The 20 Best Hands On Activities for Kids They Will Play for Hours


There are some hands on kids activities that are a ton of fun. Your kids will beg to play them, to do them over and over, and OVER again! These are the ones that would be on my kids short list. They love open-ended play ideas. Parents will love how these activities reach a wide range of ages.  My tots and elementary aged kids have an activity they can do – together!

20 hands on brain boosting ideas that involves straws, paper buildings, blogs, making silly faces, and sand.
These hands on activities will keep your kids busy for hours!

Hands On STEM Play Ideas

These hands on play ideas are not only fun, but many times educational in their own right. Many of them are actually STEM activities and ignites your child’s inquisitive side, as well as their creative side.

Related: More hands on science activities

Whether you have young children or older kids these learning activities are a fun way to encourage sensory play and explore the natural world. Looking for a fun activity to practice fine motor skills? We have them!

Fun Hands On Educational Activities For Kids

These fun ideas are a perfect time to encourage messy play, enjoy craft supplies, and enjoy learning fun with these easy science experiments. These kids activities are the best ideas for little learners and even younger children.

1. Straw and Stick Construction

hands on activities for kids - straw and stick construction set shown with child building a large sculpture out of straws on a table top
Let’s build something amazing today!

Who knew that straws and sticks could entertain your kids so long! This is a great STEM activity as you are building engineering different things.

Related: Build a straw tower

2. Kinetic Sand

hands on activities for kids - child playing with kinetic sand on a white surface using toys to mold the sand
Making & playing with kinetic sand is the coolest activity ever!

I’m telling you, if your kids haven’t tried playing with kinetic sand yet they need to! The stuff is addicting. Promise! It is soft, damp, and sticks together like crazy!

Related: Sand activities for kids

3. Building Paper Blocks

hands on kids activities - paper triangle blocks built into a structure
Let’s make blocks out of paper!

Paper blocks are so much fun to make AND build with.  All you need is scraps of paper and tape. This is another great STEM activity as it focuses on both science and engineering.

Related: Toilet paper roll building

4. Silly Faces

hands on activities for kids - crazy faces with free printable facial features and loose parts shown in a face art project
Let’s make faces! Crazy faces!

Make silly faces!  It’s fun in the mirror, fun to mimic each other and even fun to recreate on paper!

Related: Make Picasso faces

5. Paper Boxes

hands on activities - paper blocks that are square made with colorful paper all stacked - Kids Activities Blog
How tall can your paper block tower stand?

These Paper Boxes are harder to make than they look.  Perfect for a puzzling kiddo.  Preschoolers can just glue bits of paper together.  Next:  Build with our blocks!

Related: Popsicle sticks bridges kids can build

Hands On Science Kids Activities

6. Brain Building Activity

hands on activities for kids - stem activities for kids that involves a child have an upside down spoon to his fingers with masking tape.
This gives a literal meaning to hands on activities.

Who knew building brain neurons could be so fun!  My son LOVED this “activity.” This really explains the brain to children and how it works. It’s a cool experiment.

Related: Try team building for kids

7. Marshmallow Sculptures

hands on activities for kids - marshmallow sculpture with toothpicks on white background
What can YOU build with marshmallows and toothpicks?

Add some marshmallows and toothpicks to your kiddos play and not only will they have a blast building, they will also love the sugar rush… it’ll wear off.

Related: Make a marshmallow tower

8. Make The Best Paper Airplane

hands on activities for kids - the one paper airplane that every child should know how to make with folded paper airplanes
Let’s fold paper airplanes!

This paper airplane design from Crafting Chicks is a classic activity that’s been a favorite for years. The cost for an afternoon of play is just a ream of paper.  Make paper airplanes – try this design, BEST ever!

Related: Learn how to make paper planes and play paper airplane games

STEM Activities for Kids That are Open Ended

Fun hands on activities that involve tinkering kits, building, making mazes, and obstacle courses.
These hands on activities are great for kids of all ages including toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarten kids.

9. Portable Tinkering Kit

Tinker away!  Create a kit of random bits for your kids to build and create with! Plus, it is portable, take it anywhere!

Related: What to do with an empty box

10. Reasons To Build A Court

Build a fort! It doesn’t matter if you make it out of PVC piping, old bed sheets or chairs.  Your kids will have a blast!

Related: PVC pipe DIY toys

11. Pool Noodle Structures

hands on activities for kids - pool noodle structures for summer stem - child building a structure with skewer sticks and sliced pool noodles
What can YOU build with a pool noodle?

Old pool noodles are not trash!!  Your kids can build massive structures with them, all you need are toothpicks.

Related: Ideas for pool noodles

12. Pom Pom Maze

Make a maze for your kids to navigate a pom-pom through.  All you need is a stack of post-it notes!

Related: Make a balloon rocket

What To Do When Kids Are Bored

STEM play ideas that involve building, obstacle courses, and mazes.
That string obstacle course looks like so much fun. That could easily be turned into a ‘Mission Impossible’ type pretend play.

12. Super Mario Dollhouse

Make a Mario World, or whatever your kids favorite screen game is, bring it to the real world.

Related: Make a toy car track with masking tape

13. Upcycled Cardboard Mazes

Mazes are mesmerizing.  Make one with supplies you have on hand.

Related: Make a following directions activities grid

13. Giant Web

Never ending fun!  That is what a skien of yarn will give you.  Give your kids the task to make a giant web – and then they can crawl through it.

Related: Learn how to draw a spider web

14. Engineering Challenges

Plastic disposable cups and craft sticks!  Just sit back and watch your kiddos will build and create.

Related: Cup stacking game

Fun Hands On Activities

Hands on activities for when your kids are bored. Build dancing science projects with wires, batteries and skirts, mazes, tents, and a cardboard theater.

15. Make a Cardboard Box Labyrinth Maze

hands on kids activities - large cardboard box maze with popsicle sticks
Let’s make a maze!

Half the fun in this activity is the creation, plus this is yet another amazing STEM activity. Make this large maze from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.

Related: Make a marble maze out of a shoe box or a paper plate maze

15. Tiny Dancers

hands on activities for kids - Duracel batteries with copper figures on top with skirts for dancing
Let’s go dancing!

This dancing battery gal is  easy to make, try giving the instructions to your elementary aged kiddos along with the supplies.

Related: Make a simple battery train

16. Air Fort

hands on activities for kids - DIY air fort - sheet billowing up for a fort
Let’s build a fort today!

All you need is a box fan, a big sheet and an empty room.  Hours.  Your kids will be shrieking and crawling as a snake for hours.

Related: Try making a DIY catapult

17. Cardboard Castle

Got a big box? If not, check with your local appliance store!  You can make an accordion castle!

Related: Art with toothpicks

Easy Toys & Games to Make from Simple Things

Hands on activities using cardboard boxes to build unique shapes and cd's on a string.
Look at all the beautiful colors on the cd’s.

18. DIY Cardboard Construction

You don’t need to spend money to make toys that will help build your kids brains.  Raid the rubbish bin for some cardboard!

Related: Rubber band toys you can make

19. Button Spinner

Spin away!  Decorate CDs to become colorful orbs of color. This is one of our many fun hands on activities.

Related: DIY fidget toys

20. Basic Toothbrush Robotics

Who knew that a toothbrush could be and do so much more than just brush teeth.  Transform it into a robot.

Related: DIY robots

21. DIY Guess Who

Learn about historical figures – create a game of Guess Who. This is a great game for elementary kids.

Related: Favorite family board games

More Science & Educational Activities From Kids Activities Blog

Which hands on activities for kids did you try? Which ones are your favorite? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.



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