Instagram and Pinterest are great places to find fun, DIY activities for kids. But do people really spend all day gathering 20 supplies for a 15-minute activity? And does your child actually need that much glitter???
Planning activities (and then setting them up) takes time. And when your child shows zero interest in your carefully curated fun, it can be hard to keep your cool. The end result — a mess of craft supplies, loads of frustration, and a grumpy mommy.
But don’t give up!
You can give your child stimulating, boredom-busting activities without hours of research and planning. You don’t need loads of messy supplies to have fun. Keep it simple with these 11 creative activities that will keep your home (and sanity) intact.
11 Simple, Mess-Free Crafts and Activities for Kids
Coloring and Drawing
This simple activity is a favorite for both kids and adults. And all you need is paper and some crayons or colored pencils (or markers if you’re feeling brave 😜). Start with a blank page — we always keep colorful construction paper or scratch paper (so fun!) on hand for drawing projects — or grab a coloring book featuring your child’s favorite things.
Looking for something new? We have 100s of pages of free printables you can download anytime! From our Women in STEM careers booklets to seasonal printables and handwriting practice, these coloring pages and activity sheets can entertain for hours.
Bonus — there are so many ways to mix up this activity! Add in scented or 3D stickers to turn simple coloring fun into a mixed media project. Or swap out the paper with a reusable color-in puzzle or mermaid messenger bag. No matter how your child colors, they’ll be able to stretch their creative mind in a parent-approved, mess-free way.
Craft kits are the best way to simplify your art time!
No need to search hours for projects, buying each little thing you need (and will only use once or twice). Instead, buy a craft kit that includes everything required for your child’s weekend art project. Check out these kits where they’ll craft colorful jewelry boxes or photo frames, creating perfect places to store lifelong memories.
Some craft kits even include secret STEM learning! With the right kit, your child can learn and play with science at home. Learning while having fun? Yes, please! Check out our favorite STEM craft kit here!
Feeling crafty yourself or have a bored teen at home looking for something to do? Check out Purple Ladybug’s collection of craft kits for adults and teens. You can create with resin, or even craft your own candles or beeswax food wraps! Everything you need is included, and the instructions are easy to follow. These kits are the perfect way for you or your teen to spend the afternoon.
At our house, we love creating mosaics. Just combine some colorful construction paper with a little glue and your child has everything they need to create beautiful art.
Your littlest ones will love tearing the paper up into smaller pieces. Then you can help them glue and stick. Older kids can draw a favorite animal or scene first, then use the colorful paper to complete their work. Try using several different shades of the same color for a striking masterpiece!
Creating friendship bracelets is a great activity both your older preschooler or even teen will love. It’s perfect for refining fine motor skills, and it’s just fun! Your child can choose their favorite colors and make loads of bracelets for themselves and for gifting to friends and family!
This site has some beautiful patterns to keep the crafting interesting. Just grab some thread or embroidery floss and you have everything you need. Or mix it up with this simple rubber band kit with a loom. This easy activity can keep your kids busy for hours!
Hole Punch Activities
Got paper and a hole punch? Then you have all the makings of a fun activity! Keep it simple and just let your kiddo go to town, punching holes wherever they like. Or you can draw a couple of large shapes on the paper, encouraging your child to punch along the lines. This is a great way to give them a little more artistic order.
There are even classic Montessori activities that use hole punching. These look a little bit different than your classic hole punch tool, but there’s zero mess involved. This is also a great option if your hole punch is difficult for your child to squeeze. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy Montessori gear. If you have an older toddler, a push pin can give you the same result.
If your child is working on a shape, encourage them to keep punching until the shape can be easily removed from the paper. This requires a lot of focus and concentration. And it’s surprisingly fun! You can also check out this activity combining hole punching and stitching. Cute!
Paint by Sticker
These books are fantastic! And even though it says “paint”, there’s actually no paint involved — just stickers! It’s a no-mess activity that can keep your kids busy for hours, making them a perfect solution for long car rides or rainy weekends.
The Paint by Sticker books come in a variety of different themes, from dinosaurs to outer space to bugs. Let your kids choose their favorite and start sticking.
Sound like fun? Check out the adult books for more challenging sticker projects for you!
Bath Time Fun
Sometimes kids need to get a little messy. And the best place for messy play is the bathtub! Our favorite bath time moments happen with colorful bath paint! In our house, we don’t usually paint unless we can go outside. But in the bath, the kids can go nuts with their favorite colors.
If your kids just have to create and it’s not bath time, try setting up art stations in your bath or shower for easy clean up. Glass shower walls make a great canvas. Or fill up a tub with water beads for some exciting sensory play. When everyone’s done playing and creating, clean-up is easy peasy!
Who says art has to be two-dimensional? If your kiddo is not into creating at the kitchen table, break out their favorite blocks or other building materials. Wooden shapes or plastic bricks can be used to create beautiful, architectural masterpieces. Or add some crafting flair with these wax craft sticks. They’re a perfect, mess-free building material for little hands!
Even better — building can easily lead to more open-ended play. Castles can be attacked by dragons and defended by knights. Barns can house their favorite farm animals. Large wooden flower creations make beautiful fairy homes. It’s amazing where their minds can go when they have the tools to build.
Paper Towel Roll Crafts
If you have the space, keep all of your used-up paper towel and toilet paper rolls. This cardboard cylinder can be used for so many things! Periscopes, megaphones, swords — something about these rolls make a kid’s imagination go wild.
Paper towel rolls are amazing craft supplies. Stack them up to build a castle, create fiery dragons, or make a family of beautiful butterflies. You can even craft adorable Baby Yodas! Click this link to find even more ideas. You and your kids will have a blast creating something simple and new!
This is another easy one to keep in your craft cabinet. With some colorful felt sheets and scissors, your kids can create amazing things. Cut out different colored and sized circles to make a felt pizza for their play kitchen. Or pull out the needle and thread and craft felt finger puppets for an upcoming show. They can even make felt dinosaur worlds full of rocks and trees!
With felt, the possibilities feel endless. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out this amazing Pinterest board full of imaginative felt fun. Felt play is a wonderful way for your kids to bring their imaginations to life!
Cardboard Box Forts
We’ve all been getting plenty of Amazon boxes over the last couple of years. You can thank the pandemic for all the online shopping. ;)
Now you can upcycle those boxes by building some cardboard box forts! These can be as simple or elaborate as you like. A single box and some crayons can create a cute family home. Or stack several boxes in various shapes to create a castle fit for a princess.
The best part about cardboard boxes — the decorating! Get out the crayons and markers, stickers, paper and glue and let your kids add to their boxes however they like. It’s the perfect blank canvas! And it can extend playtime for hours.
Crafting Can Be Simple and Fun!
You don’t have to spend loads of money and time to create the perfect crafts. With just a few basic supplies or a quick online shop, you can have everything you need for an afternoon full of crafting.
If you’re looking for the best craft kits for kids, check out our online store! There are crafts for every kid and every age, packed up with everything you need. Just open the box and start the fun!