“We’re bored, there’s nothing to do!”
This classic kid mantra drives parents nuts. Especially if you're practicing careful parenting and limiting screen time, keeping your kids busy when they aren’t in school can be challenging. Inviting them to help you with a project can be the perfect way to engage their creativity, help them build confidence, and teach them problem solving.
Here are 13 ideas to keep boredom at bay and help your kids learn at the same time.
1. Baking and Cooking
Kids love to make cookies, cakes, and any kind of sweet treats. Encourage them to join you in the kitchen to whip up together a yummy snack. Try creating your own cookie flavor, new take on brownies, or pudding. Baking is a great activity to incorporate some chemistry education into the fun.
2. Frozen Goodies
Meet kids where they live by recruiting them to help you make some chilly desserts like popsicles. Ask them what cool new flavors they want to try. Popsicles especially can be stored in the freezer almost all year long.
3. Popsicle Stick Fun
Popsicle sticks are the ultimate kid-craft staple. Help your tiny engineers use them to make make birdhouses, doll houses, and picture frames for their favorite photos. Supply them with paints and brushes and other items they can use to decorate their projects. Join in to show them you like having fun, too, and inspire them with your more advanced designs.
4. Make Board Games
Inspire some thinking about rules and fun by creating your own board games with the kiddies. Help them come up with a theme and get some cardboard or poster board and make your own playing space. Use items found around the house for game pieces, and don’t forget to furnish prizes to reward their innovative work.
5. Kid Gardens
Use the tops of carrots to teach an intro to gardening class! Plant the cuttings in pots with dirt, and watch them grow in the weeks to come. Seeds are fun, too, they just take longer to develop. While you wait for the little garden to come into its own, help your little pals paint the pots bright colors, or add glitter and other craft items to express their personal taste.
6. Potato Trick
Remember when you were a kid and your mom cut shapes out of an old cold potato? Do the same with your kids and then dip them in acrylic paints. They can make fun pictures using canvas or poster boards, applying the potatoes as printing stamps.
7. Friendship Bracelets and Macaroni Necklaces
Bring out the boxes of macaroni or rigatoni, elastic paints, and glitter. Kids can make macaroni necklaces to their heart's content with these materials. They can also use yarn or colored strings to braid and make bracelets they can sport with any outfit.
8. Chalk Drawings
Show kids they can be artists with colored chalk and some imagination. In your own driveway or on your patio, tell kids to draw their favorite insects, cartoons, or whatever they are in to this week. Chalk washes away easily, so no need to panic that your property is being marred.
9. Pottery and More
Make handmade Playdough by mixing two cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup salt, four teaspoons of cream of tartar, two cups lukewarm water, and two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add food coloring to different batches for even more fun. Store in plastic baggies to maintain the basis for all kinds of creative projects, like flowerpots, picture frames, stars and moons, and little characters. Let the dough dry overnight if they make something they really love. The next day, they can paint and decorate to their liking.
10. Old-Fashioned Lemonade Stand
This summer staple never gets old and kids love it. Let them make their own lemonade stand using a large box or build one out of wood. Set up in your neighborhood and watch the fun take over. For lots of kids this is the first class in their lifelong MBA.
11. Buttons, Ribbons and Fabrics
Use these items to decorate and embellish sneakers, T-shirts and more. Let the kids go wild with items you have accumulated in your sewing box, just make sure you supervise needle time.
12. Spare Socks
We all have that bin of socks where one has mysteriously gone missing in a wash load. Pull out these loaners and make some hand puppets and dolls with your little natural performers. Use yarn, string, fabric, buttons and paints to decorate the socks to make dragons, monsters, princesses, or superheroes.
13. String Popcorn
It's not just for holiday decorations! Pop a big bowl of popcorn, gather thread and a large needle. Let the kids pretend it’s the holiday season and decorate their bedrooms or playspace, or help them string popcorn necklaces they can wear and munch on later when they're hungry.