We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Some may have been sent as samples, but all opinions and reviews are our own. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.
1. A doodling mat that doesn't require messy markers. Parents are raving that it's the "most amazing mess-free coloring activity."
This mat just requires water. Simply fill markers provided with water and your child can doodle away — the water activates the colors on the mat.
Promising review: "I bought this for my 2-year-old daughter for Christmas and she absolutely loves it. It's mess-free which is amazing! No more coloring on the walls and furniture and it keeps her occupied for at least an hour. The water markers are easy to use all you have to do is fill it up with water and it's ready to be used. The pad is easy to clean if it gets dirty, all you need is a baby wipe and anything wipes right off. I bought this for my 1-year-old niece as well and she loves it. It's perfect for all ages. Highly recommend!" —Anolivia D.
Get it from Amazon for $15.99+ (available in five sizes and themes).
2. Or a LCD writing tablet if you need a more compact drawing surface. This tablet doesn't require markers or crayons, because as you draw with the included pen, a rainbow of colors will be revealed and images will appear magically.
It's easy to erase images and start all over again, but there's also a lock feature to save images if you don't want to erase them yet.
Promising review: "I bought these for my preschool classroom. The kids love them so much I am buying them for the other classrooms too. They like the colors and how pushing a button makes their artwork disappear. It has a lock feature so they do not accidentally erase their work until they want to. Teachers like the mess-free activity." —Joyce S.
Get it on Amazon for $15.99+ (available in four colors and one or two packs).
3. Search and find activity mats that are reusable and entertaining. This set comes with six double-sided mats filled with hidden items your child will be busy trying to find. Use included dry erase markers to track found items and simply wipe away to start again.
Includes six double-sided activity mats, one duster cloth, two dry-erase markers, and an achievement certificate.
Promising review: "My daughter loves this product. She just turned four and she is able to do the activities. She feels so proud of herself once she’s done. The only part she doesn’t like is when she has to erase it but then realizes she gets to do it again after it’s erased. The cleanup is easy. We just use a paper towel to wipe it down. We use this product daily now that we’re under a stay at home order." —Kathryn
Get it from Amazon for $24.97 (available in 10 activities).
4. A DIY shrink plastic accessories kit because it has everything needed to create fun accessories without creating a mess. All you have to do is color and bake to make clips, pins, lapels, keychains, and more.
Yellow Owl Workshop is a woman-owned small business that sells DIY crafting kits, jewelry, greeting cards, and more.
Kit includes 18 shrink plastic designs and 18 lapel pin backs with six color pencils.
Promising review: "I bought this kit for my 5-year-old niece and she absolutely loved it! Her mama said it was easy to use, not super messy, and fun for both of them to do together!" —Danielle G.
Get it from Yellow Owl Workshop for $15.95.
5. Reusable sculpting sticks perfect for crafting so your child can create anything they can think of (except a mess). These sticks are bendable and can twist into anything you can imagine. They're made of nontoxic, food-grade wax and can stick to surfaces like paper without glue and "without leaving a mess behind."
Each pack contains 24 Wikki Stix.
Promising review: "My kids love Wikki Stix. They can create little sculptures again and again. You don't get many per pack, but enough to entertain them. I definitely prefer these to Play-Doh, due to mess. These are zero mess, easy cleanup. They store for many uses." —Eric S.
Get it from Amazon for $7.15.
6. A Crayola light up painting set because the paint remains clear and colors are only visible on Crayola's Wonder Paper. No more walls and tables covered in cute (but hard to clean up) fingerprints.
7. Or a Crayola light-up doodle board with gel that replaces messy paint if your child isn't quite ready to dip into paint yet. This board has a sealed gel surface that allows little fingers to experience finger painting without the mess.
Promising review: "My 10-month-old loves this toy. She especially likes the light and the music. The third time she played with the board, she started to scribble a line or two with her little fingers. Before I bought this doodle board, I spent a lot of time looking for paints that were safe for infants. So this board is perfect! My baby can create artworks with the blue gel and it is safe and there is no mess for me to clean up. Do NOT expect to draw in detail or write small letters with this board. As you can see in my picture, the blue gel will blur your words a bit when you do cursive. But it’s perfectly fine for us. Babies still find it amazing!" —CC
Get it from Amazon for $27.24.
8. A Melissa & Doug sticker book that won't get you into a sticky situation. This book has pages of various scenes and include stickers that your child can add to them. But fear not, these are not regular stickers — they are reusable and only stick to the glossy pages included. If they happen to stick anything else, they are easy to remove and leave no residue behind.
Promising review: "My 2-year-old granddaughter loves stickers! This is a great activity to satisfy children's love for stickers without the mess everywhere and having to purchase copious amounts of stickers. It encourages creativity and imagination. Great for developing fine motor skills when peeling off the small stickers." —Andrea K.
Get it from Amazon for $16.93+ (available in 17 different sets).
9. And a Melissa & Doug water-reveal activity pad, because coloring should be magical and not messy. With a swipe of a water marker, fully-colored, eye-catching images appear.
Promising review: "Hello no-mess art! Yes! Both the baby and toddler can safely use this in the car or at home without me having to chase them down in fear they’ll make a mess! It dries in seconds so the fact that it’s reusable is awesome. The refillable water paint brush is great and can be changed out with other Melissa & Doug water art and even those water mats Amazon always has on special. We have a few of these and this is always a hit!" —DoublehapaFAM
Get it from Amazon for $6.95+ (available in seven themes).
10. A toddler busy board that can help develop fine motor skills. This board is portable, making it great to keep your child busy during long drives, while traveling, or at the doctor's office. And you just fold it away when they are done.
This board has various zippers, snaps, buttons, and strings to help your child learn to tie their shoes and get dressed.
Promising reviews: '"My 1-year-old loves it and it will grow with her with so many different things to master. Super handy for in the car or at other people’s houses. Lots to do with no mess." —Amazon Customer
Get it from Amazon for $19.99 (available in four colors).
11. An activity cube with pieces that can't get lost. This five-sided activity center has spinners, beads, farm animals, and puzzles that stay attached to the board. This means lots of play without the mess and no need for a search party to find missing pieces.
Promising review: "The activity cube is a great toy for ages 1 to 3, but might not be great for older children. The activity cube is one big piece, so there's no cleanup. It's small enough to store under a side table. No clutter or lost pieces. My almost-5-year-old is definitely too old for this cube, but yet is genuinely interested and spending lots of time racing beads and flipping them around. I think it's genuine because he will do this with beads on an abacus too that I got him to do math on. My 7-month-old baby is too small for this but will grow into it. I had a similar toy when my children were younger and if I had to compare this cube is more fun." —Gagewyn
Get it from Amazon for $59.99.
12. A magnetic maze board because who wants to look for missing pieces? The balls can't get lost because they are incased, and the wand is attached to the board. Use the magnetic want to glide the balls around to the end of the maze.
13. A Melissa & Doug Paw Patrol magnetic puzzle that keeps puzzle pieces together and in place. This puzzle is also portable and makes the "perfect travel companion."
14. An amigurumi crochet kit because learning a new skill shouldn't be complicated or messy. It comes with step-by-step instructions and everything you need to crochet an adorable dinosaur.
The Woobles is an Asian-owned small business whose mission is to make crocheting easy and accessible.
This kit might be best for older kids. New to crocheting? Don't worry, kits can be chosen by difficulty level and there are a lot of kits for beginners. And you can get help virtually or over email if you get stuck.
Promising review: "I am a true beginner and found this pattern very easy to follow. I really love the video explanations. Can’t wait to make more!" —K.S.
15. A VTech activity desk so learning can be fun instead of frustrating. Parents are raving that it's "easy to put together" and their kids "play with it for hours" and yup, it's doesn't require any cleanup.
This desk comes with five activity pages, turns into an easel or chalkboard when you flip it over, has over 100 vocabulary words, and 20 activities. It also has an attached telephone and music player that makes sounds.
Promising review: "My 3-year-old daughter got this as a Christmas gift and I love it! She loves it too, especially the music mode. I'm hoping she'll really get more into the learning mode. It has so much to do on it and she's still learning all the buttons. It was wicked easy to set up; you just attach the legs and add batteries and it's ready to go. I like that it comes with two front and back activity cards and that you can purchase more. So far she's been playing with it for over an hour nonstop (which if you have a 3-year-old you know it's awesome as she normally plays with something for 10–15 minutes and then it's on to the next thing). I also love that it can be flipped over to hold paper for drawing or used as a chalkboard. Highly recommend getting this and I actually wish I would have gotten it when she was two. If you're on the fence about getting it, I say go for it. It's not a purchase you'll regret and for all it does its worth the price." —Miranda
Get it from Amazon for $47.49+ (available in two colors and regular or frustration-free packaging).