350 water balloons (also available in 420) so it'll keep kids busy with water fights for quite some time! The best news is that it's simple enough for them to do themselves without parent assistance, so you can just kick back and relax while they go to town.

This Hedgehog Learning Toy Keeps Tots Busy Adorably

Toddler love fine motor toys that let them exercise their growing skills, and Spike the Hedgehog is a super fun way for them to play. Young toddlers can practice poking the "quills" into the shell, but when they get a little older, they can build color recognition, patterning, sorting and counting skills through the preschool years. Would you believe that this little toy has over 6,500 glowing reviews? I almost wish I could rewind to the toddler years so my kids could enjoy this toy, too!

This Splash Pad Will Keep 'Em Cool

Kids love water - I can't explain it but it's a complete truth all parents know. They'll play in it for hours and never get cold, especially if they're my kids! This splash pad also incorporates a sprinkler, so kids can run through all day long. Maybe a safer version of the slip and slides of our youth? The sprinkler spray can also be adjusted from low for babies and toddlers to splash in to high for big kids to run in. It's also a generous size, 68" diameter, so more than one kid can definitely play at the same time with no fighting over space (yay!)

This Rainbow Scratch Off Paper Is Awesome

My eldest is obsessed with writing notes and drawing on this rainbow scratch off paper. It's covered with a black coating, which you use the included little wooden stylus to scratch off to see the rainbow colors underneath. Simple concept but big wow factor! My youngest wants to use the paper to practice her letters and numbers, too, if she can steal some away from big sister. I also love giving this as a gift for kids' birthday parties from preschool through elementary school, they just love it.

This Tie-Dye Kit Is So Colorful

Want to kill an afternoon and get a whole new wardrobe out of it for the kids? Try this tie dye kit, which my friend Robyn swears by for keeping her kid and the neighborhood gang busy for hours. It comes with enough supplies for 36 tie dye projects, like t-shirts, sneakers, bags and more. There are 18 squeeze bottles with 14 colors, so kids won't have to fight over the same few bottles. It also comes with an instruction book with eight tie dye patterns to get you started. Great for a group activity or one very busy and craft kid!

This Muffin Match Up Game Is Great For Preschoolers and Kindergarteners

This cute muffin match up game is not only adorable, but it helps teach kids math skills! When they're younger, they can learn colors, matching and sorting, then when they're a bit older they can use the included dice to count out the muffins into the tin and do beginning math. The included squeezy tweezers they use to pick up the muffins also build great fine-motor skills while they're playing. I wish I saw this last year when my youngest was in preschool, it would've been such an awesome teaching tool!

These Stomp Rockets Are The Best Around

When we bought the kids stomp rockets at the beginning of quarantine, we had no idea they'd be using them all these months later! We searched around for durable but affordable ones and we landed on this set for its excellent reviews (over 3,000 stellar ones). The kids love jumping down super hard and watching the rockets soar, often having contests to see who can launch it the farthest. So far they've held up with flying colors and show no sign of falling apart anytime soon, so it was money well-spent!

This Drone Toy Is Great For Younger Kids

Younger kids want in on the drone scene, too, and this is a great beginner option. It's hand-operated, so you don't have to worry about it getting away from them as the remote-controlled ones might. They just have to toss it in the air then navigate with their hands to make it rise up, slow down, change direction and more. The LED flashing lights make it look like a UFO, which will definitely appeal to little imaginations! It includes a USB charging cable to power up easily in under an hour.

These Walkie Talkies Are A Great Way To Stay In Touch

Too young for smartphones but they still want to keep in touch with friends? Try these walkie talkies that have a 3-mile radius! We're still not doing in-person playdates with the kids' friends, so this would be an amazing way to help them stay connected with neighbors and other nearby pals. This set comes with two handsets and features 22 channels so kids can communicate privately without other kids listening in. It's also a great idea to pick up a few for family trips, where older kids might be off doing their own thing but you still want to touch base with them often.

This Outdoor Explorer Kit Gets Them Outside

My eldest would go bananas over this outdoor explorer kit - she already loves the great outdoors but this would be an excellent idea for getting kids off screens and out into nature more. It comes with a compass, whistle, magnifying glass, bug tongs, flashlight, play insects and a bug catching jar, binoculars, flashlight, insect patches and even a safari vest and hat, all in a cute panda bag! It's great for gift-giving, too since it comes packaged so nicely. Kids can find and collect bugs, identify them with the free bug e-book, observe them in the expandable bug jar then let 'em go back into the wild. That'll kill at least a morning or afternoon for little explorers.

These STEM Toys Are Great For Water Play

As I said before, all parents know how much kids love playing in and with water, and these STEM toys are just the thing for whiling away an hour or more on a rainy day. The kit includes a squeezy bottle, spinner, wavy dropper and scooper that fit just right in little hands. They're super durable too, you can use them anywhere from the bathtub to a water table. You can take them to the beach, too, since the toys can also be used with sand. Or sand and water combined - ooh!

This Microscope Lets Them Explore Hidden Worlds

STEM toys are the best, because they seem to keep kids busy the longest! This microscope is no exception. Kids can play for hours looking at the 60 included slides or come up with their own subjects to observe, like bugs or leaves. Guess what else? This toy talks to give kids over 100 facts and questions, and even has a quiz mode to see what they've learned! It's best for preschool to early elementary ages, but I bet older kids would play with it too, given the chance!

These Glow In The Dark Foam Swords Light Up The Night

Now outdoor playtime can extend long beyond sunset with these glow in the dark foam swords! It comes with four light-up swords and 10 game ideas for hours of fun play. They can practice their ninja fighting skills injury-free since the soft foam katanas won't stab or puncture skin (as long as they don't go for the eyes!) It's great for family play, too - lots of opportunities for bonding time. It's a great way to get my kids off their screens and prolong outside time after dark. The kit even comes with all the batteries you need to get started, so you can play immediately!

This Water Drawing Mat Is A Best-Seller

This water drawing mat is so cool. It's really big, so multiple kids can use it, and it's mess-free since you just fill the "markers" with water! Kids can draw, trace letters, stamp patterns or whatever else they want to do, and it'll disappear within a few minutes so they can do it all over again. This thing has over 2,000 stellar reviews from parents, caregivers and teachers for its ability to keep kids busy for a super long time, with no mess to clean up after they're done!

This Stacking Toy Is Fun For All Ages

I love this stacking toy since it can be used by kids of all ages. When they're small, toddlers can practice fine motor skills, later they can use it to learn colors, patterning, sorting and early math skills and building super tall towers. It also comes with a set of nesting cups that was my kids' favorite toy for a number of years. You can stack them, use them for pouring water in the bath, bring them to the beach, you name it. This is a Montessori-approved toy that even comes with its own carrying bag so you can just throw everything in there when it's clean up time!

These Magnetic Tiles Keep Kids Busy For Hours

We have a few sets of these magnetic tiles and they're one of the only toys my big and little kid play with together for hours. Like all open-ended play, you can configure them into a million things - houses, vehicles, boats, towers - my youngest is obsessed with horses, so she often builds horse paddocks and barns, which is adorable. This set comes with 100 pieces in different shapes like squares and triangles of different sizes. I even love playing with these, so I bet older kids would still like building more advanced architectural designs!

This Straw Building Kit Is Amazing

Sometimes it's the simplest things that kids play with the longest, like this straw building set. It includes 300 interlocking straws and connectors that kids can use their imagination to come up with so many different structures. From rockets to forts to planes to cool shapes, kids can go nuts building, and the best part is they can do it all by themselves! Not to say that adults wouldn't have fun playing with these, too, but if you need a little downtime, this is an excellent resource to keep kids out of your hair for a while.

These Plus Plus Toys Are A Gift To Parents

One time I saw kids at a nearby restaurant table playing with these and was immediately intrigued. We asked the parents what they were and turns out, I had never heard of them before! They're called Plus Plus toys, and kids can use them for building 3-D or flat projects. Think of them like more portable Lego toys - we bought a big package then split it between two pouches, one for each kid, that we bring along to restaurants, doctors' offices or anywhere there's going to be a wait since the kids will play happily for a long time. And yes, they're fun for adults to play with, too!

This Geode Breaking Kit Is So Cool

This National Geographic geode breaking kit was one of the few gifts my 9 year old put on her birthday wish-list, and I have to say I was skeptical but it's such a fun gift. Kids (while wearing safety goggles) smash open each geode with a hammer then get to see the amazing crystal structures inside each one. It comes with 10 natural geodes (so you never know what'll be inside!), goggles, a magnifying glass and a 16-page learning guide to find out how geodes are made and where they're found in nature. When kids are done breaking them, they can display the geodes on the included display stand and enjoy their new decor.

Slime Never Goes Out Of Style

Unfortunately for parents, slime seems like it's here to stay on the list of kids' most wanted toys! Give in to their fascination with this slime making kit! It's set up as a lab toy, with test tubes and an observation notepad, and comes with stuff to make seven fun experiments. You get glow slime, a noise pot, glow bouncing putty, make your own slime and putty powder, make your own gummy bug powder, alien and bug molds, wiggly eyes, stickers and a 16-page lab booklet detailing the experiments! Adult supervision is required, but it'll keep them so busy you can sneak some phone-scrolling time in there. 

This String Art Kit Doubles As Decor

I love when craft projects get a second life as decor, and this string art is so beautiful for a kid's room! The kit comes with everything you need for two fun art projects - a unicorn and a geometric heart - detailed instructions, two different 8.5" pre-printed sturdy foam canvases, 4 pieces of cardstock, 36 yards of cotton thread, 3 yards of polyester thread, 6.6 yards of acrylic yarn, 100 pins and 1 piece of acrylic felt. If you're looking for a gift for hard-to-buy-for tweens, this might be the holy grail! Parents are reporting it's great for kids 10 and up, they can do it by themselves, and it takes a relatively long time so it's a project that can take up an afternoon or more - the best kind!

This Volcano Kit Brings Science To Life

Kids love exploding toys, so do it safely with this volcano eruption kit! My kids love pouring vinegar into baking soda to make it fizz, but this kit includes a volcano prop so it really looks like lava when you set off the chemical reaction! It also includes goggles (see, safe!), pipettes, measuring cups and all the chemicals you need to make the volcano erupt multiple times - all you need to supply is water. The chemical jars are all labeled with their chemical formulas so it's like a real lab set, so cute! And get this -  this toy has a 94% great review rating, or 4.9 out of 5 stars. Parents are raving about the ease of use and easy cleanup, plus you can re-use the volcano with regular baking soda and vinegar and food coloring when you've used up all the included chemicals.

This Robot Kit Is Perfect For Tweens

What's better than a robot kit? A solar-powered robot kit! Kids 8-14 can use the 190 included pieces to build 12 kinds of robots that can move on land or water. This won't just keep them busy for an afternoon, it'll be a multiple day or even a perpetual project since they can take the pieces apart and build whole new robots again and again. It doesn't require batteries (hallelujah) since it's powered by the sun - the solar panel contains positive and negative cables that collect the sun's energy into an electric drive motor that enables the robots' smooth crawling. And since you need the sun, they have to be outside playing! It's a win/win for everyone - they learn science and robot engineering plus get some outside time away from screens.

This Gardening Kit Plays The Long Game

Yes, this gardening kit's definitely not a project that produces instant results - kid's gotta be a bit patient on this one - but it's a long-term activity they'll love checking up on to see the growth process. It includes three types of flower seeds, soil starter, shovel, watering bottle, instruction booklet, the tin bucket and plastic liner plus paint and paintbrushes to decorate o kids can really personalize it to their tastes. It even comes with little signs kids can paint with the names of the flowers so they're easily identified! Kids will love checking in daily or weekly to see how their flowers are doing, and it may even spark a love of gardening so they can help you outside in your yard - bonus!

This Giant Bubble Maker Is Genius

What's a toy that'll keep kids entertained from toddlers to teens? It's gotta be this giant bubble maker kit! Simply mix up the bubble concentrate with water, dip the giant bubble wand in, then run around the yard to make HUGE, awe-inspiring bubbles! In addition to regular play days, this would be amazing for birthday parties or get togethers so kids can take turns to see who can make the biggest bubble. This'll definitely keep them entertained for a while, and they're outside getting some fresh air which is a good thing! This thing has over 2,000 rave reviews for ease of use and really giant bubbles that work every time.

This Botanical Building Set Livens Up Legos

Budding landscape designer, or just need to add some green spaces to their Lego designs? This unique botanical building set includes trees, plants and bushes, animals and buildable flowers so kids can go nuts adding a little wild space to their existing projects, or incorporating them into new builds. Even better, it comes with no instructions, so kids need to use their imaginations to decide where to place every little thing, which will definitely take some time! My kids play Lego for hours, and this is just the thing to help them play even longer and have more fun since it'll really make their designs complete with a landscape! This toy gets really high ratings for quality, too.

This Gardening Set Will Keep Little Hands Busy

If they love to dig in the dirt but you want to give them something productive to do, this gardening set is perfect for keeping little hands busy. It comes with a bucket, gloves and mini shovel, rake and cultivator tools so kids can dig right in alongside you! It'll keep them busy while you're gardening or pulling weeds without them whining every five minutes that they're bored. They can even use the tools in their own mudpie making kitchen if you set up a little digging area outside. My kids will happily "garden" for hours and feel like they're doing a grow-up job. Plus it sets them on the path of knowing how to pick weeds when they're big enough to do the job on their own!

This Trampoline Sprinkler Is Some Next-Level Stuff

Trampolines are awesome, yes. But a trampoline with a sprinkler? OH YES. Kids can stay cool all summer while they're jumping around like crazies because sprinkler + trampoline = hours of fun. Simple hook up a hose then attach the sprinkler band around the top of the trampole frame to get started - it takes barely any time at all and isn't a huge pain to set up. The best part is you can upgrade your summer fun for less than $20. Seriously, your backyard is going to be the hit of the neighborhood and will keep your kids outside until the sun goes down. Yay for cool outdoor play that lasts all day!