Bored kids are no fun to be around. They whinge and whine and flop themselves about the house. Their aim is to get you to provide some kind of exciting entertainment, usually one that involves you spending a fortune and them eating a lot of sugar. As a free range parent, I’d rather avoid providing entertainment so instead I have a jar of activities the kids can choose from when they are bored. Here are my bored jar ideas that don’t require too much input from parents.
What is a Bored Jar?
In the past I’ve tended to go with “If you’re bored, read a book”. To start with they would just say “I don’t want to do that” but if you persist with it they will eventually go off and find a way to entertain themselves. It will take some time though and will involve you putting up with a prolonged period of whining. If you’re hoping to move things on a bit more quickly I suggest a bored jar. A bored jar is a jar of lolly sticks with activities written on them that your children can do when they are bored. So when the whining starts, you simply refer them to the jar.
Ideas for Creative Things to Include in a Bored Jar
Children love to create something and if left to their own devices they will often end up doing something creative. These ideas can help them get started.
- Write a poem about something they love
- Draw a self portrait (or if they have siblings, draw each other)
- Design their dream playground/theme park/water park etc
- Make a sculpture from the recycling bag contents
- Design their dream bedroom
Messy Activities for When you’re Feeling Brave
We all know kids love mess so these might well be their first choices. Just how messy they are will depend on the age of the children and younger children will need some help with some of these.
- Follow a simple recipe to make a cake
- Experiment with mixing colours to create new shades of your favourite colour
- Create a mini science experiment with white vinegar, baking soda and food colouring
- Create a pretend meal from play dough (you can this is great play dough recipe)
- Make some salt dough and create something from it
Educational Activities for When the Kids are Bored
Learning things doesn’t have to be boring, these are some fun ways to use down time to squeeze in some extra learning.
- Write a story about your favourite character From a TV show, book or film
- Make a poster of the timetables
- Practice something that will help you get better at a hobby
- Teach someone something you know, that they don’t
Bored Jar Ideas Based on Acts of kindness
We all want our children to be kind and these activities can give them some ideas of how to do it.
- Write a letter to an elderly relative
- Write a list of good things about another family member
- Do a chore that will make life easier for someone else
- Phone a family member you haven’t seen for a while
- Choose some old toys or clothes to give to charity
Outside Activities Ideas for your Bored Jar
Getting kids outside is often an immediate remedy for boredom, here are some ideas to get them out the door, once they’re out there, they’ll likely entertain themselves.
- Build a den
- Make a mud pie
- Plant some seeds
- Have a race (against a sibling or against the clock)
- Practise your ball skills
- Go and Play Out
Energetic Activities for Bored Kids on Rainy Days
Children are most often bored when they are stuck inside because of the weather, here are some ways to burn off energy indoors.
- Create an indoor obstacle course
- Learn how to do a backwards/forwards roll
- Make a space and learn how to skip with a rope
- Do some yoga (there are some fab videos on You Tube)
Challenges to Engage Bored Kids
Children love a challenge. If you have a child by themselves they can compete against the clock. If you have siblings, they could compete against each other but against the clock might be a better idea!
- Create the tallest tower you can
- Put on as many socks as you can in a minute
- Balance on one leg for as long as you can
- Get your room as tidy as you can!
Chores Kids Can Help With
While this might seem like a punishment, younger children in particular love the responsibility of helping around the house.
- Do the feather dusting
- Load/unload the dishwasher
- Make their own lunches
- Put the washing away
- Pair up the socks
Quiet Bored Jar Ideas
Sometimes you just need some quiet (for me its usually when I have a migraine) and these activities should buy you some peace.
- Read a story
- Research something they’re interested in
- Do a puzzle
- Complete a crossword/word search/dot to dot
- Do some colouring
Performance Based Activities
If you’re children love to perform, they will love some of these ideas. While a play is tricky alone (although not impossible) the other ideas all work for siblings and singletons.
- Write a play and perform it later, using costumes and props
- Create a news and weather report to deliver later
- Put together a performance that demonstrates your skills in a particular area
- Write a song, make some music to go with it
- Learn the words to a song you like
How to Use the Bored Jar Ideas
You’ll want to pick and choose what to include in your jar based on things like the age of your kids, what you have in the house and your tolerance for mess. You may also want to have separate jars you offer at different times, we all have days when the mess created by painting is a no go.
Once you’ve offered the jar, that’s the end of it. Don’t make any other suggestions, it’s something from the jar or they have to come up with something for themselves. If they do come up with something, I always try and say yes if I can to reward them for thinking for themselves but of course some (many) of their ideas just aren’t practical.
For us, we have set times when the kids are allowed screens and, inevitably, when the kids are bored it’s during the no screen time. The only time I might let them use the screens when they are bored is if it’s to look up a piece of information or to create something like a PowerPoint to back up another activity (like the news and weather report). You can set your own rules about screens but it’s good to have an idea in your head of what they are before the whining starts.
I’d love to hear how you are your kids deal with boredom in the comments.
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