Summer vacation is dragging on. VBS week is over. You don’t want the kids making mud by playing in the sprinkler in the backyard . . . again.  They don’t want to ride bikes, they say the basketball needs air, they’ve lost the skateboards. And now they’re bored!

We’ve all been tempted to threaten the kids with chores around the house so that, out of desperation, their creative ideas start to flow.  But, do you really want to resort to that often tried and sometimes true cold-war tactic to bust their boredom? Instead, hand your kids an activity book or kit and watch them disappear for a few hours or maybe the rest of the day!

With all the products out there, it’s hard to know which books and kits give you the most bang for your buck. Will it really hold your child’s interest, or just end up collecting dust on the bedroom floor? We’ve curated a list for you with some of the best summer activities out there so you can be confident you’re selecting a winner.

Magic School Bus Kits Ms. Frizzle and her students invite your kids along for a wild ride as they “get messy” with science experiments and activities with volcanoes, slime, nature, electricity, chemistry and more. Perfect for your budding young scientists ages 5 to 10.

The Smithsonian Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects contains experiments and projects great for ages 8 to 12 using household objects, with minimal runs to the hardware store. The full-color photographs, easy to follow step-by-step instructions, and accurate assessments of the difficulty level and amount of time each project will take make this book stand out.

Science Chef: 100 Fun Food Experiments and Recipes for Kids is great if you have a young foodie on your hands. Summer is the perfect time to let your kids loose in the kitchen to try out their culinary skills and experiment with new recipes. Maybe they’ll discover something tasty and easy to add to your weekly the menu rotation!

Art with Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun using Everyday Stuff is another resource that capitalizes on supplies you already have at home. It has 260 art projects that emphasize process over product, which for kids, is always the best way to do art! From coffee grounds to cotton swabs, leaves to Styrofoam, you might be tempted to process some art yourself.

Horse Crazy Colorful Breeds Paint Kit by Breyer is ideal inspiration for your horse-crazy kid. Your child can paint her or his perfect pony, then pretend play for the rest of the week.

LEGO: Make Your Own Movie is designed for ages 8 and older and provides step-by-step instructions for using a smartphone, tablet, or computer to make stop-motion clips. Includes specialized LEGO pieces, backgrounds, animation frames, and more.

Dilly Dally Target Game, a turtle target with Velcro bean bags, is small enough to use inside on a rainy day and portable enough to be an activity at a summer birthday party. Geared for ages 3 and up, with adult assembly required.

A Girls Guide to Tea Parties: How to Have a Tea Party Every Month of the Year When your kiddos ask for a tea-party, hand them this easy to follow guide, which includes ideas for themes, invitations, recipes, decorations, and activities. No mom required – unless you want to be invited!

Art Lab for Kids collects 52 creative projects and activities, utilizing drawing, painting, printmaking, and mixed media. With simple, step by step instructions, this can be used as an art lesson book or as inspiration for individual projects.

Gardening Lab for Kids compiles 52 activities that encourage kids to get outside to cultivate their very own little patch. Includes straightforward steps to accomplish the task as well as additional information to turn the playtime into learning time.

Box!: Castles, Kitchens, Costumes, and Other Cardboard Creations What kid doesn’t love using a giant cardboard box to let their imagination run wild? For some good, cheap fun take the kids to the local home improvement store and buy a few big moving boxes. Then let them set to work painting and creating forts, cars, and spaceships. This book also gives ideas for repurposing your empty tissue boxes, egg cartons and toilet paper rolls.

We hope these kits will give you some good ideas for summer fun that doesn’t break the bank and harnesses your child’s own creativity.

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Alene is an unabashedly keen soccer and basketball mom of three daughters and has the mini-van full of sports gear to prove it. She has been involved in homeschool co-ops as well as hybrid-homeschooling with the local public school and homeschool tutoring service. Her favorite pastime is reading and scouring the internet and online library system to find picture books for all sorts of topics and subjects. Alene has a bachelor’s degree from Otterbein University and is a Homeschool Specialist at Christianbook.com.