Move over Superman, we have the best kids activity books that will save summer. Summertime can get a little hectic with family reunions, camps, and other fun activities. But if you’re wanting to fit in hands-on educational activities into your summer schedule too, be sure to check out these activity books. All three of these books have step-by-step activities for parents to easily put together activities as well as beautiful photos!
The difference between these books and workbooks, like Brainquest, which I also like, is the following activity books focus less on worksheet-style learning and instead are hands-on learning. These are great activity books for kinesthetic learners, kids who learn through touch and “doing”.
#1: 100 Fun & Easy Learning Games for Kids
By Kim Vij and Amanda Boyarshinov
100 Fun & Easy Learning Games for Kids was written by two educators to help parents supplement learning at home. They’ve included a range of educational focuses, including: reading, writing, math, art, music and geography.
AGE RANGE: Great activity book for pre-schoolers through early elementary school age. You can modify the activities, but the ideal age is 3 – 8 years old.
Here’s what I love about 100 Fun & Easy Learning Games for Kids activity book:
- Full color with step-by-step instructions.
- Easy to find supplies.
- Simple activities with little set up.
- Easily modified.
And I mean easily modified. For example, my 9-year old found the fortune paper folding activity in the back. He followed the instructions, but then came up with his own “surprise” clues and answers inside. He’d never done a “fortune” before and was entertained for an hour. An HOUR! (That alone is worth the price of the book…just sayin’). Many other bloggers are sharing the activities they’ve done in the book, and their family’s spin on it. If you follow hashtags, check out #100LearningGames and discover how other parents are using this book.
Note! If you’re kiddo is a tween or teenage babysitter, consider adding this to their babysitting arsenal. Little kids will enjoy these activities, and parents will love that their kids are doing some educational activities while they’re away. They’ll probably get more summer babysitting jobs!
#2: All Steve Spangler Science Books
By Steve Spangler & the Sick Science Team
Steve Spangler’s wacky and fun science experiments have garnered him accolades from parents and teachers across the globe. He’s known as the father of the mentos + cola = explosion experiment, and he’s “The fun science guy” on the Ellen DeGeneres show. His books, including Unforgettable Experiments that Make Science Fun, feature attention-grabbing, hands-on science activities. He has loads of crazy YouTube videos, too.
AGE RANGE: These books are perfect for kids in elementary school through middle school. I’ve done several Sick Science experiments with preschoolers present, but these are a little more complicated than your run-of-the-mill pre-K activities. These experiments are better suited to an audience with a slightly longer attention span and coordination.
Here’s what I love about Spangler/Sick Science kids activity books:
- Perfect for elementary school students through tweens who think that science is boring, or learn better with visual or kinesthetic techniques.
- High pay-off: the effort you put in pays off with a “wow” factor in the end.
- Explanations on the science behind all the experiments.
- Great photos and step-by-step instructions.
- Excellent customer service if you have questions.
I usually stick to inexpensive supplies I have on hand, but after doing a few of Spangler’s activities, I now think it’s worth hunting down his supplies at the store (or Amazon). I’ve never been disappointed!
Note! If you’re a busy parent who doesn’t have the time or energy to put together the experiments, you’re in luck! The Sick Science team responded to tons of parent requests and put together an awesome monthly science club where science kits just arrive in the mail (with instructions) every month. If you ever have a need or a question, the customer service is top notch!
#3: Tinker Lab
By Rachelle Doorley
As the name implies, Tinker Lab focuses on encouraging experiments, or tinkering. There are many different sections in this book, including: design and build. However, the crux of this kids activity book is based around art: materials, supplies, philosophies on creativity, science + art, engineering + art, and more. There’s more of a mechanical element throughout the book as the author talks about making “water runs”, pulleys and “tinkering” with electronic devices. The goal of Tinker Lab activity book is to encourage exploration by using an open, hands-on approach.
Age Range: Great activity book for preschoolers through elementary school age. However, as the concept of “tinkering” is timeless, this works for 9 months to 109 years old!
Here’s what I love about Tinker Lab kids activity book:
- A different spin on art, combining it with STEM principles, specifically engineering.
- Encompasses a lifestyle and way of thinking – that experimenting is a good thing.
- A list of things you can include in the “invitation to play” and instructions for DIY supplies (if needed).
- Teaches kids [and parents] the value of and how to encourage “open play”.
- The eco-focus of the book – supplies are often less expensive or free – if I can find them in my recycling bin.
We made the DIY Lava Lamp. One cool thing about the Lava Lamp is after you create and experiment, you can store it and re-use it again later. It’s a fun icebreaker for play dates!
Note! Babystitters – don’t miss the “concoct” section in Tinker Lab. You’ll impress even the toughest audience with these simple experiments for kids!
How to Find Kids Activity Books That Work Best for Your Kids:
Don’t underestimate the power of the library. Look up the above suggested books, then explore the section of the library where they’re located. Librarians group similar books together, like a “crafts” or “educational” section (not always in the kids section). I did this and just by luck I found a cool, scary-spin on making origami called Zombigami. With the resurgence in origami interest, thanks to Origami Yoda, this caught my kids’ attention.
We also discovered Get into Art People, with kid-friendly activities focused on teaching classic art. Blogs are another resource for activities. Another option we love is finding hands-on blogs, like is Fine Art Mom who focuses on fun, classic art projects.
You can utilize Amazon’s robust search tools to help you find other awesome activity books for kids. For example, you can click on any of the books I’ve mentioned above. Be sure to select a book closest to what you’re interested in. When Amazon re-directs you, check out the “customers who bought this item also bought” section below the book description. Voila, lots of other kids activity books to check out.
Lots of great kids activity books are out there ready to help you make your summer brilliantly productive and entertaining. A little bit of prep will go a long way in reducing boredom and increasing the fun factor with appealing, educational activities for your kids. Do you have favorite hands-on learning activities your kids do in the summer? Share them below!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means, we may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase something from a link we post. Don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything. This small percentage just helps us keep the power on and the Diet Coke stocked. We appreciate your support!