The phrase every parent dreads. And while we've given you lots of awesome ideas over the years, you don't always have access to your phone. Shocking, I know!
At times of crisis, you need a boredom jar (or box, or envelope). Fill your jar with popsicle sticks or cards, each with a fun activity written on them. Then the next time you hear the dreaded words, you can direct your kids to the boredom box!
- Cardboard box coloring
- Pencil box boredom buster
- Cardboard marble labyrinth
- Finish the drawing
- Sidewalk chalk
- Giant slingshot
- Pillow sumo wrestling
- Photo challenge
- DIY paper tetris
- Play restaurant
- Making paperchains
- Dancing Frankenworms
- Puffy finger painting
- Playing doctors
- Helping with dinner
- Host a tea party
- Fill a time capsule
- Talent show
- Make your own treasure hunt
- LEGO challenge cards
- Make paper boats
- Make a bug hotel
- Build a blanket fort
- Get arty
- Windchime craft
- Monster rocks
- Read a book!
- Salt painting
- Sensory bins
- Playdough modelling
- Mini zoo busy bag
- Popsicle stick puzzles
- Clothespin color matching
Cardboard box coloring
As And Next Comes L points out in their post, when you buy a toy that comes in a big box, your kids will want to play with the big box. So boredom jar idea number 1 is cardboard box coloring.
Pencil box boredom buster
If you need to be more mobile, or you threw out your last giant cardboard box, then this portable idea from Craftulate is a better choice. You can customize the contents based on your child's preferences.
Cardboard marble labyrinth
For those times when they're studying Greek myths in school, or you just need a project that will take them longer than 5 minutes, this maze is what you need. Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls has a great addition to your boredom jar.
Finish the drawing
Definitely, one to keep on your bookshelf, this fabulously creative book by Jess Erskine will give your children hours of drawing fun.
Ready to chuck them all outside for the afternoon? Then put some of our sidewalk chalk games in your boredom jar. Cheap and simple, but so much fun for all ages.
Two activities in one? Sign us up! Learn how to make a giant slingshot and set up your own backyard practice range.
Pillow sumo wrestling
Sure, siblings love each other, but sometimes it's helpful to have creative ways to channel their less positive feelings! Pillow sumo wrestling is the family game you need in these situations.
Whether you have older kids that you can send out around the neighborhood or younger ones that you only trust as far as the front door, a photo challenge is a great way of keeping them busy.
DIY paper tetris
Don't worry; this one doesn't need batteries or a console. You can whip out this paper Tetris when you're enforcing a screen break, or the wifi has mysteriously gone down.
Sometimes, in fact, often, the simplest ideas are the best. You can keep your complicated computer games. What a long afternoon really needs is a jigsaw puzzle. Make sure you write this one on a couple of your boredom jar popsicle sticks.
Probably more suitable for younger children, this dramatic play guide from The Kindergarten Connection is great fun, whilst providing opportunities to develop reading, math, and social skills.
Not just for Christmas, paper chains are a fabulous way to occupy little bored hands. Threading My Way has some even better ways to make them fun.
We've mentioned Frankenworms before when we've rounded up the best STEM activities for you. But it's worth another shout out because it's so darn fun! Head to Playdough to Plato for your guide.
Puffy finger painting
Ok, so this one probably needs supervision, but it'll definitely keep your little ones busy on a rainy afternoon. Girl Loves Glam shows you how to make the puffy paint, and how to have fun with it.
Make your make-believe even more believable with these printables from Kids Activities Blog. Name labels, prescriptions, and patient forms will help your little physician have fun.
Helping with dinner
They say that if a child helps make a meal then they're more likely to eat it. I don't know, my son wouldn't eat broccoli even if he'd grown it himself! But having them help with dinner is a great boredom jar activity. Little Sprouts Learning has some fun ideas to inspire you.
Host a tea party
Not all of us are comfortable letting our kids go to town on our stove. But hosting a whimsical tea party is mess-free. See how Our Family Lifestyle did it here.
Fill a time capsule
Will the children of the future still have Playstations? Will they understand what we mean by streaming? Why not give them a hint with your very own time capsule? Bury it in the garden, or just keep it in the garage until you move out!
No boredom jar is complete without the instruction to put on your own talent show. Sing a song, tell a joke, or just do a funny walk! Find out how to put on the best performance on a budget with Our Family Lifestyle.
Outdoor games that are easy to play are key to your boredom jar. Keep some giant dominoes in the shed or a small box in your kitchen drawer and you can enjoy a relatively peaceful 45 minutes!
Make your own treasure hunt
You can encourage your kids to practice their geography skills as well as keep them from getting bored with this great treasure hunt game from 123 Homeschool4Me. It's easy to prepare and reusable!
LEGO challenge cards
LEGO is the perfect anti-boredom activity, and with these LEGO cards from The STEM Laboratory you have ready-made activities for even your most stubborn little one.
Make paper boats
The best boredom jar activities are those that don't need a lot of setup or loads of materials. These paper boats from The Purple Yarn simply require sheets of paper. You can have races, decorate them, and generally have a good time!
Make a bug hotel
Some kids are happy pottering about in the backyard all day, while other need a little bit of direction. Add "make a bug hotel" to your boredom jar and Red Ted Art will take them through the simple process.
Build a blanket fort
Making a fort is the activity of choice whenever my son has a friend over. We've had so many combinations of cushions, blankets, pegs, and furniture fitted together. Pretty Providence claims to know how to build the best blanket fort you've seen. It's worth checking out!
Want to fit some culture into your weekend? This art activity from Projects With Kids will teach your little ones about Pointillism, and keep them busy for hours.
You can build a wind chime out of pretty much anything you find lying around. I've seen them made out of old kitchen utensils and even broken toys. Find inspiration on Pinterest for your own boredom-busting musical decoration.
I'm in love with these cheeky monster rocks from The Inspiration Edit! Sure, they're supposedly for Halloween, but I'd happily have them decorating my backyard all year round!
Read a book!
Ok, so it's not groundbreaking. But occasionally your child needs a little push to get stuck into the imaginary worlds that sit on their bookshelves. Maybe stick this on more than one of your boredom jar popsicle sticks.
With snowflake designs for winter, bursting flowers for spring, and rainbows all year round, The Best Ideas For Kids has all the best ideas (duh!) for your salt painting!
Ready-to-go portable activities are a mom's best friend for long days and road trips. Happy Toddler Playtime has some great ideas for travel-friendly sensory bins for younger kids.
You've probably read your fair share of playdough recipes. But we love this one from Surviving a Teacher's Salary. The best part? It's edible, so you don't have to worry about taking your eyes off your little ones for 5 seconds!
Mini zoo busy bag
Another activity that you can have on a shelf, ready-to-go when boredom strikes. This mini busy bag (or tin) from My Baba is a great customizable idea for all ages.
Popsicle stick puzzles
If your house is anything like mine then you'll have popsicle sticks leftover even after you've filled your boredom jar with all of our awesome ideas. So then you can create these easy puzzles from Everyday A Little Grace. Look how eco-friendly you are!
Clothespin color matching
Let's finish up with another one for the smaller people because we all know they have the shortest attention spans! This color-matching activity from Chalk Academy is great fun and easy to set up. Enjoy!