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Boredom Busters: 100 Ways to Keep Kids Busy When They're Bored

Updated on October 10, 2014

"I'm Bored!" Tired of hearing your kids complain? Read on!

When I was a kid, my parents would send us kids outside at the beginning of summer vacation and call us back just before school started. Well, it seemed like we spent almost every daylight hour outdoors. Any complaint of boredom was met with suggestions of either household chores or garden tending, which motivated us to find our own activities.

If you have kids (they don't have to be your children -- neighborhood kids, grandchildren, visiting friends and relatives) who expect you to provide constant entertainment, you've come to the right place for ideas! Scroll down for lots of boredom buster resources!

photo by John Morgan, used under Creative Commons license

"You'll find boredom where there is the absence of a good idea."

Earl Nightingale

Boredom Bucket
Boredom Bucket

My own Boredom Buster Bucket

born of necessity

My kids started saying "I'm BORED!" just a day and a half into summer vacation. I said, "Go outside and find something to do. I'm not here to entertain you!" They went outside for about 10 minutes and came back inside. This led me to create our Boredom Bucket. I warned the kids that any declaration of boredom would be met with an invitation to draw an activity from the Bucket. Some of the Bucket activities are fun; some are household chores.

Feel free to copy this list and make your own! If you have other things to add, please leave a comment so I can upgrade my Bucket. My kids and I thank you!

Create Your Own Boredom Buster Bucket

I filled my family's Boredom Bucket with a mixture of activities and chores. The kids always have the option of finding their own activities, but if someone says "I'm Bored," we go to the Bucket! If you have more ideas to add to the Bucket, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page! Thanks!

Get Books full of Boredom Busting Ideas

  1. Draw a picture or write a note for the grandparents.
  2. Build a tower with all the LEGO bricks and see how high it is.
  3. Go outside and find 5 kinds of bugs.
  4. Go outside and find things that are 5 different colors.
  5. Play Hangman.
  6. Read a book to your brother or sister.
  7. Chew a piece of gum and blow your biggest bubble.
  8. Gather up all stray socks/shoes and put them in the basket.
  9. Water the house plants.
  10. Dust the TV and computer screens.
  11. Collect sticks and make a stack of firewood.
  12. Draw a hopscotch board on the sidewalk and play.
  13. Use chalk to decorate the patio.
  14. Write a note to surprise Mom/Dad and tape it to the mirror.
  15. Write a note to a friend or relative, saying "One thing I love about you is _______" and mail it.
  16. Make finger Jello.
  17. Take a nap.
  18. Lie down outside and find shapes in the clouds.
  19. Use the hose or sprinkler to make rainbows outside.
  20. Fill the salt shaker.
  21. Fill the pepper shaker.
  22. Fill all the liquid soap dispensers.
  23. Organize the plastic containers so they nest well, with big ones on the bottom and little ones on the top.
  24. Pick a dandelion bouquet.
  25. Make a slingshot out of a stick and a rubber band.
  26. Brush the dog/cat.
  27. Wash all the mirrors in the house.
  28. Sweep the porch or patio.
  29. Blow up a balloon and see how many times you can bounce it in the air without letting it touch the ground.
  30. Go through the odd socks and try to make pairs.
  31. Take things out of the toybox and put them back in, so the stuff that was on the bottom is now on the top.
  32. Make up an acrostic poem with the letters of your name.
  33. Mix your own bubble juice and blow bubbles with a straw. Bubble recipes
  34. Make your own playdough. Playdough recipes and Playdough instructions
  35. Make up new words to a familiar tune, such as "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star."
  36. Practice doing cartwheels until you're good at it.
  37. Get a jump rope and see how many times you can jump before you miss.
  38. Get a jump rope and see how many times you can swing the rope under your feet between jumps.
  39. Trace the outline of your hand and put your name and date on it, for your scrapbook.
  40. Get a friend and use chalk to trace your body outline on the sidewalk. Draw your face and clothes.
  41. Write a few sentences about how bored you are, and what you'd like to do.
  42. Make an old-fashioned dandelion or daisy chain. How to make a daisy or dandelion flower chain
  43. Make a grass whistle. Instructions from Ranger Rick magazine:

    Whistling with a Blade of Grass

    * Find a long, wide blade of grass.

    * Cup your hands together with your thumbs lined up and the blade of grass sandwiched between them. Your thumbs should touch at the top and bottom, leaving an opening in the middle.

    * Hold the grass tightly between your thumbs.

    * Blow through the opening. When the grass vibrates, it will make a sound. This is a little tricky, so, if it doesn't work at first, keep trying until it does!

  44. Make a bowling game out of empty water bottles and a ball.
  45. Try building a castle or fort out of empty boxes.
  46. Spread a blanket or sheet over a table so it hangs down and makes a tent/fort. Have a picnic in your tent.
  47. Find some flat, smooth, round stones and skip them on a pond.
  48. Play catch.
  49. Climb a tree.
  50. Find some sandy rocks and rub them together to see what color powder they make.
  51. Plant a seed with some soil in a paper cup.
  52. Play "Duck Duck Goose."
  53. Get some crayons and do a page in a coloring book.
  54. Talk to a friend (in person or on the phone) about this: your five favorite movies.
  55. Talk to a friend (in person or on the phone) about this: the worst thing you've ever tasted.
  56. Talk to a friend (in person or on the phone) about this: your funniest joke.
  57. Set up an obstacle course of toys and practice racing around them.
  58. Climb a tree.
  59. Start a rock collection.
  60. Start a leaf collection.
  61. Put together a jigsaw puzzle.
  62. Do the hula hoop.
  63. Learn how to pop a wheelie on your bike.
  64. Vacuum the stairs.
  65. Pull the weeds out of the garden.
  66. Play "Sardines." Instructions from nwf.org:

    Sardines is another variation of hide and seek. In this game, one child ("It") hides while all the other kids count to 50. Everyone looks for the hider, but instead of revealing his hiding place, each player quietly hides with "It" when they find him. Soon, those who are left realize that they are looking for a hiding place where lots of people are located instead of just one person. The game ends when the final child finds all the hiders. He then becomes "It."

  67. Put an empty jar or milk jug on the floor. Take turns trying to drop a clothespin into the container.
  68. Play a board game.
  69. Play Tic-Tac-Toe.
  70. Play Twister.
  71. Play Hide and Seek.
  72. Spin some jacks.
  73. Have a battle with spinning tops.
  74. Put on some music and dance.
  75. Practice whistling a tune.
  76. Play "Cat's Cradle" with a loop of string and a friend. How to do Cat's Cradle string figures
  77. Fly a kite.
  78. Clean the kitchen sink.
  79. Wipe the bathroom counters.
  80. Make a tower with all the toilet paper and see how high it is.
  81. Make paper airplanes and see which flies the farthest.
  82. Build a house of cards.
  83. Build a cabin out of toothpicks and glue.
  84. Build a tiny fairy garden from rocks and twigs.
  85. Make your bed.
  86. Change your sheets.
  87. Find last year's school supplies and play school.
  88. Make sandwiches for your family.
  89. Make homemade popsicles with juice and sticks.
  90. Bake cupcakes and take half to a neighbor.
  91. Go through a dresser drawer and take out the clothes that are too small. Put them in a bag to donate.
  92. Find all of the pieces to a toy set and put them together in a container.
  93. Make your own maracas/shaker. Tape paper over one end of a toilet paper roll. Add a spoonful of dry rice or beans. Tape paper over the other end. Shake your own rhythms!
  94. Make a kazoo with a plastic comb and waxed paper.
  95. Gather tree seeds that look like helicopters. Toss them into the air and watch them twirl back down.
  96. Turn a bucket upside down and drum on it with wooden spoons.
  97. Dress up in costumes or sport uniforms and play.
  98. Use a plastic grocery bag and a small action figure or object to make a parachute.
  99. Make "Ants on a Log." Wash celery and slice into snack size pieces. Spread peanut butter, cream cheese, or cheese spread into the groove. Stick raisins onto the spread. Yummy!
  100. Make potato stamps. Slice a potato into thirds. Use utensils to carve a design into the flat part of the potato. Dip into paint and stamp onto paper.
  101. Get some paper and cut out shapes. Try hearts or paper people chains.
  102. Go on a photo scavenger hunt. Try to take a photo of these things (or make your own list):

    Stairway, Dog, Squirrel, Pine tree, Traffic sign, Swingset, Ant, Stapler, Mail box, Taxicab

  103. Sort the spare change into rolls and count it.

Have some great boredom busters you'd like to share? Please do! Tortured parents and babysitters will thank you!

Have some ideas or stories to share?

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    • geeky247 profile image
      Author

      Heather Weaver 3 years ago from Colorado

      We built some paper airplanes yesterday! The kids weren't that excited about it until we started flying them. Then we had a great time! And it only took about 6 pieces of paper for an hour of fun!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      That list leaves a lot to be desired, I am a child myself and read through the list hoping to find something I could do this summer and not to be rude, but none of those things seem the slightest bit fun to me, and just seem like chores and other things that in my opinion are even more boring than doing nothing, I must say I was very disappointed with this list. 1/10 :( !!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Those are some great ideas. While reading them I thought of "making puppets and putting on a puppet show."

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Just wanted to say you have a great lens here.

      I really appreciated all the information you gave and I have featured you over on my BLOG at http://happyplayhappychildren.blogspot.sg/2012/06/...

      Thanks for being so giving of your information :-)

    • kspoll profile image

      Kristen 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Great lens. I can't wait till my kids are big enough to do some of these things on their own. Especially #90!

    • profile image

      ednkirstin 6 years ago

      I love your boredom bucket idea! Now that I've successfully weaned my 6 kids off of spending too much time on the computer (see my lense), I'm going to make a boredom bucket to spur their creativity. My kids' favorite is #49: they LOVE climbing trees! Oh, and your idea of making a card for grandma and grandpa is great. If your kids are like mine and make zillions of cards, you could also consider taking them to a nursing home. The people really appreciate the cards, and it gives the kids a meaningful use for all their drawing. Awesome lense!

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