By Christa Protano
As I write this, we are in the middle of winter. Fortunately, we are not knee-deep in snow. I live in the Northeast and this winter has been unseasonably warm. While this has been a blessing for those who dislike the cold, as a mom, I feel somewhat bad for my kids because I know they want a snow day or two. But we are not out of the proverbial winter woods just yet! Experts recently issued a warning that March may in fact come in like a lion. That said, I’m not putting our snow boots and sleds away anytime soon. It’s also not a bad idea to stock on up some activity kits in case a later-winter snowpocalypse keeps us inside for a few days.
Fortunately, there are a multitude of craft and puzzle kits out there that are wallet-friendly and appeal to all ages. Sadly, some of them don’t live up to their sales pitch. As with everything these days, reading reviews is a must-do. I can’t tell you how many times my 7-year-old received a craft kit that was either not age appropriate or came with IKEA-style instructions (or none at all). Cue the frustration and tears — for both mom and kid.
So to help you succeed in the save-it-for-a-rainy (or snowy!)-day game, we put together a list of our highest-rated craft and activity kits on Amazon for all ages. Those that made the list received at least 4.5 stars and had more than 150 reviews, some of which you can read below.
1. Disney Princesses & Villains: Crochet Finger Puppets
Whether your team good or evil, you can try to make something that suits your mood with this Disney-inspired adult craft kit. The kit contains all the crochet things to make Ariel and Ursula finger puppets, including yarn, stuffing, safety eyes, crochet hook, and tapestry needle. Once you master these two underwater rivals, there are also step-by-step instructions for other iconic princess-villain duos.
In her five-star review, Sam says, “I already finished the Ariel and Ursula ones out of the yarn that came with the package. It’s probably enough yarn to make a second pair. The instructions are clear and easy to follow even if you are not frequently crocheting. They are cute gifts for kids and a great addition to every finger puppet theater.”
2. Sticker Extremely Cute Animals
Stickers and ridiculously adorable animals? Yes, please. This activity book features 15 different sticker puzzles, each consisting of a tessellated grid and 100 reusable stickers to complete the image. Thanks to the oh-so-cute subject matter, skill level required, and helpful starter clues, this quiet activity will definitely help chase the winter blues away. “It’s calming, relaxing, and fun when I’m feeling anxiety,” says reviewer Lisa.
3. Unicorn Universe (Just Add Water)
Moms looking for a mess-free activity to add to their entertainment arsenal will appreciate this edition to the Just Add Water series. All that is needed for kids to create 30 magical unicorn paintings is a cup of water and the included paintbrush. That said, it’s good to know that children may also want to dip into their basket of markers and crayons to complete their masterpiece. Once finished, the perforated pages can be ripped out easily and displayed on the fridge. Says reviewer Kelsie, “Five-year-old loved this! Great for quiet time and I love the no mess, but still tons of colors!”
4. Recipes from the World of Tolkien: Inspired by the Legends
When you find yourself running to the grocery story for bread and milk, be sure to add ingredients from this cookbook to your list. From molasses scones to pork pie, the recipes found here use modern ingredients and American measurements, so you’ll have your first and second breakfasts, dinner, and supper covered should you get snowed in. While Tolkien fans will love the Middle-earth-worthy meals, this cookbook’s illustrations are worthy of its 3,000-plus positive reviews as well.
Says reviewer Idamis, “If you love Tolkien, these recipes are definitely worthy of a try. There are simple recipes like fish and chips and even complex ones if you feel bold and adventurous. It’s a fun little deep dive. The illustrations are wonderful and the small bits of lore sprinkled about the book is just icing on the cake.”
5. Bob Ross Happy Little Jigsaw Puzzle Book
Do you know what I miss the most in winter? Trees. Happy little trees. Fortunately, this jigsaw puzzle book inspired by the iconic optimist and painter Bob Ross helps me bring a little of nature’s majesty into my home all yearlong. The collection of nine 96-piece jigsaw puzzles feature Ross’s colorful landscapes, plus each puzzle is paired with one of Bob’s positive quotes about life.
“I love Bob Ross and his paintings and I love jigsaw puzzles. I was needing something to relieve stress and saw this book. It helps me relax to do the small puzzles while also knowing the book will frame it when I’m done. I highly recommend this book for puzzle enthusiasts or those who love Bob Ross and his paintings,” says reviewer Angel.
6. Large Print Calm Color-by-Number
The cover alone of this adult coloring book is reason enough to pick up a copy during these long, cold winter months. But what’s even easier on the eyes is this book’s large printed numbers. Inside, you’ll find 25 more amazing scenes to inspire your next vacation. Until its time to pack your bags and hop on a flight, use the included color key to bring these black-and-white destinations, animals, and landscapes to life.
“This book is easy to read the numbers and the colors blend so nicely. I have stayed up until midnight coloring because its so relaxing!,” says reviewer Debbie.
7. Embroider the World of Jane Austen
“If Bridgerton has been your Netflix binge of choice lately, returning to the era of Jane Austen will surely be a pleasant escape,” according to the staff at US Weekly.
We couldn’t agree more, and this embroidery kit will transport you back to the Regency era. This kit includes 12 iron-on transfers, embroidery floss, 2 pieces of fabric, 2 pieces of calico backing, 2 needles, and a 6-inch bamboo hoop. A 64-page instruction book and full-color photos provide step-by-step instructions so even novice crafters can feel as confident as Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s classic, Pride & Prejudice.
Wizarding World™ fans young and old will want to add this activity kit to their collection of fandom memorabilia. Here you’ll find all the materials and instructions needed to make 22 paper models of magical locations such as Hogwarts™ castle, Gringotts Wizarding Bank™, and Hagrid’s™ hut, along with other locations from all eight films. There’s also a keepsake book with behind-the-scene stories and 22 trading cards full of fascinating facts. Says reviewer Rebecca, “These paper models are so much fun to build! A little more complicated than I thought they would be, but I love them! Bought them to decorate my Harry Potter™-themed classroom and they turned out great.”
This remarkable collection of 20 graphic puzzles features music legends such as Elvis Presley, Madonna, David Bowie, and Tina Turner. Put on some of your favorite music, grab a felt-tip pen, and get ready to transform a set of simple lines into an amazing work of art.
“I’m a huge fan of adult coloring books, especially the ones that offer a unique challenge or a new twist, and this book does not disappoint! It is so exciting to sit down with nothing but a big spiral, and a few hours later you have a new masterpiece. It definitely takes a steady hand and good lighting, but the results are well worth the effort,” says reviewer Rooney.
10. Disney Word Search and Coloring Book
Disney fans will want to have this puzzle book on hand for a rainy day or even a family game night. Included are 52 word-search puzzles along with coloring pages from Disney’s most beloved animated films in chronological order, beginning with 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Reviewer Becca says, “We love doing this word search as a family. We like to race each other to see how fast we can get one done. Then it’s a treat when the book is complete and we can color it.”