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alternatives to workbooks for kids

If you are looking for alternatives to workbooks to get your kids brains working – especially during summer break – we’ve got great ideas for you.

workbook alternatives will have your kids practicing and gaining lots of skills like:

  • Increasing ability to focus and concentrate.
  • Developing spatial skills.
  • Building problem solving skills.
  • Increasing memory
  • building confidence
  • learning positive social interaction.

This list just the tip of the iceberg in this article, but here is what to look for when choosing one of these workbook alternatives for your kids.

These are great to incorporate into your summer routine – and especially great for independent leisure time.(I explain all about this secret HERE)

What to look for in a Workbook alternative

Find the right level of difficulty

Make sure the book is at an appropriate level. Check the ages suggested for a guideline, but you know your kids best. The activity should not be too easy….or it will not hold their attention.

I would always err on the more difficult side, because you (or an older sibling, grandparent, etc) can sit and help them get started. They need to feel a sense of accomplishment for them to keep doing it. But,if it’s too hard, their frustration tolerance can be triggered.

There is some level of interest on their part

If they already have an interest in puzzles, or cooking, find the write workbook alternative to catch their interest.

There is a caveat to this one, however. Some level of interest on your kid’s part is great! But, not always necessary. You can purchase something and start working on it yourself – folding origami, doing a puzzle, etc – to entice your kiddo.

Just like strewing books around the house to entice your kids to read, putting something in front of them may spur their interest.

Create connection around it

Kids will love these ideas even more if you create a little connection around it. These alternatives are ripe for working on with friends and family, as well as on their own.

Short on Time? Check out my Amazon Storefront with all these ideas in one easy, place.

Pro Tip: Incorporate Independent Leisure Time

Okay, I know I already mentioned Independent Leisure Time once — but hey, it’s so awesome i may just mention it again before this article is over.

What is Independent Leisure time you ask? It’s time that your kids are occupying themselves with anything that is not on a screen. Kids find their own spot in the house – and you do, too. Kids can occupy themselves with a book, art supplies, etc – the one caveat is that no one leaves their space or bothers anyone else for the designated time.

You can set a timer and gradually work up to 30 or 60 minutes. You may have to start at 10 minutes and add to it gradually. We love our time timer for this, so kids can see how much time is left. The question, “How much time is left?” is not answered.

Independent Leisure Time can be a daily routine or you can pull it out on those days that you’ve got nothing planned. If you are finding it hard to get started or your kids can’t get used to it…..try it everyday for awhile, to make it a habit. It can be successful with kids as young as 4.

awesome alternatives to workbooks

Puzzle Books

I can not say enough about the skills that doing puzzles fosters in your kids. Gaining focus and determination needed to pursue something “difficult” is a big one, for starters. But kids also learn visual spatial skills, and communication skills when working with another person. There are often references to history, geography, current events, facts about nature, etc. that grow kids general knowledge.

Connection can be built with another adult, sibling, grandparent, too as they sit down and work a puzzle together.

The trick comes in finding a quality puzzle book that is not too easy.

Highlights makes some great ones, like this and this.

My all time favorite that suits 1st thru 5th or 6th grade is the Games magazine puzzles for kids that is only available used.

Origami Books

Practicing Origami takes patience and practice, not to mention being able to follow directions. It’s rewarding because you get a very cute product after all your efforts.

You will find kids teaching others, once they’ve got a particular fold down.

There are lots of great books on origami like this one and this one with paper included. Or check out this Youtube channel for some easy to fold creations.

chef junior cookbook

Cook books

There is so much to be learned from cooking! Planning, meeting everyone’s needs, preparing the space, creating the meal, presenting the meal, cleaning up from the meal, hearing feedback about the meal…..

No matter how much experience your kiddo has in the kitchen, there is a cookbook for them.

We love Chef Junior – which has lots of recipes that fit our healthier lifestyle and ADHD Diet. One of the author’s is Katie Kimball’s son – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. She wrote our all time favorite “adult” cookbooks.

I also love Mollie Katzen’s cookbook for their healthy, yet fun, recipes. The instructions are very kid freindly and geared towards even the youngest chefs. Salad People, Honest Pretzels, and Pretend Soup are all great one’s to check out.

If you like online learning, we love KidsCookReal food – both my boys took their online class when they were 11 and 9. Your kids will get skills in everything from measuring to meal planning, to using a knife the save way.

Mad Libs

This is a classic way to brush up on your parts of speech. If you are not familiar, one player asks another to randomly name say, a verb or a plural noun. These words are them inserted into a story completely out of context to create an often hilarious tale.

Belly laughs and some rolling on the floor, are guaranteed to ensue!! Check out Madlibs Junior (for grade 1 to 3) and Madlibs Vacation (grades 2 to 4) and even Madlibs for teens!!

Kids are getting practice with parts of speech and also reading! They usually want to read the story over at least a few times to different members of the family.

Books to keep builders busy

Building involvles lots of skills: Planning, Problem solving, working with what you’ve got, revising, following directions and more!!

If you’ve got a big stash of random legos, 365 Things to Do With Lego Bricks, will lead to hours and hours of fun!! Most of the builds in this book are simple and perfect for beginners and master’s alike. It will also spark creativity to modify and change the builds to suit your kiddo.

Why stop at one lego book? There is an all-new Lego Ideas Book and More Genius Lego Creations.

Like to build, but don’t have tons of legos? Steven Caney’s, Ultimate Building Book will have your kiddo building with everything inside and outside of your house.

Drawing books.

There are so many great drawing books out there that develop so many different skills like, confidence, following directions, focus, visual spatial, not to mention-getting good at drawing!!

My kids have both loved Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal and Finish This Book. Both books have prompts for drawing, painting shredding, searching……that will leave you looking at the world, and yourself, in a whole new way. Good for ages 12 and up.

Wreck this Journal for Kids is now out – and geared for younger kids(5 to 12).

How to Draw Cute Stuff Series has easy, step by step instructions for learning how to draw, well, cute stuff! See the video above for what your kids will have fun learning to draw.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Puzzles have so many pluses — they can be left up and worked on bit by bit. They promote focus and visual spatial skills. Puzzle can help kids with fine motor skills.

Best of all, I think, is the connection you can experience over a puzzle is amazing!! Plus, there is such a sense of accomplishment and it’s sloooooowwwww going, so patience is built, as well.

Check your library for puzzles and the thrift store is always a great place to look.

Ravensburger puzzles are super good great quality. And they come in 100 piece, 250 piece, etc, so you can start small and ramp up.

There are so many options for teaching your kids some great skills that are not boring ol’ workbooks.

Remember, consult my huge list on Amazon for these and other workbook alternatives.

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