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The Ultimate List of Things for Kids to Do When They’re Bored – 200+ Ideas & Printable

Simple and easy things for kids, teens, and adults to do when they're bored. Options for girls and boys, mostly at home but some traveling away from home. Would be good alone, with friends, or with a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband. Perfect for a summer night by yourself or a winter afternoon as a couple or anytime of the year! Some can be done on a rainy day and some with no money. Way more than 100 creative, fun, and cool ideas here.

My dear children are with me just about 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Because we are homeschoolers, they don't go off to school, and because I work full-time from home, I don't leave for an office. We live and work and learn in the same space and, while I do shut myself in my home office from time to time (especially for important conference calls), I generally know what they're doing throughout the day.

So, when they get bored I often know about it.

I personally think being bored is really good for kids. It requires them to use their imaginations and invent games and stories. It forces them to get out toys long hidden in the depths of the closet. It allows them to be creative and learn how to get along with each other.

My children, on the other hand, think being bored is a fate worse than death. They lie on the couch, boneless and shapeless, and they whine. 

I don't do whining.

I have weird children who don't like to go outside unaccompanied (thank goodness for the little neighbor girl who meets them in one or the other backyard to play a few times a week), so “go outside and play” doesn't work very well.

As a matter of fact, when I first started working from home, I forced them outside for an hour a day. They would go out onto our back deck, sit on the picnic table, and yell in my office window, “How much longer do we have to sit out here?” every three or four minutes.

I'm not even joking.

That went on for a few weeks, until I got tired of answering their repeated question, and I finally gave in and allowed them to stay inside all day which they do happily.

Gone were my delusions for a life lived in nature, a childhood like I had, full of worms and leaves and creeks.

Today's kids spend a lot of time in front of screens, and mine are no exception. I allow far too much screen time for my own level of comfort, but I need quiet for working, and I cannot have squabbling children in the next room when I'm on a conference call. Quiet is non-negotiable.

Given that, when I am not working, I enforce a strict no screens rule. They get to be bored and play all they want, hence the need for this list.

Bookmark this list and return to it every time your kids say those dreaded words. Give them a choice (or maybe don't give them a choice and choose something yourself). Most of the items are linked to a full description or tutorial, but some that are self-explanatory are not.

You can survive the summer and the year ahead, and please don't forget that you don't have to entertain them all the time. They can be bored, and they will survive.

The Ultimate List of Things for Kids to Do When They're Bored – 200+ Ideas

  1. Read a book. (101 best chapter books and 101 best picture books)
  2. Listen to an audiobook.
  3. Set up a seed experiment with gravity or light and water.
  4. Do an experiment with paper shapes.
  5. Play with perspective.
  6. Do paper chromatography.
  7. Do t-shirt chromatography.
  8. Build paper towers.
  9. Do an experiment with soda.
  10. Do an egg drop experiment.
  11. Microwave soap.
  12. Go to the beach.
  13. Go to the pool.
  14. Play Snakes & Ladders (free printable Snakes & Ladders game board here).
  15. Play a board game. (The best games for the elementary crowd and the best games for preschoolers and the best family game night games for non-readers and the best “date night” games for tweens, teens, and adults)
  16. Make homemade root beer sherbet or homemade ice cream.
  17. Make colored salt dough.
  18. Make a terrarium.
  19. Make egg geodes.
  20. Interview each other.
  21. Make a geoboard.
  22. Do a random act of kindness.
  23. Go to the zoo.
  24. Go to the aquarium.
  25. Go on a rainbow scavenger hunt.
  26. Make fruit kabobs.
  27. Have a glow stick treasure hunt.
  28. Make a tape resist painting.
  29. Make a beaded butterfly.
  30. Make binoculars.
  31. Play glow in the dark ring toss.
  32. Make a fairy garden.
  33. Have a living room carnival.
  34. Make a mosaic using dyed rice.
  35. Make a yarn doll.
  36. Make astronaut pudding.
  37. Make marzipan piggies.
  38. Make a lamb of God mobile.
  39. Make a play mailbox.
  40. Make mud pies.
  41. Make a picture with baking soda and vinegar.
  42. Melt beads for suncatchers.
  43. Paint with cookie cutters.
  44. Play in a creek.
  45. Explore colors with homemade play dough.
  46. Go to a children's museum.
  47. Make a simple scavenger hunt.
  48. Read The Rainbow Fish and do some related activities.
  49. Go to an amusement park.
  50. Go to a water park.
  51. Build an island.
  52. Grow a garden.
  53. Do a giant word search.
  54. Grow a Venus Flytrap.
  55. Write in a journal.
  56. Read Little Cloud and learn about clouds.
  57. Test out paper airplanes.
  58. Play sight word Go Fish.
  59. Make slime.
  60. Make string art.
  61. Make washi tape butterflies.
  62. Cook with mom or dad (10 tips for cooking with small children and 11 tips for cooking with older children)
  63. Play water balloon dodgeball.
  64. Have a sponge relay race.
  65. Act out your favorite book.
  66. Play catch.
  67. Plant a tree.
  68. Bake cookies.
  69. Blow bubbles.
  70. Sing patriotic songs like My Country Tis of Thee, God Bless America, the Star Spangled Banner, and America the Beautiful.
  71. Play frisbee.
  72. Play bocce ball.
  73. Play lawn darts. (They're not like they used to be.)
  74. Play croquet.
  75. Play horseshoes (you don't need pits for this set from Amazon, and you can even play in the house).
  76. Go to the library.
  77. Make paper mâché.
  78. Homemade bowling – spray paint 2-liter bottles and set them up in the yard. Use a kickball or soccer ball to knock them down.
  79. Make macaroni necklaces.
  80. Learn how to tie dye.
  81. Go on a picnic.
  82. Go bird watching.
  83. Build a blanket fort.
  84. Explore a small area in your yard with a magnifying glass.
  85. Go geocaching.
  86. Go on a hike.
  87. Play balloon volleyball.
  88. Camp out in the backyard.
  89. Make toy parachutes.
  90. Make some homemade juggling balls and learn how to juggle.
  91. Play Simon Says.
  92. Play Duck Duck Goose.
  93. Open a movie theater in your living room, complete with tickets, buttered popcorn, and candy snacks.
  94. Make bath bombs using citric acid and baking soda.
  95. Make sock puppets.
  96. Write a letter to Grandma.
  97. Learn about constellations so you can find them at night.
  98. Publish a pretend newspaper.
  99. Learn origami.
  100. Try to replicate famous art.
  101. Learn the alphabet in sign language.
  102. Pick flowers from your garden and make a flower arrangement for your dining room table.
  103. Practice somersaults.
  104. Jump on the trampoline.
  105. Learn to hula hoop.
  106. Host a tea party. Bonus if you read poetry.
  107. Dress up in costumes.
  108. Put together a jigsaw puzzle.
  109. Make indoor s'mores – stack a graham cracker, square of chocolate, and marshmallow. Top with another graham cracker and microwave for 10 seconds.
  110. Draw with sidewalk chalk.
  111. Explore the world with Google Maps or Google Earth.
  112. Make friendship bracelets.
  113. Do some Mad Libs.
  114. Learn a new card game.
  115. Learn how to do Sudoku.
  116. Jump rope.
  117. Finger paint.
  118. Write a haiku.
  119. Make a card and mail it to someone special.
  120. Learn to play chess or checkers.
  121. Play charades.
  122. Learn a poem and recite it to your mom.
  123. Make a photo album.
  124. Organize your bedroom.
  125. Climb a tree.
  126. Play hopscotch.
  127. Visit a farmer's market and try something you've never eaten before.
  128. Play musical chairs.
  129. Go roller skating.
  130. Play Twister. (Take this outside if you're like us and lack living room floor space.)
  131. Make an indoor obstacle course.
  132. Take silly selfies.
  133. Write to a pen pal or sponsored child.
  134. Sew a pillow.
  135. Make a sundae bar with lots of toppings.
  136. Search the couch for loose change.
  137. Bathe the dog.
  138. Run in the sprinkler.
  139. Search for four-leaf clovers.
  140. Draw pictures.
  141. Learn a few magic tricks.
  142. Listen to music.
  143. Write a story.
  144. Write a letter to the president.
  145. Fix something that's broken.
  146. Read a magazine.
  147. Go through your stuff and fill a bag with items to donate.
  148. Write in a journal.
  149. Try a new craft.
  150. Go to a playground or park.
  151. Search for cool rocks.
  152. Look at old pictures.
  153. Make pipe cleaner jewelry.
  154. Play with Wikki Stix.
  155. Take a bubble bath.
  156. Water the plants.
  157. Have a dance party. (My kids love these CDs.)
  158. Ride your bike.
  159. Ride your scooter.
  160. Wash the car.
  161. Create a comic book.
  162. Write a song.
  163. Put on a puppet show.
  164. Trace your body and make a new outfit on the outline.
  165. Do handprint art.
  166. Do footprint art.
  167. Have a staring contest.
  168. Blow cotton swabs through a straw at a bowl. (My kids love this!)
  169. Play badminton.
  170. Make a tie blanket out of fleece.
  171. Make a tie pillow out of fleece.
  172. Make up new rules to an old game.
  173. Build a bird house.
  174. Have a water gun battle.
  175. Paint with shaving cream.
  176. Catch fireflies.
  177. Melt crayons in the sun.
  178. Paint rocks with paint.
  179. Heat rocks in the oven and “paint” them with crayons. (Be super careful!)
  180. Build a bird house. 
  181. Walk the dog. (Don't have a dog? Walk the neighbor's dog!)
  182. Have a scavenger hunt. (Search on Pinterest for a good template.)
  183. Climb a tree.
  184. Weed the garden.
  185. Make a stop-motion video.
  186. Build a volcano out of paper mâché or modeling clay and then explode it using baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, and some food coloring.
  187. Hunt for animal tracks.
  188. Make a magazine collage or vision board.
  189. Have a living room picnic.
  190. Learn to crochet. (This is the YouTube video that I used when I first learned.)
  191. Wash the car.
  192. Make marshmallow and toothpick towers.
  193. Play with Magformers.
  194. Play hide and seek.
  195. Write a story.
  196. Redecorate your bedroom.
  197. Build with Lego.
  198. Have a Nerf Gun battle.
  199. Take some interesting photos.
  200. Challenge someone to an UNO championship.

I hope you'll be able to print out this list, laminate it, and hang it up somewhere in your home so that your kids can pick and choose things to do when they're bored this summer (or anytime of the year!) without hounding you to entertain them. Good luck!

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Simple and easy things for kids, teens, and adults to do when they're bored. Options for girls and boys, mostly at home but some traveling away from home. Would be good alone, with friends, or with a boyfriend or girlfriend or husband. Perfect for a summer night by yourself or a winter afternoon as a couple or anytime of the year! Some can be done on a rainy day and some with no money. Way more than 100 creative, fun, and cool ideas here.

© 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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