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The best crafty ideas for things for kids to do when they are bored, from preschoolers to tweens: simply fill an old box with these fun activities.
What do you do when you’ve run out of ideas to entertain your kids? Turn to a homemade Boredom Box. We’ve found the best ideas for things to do for kids when they’re bored, suitable for little ones all the way through to tweens. Whenever you hear the dreaded B word, all you need to do is pull out the box and let their imaginations do the rest. Choose one theme or mix and match these ideas to suit their interests.
Fill a jar with sand or dirt – or even slime! – and drop in treasures like tiny toy animals, shells, beads or buttons. This is your I Spy Jar. Add a sheet of paper with clues to the different items and encourage kids to write down everything they can find. When the kids are ready to move on from the I Spy Jar, send them on a scavenger hunt. Start by creating their own binoculars, using two toilet rolls, sticky tape and string. Then print out an indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt (there are lots available online) and set the kids off on a home adventure to find everything on the list.
Pipe-cleaner animals, popsicle-stick people and colour-by-numbers are always popular things for kids to do when they’re bored. Include prompts like “make a stick person of everyone in your family”, to help give their creativity direction. Buying a big craft set is a great jumping-off point; divide it up into little bags so you can swap over the contents of the box to keep things interesting.
Make craft staples, such as scissors and glue sticks, work harder by adding prompts and activities to the Boredom Box. Add sheets from an activity pad like Melissa & Doug Scissor Skills Active Pad or fill some ruled “cutting” strips with simple shapes and designs to give kids’ scissor work purpose. Once they’ve finished the strip, it’s time to colour it in and turn it into a bookmark. As for the classic glue stick, add pages of basic colour-in shapes, such as rainbows and animals, to the Boredom Box, along with small pieces of coloured paper, fabric and sequins and let them get to work gluing these bits onto the pictures.
If you have bored kids who love Ninja Warrior, then they’ll love a hallway challenge in their Boredom Box – and thankfully it doesn’t involve rearranging the couch cushions. Buy some barricade tape or streamers and zigzag them high and low all the way down a hallway, or even in the garden, securing it with sticky tape. Kids have to make it through the course without touching the tape. Add a piece of paper to make a chart and even a timer so they can keep track of their PBs, and use fabric scraps to create bandanas and sweatbands. Playing the Mission Impossible theme tune is optional, but highly recommended.
Smaller recyclable items are perfect for a Boredom Box. Little boxes become the foundations for a cardboard city, paper plates are whipped into shields and plastic cups are brilliant for stacking into towers.
Playing shops never gets old and having a set of fake money makes creating a make-believe business more exciting – while flexing kids’ maths skills at the same time. Include cardboard to make the shop signage, print-outs of “products” they’d like to sell and even an old phone so they can make important business calls.
Using a pack of air-drying clay, bored kids can fashion anything from a pinch pot to a vase, Christmas ornaments, wind chimes and more. But our favourite idea? Creating their own chessboard. Include cardboard for them to create the chequered base and instructions on the pieces they need to make (in whatever shapes they like), as well as a print-out of the rules. Add black and white paint and old cutlery, straws or anything that will help them add texture to their clay. It’s a multi-part project that will keep them entertained for hours, with the bonus of learning a new game at the end.
A pile of old newspapers, some elastic bands, tape and a few strips of aluminium foil are all the things kids need to make a hat or full outfit with shiny accessories. Paint will also help bring the outfits to life and add even more fun to the Boredom Box. You never know, you might have a budding designer on your hands!
If imaginary play is their thing, fold up a big old sheet to put in the Boredom Box. Challenge them to make it into their fort/cubby/shop – maybe it’s an ice-cream van, a spaceship or a The Lord of the Rings-style hobbit hut in a hill. Print out a handful of inspirational pictures to help jog some creative ideas. Once they’ve come up with the idea, they can throw the sheet over the kitchen table, a card table or even the couch, cut out windows and doors, colour it in (fabric markers are less messy than paint) and get cosy inside.
Looking for things to do when older kids are bored? Encourage tweens to journal their days with photos. A Fuji Instax camera is great for producing photos instantly that they can stick into the journal, or connecting a smartphone to your home printer also gives them the freedom to play with images. Add stickers and washi tape to the journal for decoration, and use old catalogues and magazines for collaging. Or get them to create their own photo book of friends, holidays or family.
Fill the box with everything they need to make a comic book, newspaper or magazine – paper, markers, textas and more. It could be a project they work on over the week that they can scan and make prints of to send to family and friends.
Fill the box with everything kids need to create their own digital passport, including paper, markers, stamps, stickers and more. If they have access to the internet, let them search Google Maps to find spots around the world to “travel” to. Then, after creating their passport, they can fill it with homemade stamps and fun facts about the places they’ve “been to”. Still bored? For more things to do, they could also try making their own map using a real one as a guide or make their own papier-mâché globe.