If you’re looking for things bored kids can do to entertain themselves, you’ve come to the right spot! Plenty of these boredom busters can be done independently while you tackle other Mama projects.
My parents did not like to hear “I’m bored” when I was growing up, and now that I’m a parent, I totally relate. It’s the most annoying thing ever! One hot summer day in north Texas, I complained to my Dad that I was bored. He handed me a solo cup, and the next thing I knew, I was digging dirt out of a planned irrigation ditch in the back yard. Lesson learned, y’all!
If your kids are bored, and they’ve got a million toys already, it won’t hurt them to just figure it out themselves. After all, boredom is healthy. Just ask literally any child development expert, or PBS kids.
Nevertheless, here are 70 ideas kids might actually enjoy, sorted into three categories: screen-friendly but educational, outdoor activities, and indoor activities for bored kids.
This post probably contains affiliate links. If you click on something, I may get a few cents from Amazon, but it won’t affect your purchase price. I never link to anything I haven’t personally enjoyed!
Screen-Friendly Options for Bored Kids
I’m not gonna lecture you on the evils of screen time. I’m a mom of three kids with a part time job and a hobby I cherish. So if you’re willing to consider incorporating a screen to solve boredom, there are better/smarter things to do that just passively veg in front of a television. Here are some fun ideas.
Art for Kids Hub – I’m totes obsessed with Art for Kids hub. It’s a dad and one of his kids, teaching the kid on the other side of the screen how to draw the cutest little creations. Want an ice cream cone with a smiley face? Sure! How about a unicorn with a magical mane? Why not? It’s all there. The dad has a really fun energy. Kids love him.
Cosmic Kids Yoga – This lady is bat$*&^ bananas, and she drives me nuts. But kids love her, and she teaches yoga in the most delightful imaginative way for little kids.
origami on Youtube – Anytime you can expose kids to a brand new hobby (especially a cheap one), I think that’s cool!
Try GoNoodle – This one is also a teacher classic. If you need to get kids moving for a quick brain break or recharge, GoNoodle can get’er done.
Outdoor Activities for Bored Kids
Make a mudpie – A timeless boredom buster from my own childhood! My kids love doing these and making up toppings.
Rock painting – You can do this however you like! I am particularly fond of painting rocks, and then delivering them another day, around the neighborhood, on a walk. Kids love the joy of leaving little surprises in strangers’ yards. Here’s a whole website dedicated to rock painting.
Nature scavenger hunt – check out all these free printables to make this activity totally painless!
Jello dig – Jello digging is fabulous. When you make up your jello, drop a bunch of plastic critters in before you refrigerate. Once it solidifies, send your little turkeys outdoors with tweezers so they can practice their archaeology skills.
Fly a kite – This one sometimes requires adult supervision, but it can be a good activity for those days you failed to plan anything fun. Particularly where we live in West Texas, there are endless opportunities to fly a kite.
Bury a time capsule – Make sure you make a note of their ages when you add the items! Set a calendar alert for their 18th birthdays and dig them up!
Learn how to mow the yard or pull weeds – Take a page from my dad’s parenting book, and see to it that they never mention boredom again! Why not learn a new skill?
Play in the rain – If your kids are younger than middle school, there’s no excuse for boredom on a rainy day. Send them out to play in it! Better yet, send them to your backyard (if you have a privacy fence) and let them run around stark naked in the rain. Wouldn’t you LOVE to do that? The joy!
Have a lemonade stand – Ah, the good old days. Why not bring them back? Lemonade stands are great fun and super educational. In fact, here in Texas, it’s a significant part of the third grade social studies curriculum. Kids have to make a marketing plan, establish a budget, and complete a lemonade stand. Check out Lemonade Day here!
Gather supplies outside for a nature-themed craft – This was fun and easy. We already had a canvas painted, so one day, we went outside and just gathered some items from the backyard. I had the kids look for all different kinds of leaves, sticks, acorns, etc. They placed them strategically and I was only hands-on for the hot-gluing at the end.
Try to draw a plant while studying it like a real artist – Send them to the backyard with some paper, a clipboard, and a pencil. See if they can copy a plant from the backyard.
Have indoor play, but do it outside – Our backyard is nothing special. We want to improve it in the future. In the meantime, lots of ordinary indoor activities feel special when taken outside on a nice day. This was just some play-doh and stamping fun.
Rake leaves to create jumping piles – Is there anything more nostalgic for you than jumping in big piles of leaves? As an adult, all I can think about is the misery of my allergies, but this is little kid heaven!
Barbie Bath: Create a Barbie bath tub with a bowl of soapy water, and give all the dolls a bath! Fine motor bonus: re-dressing all of them…
Cloud watching – Don’t forget sunscreen!
Paint a window. This project got a lot of action during 2020 quarantine, and we got on board, too. We didn’t mix the Crayola Washable Paint with anything, and it came off easy breezy. In fact, letting the kids wash the paint off about six weeks later was another great boredom-busting activity. They get to put on their swimsuits, stand on their step-ladder, and use wash cloths with the water hose!
Indoor Activities for Bored Kids
Create their own boredom jar. I love this take on the boredom jar because it includes Washi tape (one of my favorite tools ever), and color-codes different activities according to the need of the day.
Do a puzzle.
Tie-dye butterfly art – this is so fun and kid-friendly! You just twist up a baby wipe (preferably Huggies, for some reason), rubber band it in a couple of places, and then use markers on it.
Next, pinch the baby wipe with a clothespin, glue some pipe cleaner antennae on it, and add a sweet little face. Boom! You have butterfly art.
For tweens and teens – try Sudoku or a crossword puzzle
Learn to make pipe cleaner animals. Eeek! These are so cute!
Have a play-doh competition with siblings.
Treasure Hunt – Hide a treasure in your house, then create a buried treasure map for a family member to use.
Alphabet hunt – locate something for every letter of the alphabet in your house – and then (LOL) put everything back where it belong!
Write a silly rhyming poem and recite it for the whole family before bed. Add a costume for extra pizazz.
Put on a fashion show for your stuffed animals. Line them up on the couch and then practice your catwalk!
Choreograph a new dance.
Create your own alphabet book. Each letter gets its own page, with a large drawing and using the word in a sentence. This is actually an important part of our duel language curriculum at my school, but there’s no reason why your kid can’t make your own family alphabet book.
Lip Sync battle against a sibling – kids love lip sync! Turn it into a competition!
Create an indoor obstacle course. Bonus points if you complete the obstacle course after worked and see who clocks the best time.
Mail letters to family members.
Draw an entire scene using stencils.
Create a favorite color shoebox showcase! For this activity, we simply selected a favorite color, found the lid to a shoebox, and started arranging household items. When she had artfully arranged all her green found objects, I hot glued them down for her. It’s now proudly displayed…in her closet!
Try out these cardboard box activities and make use of your Amazon prime habit!
Make a sensory bottle for your calm down corner.
Take a long bubble bath with Crayola bathtub paint. PS, you can often find individual bottles of this in the Target dollar spot!
Melting Crayon Crafting Fun is the perfect activity for little science and art junkies.
Try a creative drawing prompt for a different twist on journaling.
Sort legos by color and put into right-size containers.
Try pencil shaving art for kids! You don’t need any new supplies and it requires basically no supervision!
Bead trees – we originally found this idea here, and tried it at home. Results below. It was fun! Side note – Play Doh is not the best choice, as the weight of the beads can weigh the branches down too much. You’ll want to use actual clay for best results!
Wash the car.
Get a head start on next year’s Valentine’s box.
Write a story using story prompt sticks.
Toothpick and marshmallow creation – Learn more here.
Learn a new chore.
Read a book to a younger sibling – if you’ve got an early reader, encourage them read to the younger sibling!
Write a bucket list – Have your child write their own bucket list and celebrate daydreaming!
Make a bookmark with cardstock – Have your kid create bookmarks for different family members using card stock and whatever art supplies you have at home.
Popsicle stick canvas art – This was a fun project for us! We poured out lots of different color paints. Each stick was individually painted, and then she arranged them on a canvas board. I glued them down for her when she was done. This kiddo has a WILD attention span for a kindergartener, and would you believe she sat here painting for two full hours?
Let them create meal plans for the month. Provide resources to turn that into grocery lists.
Practice being a family newscaster with a cardboard box t.v. This is another great way to use those Amazon Prime boxes! Our daughter loves to make homemade t.v. boxes, and then narrate the family activities. She also likes to attach knobs. If you walk up to her and change her channel, she’ll switch her show and immediately start narrating the weather, or pretend to be showing Sofia the First.
Treat your pet to a spa day – if your kiddo is old enough, let them bathe the family dog and brush them out in the back yard!
Complete a podcast challenge – finish a household task by the time a brand new podcast finishes.
Design their own calm down corner at home. Our kiddo used one of these at home and we found she really loved it!
Design a costume and act out a Bible story, Disney movie, or other familiar tale.
Gather items from bedroom, bookshelves and toy boxes for possible donation.
Make a super simple mobile to hang over your bed.
Make kindness coupons for every family member. This one is so fun! Have kids think of small acts of kindness they could do for a family member, like make a siblings’ bed, give a hug, or take out the trash. Have the kid write these down into coupons; one per family member. Plan to distribute them at dinner.
Reorganize their bookshelves by rainbow order.
Interview an older person about events in the past.
Redecorate their bedroom.
Make a “When I Grow Up” poster.
Need ideas for displaying and storing all that amazing kids artwork? Read this and never deal with an overwhelming pile again.
Do a list of chores for Mom to earn money and a Target dollar spot trip!
Color a new picture for the fridge, or a parent’s office.
Write short love notes or draw sweet pictures for your family, and hide them in sneaky places.
Create a “toy store” by staging favorite items. Put price tags on everything with post it notes, and invite shoppers to spend their money. In our case, our daughter handed out fake money for us to use while shopping. Her fake money was actually just Brain Flakes, but you could use beans or whatever else you have on hand! She also created a cash register out of an Amazon Prime box.