Tried and True, Easy Boredom Busters guaranteed to end the chorus of "I'm bored" that inevitably happens when the kids are home all day long.
I don't mind letting my kids get bored. I think boredom leads to a lot of creativity and forces some self reflection, which is good from time to time. But sometimes, and especially in the summer, my kids need a little extra help.
When the kids get stuck in a round of "there's nothing to do" for too long, then the squabbling starts. I do not like all the squabbling. Not at all.
So, I've come up with a few tried and true boredom busters. These are simple things to break the boredom cycle. They don't require much adult intervention, and most of them don't even require much in the way of supplies. These are just simple activities that get the kids' creative juices flowing again.
Sometimes, my kids get into one of these things and stay occupied for hours. Honestly, hours! Sometimes they do one of these activities for 15 or 20 minutes and then remember that there actually are fun things to do - despite the chorus of "I'm bored" that they indulged in for the previous 20 minutes. Either way, these are guaranteed to end the complaining and hopefully the squabbling too.
There are variety of things on this list, all of which will spark some creativity. There is only one that involves the internet and an electronic device, but it's such an inspiring one that you won't mind the screen time. A few of these, depending on your kids ages, may require some adult help, but most of them you can just let the kids go.
Now, for the boredom busters! Go have some fun.
10 Boredom Busters for Kids
This is the most awesome website for kids! We've been using this for almost a year now and it's been so much fun. An art loving family runs the website and they create art lesson videos with their kids. There are free videos available on the site, or you can pay (less than $3 a month) to become a member and have access to even more, plus ad free videos. We're members and it's well worth the money.
There is a huge variety of things to draw, and you can pick videos for different ages. There is even a variety of different styles - some more cartoon like, some more realistic. You can learn how to draw a Hibiscus Flower, or your favorite Shopkin, or a Cartoon Ice Cream Sandwich.
There's more than just drawing too. They have videos for sculpting, origami, painting, and cut-outs.
The website is well organized and easy to use. All of the videos are well executed and easy for kids to follow. My kids like it because they always have a kid doing the drawing too, so while their drawings may not look quite as good as the adult drawings in the video, they do always look as good as the kid's drawing.
I have a big jar of buttons. My Grandmother gave me some, I picked up more a the thrift store, and I bought even more in a big bag at JoAnn's. It is surprising how much fun these have been for my kids. They have made up games with the buttons. They have created art with the buttons. They even just like to site and sort the buttons by size, color, and shape.
This is ridiculously simple, but I swear, it works.
Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Fun is a great boredom buster at our house. The scope of this book is so diverse! There is most definitely a great boredom buster in here for your kid. There are classic science experiments, crafts and upcycling, board game hacking, code-cracking, geocaching, skateboard repair, yarn-bombing, stop-action movie-making-plus tons of sidebars and extras, including trivia, best-of lists, and more.
Last week my 11 year old had a friend over and after an hour or so, they started asking "What can we do?" I directed them to this book and they spent the rest of the day making secret book vaults.
I'd recommend this one for kids 10 and up. However, there are certainly fun things in it for younger kids, they just might need more adult help.
We've had this book since 2011 and it's saved the day hundreds of times. It's exactly what it sounds like, a big book of games. To be precise, there are more than 450 indoor and outdoor games for kids ages 3 to 14. The book is genius and it's only $7 on Amazon!!
We've used this book a million times and played so many games from it. However, four or five years ago, my kids found a game in this book called "What's my thought like?" It's a simple game that involves guessing what the other person is thinking and then making up funny sentences. My kids have played this game almost daily ever since. They play it in the car. They play it as they are going to sleep at night. They play it when they are bored. It's weird and amazing how much a part of our lives this silly little game has become.
If you only use one item off this list of 10 boredom busters, make it this one! I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Legos are a good boredom buster on their own. However, this book is awesome for getting your kids excited and inspired with their Legos.
This is a new one to us this summer and my kids have been having a lot of fun with it. I like it because it gives generalized instructions, not step by step, so the kids can really just build on their own once they have an idea they are interested in.
A fun feature of the book is the random number generator and timer on the front. It's fun to randomly pick a project and then do a timed build - adds another element of fun to the whole thing.
Note: if you want specific building instructions, this is not the book for you. Also, if you haven't amassed a pretty large collection of legos (which I've found oddly easy to do with 4 kids) then this probably isn't the book for you either. But, if you have a lot of legos, and don't mind getting creative and "winging it" on some projects, then this really is a lot of fun.
I try to stay away from broad generalizations, but I really do think every house with kids should have Magna Tiles. They are the simplest, open ended toy out there and I've never yet met a kid who didn't have fun with these.
Really little kids (like 18 months old) can have fun with these right on up to your teenagers and adults. Honestly, I have fun with the magna tiles.
We recently got a set of glow in the dark Magna Tiles to add to our original set and it's a whole new level of fun.
We play with these EVERY DAY at our house!
On Amazon, you can get a 32 piece set or a 100 piece set. There are also a lot of knock-off's of these. I can't speak for all of them, but the glow in the dark tiles we bought are the name brand Magna Tiles and the original 100 piece set we have are Play Mags (they sell Play Mags and Magna Tiles at Target) and I can't tell a difference. Plus, the 100 piece set of play mags costs the same as the 50 piece set of the original magna tiles. So, take that into consideration.
Just $9.99 for hours of fun. This is another super simple thing that is oddly entertaining for children.
You don't even have to say anything. Just plop a pile of pipe cleaners down somewhere that your kids will see them and let them be. You will be surprised at how long this will keep them busy.
There were maybe 5 or 6 pipe cleaners in the Kid Lit Art box we did last week, and they kept my 4 year old entirely entertained for more than an hour! No joke!
These are also good in the car because they're easy to clean up.
Kids Cook Books
We have a lot of kid cook books and they've been such great boredom busters. And while they may be the messiest boredom buster on this list and they may require the most supplies, they also can end with meals and snacks that you didn't have to prepare!
These are our favorites:
- DK Complete Children's Cook Book: This is our favorite! Lot's of full color pictures, detailed instructions, quality recipes.
- Kids Cook 1-2-3: Only 3 ingredients for everything in this book. My kids have used this one over and over again. Great even for young kids.
- Pretend Soup: This is a great one for preschool and up. This was our first kid's cookbook.
My girls got a 500 piece jar of beads as a gift a few years ago and it has been the hit toy! I can't find the exact thing we have on Amazon, but it's this same brand. I believe they sell the exact one we have at Target as well - I just can't find it online.
The beads snap together and pull apart so you can mix and match. They are made to make jewelry, but my kids (Rory included) use them for all sorts of things. They become dog leashes, crowns, trains, etc. Really, really fun!
Another ridiculously simple way for your kids to entertain themselves. Hand them a pack of tracing paper and let 'em go.
My kids have so much fun tracing pictures out of books, especially comic books and reference books. They find it so satisfying! It's easy, but it works.
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