We are fast approaching the middle of summer and I don’t know about you, but we’ve already had our moments of boredom around the house. I admit that I have already pulled out my copy of The Toddler’s Busy Book when I was searching for something fun my son could do indoors. (It’s so hot here in TX that we don’t spend a lot of time outside in the summer, unfortunately.) When the summer boredoms hit, many kids turn to watching TV or playing video games. Since many families try to keep TV watching to a minimum, you might also find yourself searching for summer boredom solutions that do not involve the television!

I’ve done some searching and found some great ideas that not only work in the summertime, but anytime your kids are bored. I’ve grouped the ideas by inside ideas and outside ideas, creative, crafty, and educational ideas, as well as ideas for groups of people.

Boredom Buster Can

I’ve seen several variations of this idea, which involves writing activities on pieces of paper and then putting them into a can, box, jar, or something. When the child complains of being bored, suggest they go pull an idea out of the can. Ideas written neatly on paper and put into an attractive container might have better odds of working – rather than mom or dad just spouting ideas off the top of their heads. This lets the kids be in control (reaching in and choosing an idea).

This idea is meant for fun activities that are non-TV related and it can work for any age; simply write age-appropriate activities on the pieces of paper. Be sure that each child has his or her own jar, with activities for their age, interests, and toys.

For an example of what you can do, check out the can Shannon over at Of Cabbages and Kings made for her daughter. Using a new paint can, which you can purchase from Home Depot or Lowe’s for about $2, and her own scrapbooking supplies, she and her daughter worked together to create this idea can. Having your child involved in this process might help create “buy in” – and is a great activity itself!

can2

Another idea I’ve seen is to simply decorate a shoe box with some wrapping paper and anything else that might be interesting to your child.

Ideas From Their Own Toys

To find some ideas for your child, go through their toys and think of the things they like to play with – and start there.

  • Build something with your Legos, blocks, etc.
  • Create roads for your cars and trucks using (blocks, cards, etc.)
  • Play with your Barbies, ponies, Strawberry Shortcake, dinosaurs, cars, trains, etc.
  • Have a tea party
  • Cook in the Easy Bake Oven
  • Play with Playdoh
  • Make a Lite Brite picture
  • Play with your construction kit
  • Play school with your animals
  • Build something with your gears
  • Play house with your dolls
  • Play a board game
  • Play cards
  • Do a puzzle
  • Do Mad Libs

Arts and Crafts

Here are a few crafty ideas:

  • Make sock puppets. Glue or sew on fabric, felt, hair, buttons, sequins, and other materials to finish your puppet. Then have your own puppet show.
  • Draw a picture
  • Create something with pipe cleaners (try creating animals using clean shampoo, dish soap, chocolate syrup containers)
  • Cross stitch and finger knit
  • Make a birthday card
  • Draw on your chalkboard
  • Make something with stickers
  • Paint a picture
  • Play with craft sticks
  • Make a collage. Use pictures cut out of magazines, brightly colored swatches of paper and fabric, and objects from around the house such as popsicle sticks, feathers, wallpaper remnants, ad flyers, old sewing patterns, and miscellaneous kid-friendly treasures.
  • Make some bracelets and necklaces with string and beads
  • Make a latch hook kit
  • Origami
  • Make your own jigsaw puzzle out of a thick piece of cardboard. Or buy a pre-cut jigsaw puzzle kit at your local craft store. You can also find puzzle template online that turn your photos into puzzles.
  • Make Sun Prints. Cut shapes from paper, spread restickable glue on the back of the shapes, and then stick them to construction paper. Tape the paper to a sunny window, facing out, and leave for at least a week (longer for higher contrast), and then peel off cutouts.
  • Create swirly stones (all you need are rocks, crayons, and adult assistance)
  • Make face masks out of paper plates

Creative

Here are some creative ideas:

  • Make up a play
  • Listen to music & dance
  • Make a tent
  • Make a book
  • Design your own board game
  • Make up a song
  • Play dress up
  • Have a scavenger hunt
  • Make a map of your house, your backyard, or your neighborhood
  • Play architect.  Turn an old shoe box into a miniature dream home (the lid makes an ideal ‘roof’).
  • Make your own musical instruments.  An old coffee tin makes an ideal drum, provided you file off any rough edges and glue the lid on tightly. An unsharpened pencil with an eraser on the end makes a great drumstick!
  • Organize a treasure hunt, complete with treasure map
  • Take photos, download to computer, and make up story
  • Create a newsletter or newspaper about your family and life and write articles for it
  • Play ‘museum’ by displaying their favorite collections—miniature cars, rocks, seashells, vacation memorabilia, etc. Have them label all items and write a description of the item and set it up on display. When complete, your child can invite friends, neighbors, and relatives to tour the museum.
  • Mold a sheet or two of aluminum foil into whatever they want (try a mask, jewelry, animals, or anything else you can think of)
  • Build a fort. Add a challenge to build the biggest one, one with only one entrance, the darkest fort, or using only what they can find in their bedrooms. Or, you can provide several blankets and have them make a family room fort using the furniture cushions.
  • Build something with toothpicks and miniature marshmallows
  • Make a city using discarded cereal boxes, paper, glue stick and markers

Educational

Here are a few ideas to keep the mind sharp:

  • Read a book
  • Practice spelling words
  • Practice math facts
  • Practice handwriting
  • Work on a workbook
  • Write a letter to a friend or family member
  • Make a chart or graph to find out something
  • Show younger siblings how to do something (colors, numbers, words etc.)
  • Do your Brain Quest
  • Read book aloud to mom
  • Write a story about a fun place you’ve visited

Exercise

  • Jump rope
  • Practice dance
  • Ride your bike
  • Take a walk
  • Play hopscotch
  • Hula hoop
  • Practice throwing a ball up and catching it
  • Practice t-ball, soccer kicks, etc.
  • Make an obstacle course. Time yourself and friends.

Other

  • Sort through your toys to donate some to children without toys
  • Work on tying knots, braiding, shoe lacing
  • Bake cookies
  • Plan and serve a meal
  • Look at things with a magnifying glass
  • Make sock beanbags then toss into a bucket or laundry basket
  • Play with flashlights (maybe make shadow creatures)
  • Make fossils: Press an object (e.g. a shell with ridges) into a piece of clay and then spoon plaster of paris on top of the clay mould. Once the plaster of paris is fully hardened, simply peel away the clay to reveal the fossil.
  • Vinegar water spray bottles: This idea is especially good for younger kids. Give them their own spray bottle filled with a weak vinegar water solution (safe for kids and most household surfaces) and a rag. It might be a good idea to make a rule or two, though (one spray, then wipe-otherwise, the kids would be happy to just spray and spray).
  • Show your kids how to write “backwards” messages by printing letters and words backwards so that the messages can be read when they’re held up to a mirror. Older kids will find the activity more challenging if they try using handwriting rather than printing.
  • Memory box: Put several objects (toys) in a box. One person closes his eyes while the other removes an object and hides it behind his back. The 1st person then tries to remember what was in the box and guess what was taken out.

Outdoor Ideas

  • Draw outside with chalk
  • Blow bubbles
  • Play with the sand table
  • Go to the park
  • Have a picnic
  • Have a scavenger hunt
  • Look at things with a magnifying glass.
  • Paint with water (water, paint brushes, and a fence)
  • Drawing with chalk on the fence
  • Help with the gardening
  • Play with sand and water table
  • Dump buckets of ice in yard and scoop it with shovels
  • Decorate clay flowerpots
  • Bathe your dolls or trucks (fill a bucket outside with soapy water and give Barbies or other water tolerant toys a “bath”)
  • Have a picnic lunch under a tree in the backyard
  • Wash the car and have some water fun
  • Run through sprinkler (or other water fun)
  • Catch some bugs, perhaps have a bug race (who has the fastest roly-poly or caterpiller?)
  • Paint outside: Posterboard or cardboard works best, but you can also tape paper down on the sidewalk or you can even fasten an old sheet or piece of canvas on the wall for your kids to paint on. Bring out standard paint brushes, or to add even more interest, have your kids find some nature items with which to paint. Children can dip sticks or small branches into the paint, or they can try using a sturdy leaf or a piece of mulch–whatever they can find nearby.

Activities with Friends

Here are some activities that are fun to do with a group of friends:

  • Wheelbarrow race, three-legged race, or sack race
  • Bean bag toss game (or the Toss Across game). My dad actually made one that’s similar to this.
  • Play croquet
  • Play Frisbee, or make your own Frisbee golf (or disc golf) course at home
  • Play colored eggs (this was a favorite of mine when I was little)
  • Play kick the can (another neighborhood favorite when I was younger)
  • Play freeze tag (yet another favorite of mine)
  • Organize a treasure hunt, complete with treasure map
  • Play kick ball, dodge ball, baseball, softball
  • Play BlongoBall
  • Play a game of road hockey using pool noodles and a beach ball

Advanced Planning Activities

Here are a few activities that require more advanced planning or could be ongoing throughout the summer, like creating a garden and having a reading contest.

Other Resources

Here are a few sites that have many, many more ideas!

And don’t forget an article I wrote about Indoor Activities for Toddlers.

Here are some books:

I hope this helps you and your family escape the boredoms!

Wendy – Parenting Tips 365

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