Boredom Busters! Use What You Have Around the House to Create Fun When Boredom Strikes
Every parent has been there. You're at home with the kids and everything is going well until … boredom strikes. Maybe you are stuck inside due to rain, waiting for the cable guy, a sick child, or maybe you just don't feel like going out. No matter what the reason, when boredom strikes panic sets in. Keep this list handy for those days when you are in desperate search of a boredom buster. These ideas come straight from the experts at The Goddard School and The Little Gym International — and are tried and true ways to keep little ones happy using things you probably already have lying around the house. As a bonus, kids will be learning while they play!
Dr. Craig Bach, VP of Education for The Goddard School, recommends:
The Tallest Towers
Ideally, the activity requires at least four people (two teams of two people). However, it can be done with two people or as a large group working together. Gather boxes of long, dry spaghetti, plastic straws, some string, and a bag of marshmallows. The goal is to create the highest free-standing structure with the same materials. If the entire family is creating one structure, each family member can take turns placing a new piece on the tower. Set a timer for 10 minutes to heat up the competition.
Once the tower has been completed, take turns tossing the remaining marshmallows at the tower. The first person to knock it down wins!
- Critical Thinking
- Creative Problem Solving
- Engineering Concepts
This activity can be done with three or more people. Select one person (a lot of fun if you pick an adult) to play the robot. Place oven mitts on the robot’s hands and a sleep mask over the robot’s eyes. The robot should not be able to see anything. Place a tissue box somewhere in the room or in an adjacent room. Turn the robot around a few times and move some furniture around to make it more challenging.
The goal is for the robot to pick up the tissue box and move it to a pre-selected location (goal spot). The robot moves by listening to instructions given by the other family members. Take turns giving the robot one specific instruction on how to move. The “winner” is the person who gives the last instruction before the robot places the tissue box on the goal spot.
- Critical Thinking
- Coding Concepts
- Robotics Concepts
Found Object Art
This activity can be done with two or more people. Find a blank space in the house that needs a piece of art. It could be a blank wall space, a counter space or an empty area on a bookshelf. Work in teams of two or three (if there is an odd number of people). The goal is to use objects that are found in the house to create a work of art that fills the empty space. The work should reflect things that interest them and that are important to them.
Give each team time to talk about what they want to create and what kinds of materials they might need. Then give them 15 minutes to gather supplies from around the house (a safe junk drawer and old magazines are great places to start). If the weather is nice enough, all sorts of things can be found outside, too. When the teams return, they need to create their masterpieces. Once completed, each team tries to convince the other teams that their artwork is the best one for the house.
- Critical Thinking
Jacquelyn Oldham, Director of Curriculum at The Little Gym International, recommends:
Items needed: small blanket, pillow
In large, carpeted room (or with large area rug), put a small blanket (maybe the child’s favorite “blankie”) on the floor. This will represent the “flower.” Put a small pillow (the pollen) in the middle of the “flower.” The child pretends to be the “bee” and walks onto the flower (wings flapping!) and tries to put the pillow on their head and walk out of the flower while balancing the pillow on their head without touching it with their hands and without it falling off! If they make it, “Hooray, you did it!”
Now, if the pillow falls off their head before they make it out of the flower, then they get tickled by the flower (Mom or Dad)!
Different items can be used as the “pollen” to increase the difficulty: a pair of rolled up socks, a small stuffed animal, a beanbag, etc.
Do not play on tile or hardwood floor. The blanket will slip on the smooth floor while the child is walking on it.
- Creative play
- Body control
- Parents can emphasize perceptual concepts (go “on top of” the flower; put the pillow “on” your head; look, you are “under” the pillow; try to walk “off” of the flower)
“Body Part Red-Rover”
This is a modified Red Rover Game that incorporates body awareness techniques that can be played at home.
The child tries to run from one side of the playing area to the “base” on the other side without being touched by their parent who is positioned (perhaps standing on their knees) in the middle of the playing area—a space (5ft. or more) between a wall and the sofa, from one edge of an area rug to the other, etc. The parent says “Red Rover” statements about their child’s body. Then – only if the child believes the statement to be true – the child tries to dash to the “base” on the other side of the playing area (a soft sofa is a great “base” to dash toward.)
For example, if the parent says, “Red Rover, Red Rover … if you have 10 fingers, run over!” The child quickly tries to dash past their parent toward the base. Then the parent can have fun pretending to make diving grabs for their child, but never quite catching them! The child returns to the starting point for the next round. Also, the parent can say statements that are false to try and “trick” the child! Always follow these statements with asking the child of they know the correct answer. You may also include statements that educate the child on the functions of body parts.
Other fun, educational “Red Rover Statements:”
Red Rover, Red Rover …
- If you chew your food with your belly button, run over! (Then, ask the child for the correct answer.)
- If your eyes are BLUE, run over!
Or, Red Rover, Red Rover …
- If you can tell me what body part you use to open a door with, run over!
- If you can tell me how many lungs you have, run over!
The parent must be sure to give loads of positive praise for their child’s victories, efforts, and listening skills!
Lay a trail of individual socks (5-10) on the carpet about 12-18 in. apart. Challenge the 2-year-old to jump over each sock with two feet. Demonstrate, jumping in a steady rhythm and counting each jump. Count each jump as your child tries. Encourage a steady jumping tempo. Too easy? Or your child is older?
- How about rebounding over each sock – no stopping between jumps!
- How about forming a curved trail of socks to rebound over!
- Rapidly jumping down and back, how many times can they jump across the trail in 30 seconds!
- How about backward or sideways jumps down the trail!
- How about jumps down the trail on 1 foot (this is actual hopping)
There is no excuse for being bored again!
So, how do you create fun around the house when boredom strikes?