Boredom Busters: 100+ Fun Things to Do with Kids at Home
Between summer camp sessions and afternoons at a water park, there will be days when you wake up and wonder what the heck to do. Here's a list of our favorite fun activities to keep your kids entertained while stuck at home.
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11. Go vroom in your living room.
Put colored tape on your carpet to mimic roads for your kids’ car.
12. Learn some magic tricks, then perform them for friends and family.
13. Let them be bored.
Boredom breeds creativity (after a little restlessness!)—so sit back and watch what they come up with. Keep your ideas to yourselves, Mom and Dad.
14. Check out our online calendar, where you’ll find family activities for every day of the week.
15. Have a puzzle race.
If your kids think puzzles are a bit tame (or they’ve done the same puzzle 20 times already), try this jigsaw twist. Each member of the family chooses a puzzle (but maybe keep it to the kids’ puzzles that are less than 100 pieces). Dump all of the puzzle pieces into a pile, mix them up, then... begin! See who can find all the right pieces and finish their puzzle first!
16. Plan an egg hunt.
Your family probably has plastic Easter eggs tucked in storage, just waiting for spring. Why not break them out now? Fill the eggs with treats you’ll find on your kitchen shelves (goldfish crackers, raisins, M&Ms, coins, etc.). Take turns hiding some of the eggs around the house, and then let everyone else go on the hunt. When all the eggs have been hidden and found, it’s time to dig into the treats inside!
17. Indulge in a long bath.
If your kids love playing in the tub but never get enough time for it before bed, here’s their chance to dawdle. Try out a daytime bubble bath that can last well beyond the pruney-finger stage (if you think it’s too hot out for a warm bath, try using lukewarm or cooler water to cool the kids off). If you’re feeling creative, try combining clear dish soap with a bit of washable paint. They’ll be able to finger-paint in the tub!
18. Break out the board games!
Whether your family loves to play Monopoly, Scrabble, Jenga, Apples to Apples, or Exploding Kittens, having a midday family game session will keep the kids (and you!) entertained!
19. Legos. Need we say more?
20. Do some chores.
Hear us out: They’re a necessary evil, but there are ways you can make chores fun for kids!
Learning to cook teaches kids valuable life skills while also providing math, reading, science, and health lessons—i.e. a great way to prevent summer learning loss! Have your children help read the recipes. Teach them how to read measurements and carefully follow the recipe. Discuss the nutritional benefits that different ingredients provide and what constitutes a healthy meal. But, don’t forget to make it fun for them! Once you have them hooked in the kitchen, they’ll want to come back for more cooking fun.
1. Bake your favorite cookie recipe to make homemade ice cream sandwiches.
Bonus points if you make your own ice cream, too!
Bring your kids to help choose fresh produce, then have them help make dinner.
3. Brew a batch of sun tea.
Everyone has a favorite recipe, but the basic one is 5 tea bags of any type + 4 cups of distilled water in a glass container, covered, for 2-4 hours in direct sunlight. Let the kids drizzle some honey in theirs.
4. Pizza party! Need we say more?
Take it a step further and designate one day as Pizza Day and eat pizza for every meal.
5. Roast some marshmallows over the campfire for the quintessential summer treat: s’mores!
6. Pick your own berries.
Just make sure your kids put more in the container than their mouths! Check out our roundup of the top places to go berry picking with kids.
7. Make jam with your summer berry bounty.
Crush 2 pounds of berries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berry. In a heavy saucepan, mix together the berries, 4 cups of sugar, and ¼ cup of lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F. Transfer to jars.
8. Cook dinner together.
This can be a lot more fun than you might think. If your kids like to help out in the kitchen, break out the crockpot and a favorite recipe and get to work. You’ll find many simple dishes that can be completed almost entirely by kids (with adult supervision). They’ll get to measure, mix, and even spice up the feast just the way they like it.
9. Let the kids help you plan meals for the week.
Bonus: If your kids help pick and make the recipes, they’ll be more likely to try new things.
10. Teach your kids how to mix up a batch of your family’s favorite pancake recipe.
If they’re old enough, teach them how to flip pancakes on the griddle, too.
It’s important for everyone in the family to be active every day, and it’s even better when you’re having fun! Plus, if we want our kids to do as we say, we need to model these behaviors, too. So turn off the TV, put down your smartphones, and get moving as a family!
1. Learn how to Hula-Hoop.
2. Have a limbo contest.
Crank up the tunes, grab a long stick, and find out how low the kids can go!
3. Go for a family bike ride.
Looking for ideas of where to ride? Check out our favorite family-friendly bike trails in the area.
4. Splash in some puddles.
Or run around sans umbrella during a warm summer rain.
5. Go for a post-dinner walk—the whole crew!
6. Go swimming!
Whether it’s in your neighborhood’s public pool, backyard pool, or a kiddie pool, splashing in the water will get the kids moving and cool them off on a hot summer day.
7. Go for a hike.
8. Go bowling.
9. Stomp on bubble wrap!
10. Climb a tree.
11. Orchestrate color wars.
Have the kids share their camp experiences with you, and together recreate a similar Olympics-like competition with neighborhood friends.
12. Get your double Dutch on.
Grab two jump ropes and show your kids that the simplest toys are still the best.
13. Practice cartwheels and somersaults on the lawn.
14. Have a dance party.
Put on your favorite Spotify playlist and groove to the music!
15. Spend an afternoon at your favorite playground.
Or explore a little and find a playground your kids have never been to before.
16. Cool off at your local kids’ splash pad.
Pack your towels, sunscreen, bathing suits, and water shoes and head to one of our favorite water playgrounds.
17. Learn how to juggle.
18. Break out the Twister mat and watch everyone get the giggles!
19. Go rollerblading.
Inline skating, so popular when we were young(er), is still a great source of physical activity. Besides donning a helmet and proper pads, first-time skaters must be patient while learning the basics, start with a smooth surface, and understand that it’s okay to fall (they will!). Check out these expert tips on teaching the youngest skaters to stay upright and a video demonstrating the “heel stop” braking method.
20. Check out an online exercise video for kids.
I’ll never forget coming home from work one February afternoon to discover that my husband and son had set up our tent in the living room. It stretched from the couch to the opposite wall, which, given our tiny Manhattan digs, meant that we had to do a parkour routine to get into the kitchen. My kid loved it, and asked to try out the tent in the wild as soon as we could. However, you don’t have to block room access in order to have some outside fun when you can’t actually get outside. Here are eight other ways of bringing the outdoors indoors. —Jessica Allen
1. Use balloons for balls.
Any game that requires a ball can be modified for indoor fun using balloons. Flip over some chairs to make goals and—voilà—soccer. Tie a string across the center of the room and you have volleyball. Grab racquets, and you have tennis; whiffle ball bats, and you have baseball or, if you swing low, golf. You’ll want to establish some ground rules, hide the heirlooms, and make sure rugs are rolled up to prevent falls. After that, may the best team win!
2. Play outdoorsy board games.
Everybody knows about the board game boom. While board games might seem like the ultimate indoor activity, there are a slew of games that let you "explore" the natural world. Wingspan (10 and older) fosters an appreciation of animals as players try to create and attract birds to habitats. Younger kids will enjoy Wildcraft! (ages 4 and older), a cooperative game that requires players to collect ingredients for a huckleberry pie, learning about more than 25 different edible plants and herbs they go.
3. Make your own snow.
Dump a two-pound box of baking soda into a plastic tub or large bowl, squirt in an entire can of shaving cream, and then mix and mix and mix. According to the lifestyle blog Make Life Lovely, the result is “light and powdery.” Like regular snow, it can be molded and manipulated. Unlike the real stuff, it won’t melt all over your floor.
4. Make your own sand.
For something a little less arctic and a little more tropical, consider making your own sand. The basic recipe blends 1 cup of oil (vegetable or baby) with 8 cups of flour, yielding a crumbly, squeezable substance that mimics moist sand. Jazz things up by adding glitter, food coloring, or scents. As with the fake snow, do the mixing inside a plastic tub or large bowl. In other words, expect a bit of a mess.'
5. Make indoor s'mores.
The principle of indoor s’mores is the same as the campfire version—chocolate and marshmallow sandwiched between graham crackers, and heated. For the indoor version, you’ll want to use the broiler for a minute or two to achieve the ideal level of gooey goodness. Feel free to give my adaptation a try—subbing a peanut butter cup for a square of plain old chocolate in your s'mores. Bonus! Turning your oven on high will help heat the kitchen.
6. Have a floor picnic.
This one’s so easy, it kind of feels like cheating. Spread a blanket on the floor, cue up some crickets or summery songs on Spotify, and hand around finger foods like grapes or sandwiches. Up to you whether to don shorts and tank-tops as well. Your kids will love the novelty—and since you can toss the blanket in the wash, you’ll love not having to sweep or vacuum.
By now you probably know the benefits of compositing, including reducing the release of methane by keeping organic waste out of landfills and decreasing our reliance on chemical fertilizers. You can schlep your egg shells, coffee filters, etc. to a collection site, or you can try a worm-full composting bin. The bin requires a little attention to prevent smells and discourage critters, but frankly so do kids. As the worms turn, tunnel, and twirl through the composting bin, you and your little ones just might find yourselves marveling at the miracle of life.
8. Paint rocks.
Rock painting goes back a long, long time. No doubt tiny Neanderthals painted rocks as their mommies and daddies painted cave walls. The Pinterested Parent adds even more nature to this time-honored tradition of rock painting by using leaves. ing a leaf and then gently pressing it against the rock creates a charming silhouette. You might also try ‘painting’ with twigs, blades of grass, acorns, and anything else that you find outside.
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P.S. If you're in need of a last-minute babysitter to keep your kids occupied, check out Mommybites.com's recommended resources for where to find emergency child care providers.