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What to do With Kids on a Rainy Day or Spring Break? 10 Fun & Inexpensive Activities
10 Spring Break Boredom Busters in This Hub:
- Indoor bowling
- Ice cube painting
- Melt an ice cube game
- Ice cream in a bag
- Homemade play dough
- Indoor bubble domes
- Exploding paint bags
- Tin foil boats
- Homemade pretzel creations
Making Spring Break Memorable...At Home!
As a teacher, spring break meant "me" time! As a mom, spring break might look a little different. Through my experiences nannying, teaching enrichment days and summer camps, I have seen kids get excited about each of these activities! Of course, if the weather is nice, each of these activities can easily be taken outside or even in a garage.
Boredom Buster 1: Flubber
Flubber Exploration Ideas
- What happens when you hold your flubber up? Hold it for a few minutes and watch.
- What happens if you cut or tear your flubber into pieces on the table? Wait for a few minutes and watch.
- What happens if you drop your flubber?
What is the best color for flubber?
How to Make Flubber
When I was first introduced to flubber in elementary school myself, I loved it! It has such a unique texture. As a teacher I have made it with children ranging in age from 2-12! Some are reluctant to touch the flubber at first, but once they see it doesn't really feel slimy, they like it. If making this with young children, remind them there are chemicals that are not safe in flubber so they cannot eat it. Other than that, have fun!
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 cup Elmer’s glue (two 4 oz bottles or one 8 oz bottle)
- liquid food coloring, about 10-20 drops
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon borax (you can find this in a box in the laundry aisle)
- 2 small bowls
- 2 spoons
- Ziploc bags (1 per child)
- In bowl 1: Mix together the warm water, glue, and food coloring. Set aside.
- In bowl 2: Mix together the hot water and borax, until the borax is completely dissolved.
- And now for the magic1 Slowly add Bowl 1 (the glue mixture) into Bowl 2 ( the borax mixture). Mix well! Then, knead with your hands and most of the excess water will begin to mix in. Break apart into pieces so each child has some to use!
- This makes enough flubber for 4-6 kids. If I have a larger group, I usually make 2 batches (I have never doubled the recipe, just made 2 batches of different colors). Also, I let the kids pass the bowls around so everyone has a turn to mix each mixture!
- Flubber will last for about a month if stored in an airtight container.
- Flubber can clog a sink drain, so don't dispose of it down the sink!
The Chemistry of Flubber
When you combine both bowls together, kids (and adults) will be amazed at the transformation! You can use this interest to dig a little deeper. With young children, simply introduce them to the words "polymer" and "bind". You could say something like, "Wow! Look! The polymers are binding together and making flubber."
Don't want to make your own? Under $20 indoor bowling set:
Bordeom Buster 2: Indoor Bowling
My mom and I created this idea for a family gathering. We saved up water bottles for a few weeks and then filled them with sand to create two sets of bowling pins. We reused them for years. I have made a set for an end of the year field day for Kindergarten and purchased balls from the dollar store. Kids have fun bowling inside! If the weather is nice, set the game up outside on a driveway or sidewalk!
- 10 empty plastic bottles (water or soda)
- 1 small ball
- Sand or water (about 10 cups)
- Masking tape (or sidewalk chalk if outside)
- Unwrap the empty bottles. Fill partially with sand or water (sand is my preference), about 1 cup per bottle. The less you fill the bottles the easier they are to knock over, and vice versa. I like to cover the spot where the label was with a strip of colored paper so the pins are the same color, that way if you have more than one game set up it is easier to find the pins.
- Set up a place for the bowling lane. Put a piece of masking tape on the ground to mark where each of the pins should go.
- One person is the bowler, the other sets up the pins. A bowler gets 2 turns (or more if you want to just have fun). The "pin setter up-er" removes any pins knocked over and tosses the ball back to the bowler, then resets the pins after the bowler's second throw. Switch! Keep score if you want or just have fun!
- Experiment with filling the pins to different levels and throwing the ball from different spots.
Boredom Buster 3: Ice Cube Painting
Don't Forget Your Smock!
This boredom buster takes some preparation as you need to freeze the paint. Leads to beautiful paintings and messy hands. If doing this indoors, you will need to have your painting surface covered and probably wear an old shirt! I recommend making the ice cubes together the day before and predicting what will happen! I did this activity for a group of 2-4 year olds, but some 10 year olds joined in and had just as much fun watching the ice cubes melt and the paint mixing together.
- Old ice cube tray (you might just want to buy an inexpensive one for this)
- Popsicle sticks
- Washable paint (I recommend using just the primary colors red, yellow and blue)
- Squeeze paint into ice cube trays, about 1/2 full. Top with some water and add a popsicle stick. If room, leave a few cubes with just water to aid in mixing while painting! Let freeze.
Boredom Buster 4: Melt an Ice Cube Game
I originally found this fun game on an adorable blog called Little Giraffes. I played this game most recently with a group of 4 children ages 2-10 and everyone, including myself, had fun. We found ourselves laughing in no time...especially when I had to drop the ice cube down my shirt! Brrrrrr!
- Ice cubes
- A small bowl of water
- A small bowl or tray for each player
- Directions sheet
Boredom Buster 5: Ice Cream in a Bag (Can Be Made Dairy Free!)
Simply fun and yummy! If your child is dairy free, use coconut milk instead (I am not sure about other milk substitutes, but I know coconut milk works because I had a dairy free student who did that instead and it worked very well).
I did this with an elementary class and our favorite flavor was adding a drop of mint extract and a spoon of chocolate chips.
Boredom Buster 6: Homemade Play Dough
One of my early childhood professors taught me this play dough recipe and it has been my go to ever since. Always turns out soft and lasts a long time! Making play dough leads to a morning or afternoon of creativity. If stored in an airtight container, this recipe lasts 2-3 months.
Prof. Myers' Soft Play Dough Recipe
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 c vegetable oil
- food coloring, about 20 drops
- 4 1/2-5 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1/4 cup alum or cream of tarter
- Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Mix liquid ingredients in a saucepan on the stove to boil. Remove from heat when it just starts to boil.
- Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
- Knead on a floured surface (be careful as it will be VERY hot).
- After it cools, play!
Boredom Buster 7: Indoor Bubble Domes
One of my college science professors introduced me to the idea of blowing bubbles with a straw instead of a wand onto a table instead of in the air. What fun! I have done this with kids ages 3-10 and all have enjoyed it!
Mom's Bubble Recipe (without glycerin):
- Mix together: 1/2 cup water, 4 T dish soap and 1 1/2 T corn syrup.
- Pour some bubble mix onto a tray or directly onto the table. Using a straw, blow down into the bubble mix and watch what happens! Remember to blow air out!
- You can extend this boredom buster by experimenting with making bubbles using different dish soaps and finding which makes the best bubbles (my experiments have shown the blue Dawn is best).
- Also, you can use the bubbles outside and experiment with using different tools to make wands.
Alternate Bubble Recipe Using Glycerin
Boredom Buster 8: Exploding Paint Bags
The first time I tried this I couldn't help but feel like a kid with the kids! If your children have not experimented with baking soda and vinegar, that is a great boredom buster! This is the next step. I did it with children ages 3-10 and all of them enjoyed it.
A word of advice, it does take quite a bit of baking soda and vinegar, so I would recommend having lots on hand. Also, it can make a big mess, so consider doing this in an open space with an old shower curtain or plastic tablecloth and lots of paper on top. Finally, some children are scared of the sound of "popping." Even so, the 3 year old who was scared of popping simply stepped back and covered his ears then giggled in glee as he saw the bag pop!
- Small plastic sealable baggies (thinner generic brand baggies work better)
- Washable paint
- Lots of Vinegar
- Lots of baking soda
- Large paper
- Prepare your space for the fun: line the floor with thick paper. If inside be careful! It might get messy.
- Pour about 1/2 cup of vinegar into a plastic baggie.
- Squeeze in some paint. Mix the paint with the vinegar.
- Pour about 3 T of baking soda into a corner of the baggie.
- Leaving air inside, quickly but tightly seal the bag and shake it. Step back!
- Have fun and watch what happens next! (If the bag doesn't inflate and then pop, try experimenting with different amounts of vinegar and baking soda).
Boredom Buster 9: Tin Foil Boat Exploration
This can be an individual project or done with friends! It encourages creativity, critical thinking and fun. Encourage children to experiment with different materials and test out their designs in a tub of water.
Tin Foil Boats Materials:
- Tin foil
- Plastic wrap
- Wax paper
- Straws or other odds and ends your kids might like to experiment with in their creations
Challenge: Design a boat using items from your home that will float in a tub of water.
A fun twist: Your boat must be able to hold pennies! Which boat design will hold the most? (One summer, one of my summer campers designed a boat that held almost 200 pennies! Typically, from my experience, most boats hold around 40-80).
Boredom Buster 10: Homemade Pretzel Creations
I remember making pretzels with my mom growing up. She used to work in a bakery, so she showed me how to shape the pretzels into the traditional twists. I have enjoyed teaching kids the same thing. There are many excellent pretzel recipes online. This is the one I have used with kids simply because the kids are involved in the entire process and don't have to wait for hours as the dough rises!
Kid-Friendly Easy Pretzel Recipe:
- 1 T instant yeast
- 1-1/2 cup warm water
- 1 T sugar
- 1 T salt
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 egg
- Salt for sprinkling
- Combine yeast, water, and sugar in a small bowl. Let the yeast bubble for a few minutes. Discuss what is happening.
- In a larger bowl mix the flour and salt. Pour in the yeast/water/sugar mixture. Stir until the dough is completely combined (this can be done by hand or in a mixer.) The dough should be smooth and not sticky. If it sticks to your hands, add a little more flour.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Grease a cookie sheet.
- Have fun! Shape the pretzels!
- Mix the egg and brush all over the dough shapes, then sprinkle with some salt.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
Pretzel Shape Ideas:
- Traditional pretzel shape: First, roll into a snake. Second, bring the two ends up, then cross to make an X with a loop on the bottom. Third, carefully bring the two ends of the X at the top down so that they are on top of the loop. Now you have the traditional pretzel twist shape. It takes some practice, but you'll get it!
How to Shape a Pretzel
What do your kids like to do during breaks?
About the Author
Please leave a comment if you have tried any of these ideas to let me know how it worked! Feel free to share your favorite indoor activities too!