I’m Bored! {How to Never Hear that Phrase Again}

by Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed.

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We’ve all heard it–as parents, as teachers, as passerby in the aisles at Wal-Mart. Anyplace a child might be stranded without a digital device, “I’m bored” is destined to be uttered. At least 17 times.

Here’s an idea adapted from The Simple Mom that is definitely worth sharing–and implementing. It could easily be used both at home and in the classroom.

The “Boredom Busters” Jar

1. First, have your children sit down and make a list of everything they could do completely on their own.

2. Then, gather input from other moms and teachers, to add ideas to the list.

3. Transfer your now-long list of activities onto individual strips of paper. You can type them…or have children hand-write and decorate them (in and of itself a boredom busting activity!).

4. Then, whenever you hear the dreaded phrase, pass the jar. Children pull out two or three strips and decide which one they want to do. Voila! Boredom=busted!

200+ Boredom Busting Activities

Here’s The Simple Mom’s ingenious list of over 200+ activites, to give you (and your kids) some ideas. (She says that the chores on the list were suggested by her kids themselves, by the way. Can I please trade children with her?)

  • ride bikes
  • roller blade
  • basketball
  • play board games
  • make a tent out of blankets
  • squirt with hoses
  • run through the sprinkler
  • jump rope
  • read books
  • blow bubbles
  • make homemade play dough
  • play with play dough
  • press flowers
  • do crafts with pressed flowers
  • write a letter to a relative, friend or pen pal
  • clean bedroom
  • vacuum living room
  • clean bathroom
  • make a craft
  • draw
  • color
  • paint
  • pull weeds
  • watch a movie
  • write stories
  • use binoculars
  • use magnifying glass
  • use microscope
  • bird watching
  • write a play
  • act out a play
  • invent circus acts
  • perform a circus
  • play card games
  • make art on the front walkway with sidewalk chalk
  • play catch
  • play baseball
  • collect rocks
  • collect leaves
  • collect feathers
  • play Frisbee
  • make Frisbee’s out of old plastic lids, decorate with markers
  • dust the house
  • brush the pet
  • write letters
  • read a magazine
  • play dress-up
  • play Cowboys
  • pick vegetables
  • play outside with the pet
  • build a fort in your rooms
  • build a fort in the backyard
  • do a jigsaw puzzle
  • play on the Geosafari
  • play on the computer
  • listen to a story or book on tape
  • do extra schoolwork to get ahead
  • do brain teasers (ie: crosswords, word searches, hidden pictures, mazes, etc.)
  • cook
  • prepare lunch
  • surprise a neighbor with a good deed
  • play store
  • prepare a “restaurant” lunch with menus
  • hold a tea party
  • have a Teddy bear picnic
  • play with toy cars
  • play dolls
  • play house
  • chase butterflies
  • collect caterpillars and bugs
  • plant a garden or a pot
  • collect seeds
  • hunt for four-leaf clovers
  • learn magic tricks
  • put on a magic show
  • plant a container garden
  • sprout seeds or beans
  • make sock puppets
  • put on a puppet show
  • make Christmas presents
  • make homemade wrapping paper
  • make homemade gift cards
  • make picture frames from twigs glued onto sturdy cardboard
  • crochet or knit
  • make doll clothes
  • sew buttons in designs on old shirts
  • run relay races
  • make bookmarks
  • take a quiet rest time
  • take a shower or bath
  • bathe a pet
  • feed the birds or squirrels
  • watch the clouds
  • organize a dresser drawer
  • clean under the bed
  • empty dishwasher
  • vacuum under the couch cushions and keep any change found
  • write these ideas on pieces of paper and pick out one or two to do
  • whittle
  • whittle bars of soap
  • practice musical instruments
  • perform a family concert
  • teach yourself to play musical instrument (recorder, harmonica, guitar)
  • fold laundry
  • sweep kitchen or bathroom floors
  • sweep front walkway
  • sweep or spray back patio
  • sweep or spray driveway
  • wash car
  • vacuum car
  • vacuum or dust window blinds
  • clean bathroom mirrors
  • clean sliding glass doors
  • clean inside of car windows
  • wash bicycles
  • clean garage
  • play in the sandbox
  • build a sandcastle
  • work with clay
  • copy your favorite book illustration
  • design your own game
  • build with blocks or Legos
  • create a design box (copper wire, string, odds-and-ends of things destined for the garbage, pom-poms, thread, yarn, etc.)
  • plan a neighborhood or family Olympics
  • have a marble tournament
  • paint a picture with lemon juice on white paper and hang it in a sunny window and see what happens in a few days
  • finger paint with pudding
  • make dessert
  • make dinner
  • give your pet a party
  • paint the sidewalk with water
  • start a journal of summer fun
  • start a nature diary
  • have a read-a-thon with a friend or sibling
  • have a neighborhood bike wash
  • play flashlight tag
  • play Kick the Can
  • check out a science book and try some experiments
  • make up a story
  • arrange photo albums
  • find bugs and start a collection
  • do some stargazing
  • decorate bikes or wagons and have a neighborhood parade
  • catch butterflies and then let them go
  • play hide-and-seek
  • create a symphony with bottles and pans and rubber bands
  • listen to the birds sing
  • try to imitate bird calls
  • read a story to a younger child
  • find shapes in the clouds
  • string dry noodles or O-shaped cereals into a necklace
  • glue noodles into a design on paper
  • play hopscotch
  • play jacks
  • make up a song
  • make a teepee out of blankets
  • write in your journal
  • find an ant colony and spill some food and watch what happens
  • play charades
  • make up a story by drawing pictures
  • draw a cartoon strip
  • make a map of your bedroom, house or neighborhood
  • call a friend
  • cut pictures from old magazines and write a story
  • make a collage using pictures cut from old magazines
  • do a secret service for a neighbor
  • plan a treasure hunt
  • make a treasure map
  • make up a “Bored List” of things to do
  • plan a special activity for your family
  • search your house for items made in other countries and then learn about those countries from the encyclopedia or online
  • plan an imaginary trip to the moon
  • plan an imaginary trip around the world, where would you want to go
  • write a science-fiction story
  • find a new pen pal
  • make up a play using old clothes as costumes
  • make up a game for practicing math facts
  • have a Spelling Bee
  • make up a game for practicing spelling
  • surprise an elderly neighbor or relative by weeding his/her garden
  • fingerpaint with shaving cream
  • collect sticks and mud and build a bird’s nest
  • write newspaper articles for a pretend newspaper
  • put together a family newsletter
  • write reviews of movies or plays or TV shows or concerts you see during the summer
  • bake a cake
  • bake a batch of cookies
  • decorate a shoe box to hold your summer treasures
  • make a hideout or clubhouse
  • make paper airplanes
  • have paper airplane races
  • learn origami
  • make an obstacle course in your backyard
  • make friendship bracelets for your friends
  • make a wind chime out of things headed for the garbage
  • paint your face
  • braid hair
  • play tag
  • make a sundial
  • make food sculptures (from pretzels, gumdrops, string licorice, raisins, cream cheese, peanuts, peanut butter, etc.) and then eat it
  • make a terrarium
  • start a club
  • take a nap outside on your lawn
  • produce a talent show
  • memorize a poem
  • recite a memorized poem for your family

Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.

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4 Comments

Filed under Activities, Classroom Community, Summer Learning

4 responses to “I’m Bored! {How to Never Hear that Phrase Again}

  1. Joey Byrd

    What a cute idea. Each of the things to do would be fun. I really enjoyed the make a restaurant menu for dinner. Also, I think having children write when they are bored is a great way for self expression. When I keep my nieces this summer, I will pull ideas from this list. Thanks for sharing.

  2. ecossick

    I agree with Joey– the list has lots of original ideas! And I like the idea of having children select 2-3 ideas from the jar, rather than looking at a long, overwhelming list.

  3. Leigh Ann

    I love this idea and can definitely see how it could be adapted for the classroom for those rainy or too-cold-to-go-outside days. It would certainly solve some of the arguments over who gets to play with what toy or at what center. Each child could draw an idea and after so many minutes could draw another one. There could be one “trade” opportunity per child to help appease those not so happy campers!

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