"There's something special about a toy or activity that unleashes your child's creative potential – even if the carpet clean-up can be painful. Whether it's slapping paint onto a piece of paper (and most of the floor) or carefully creating a model or toy, an arts and crafts session boosts your child's creative thinking and fine-finger control and, best of all, gives the whole household some cracking wall art or shelf displays," explains MFM's Helen Brown, head of content delivery and author of Parenting for Dummies.


We've painted and glued, sewn, drawn, modeled and cut our way through loads of arts and crafts toys – and, crucially, so have a small legion of child testers – to bring you the best arts and crafts toys for children aged 3 to 12 plus...

Best arts and crafts at a glance

  • Great for learner sewers: Rex London Woodland Stitching Set, £6.95
  • Great for creative role play: Paint Pop Face Paints, £6.99
  • Great for making and wearing: HGL Loom Band Twister Kit, £8.25
  • Great for older crafters: Clementoni Pen Creator Studio, £24.99
  • Great for on-the-go crafting: Spirograph Junior Design Playset, £19.99
  • Great for mess-free creativity: WaxiDoodles, £16.99
  • Great for fine motor skills: Aquabeads Deluxe Craft Backpack, £34.99
  • Great for imaginative play: Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Busy Chef's Restaurant Playset, £18.99
  • Great for colouring creativity: Carddies the Card People to Colour and Go, £8
  • Great for magical makes: Gift in a Tin Magical Fairy Fun, £13.79
  • Great for creative sensory play: Kinetic Sand Sandisfactory, £22.99
  • Great for post-craft play: Fiesta Crafts 3D Mask card Craft, £9.99
  • Great for decorating fun: Fuzzikins Homemakers Family Home, £19.99
  • Great for rainy-day creativity: Planet Junko Epic Cereal Box Creations, £12.99
  • Great for cute animal models: Eugy, £9.99
  • Great for toddler painting: Little Brian Paint Sticks, £14.07
  • Great for building art confidence: Galt Toys Fab Foil Art, £6.99

Here’s our pick of the best arts and crafts toys and kits, as tested by children and rated by their parents

Additional writing and product selection by Gill Crawshaw and Helen Brown

1. Rex London Woodland Stitching Set, £6.95

– Great for learner sewers

rex london woodland stitching set

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold – Best art/craft toy or kit under £15, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

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Learn to sew colourful animals with the Rex London Woodland stitching set. This kit is ideal for little ones as it offers a needle-free introduction to sewing, in a plastic-free kit.

There are 8 cardboard woodland figures to sew, in retro colours and bold designs including a bird, trees, rabbit, squirrel, bear, deer, and owl. The set has 8 strings that little hands can thread through holes in the designs. Once complete, the strings can be untied and removed so that the kit can be used again and again – alternatively, the animals can be hung up and used as decorations.

“It’s fun!” was the verdict of child tester Evie, 4 (pictured above) who said, “I love sewing all the different colours and animals.” Her mum Sarah added, “This is very reasonable for the price. It’s an ageless toy in that kids will always want to play with this kind of item, and in perfect budget for a party gift when it feels like there’s one every weekend.”

Available at: Rex London

2. Paint Pop Face Paints, £6.99

– Great for creative role play

Paint Pop Face Paints tested by child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver – Best art/craft toy or kit under £15, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Think mess-free face painting isn’t possible? Step forward Paint Pop Face Paint Sticks, where non-runny paint sticks are contained in plastic tubes. Simply twist the stick to push the tip of the paint up, then you’re ready to get creative.

This parent-friendly pack includes 12 bright, vibrant colour sticks of face paint along with white and black sticks. A brush is also included to help with those finer details. And, if you're struggling for inspiration, the pack also includes an easy-to-follow guide to create 8 different face designs, but of course there's unlimited scope to create your own designs.

We loved that the face paint is formulated to be safe on skin and is non-toxic. Parents will be thrilled to hear that, once dry, the paint shouldn’t smudge, and it can be removed easily.

"I like to be a tiger with lots of orange" said Poppy, 4, pictured above.

Child tester Esme, 4, was also a fan: “These are really fun!” Her mum Laura added, “Once on they literally stay on all day! But the great thing about them is they are also so easy to rub off. I always said 'no' to face paints because I knew that it would be messy and time consuming, but these paint sticks are a fantastic idea.”

Available at: Amazon and Smyths Toys

3. HGL Loom Band Twister Kit, £8.25

– Great for making and wearing

HGL 3000 Piece Loom Twister Kit being tested by child

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8 | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze – Best art/craft toy or kit under £15, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

The craze for loom bands doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and this great value kit is a brilliant way for children to get involved. Featuring 3,000 pieces including loom bands in all the colours of the rainbow, this bumper set really offers a lot for under £10.

Jessica, mum to our child tester pictured above was impressed with how quickly her daughter was able to get to grips with the kit: "My daughter was really excited to try out this gorgeous loom kit, and after a couple of practices she mastered it. She found the bands really cool and wanted to show them off to her friends – she now has her friends queuing up wanting to have a go and create their own bracelets.

"It gave her a boost to her confidence, too. She struggles with her fine motor skills and, although looming requires patience and practice, she's really mastered it and feels really proud of her designs."

Available at: Gift Giant

4. Clementoni Pen Creator Studio, £24.99

– Great for older crafters

Clementoni Pen Creator Studio

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8 | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold – Best art/craft toy or kit over £15, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

The Clementoni Pen Creator Studio is a unique, creative and crafty way for kids to design their own – and very cool – pens.

This clever kit allows you to make 10 different pens using the pen creation station. Over 50 accessories are included for you to create and personalise each different design and there are various choices of ink colour and nib. Each pen housing is a clear transparent tube that can be filled with glitter, pompoms, or beads, plus there are a variety of different child-friendly pen toppers to choose from, including a smiley avocado, cactus, unicorn, and cat.

“The amount of magic you can create inside a pen is so cool,” was the verdict of child tester Tiya, 8, who added, “All my friends will love their pens, I can make them all different and add the colours that they like.”

Her mum Bhavisha commented: “Tiya loves arts and crafts and her face just lit up seeing this – she has not seen anything like it before." We love the longevity of use for a kit like this, with Bhavisha agreeing, "The pens are something that will last a long time after being created.”

Available at: Smyths Toys, Amazon and Argos

5. Spirograph Junior Design Playset, £19.99

– Great for on-the-go crafting

Spirograph Junior Design Playset being tested by child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver – Best art/craft toy or kit over £15, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

The enduringly popular Spirograph has been reinvented specifically for younger children in this colourful playset. Inside the box (which doubles as a carry case) you'll find chunky plastic gears, felt tips pens and paper that you fix to the front of the workstation. Everything is designed for little hands to master and the entertainment value is high as a result.

It's a brilliant rainy day activity or a handy – and easily portable – craft kit you can pop in your bag to take with you on weekends away or as a fun activity to keep the kids busy when eating out.

Kirstie, mum to child tester Iris, 5, loved that this classic toy was having a resurgence: "Iris has been playing with it repeatedly. My favourite moment was her teaching Great Nanny how to use it, who remembered it from the one she bought me!"

Ruth, mum to another of our child testers, Annie, 4, was impressed with how easy to use the kit was: "Annie is only 4 but she grasped this pretty quickly. It was great fun and good for imaginative play and creativity. You can really see how this will last over a long period of time as a child progresses with their drawing and pen skills."

Available at: Smyths Toys and Amazon

6. WaxiDoodles, £16.99

– Great for mess-free crafting

waxidoodles being tested by child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5 | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze – Best art/craft toy or kit over £15, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

These re-usable modelling sticks are coated with a wax formula so they stick to each other, and to almost any surface, but don’t leave permanent marks behind. Incredibly versatile, WaxiDoodles are twistable, pliable and durable, making it easy for children to make cool 2D and 3D creations, without the mess usually associated with modelling clay.

With colours that wont blend (hooray for not having to contend with a mishmash of multiple colours of clay after a play session) and sticks that won't dry out, these clever non-toxic wax sticks are designed to be used many times for mess-free creations, making them excellent value for money.

Child tester Sofia, 5 (pictured above) was a big fan: "It's fantastic! You can do all kinds of stuff – you can even draw with it." Sofia's mum, Anita, also rated the WaxiDoodles, commenting:. "The best part is how versatile it is! Because it doesn’t dry out and the colours don’t mix it’s definitely something you can use again and again. We untwisted some creations to make other things so it’s definitely worth the price."

Available at: The Happy Puzzle Company

7. Aquabeads Deluxe Craft Backpack, £34.99

– Great for fine motor skills

Aquabeads Deluxe Craft Backpack being tested by child

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 6 | Batteries: None

The Aquabeads Deluxe Craft Backpack set comes with 1,000 beads in 40 colours that can be arranged to create all kinds of designs, from a cute puppy to a space rocket, that you spray with water to set solid. Inside the backpack (which is great for storage or decorating to show off those creations), there's a flip tray, double-sided Aquabeads pen, sprayer, design pegs and 2 template sheets with instructions.

The templates are there to inspire creativity, but children can come up with any kind of design they fancy. Parent tester Nyasha who tested this with their daughter age 6, (pictured above) said: "My daughter loves her Aquabeads Backpack. She has used the templates as well as her own imagination to create designs. She has even gifted her creations to friends and family; she is so proud when she sees them on display."

The new Shiny Beads included in this set definitely make it feel extra special, adding a glittering and shimmering finish to those Aquabeads designs.

We particularly like how the backpack keeps everything neatly in one place, making it easy for children to craft (and tidy up) independently, great for taking on trips away or simply storing neatly at home.

Available at: John Lewis, Amazon and Argos

8. Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Busy Chef's Restaurant Playset, £18.99

– Great for imaginative play

Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Busy Chef's Restaurant Playset being tested by child

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Editor's Choice – MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

This bumper kitchen-themed playset includes the L32cm x W34cm x H12cm 2-sided Chef's Restaurant, 4 stampers, a roller, menu board, spatula, knife, plate and 5 tubs of Play-Doh. It's got everything a child could need to set up their own little Play-Doh restaurant, serving up pizzas, burgers, pasta, and more.

There's so much to inspire some imaginative play here, whether that's using the spatula to put pretend desserts in the oven, set up the menu board or build and 'cook' burgers on the sliding kitchen griddle. Nina, parent of child tester Ada, 3, agreed, adding: "My daughter was very excited to play with this toy – she was able to use the sliding griddle with ease and loved that she could pull down the handle independently. Ada was able to be really creative, making up a whole plate of food, experimenting with different parts of the kitchen and really getting engrossed in her play. She enjoyed using the knife to cut around the moulds and really developed her hand and eye coordination."

There's lot to discover here, and we were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the build, especially considering the reasonable price point – something Nina backed up, commenting: "The overall toy is a solid piece, not flimsy or cheap looking and the added features such as the sliding griddle worked really well. I think the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations is totally worth the money."

Available at: Smyths Toys, John Lewis and Amazon

9. Carddies the Card People to Colour and Go, £8

– Great for colouring creativity

Carddies the Card People to Colour and Go

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5+ | Batteries: None

This set of 12 double-sided, hand-drawn characters on white card for your child to colour, also comes with a double-sided hand-drawn card scene to colour in and use as a backdrop. Choose from 15 different sets on themes including Ballet, Cavemen, Family, Christmas, Fairies, Farm, School, Pirates and Weddings. Each set comes with 12 colouring pencils and 12 plastic stands for propping the characters up.

Simply put, it’s old-fashioned colouring-in fun, presented very charmingly – with a lovely, diverse mix of characters. And the backdrop and little stands mean that colouring-in segues quite naturally into imaginative play, as your child acts out little scenarios for all the different characters. Lois, mum of our child tester Mollie, 6, said, "Mollie was instantly captivated. She couldn't wait to start colouring in the characters and had started role-playing with them before she'd even finished colouring the whole set. The quality of the card is really great and the size of the characters is spot on for small hands. The characters are really cute and appealing – and Mollie remained focussed on playing for a really long time. What a lovely kit!" And a very fair price, to boot.

Available at: Amazon and Buy Britain

10. Gift in a Tin Magical Fairy Fun, £13.79

– Great for magical makes

Magical Fairy Fun

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7 | Batteries: None

We love this unique little tin that contains all the materials you need to make up to 8 flower fairies and a fairy door. It's a sweet little craft kit that stands out for its excellent picture-led instructions – and we really like that you get to make a fairy door as well as the fairies.

There are plenty of materials, too – and because it all comes in a neat storage tin, it's a good kit for dipping in and out of over several different crafting sessions . Our child testers Roselyn, 6, and Jasmine, 8, were kept happily busy making fairies pretty independently – although Roselyn did need a little help from time-to-time. "I like it because it's creative," she said, "and the fairies have nice dresses. I found some of it difficult but Daddy helped. I like the tin!" We also liked that any fairies you make can be stored in the tin after play, keeping everything neatly in one place.

Available at: Amazon and Bright Minds

11. Kinetic Sand Sandisfactory, £22.99

– Great for creative sensory play

Kinetic Sand Sandisfactory

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5 | Batteries: None

Kinetic sand (silky-feeling play sand you can squish and mould and which never dries out) is hugely popular with children, and we can understand why. This set, containing red, blue, yellow and black kinetic sand and over 10 different tools and moulds for slicing, scooping and creating shapes, has everything you need for a super-fun, sensory crafting session.

Our child testers really loved this – and spent ages squashing and squishing colourful sand shapes with the really good selection of double-ended tools. We like the fork-shaped scraper tool and, best of all, the cube moulds you can line in black sand and then layer inside with rainbow stripes which you reveal later with a suitably theatrical 'ta da!' slice. "This is so fun!" said our child tester Oliver, 5. His mum Jamie said, "This set comes with much more than the standard kinetic-sand kits: there are so many tools we’ve never used before. The cube mould was Oliver's favourite." If we had to find fault, we'd say the instructions are a bit hard to follow – but there are umpteen demo vids on YouTube if you really get stuck.

Available at: Selfridges and Argos

12. Fiesta Crafts 3D Mask Card Craft, £9.99

– Great for post-craft play

Fiesta Crafts 3D Mask Card Craft

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 7+ | Batteries: None

Kids of all ages will love getting crafty making a wearable 3D mask out of printed, reinforced, recycled card. There are 13 different designs to choose from, including a shark, unicorn, tiger, T Rex (pictured), elephant, horse, crocodile and a colour-your-own unicorn, all with, easy to follow-by-number assembly instructions.

We have a soft spot for craft kits that offer really play value after the initial crafty bit is done – and this great-value kit definitely does that, with all of our child testers spending quite some time sporting their finished masks and one proudly hanging it on his bedroom wall afterwards. The construction is easy to follow but a little tricky in places – definitely an activity for a child a few years older than the marked age 5. "I really enjoyed making my mask," said our child tester Jack, 8. "I would like to buy and make more!" His mum Kayleigh added, "It's worth the price just for the fun we had making it but it's an absolutely fantastic price for a toy that is still going strong despite my reservations over it being broken fairly quickly!"

Available at: Amazon and Fiesta Crafts

13. Fuzzikins Homemakers Family Home, £19.99

– Great for decorating fun

Fuzzikins Homemakers Family Home

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Batteries: None

Here you get to make a home– featuring 2 rooms and a garden – for your 2 adorable Fuzzi Bear characters, then decorate with the 5 washable pens and 10 felt accessories (all included).

This dinky playset (measuring 27cm high) is nicely designed (though a little tricky to fit together) but the real thrill is the colouring – especially because you can draw on the walls! And then you can wipe it all clean and start again. "I love drawing on it and making pretty patterns," said Ophelia, one of our child testers, 4, "and I like the house because the Fuzzikins can go for a bath and to bed and then they can play in the garden."

Available at: Amazon

14. Planet Junko Epic Cereal Box Creations, £12.99

– Great for rainy-day creativity

Planet Junko Epic Cereal Box Creations

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 10+ | Batteries: None

Get ready to raid the recycling! This hardcover book has more than 20 ideas for creating fun things from old cereal boxes – including a dinosaur, a space helmet, a vampire bat, a unicorn and more. It also comes with 30 reusable 'magic corners' made from recycled plastic which allow you to join card up without having to use any glue or sticky tape, genius!

It's a lovely creative – and sustainable – kit with a good range of projects to make. The magic corners are a bit fiddly to handle at first but our child testers soon got the hang of them. We think this is the kind of craft/construction kit you could come back to time after time – and gradually start to make creations from your own imagination, rather than the book. Child tester Max, 10, said, "I found the measuring out fun and putting it together was good. I made the plane and Mum helped me with the corners. We really laughed trying to get it right. I really like this as it's something I can grab out of the cupboard on a rainy day."

Available at: Amazon

15. Eugy, £9.99

– Great for cute animal models

eugy toy being tested by child

Age suitability: 6+| Best for age: 6+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Joint Bronze – Best collectible toy, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Children will love watching their 3D animal models come to life as they slot and and glue together numbered pieces of (biodegradable) card. Each finished model (1 per pack) is between 10cm and 25cm high and you can choose from a range of animals, including a unicorn, narwhal, parrot, sloth and penguin. Everything you need is included, right down to the non-toxic glue.

"The fact it came with it's own glue, which made it easier, I thought was really good. I liked sitting down on my own and being able to do it all with no help. I felt proud of the models I had made myself" said child tester Max, age 8, pictured above.

Our 8-year-old child testers found these models fun to assemble – no grown-up help needed. And the finished results are lovely – proper mantlepiece show-off stuff. We can see children wanting to build up quite a little 3D collection! A lovely 20-minute craft activity that would make a great stocking filler or party gift.

Available from: Amazon and Hamleys

16. Little Brian Paint Sticks, £14.07

– Great for toddler painting

Little Brian Paint Sticks

Age suitability: 3+| Best for age: 3+ (or younger with constant supervision) | Batteries: None

Toddlers and preschoolers love the chance to get stuck in with painting, but if you can't bear the potential mess or lengthy clean up operation, these are just the thing. Included you'll find 12 solid paint sticks in a plastic tube that twist up and down like a glue stick, don't need water and dry almost instantly. The sticks work on paper, card, canvas, board and even glass, and are available in classic, metallic or day-glow colours.

There's so much to love about these pens – they're super easy to hold for little hands, so great for building arty confidence, and the smudge-proof results really do look like paint, rather than wax crayon. They can easily be wiped off the 'wrong surfaces' as 1 or 2 of our child testers discovered when confronted with some excitable tester 'graffiti' on wooden furniture! They’re last really well for their price.

Available from: Amazon

17. Galt Toys Fab Foil Art, £6.99

– Great for building art confidence

Galt Toys Fab Foil Art

Age suitability: 6+| Best for age: 6+ | Batteries: None

Galt's Fab Foil Art set contains everything you need to create 8 18cm x 13cm sparkly pictures. Just work section by section, peeling off the top layer, then press and rubb the coloured foil onto the sticky area underneath. There's 25 foil sheets in assorted colours and a guide included, to help your creative child get started.

The designs are lovely and our child testers had such (clean) fun peeling off the layers and choosing which colour foil to use on which section – there are lots of different colour combinations to create. It's brilliant for children who feel less confident with more freeform arty projects, and it's well targeted at 6 year olds, although smaller children could enjoy it – with some grown-up peeling help.

Available from: Amazon


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Sarah has worked as a writer for over 15 years, writing about parenting for Family Traveller, Baby magazine and 5 Minute Fun, MadeForMums and The Independent’s IndyBest.