“Mom, I’m bored!” The war-cry of the summer. Without the structure of school, kids sometimes find it difficult to entertain themselves during the day. (Wouldn’t it be nice to have that problem!?) As mentioned in my “Summer Survival Guide,” behaviors often escalate when kids are bored. This summer, I knew I wanted to solve our boredom solution, and created a boredom jar.
A boredom jar is a jar full of different activities. Each time your child announces that he/she is bored, they draw a slip of paper (or popscicle stick) out of the jar. The rules at our house? You MUST do whatever the activity is….even if you don’t feel like it. I urge the kids to give something a try, and see if they have fun. (99% of the time, they do!)
My goal with the activities I chose was to keep my kids engaged. Nearly all of the activities are “fun”, however there are a handful of chore slips. My aim was to keep the majority of the activities “self-directed.” I wanted the kids to be able to complete most of the activities without my help (as they often get bored during the times I need to focus on the younger kids or work!) I also planned each of the activities to take about 15-20 minutes, with the hope that they “get lost in” an activity and end up playing for much longer.
I chose a variety of activities that involve forgotten toys and things that don’t get played with much. My hope was that the kids would remember how much they enjoy certain games and activities, find a new interest, or spark a new idea from one of the activities.
I focused on imaginative and pretend play, active play, outside play, and learning activities. I wanted my kids to have active bodies and minds during the boredom jar activities. We limit screen time at our house, so I only included three or four “screen” activities. It may be surprising that I did not include many reading activities. We have 2 other dedicated reading times built into our summer structure, so I chose not to include it. I want to keep reading fresh and enjoyable, and not burn the kids out. (They both read for over an hour a day.) However, if your kids do not spend much time reading, I encourage you to add reading slips to your jar!!
Yesterday was Day 1 of our new Boredom Jar and it was a big success! Both of my older kids LOVED it and had so much fun choosing slips. Yesterday they wrote and mailed a letter, performed a musical show, and made collages. They were happy and engaged, playing peacefully and quietly together during the activities. Win-win!
Here are 100 Boredom Jar activity ideas. I hope some of them work for you!
1. Plan, practice, and perform a puppet show.
2. Draw a map of your house, school, church, neighborhood, etc.
3. Make a cookbook with at least 5 recipes.
4. Do a 24 piece puzzle.
5. Do a 48 piece puzzle.
6. Do a puzzle with at least 100 pieces.
7. Do any 6 puzzles.
8. Write a story.
9. Draw a self-portrait.
10. Do a “What is It?” drawing – (I draw a shape, and the kids have to finish the drawing and write about what it is.)
11. Plan, practice, and perform a musical show.
12. Write or draw at least 3 things that start with each letter of the alphabet.
13. Build a blanket fort.
14. Play a board game.
15. Make cookies.
16. Have a water balloon fight.
17. Go cloud watching.
18. Write and mail a letter.
19. Gather and paint pet rocks.
20. Dust 3 rooms.
21. Write and draw a new invention idea.
22. Write a poem.
23. Make up a dance to one of your favorite songs.
24. Clean a bathroom.
25. Write a secret spy message using lemon juice.
26. Finish and illustrate the story, “I had SO much fun at Willy Wonka’s factory!”
27. Finish and illustrate the story, “I found a time machine yesterday.”
28. Finish and illustrate the story, “Yesterday, I found out that animals can talk!”
29. Finish and illustrate the story, “I can’t believe my wish came true!”
30. Write down at least three things that you love about each member in your family.
31. Make a collage picture.
32. Free play with pattern blocks.
33. Try to do the pattern block puzzles.
34. Build a domino train.
35. Make a zoo with blocks and animal toys.
36. Make a Little People town.
37. Draw a picture using your feet.
38. Make the tallest block tower imaginable.
39. Draw a picture blind-folded.
40. Write about a clown.
41. Write about a shark.
42. Create a new superhero. Draw a picture of him/her. Design their costume. Write about their powers. (Bonus- Design their arch-enemy.)
43. Memorize a Bible verse.
44. Make a paper plate mask.
45. “Paint” outside with water.
46. Make popcorn and watch a movie.
47. Watch a movie from when Mommy was little.
48. Make and play hopscotch.
49. Make something out of recyclables.
50. Make and play with home-made playdough.
51. Do 3 pages in a workbook.
52. Play the sequencing game.
53. Practice sight-word flash cards
54. Clean your closet.
55. Play bingo.
56. Play Memory.
57. Do an egg drop.
58. Take a rest. (Dark room, soft music, blankets)
59. Take your tents and sleeping bags outside and play camping.
60. Play catch until you can catch the ball 25 times without dropping it.
61. Play bowling.
62. Jump rope.
63. Do origami.
64. Make a volcano.
65. Water the flowers.
66. Clean out the van.
67. Play the Button Game.
68. Play the Wii for 25 minutes.
69. Watch a show you liked when you were 2.
70. Play Hot Wheels.
71. Play Barbies.
72. Play dress-up.
73. Have a tea party.
74. Have a birthday party for a stuffed friend.
75. Write a story about a pirate.
76. Practice soccer.
77. Play frisbee.
78. Decorate the driveway with sidewalk chalk.
79. Play 3 games.
80. Do Hot Dots.
81. Clean the deck.
82. Straighten the books on your bookshelf.
83. Make an animal out of construction paper.
84. Run around the back yard 8 times.
85. Make a list of everything you want to do in Disneyland.
86. Sort the play food into healthy and unhealthy choices.
87. Make a pretend menu. Include at least 3 items for each of these categories: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, and Beverages
88. Play with the rainbow bears.
89. Spray and wipe 4 walls.
90. Make a picture using stamps.
91. Sing 10 different songs.
92. Make part of dinner.
93. Fill up a tub with soapy water and “wash” the play dishes.
94. Try something sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Learn which part of the tongue tastes each.
95. Do each of the following things around the yard: run, skip, hop, jump, crab-walk, fly like an airplane, roll, and gallop.
96. Read a non-fiction book. Write or draw 4 things you learned.
97. Ride Bikes.
98. Have a dance party.
99. Do pattern strips.
100. Act out one of your favorite books.
*Some of my slips may not work for you. Use ideas that work with the toys, games, and activities that you have at your house. Try not to choose activities that require supplies that you might not have on hand. My activities were designed for early elementary school students. The activities may need to be changed/adjusted for younger/older children.
There are a TON of examples of super-cute boredom jars on Pinterest. I didn’t care about how cute the jar looked on the shelf. I simply wanted fun and engaging activities for my kids. I made a table in a document, and then typed one idea into each square. This made the cutting super easy. Then I just put the cut-out squares into a wide-mouth mason jar. No frills, just fun.