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My daughter wouldn’t have lasted for an hour on a cold, rainy Sunday back in the late 80s. She expresses a great amount of disapproval for boredom, constantly making certain that everyone in the home is well aware of her declining amusement for her current circumstances.
With technology at their fingertips and parents monitoring their children’s every move, kids are having fewer natural social interactions these days and relying more on the intense stimuli of video games and social media for entertainment.
But, even these things get boring for kids, and without knowing anything aside from instant gratification, kids can’t handle boredom with the kind of grace that we once did as children.
That said, in this article, we will look at 35 fun things to do when your kids are bored. Let’s get started.
35 Fun Things to Do When Your Kids Are Bored
1. Teach a Love for Reading
Reading to young kids has been proven to help develop healthy cognition. This activity gives your kids a better idea of their surroundings, helping them make sense of what they see and hear on an everyday basis. One study showed that as soon as you pick up a book and start reading it to your child, thousands of their brain cells are activated, creating new connections and building new cells.
If your kids are a little older, learning to read themselves will help put them on the path for success later in life. This activity will expand their vocabulary, reading comprehension, and improve their chances of academic success.
Resource: Here are the best books to read according to one’s age.
2. Play a Sport
All kids love being outside. It’s really hard to be bored when you’re playing in the yard or with the neighborhood kids.
Playing a sport is such an easy idea, but sometimes kids don’t really think about it. Soccer is easy to play in any yard, as is football and basketball (if you have a hoop). But you can also consider getting a wiffle ball net or a croquet set to have some additional yard games on hand.
3. Write a Story
Family and play therapists report that experiencing boredom is important for children because it helps them become more creative as they’re learning they need to create their own sources of fun. And one great way they can use that creativity is to write a story!
You can pre-plan for this by jotting down a few ideas of storylines, such as:
Resource: Here is a guide to helping your child write a story.
4. Build a Fort
All kids love forts. And once they’re done…to be honest, adults love them too.
Gather up all of your blankets, pillows, giant binder clips, maybe a bit of rope…and create a pillow fort to call home for the day! Kids love spending time in forts; they can bring board games, snacks, and books inside to read. You can even grab some sleeping bags and make it into a slumber party!
Resource: Here is a guide on how to make a fort with your little ones.
5. Scavenger Hunt!
If you have an older child, he or she can make a list of things that your younger child(ren) has to find either inside or outside. Or, you may have to create a list on your own, but your child will love the thrill of the hunt.
Resource: Here are 22 scavenger hunt ideas for children.
6. Write Inspirational Messages for Neighbors
If you have a sidewalk in your neighborhood, get some chalk and get to work. People could really use some healing words right now while we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and writing these messages will even help your kids feel good. Plus, they can draw pictures and decorate their messages…and did you know that glitter chalk exists?
7. Paint Kindness Rocks
Same idea here as above, but you can make these at home and then go scatter them around the city. This activity has become a viral trend where people put inspirational messages or notes on rocks in order to spread love and kindness to people in the area. The end product is easy to create and doesn’t require a ton of direction–kids can get as creative as they want.
Resource: Here is a guide to painting kindness rocks.
8. Work on a Growth Mindset
If you want your children to love learning and always feel like they can improve their skills, it’s important to teach them about having a growth mindset. There are plenty of activities that you can do with your children to instill this philosophy into them, and doing so will not only help them be happy and successful in the future; it will also teach them how to play fairly with their friends and not be a sore loser when they’re playing games.
Resource: Here are some growth mindset coloring pages for your kids to use.
9. Write a Play
You can probably remember performing skits when you were a child for your family using any dress-up clothes and props you could find. Coming up with characters, names, and personalities is a great way for kids to use their imagination.
Have your children write their own play (and pick out their costumes) and then perform it before dinner. This will give them some time to use their creativity to make up a storyline and then use props they can find around the house to make it come to life.
Resource: This is a great site to help you get started with teaching your kids how to write a play.
10. Make a Race Track
If you have some painter’s or masking tape lying around, this is an activity that can provide hours of fun with a quick and easy clean-up time. It will also put some good use to all of those little cars that your kids probably have lying around.
Let the children get creative with the twists and turns of the track and get some races going!
Resource: This video will walk you through it.
11. Make a Vision Board
Hopefully by now, you have (and use and love) your vision board. Well, kids can have high hopes for their future as well! Help them make their own vision board, talk about the future and what they want to be when they grow up and the impact they want to have on the world. Then use these vision board templates and these vision board printables to make something your children can hang in their rooms to help inspire them each and every day.
Resource: Take a look at this checklist to make sure you have all of the supplies you need.
12. Get Messy
I’m sure several readers may skip over this one, but kids love to get messy–and if they do it on the kitchen floor (or outside), clean-up isn’t completely terrible. Plus, these are the experiences that your kids will remember for years to come.
Some ideas for messy fun (aside from the popular activity of making slime) include:
13. Let Them Watch Your Favorite Show
…Not your favorite show currently, but whatever you were watching when you were their age. This will be fun for them to see a bit of your childhood (and how much media has changed) and it can be a nostalgic activity for you, too. Old television shows give everyone a peek into the past and give us an idea of what our former cultures were like and the transition that we have made to get to where we are today.
14. Bake Something
Dust off your grandmother’s old recipe box and show your kids how you used to splurge when you were a kid. Maybe you think she made the best chocolate chip cookies ever or she baked a cheesecake that no one else could ever get exactly right.
Whatever you decide to make, baking at home with the kids can help you make some delicious memories that they can then pass on to their children.
Resource: If you want to try some new recipes, here are some kid-friendly options.
15. Play with an Educational App
While you may be trying to reduce screen time, there are definitely some benefits to allowing your kids to play with some of the educational apps that are available. Most of them feel like games, so your child will be entertained while they’re learning. But be careful, studies show that some apps that claim to be educational fall short of the mark.
16. Introduce Your Children to Mindfulness
This meditation practice helps children relax and focus on the present moment, putting their worries aside. In recent years, mindfulness has become a popular way to help children handle stress, ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
But telling a child to sit down and breathe and think about the present moment may be tough. So instead, forget the definition of the term and invite your children to find a very still place in their minds and stay in it for a few minutes.
Resource: Here are four of the best mindfulness games for kids.
17. Make a Time Capsule
Help your child get together some items that are special to them (but not so special that they can’t let go of just yet) and put them in a glass jar. Or, if your kids are old enough, consider giving them a questionnaire to fill out that helps describe who they are and the things they enjoy.
Once your time capsule is done, hide it and choose a date in the future that you will open it back up.
18. Create Stationary
Cutting and coloring are both great ways for kids to perfect their fine motor skills. Find some unique paper and decorations and let your kids get artsy. And, when they’re done, help them use their creation to write a letter to a loved one, as research shows that teaching children about writing letters to people while they’re young can help improve their skills when it comes to communication, handwriting, and social pleasantries.
The letter can really be about anything, and when they’re done with it, you can teach them how to address and mail it.
Resource: Here are some ideas to get you started.
19. Make a Donation Box
If you’re stuck inside, you have a great opportunity to get rid of toys, clothes, shoes, and other items you don’t use anymore. And if you have kids, those items are probably plentiful.
Instead of letting your children’s items collect dust, put them to good use by helping some of the millions of families who are in need. This activity can even help you teach your children about gratitude and generosity as you’re cleaning up your clutter.
Resource: Here are some items that can help you declutter your house.
20. Have a Tea Party
Get your children to either grab their stuffed animals or just have a tea party with each other (depending on how many children you have). Have them dress up and enjoy some luke-warm tea. While your children won’t realize it, you will actually be helping them improve their communication skills as they practice conversing while enjoying their treats.
(And if you need some help getting them started with their conversation, check out this post that will give you 65 ideas.)
Resource: If you want to get really into it, here is how you can make a more elaborate tea party with your kids.
21. Nature Hunt
Similar to a scavenger hunt, but write down a list of things that you will be finding in nature together. Consider things like birds, specific leaves, sticks, acorns, pinecones, animals, flowers, etc. This will help you all spend some time outside, get some fresh air, and be physically active while still having fun and spending time together.
Resource: Here are some free printables to give you an idea of the things you can look for on a nature hunt.
22. Have a Camping Trip
Whether you set up a tent in your backyard or in your basement, your kids will love going camping…or glamping.
Set up a fire and make some s’mores, get out the sleeping bags, and tell ghost stories once it gets dark.
And, of course, if you want to go on a real camping trip and enjoy the night under the stars far away from any hint of everyday reality, that will always be a good idea as well.
23. Do Some Science Experiments
Doing science at home can be messy, but it’s also an inexpensive way to have some fun and learn how different materials react to each other. Kids love to experiment with things, and would definitely enjoy doing some hands-on experiments at home using the things that you likely already have lying around.
Think: lava lamps, volcanoes, tornadoes in a bottle, a rainbow in a glass, paper airplanes, whatever your kids are interested in!
Resource: Here are 64 easy science experiments that kids of all ages can do at home.
24. Work in the Garden
Let each of your children “have” their own little area in the yard to plant whatever they want. Having your kids take care of their own garden can help teach them responsibility and it will make them feel proud when their seedlings turn into plants. This will also help get your kids outside into nature and teach them hands-on about how nature works.
25. Have Them Come Up With a Random Act of Kindness
…and then make sure they follow through with it! Teach your kids to pay it forward by doing unexpected, kind things for other people (even if it’s just your neighbors). Teaching kindness to your children early on will help reduce those teenage feelings of selfishness that most of us experience at some point.
Resource: Check out this post with 115 random acts of kindness to get you started.
26. Listen to Kid-Friendly Podcasts
If you’re trying to avoid screen time, finding some kid-friendly podcasts is a great alternative that can be engaging for kids. There are options for little kids and their older siblings, including bedtime stories, science and fantasy, educational (but entertaining) and all kinds of other options. Plus, there are a lot of podcasts out there for your curious children that explain things in the world at their level of understanding.
27. Go to the Zoo — From Home
A lot of zoos have live feeds that you can watch from home so you can keep an eye on the exotic animals while avoiding the crowds. Kids love watching the animals just being in their own little habitats, and some zoos even lead kids through activities that they can do from home! This is definitely something that kids can get lost in for a good amount of time.
Resource: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden hosts a Facebook live event every day at 3:00 EST.
28. Play Some Oldies but Goodies
Remember how much fun we had playing follow the leader, red rover red rover, red light green light, Simon says, tag, hide and go seek, four square, hop scotch and all of those simple, outside games? Kids really don’t need a lot of resources to find entertainment, so introduce them to these classic games that we all loved as a kid.
Resource: Here are 60 ideas for some simple outside games.
29. Mini Golf—at Home
You can make up your own rules if your kids are young, because just getting them into swinging the clubs a bit teaches kids some fine motor skills, how to play fair, and highlights important values such as honesty and overcoming adversity. Plus, if you can get your kids into golf, it’s definitely an activity that leads to fewer injuries than contact sports.
Resource: Here is a video that will walk you through teaching young kids about golf.
30. Yoga for Kids
If you haven’t checked out yoga videos for kids online yet, this is a must–for several reasons. Not only will it help get your kids interested in concentrating on their breath, being mindful, and stretching their bodies, the hosts create yoga sequences in fun ways that follow familiar storylines for the kids– so they love it. My daughter loves the Frozen yoga video and I enjoy doing it with her as well.
Resource: Check out these Cosmic Kids videos.
31. Let Them Redecorate Their Rooms
Who is to say that your child even likes that room that you spent months planning, decorating, and putting together. I know I was recently informed that my 6-year-old is less than impressed than I had hoped with my vision and the efforts (and money) that followed.
If your kids are old enough, give them a little control and let them rearrange their rooms or pick out a new theme or set of decor. It will help them feel like their room is more their “own”.
32. Make Ice Cream…
…in a bag. It only requires milk, vanilla, sugar, ice, salt, and two durable plastic bags. After putting the recipe together, your kids can have fun shaking the bag as much as they can for five minutes before opening it up and enjoying what they’ve made. Plus, you can let them add whatever toppings they want!
Resource: Here is the full recipe.
33. Make a Picnic
Even if you don’t make it to a local park, throwing a blanket on the grass and eating your lunch in the sun will always feel like a vacation. Pack your picnic basket with light foods that you can slice on-the-spot in addition to bite-sized desserts, drinks, and disposable silverware.
If you want to make an afternoon out of it, invite some neighbors over for your little staycation lunch.
Resource: Here are some tips to hosting a great picnic.
34. Create a Chore Chart
While the outcome of this project might not sound so fun for the kids, they can be lured if you offer an allowance for certain chores. Plus, making the chart can be fun because the kids can decorate it with all of their art supplies. And an extra perk– you can start teaching them about responsibility (if you haven’t already).
Resource: Here are 31 chore ideas to help kids earn some cash.
35. Make an Obstacle Course
Making an obstacle course is a great way to keep your kids moving either inside or outside. They will probably need some help getting it set up, but once it’s complete, they will have a ton of fun. Help your kids create some obstacles using pool noodles, wooden boards, chalk, buckets, rope, traffic cones, a ladder, hula hoops, balloons…you can even add a sprinkler if it’s warm outside!
Make sure to let your kids help in the creation of the course to keep their imaginations going.
Final Thoughts on What to Do When Your Kids Are Bored
Let your child help with putting these activities together and adding their own twists. This will help force them to create their own entertainment with their individual interests in mind. And remember, some kids who say they’re bored may be trying to reach out for more interaction or engagement with you, so stay involved as much as you can.
Try a few of these ideas and see what your child connects with– you may be able to find a new hobby that they love!
Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.