“Mom, I’m bored.” If you’ve heard these words a lot more recently due to lockdowns, remote learning, and canceled activities, you’re not alone. However, coming up with things to do when kids are bored, especially older ones, can be challenging. While it’s easy to hand them the nearest device or tell them to watch something on the television, it’s better for them to be off their screens.
By Janine Clements, 21st Century Mama
Thinking of what to do when kids are bored can be time-consuming, so make it easier for you, we’ve rounded up the best boredom-busting activities for older kids that will get them off screens and having fun from putting on a show to listening to a podcast.
1. Create a Boredom Jar
The first thing you need to do when it comes to finding things to do when your kids say they’re bored is to create a boredom jar. Get your kids to write a list of fun things to do on strips of papers, which could include anything from arts and crafts activities to building a fort. Fold up each strip of paper, then stick it in a jar. Finally, write a “Boredom Jar” label and stick it on the jar. The next time your kids say they’re bored, bring it out and get each kid to pull out a piece of paper with an activity for them to do.
2. Write a Story
Next time you need things to do when your kids say they’re bored, let their imaginations run wild and get them to write a story. To make it easier to get them going, give them a prompt. Here are a few ideas:
- An enormous box addressed to you is delivered to the front door. What is in it? What happens when you open it?
- If you could meet someone famous, who would it be, and what would you do with them?
- You’re stuck on a desert island. What three things would you bring with you, and how would you get home?
3. Write a Letter to the Grandparents
Grandparents love receiving letters from their grandchildren, especially if they don’t get to see them very often. So, when you want things to do when your kids are bored, get them to write their grandparents a letter. Not only will this make their grandparents happy, but it will also make your kids feel good that they’ve done something kind.
4. Do an Online Workout
If you’re looking for fun things to do when your kids are bored at home, not only will getting some exercise stop your energizer bunnies from being bored, but it will also burn off some of their energy, and they’ll work up an appetite. You’ll find some fun workouts for kids on YouTube. Favorites include PE with Joe Wicks, Fitness Blender, and PopSugar Fitness.
5. Make Edible Cookie Dough
If you’re working or otherwise busy and you need things to do when your kids are bored, this is an easy activity for them to do themselves with minimal input from you. You only need a few ingredients and the instructions are simple.
6. Write Down Ten Things You Love About Someone
This is another fun activity that encourages kindness. When you’re hunting for things to do when your kids are bored, get them to write down ten things they love about each parent and sibling and then share it with each person.
7. Build a Fort
You’re never too old to make a fort, and when it comes to things to do when kids are bored, this is the perfect activity. Get them to use their creativity and building skills to construct something spectacular with pillows, blankets, boxes, and clothespins. Add an indoor picnic or even a campout, and it will keep them busy for hours.
8. Put on a Show
If you’re in need of things to do when your kids are bored, get them to come up with a play, musical, or dance routine that they can perform in front of you later. Most kids love performing, so this will be fun. They can dress up in costumes too.
9. Do a Selfie Scavenger Hunt
For things to do when your kids are bored, Scavenger hunts are ideal because not only do they get kids moving, it takes minimal effort as there’s plenty of scavenger hunt lists you can download from the internet. Older kids will love doing a selfie scavenger hunt where they snap selfies of themselves throughout the hunt. If it’s a nice day, send them outside to do it. This is a great activity to do with friends.
10. Make a Stop Motion Film
If you’re on a quest to find fun things for older kids to do when bored, get them to make a film using a smartphone and an app. While this does need a screen, they’ll be on the other side of the camera for a change, and it also involves creative thinking and imagination. All you need is an app such as Stop Motion Studio and some characters that could be action figures, toy animals, or soft toys, and they can create a movie masterpiece.
11. Make Popsicles
Most kids love popsicles any time of year, even when the temperature plummets to below freezing. If you need things to do when your kids are bored, they’re an easy treat for them to make and they taste delicious. All you need is popsicle molds, fruit juice, and perhaps ice-cream or yogurt. Add real fruit to amp up their creation. You’ll find all sorts of easy recipes on the internet.
12. Facetime a Relative
It can be hard to get kids to Facetime grandparents or other relatives, and it gets even more difficult the older they get. But next time you want to find things to do when your kids say they’re bored, it’s the perfect time for them to set up a call.
13. Mentos and Diet Coke Eruption
When you’re on the lookout for things to do when your kids are bored, this legendary science experiment will be sure to keep them entertained. All you need is a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke and a few tubes of Mentos. It can be repeated again and again.
- Stick seven Mentos in a test tube
- Carefully open the bottle of Diet Coke
- Tip the Mentos into the bottle all at the same time and watch the liquid shoot high into the sky
14. Create a Meal Plan for the Week
If you want things to do when your kids are bored at home, this is one activity that they can enjoy, and it will help you out too. Siblings can put their heads together to come up with a meal plan for the week. If you don’t want to see burgers and fries on the menu every evening, it’s worth setting some rules first.
15. Plan and Cook a Family Dinner
If you want to go one step further than creating a meal plan for the week, get your kids to play chef for the evening and make dinner for the whole family. If you have teens, put them in charge while younger ones play sous-chef. They can set the table and create a menu. It’s the perfect activity when you need things to do if your kids are bored.
16. Make a Bucket List
This simple activity is ideal when you’re trying to come up with things for kids to do when bored. It involves writing down the things they have never done but want to do. Ideas for changing it up include what they want to do by the time they grow up and trips they’d like to take.
17. LEGO Building Challenge
If you’re looking for ideas for what to do when your kids are bored, set them a challenge to build the best hotel, house, castle, or anything else you can think of with LEGO bricks. They get to use their brains and they’ll be occupied for hours.
18. Do a Yoga Class
Next time you’re looking for things to do when your kids tell you they’re bored, get them to do a yoga class. Doing yoga has so many benefits for kids, from improving concentration to helping them relax. There’s plenty of videos on YouTube including Yoga for Kids with Alissa Kepas and Yoga by Adriene, which is ideal for teens.
19. Listen to a Podcast
When you need some things to do when kids are bored, there are many amazing podcasts out there for kids to listen to, from science-focused podcasts to gameshows. Top picks include Brains On, Science Friday, Short & Curly, the Big Life Kids Podcast, and Pants on Fire. The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel. Top tip: These also provide screen-free entertainment for long car journeys.
20. Do a Treasure Hunt
When it comes to working out what to do when your kids are bored, there’s nothing better to then busy than setting them off on a treasure hunt knowing there’s a prize at the end. Hide around ten clues around the house, which can be as straightforward or as cryptic as you like, depending on your kids’ ages for them to find. This activity gets brains in gear and siblings to work as a team. While it might take a few minutes to set up, the pay-off is worth it. Don’t forget to leave a small prize for each child at the end, as this will avoid unnecessary quarrels.
Janine Clements is a successful writer for publications such as Real Simple, Boston Globe, Fodor’s and more. She specializes in lifestyle and travel and is passionate about bringing brands to life through storytelling on her blog https://www.21stcenturymama.com/. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her shopping for cool new products or hanging out with her two gorgeous daughters, who like to keep her on her toes. You can find her on Twitter @BritMominNY and Instagram @21stcenturymama.