Back-to-school season is officially in full swing, but depending on where you live in the country, you still may be facing another month of school-free kids (yikes). That might mean you’re also getting sick of hearing “I’m bored,” or sighs and huffs as you attempt to limit screen time. There is, of course, an argument for just letting your little ones be bored a bit longer — but sometimes, for the sake of everyone in the house, it’s worth pulling your late summer ace in the hole: a new toy.
But, if you’re looking for hours of entertainment, it can’t just be any toy. Collectible mini-dolls, for example, are wildly popular but are most enjoyable when being opened; it won’t necessarily translate to hours of absorbing play. Similarly, we avoided crafts that can be completed in a few minutes or require mostly waiting. Yes, DIY terrariums are cool, but its the literal definition of watching grass grow. Instead, we found 25 toys that will provide hours of entertainment day after day, all the way up to the first day of school. Most don’t even require batteries. From card games that will hook the whole family to crafts that will build new skills that will last a lifetime, check out all our picks.
Noodle Makin Mania Set
Stamps, cutters, and an extruder provide young chefs with hours of creative play.
Play-Doh Noodle Makin Mania Set, $9.96 at Amazon
Klutz Friendship Bracelets Craft Kit
Designed to teach friendship bracelets from the basics onto more advanced patterns, kids can use the included floss to create seemingly endless combinations to wear and give away.
Klutz Friendship Bracelets Craft Kit, $15.54 at Amazon
My First Sewing Kit
Pre-cut felt shapes get kids started, but once they’ve made their cat and pouch, they can use the included sewing kit to create even more projects from their own designs.
Alex Crafts My First Sewing Kit, $14.55 at Amazon
What is it about kinetic sand that makes it so irrestible? This will also give you a good excuse to dust off any beach toys that may have been gathering dust since a beach trip earlier this summer.
Kinetic Sand, $11.69 at Amazon
Super Spinner Swing
Big enough to fit two kids, this spinner lets kids control how much they swing. The shape is also comfortable for just hanging out in, too.
Super Spinner Swing, $57.99 at Amazon
Middle and high schoolers can play this game in groups of two or more — and might find that just one game (designed to last around 45 minutes) isn’t enough.
Unstable Unicorns, $12.30 at Amazon
Design & Drill See-Through Creative Workshop
Pattern sheets guide toddlers through creating images like a robot or heart, but they can also invent their own designs.
Design & Drill See-Through Creative Workshop, $32.49 at Amazon
Melissa & Doug Sticker Collection Book
Stickers! 600 of them!
Melissa & Doug Sticker Collection Book, $4.99 at Amazon
Mega Gemstone Dig Kit
Budding geologists will love getting to dig for their own discoveries. You’ll love the quiet as they concentrate on doing so.
National Geographic Mega Gemstone Dig Kit, $19.99 at Amazon
Step2 Duck Dive Water Table
Perfect for hot summer days and toddlers who want nothing more than to splash in your kitchen sink.
Step2 Duck Dive Water Table, $37.19 at Amazon
(Almost) as fun as a trip to the actual zoo.
Playmobil Zoo, $26.19 at Amazon
Let’s Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop! Pretend Play Set
They’ll love the full set of kid-sized cleaning tools; you’ll love that they’ll beg to help you sweep.
Let’s Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop! Pretend Play Set, $26.99 at Amazon
Electric Motors Catalyst
Older kids and tweens can make endless robots with this kit and will get help with new ideas thanks to the included open-ended prompts.
Electric Motors Catalyst, $59 at Amazon
Yumology Science Sweet Kit
With no special ingredients required, this kit allows kids to create and enjoy seven no-cook recipes over and over again.
Yumology Science Sweet Kit, $19.99 at Amazon
Not Parent Approved
A family-friendly game inspired by Cards Against Humanity, the very fact that this is “not parent approved” will make it irresistible.
Not Parent Approved, $25 on Amazon
Way more fun than regular blocks, these brightly-colored tile magnets let kids as young as three quickly assemble impressive homes and more.
Magna-Tiles House, $39.99 at Amazon
Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey
Ffingerings — which have 40 unique motions and responses — are powered by your kid’s own gestures and imagination.
Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkey, $9.89 at Amazon
San Francisco Building Kit
LEGO enthuisiasts will lose track of the hours as they recreate the San Fransico skyline, the Statue of Liberty, or even Great Wall of China.
LEGO Architecture Skyline Collection San Francisco Building Kit, $46.99 at Amazon
Scratch Rainbow Notes
Kids can make signs to give friends when they go back to school, decorations for their bedroom door, birthday notes you can keep on hand, or just let their imagination take charge.
Scratch Rainbow Notes, $8.18 at Amazon
Melissa & Doug Jumbo 50-Page Kids’ Coloring Pad
Sometimes, a new coloring book is all that’s needed to create hours of quiet play. And it doesn’t have to be expensive, either.
Melissa & Doug Jumbo 50-Page Kids’ Coloring Pad, $4.99 at Amazon
Potholder Loom Kit
Buy a loom kit and plenty of extra loops and prepare to have your kitchen filled with your kid’s latest designs.
Potholder Loom Kit, $16.99 at Amazon
Double Shutter Tin
The goal is simple: Flip down as many tiles as possible, roll the dice, and put down any two tiles that equal the value of the dice. But it’s easier said than done, creating hours of fast play as kids hone their strategy — and their math skills.
Double Shutter Tin, $14.47 at Amazon
Rush Hour Traffic Jam Logic Game
The goal of the game is to get the little red car off the board and out of the traffic jam. Sounds easy? Forty included cards with varying set-ups for the other cars and trucks will keep kids of all ages happily stuck in traffic for hours.
Rush Hour Traffic Jam Logic Game, $19.97 at Amazon
This is a game that might keep the entire family, not just the kids, off their screens for the rest of the summer.
Exploding Kittens Card Game, $19.99 at Amazon
Giant Bubble Wands Kit
Low-tech but still utterly irrestible.
Giant Bubble Wands Kit, $14.95 at Amazon
Image: Amazon. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.
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