Fun Activities for Bored Kids

Girl kicking kickball in game
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If you want to head off the inevitable complaints from your kids that they are bored in the summer, you can turn that word into a prompt to help them think of things to do.

When you're child says that they're bored, ask them if they have:

  • Been creative?
  • Outside play?
  • Read a book?
  • Exercised 20 minutes?
  • Done something helpful?

A Formula for Thinking of Fun Activities for Kids

If your kids need help finding activities that fit each line item, inspire them with these ideas for each category.

B Is for "Been Creative"

Break out those coloring books, craft kits, and rubber-band looms. To add physical activity to arts and crafts, try these creative projects that incorporate large-motor skills:

  • Get crafty with giant art projects. Making a mural, big college, or found-object sculpture project will get your kids using their arms and legs as well as their fine motor skills.
  • Make your own toys. What can your child turn into a toy? A cardboard box has numerous possibilities. Empty plastic jugs or bottles can become hand weights, ball scoopers, or bowling pins. You may have to coach your kids a little, but then they can get engaged with playing with the toys they made themselves.
  • Try sidewalk chalk activities. From fun doodles to games, your child can make these temporary art project that will get her moving and designing.

O Is for "Outside Play"

Options for outdoor play are active, energetic, and almost endless, but your kids are likely to need suggestions beyond, "Go outside and play!"

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • In hot weather, a hose, sprinkler, or kiddie pool can offer hours of cool fun. Even water balloon games can keep them occupied.
  • Keep a list of games that use beach balls, balloonshula hoops, or swimming pool noodles handy to break out during summer vacation.
  • There are many versions of tag for your kids to play with each other and their friends.
  • It can be a little harder to find games for kids to play alone, but ideas like having them practice a skill from their favorite sport are a good place to start.

R Is for "Read a Book"

Help your kids make a wish list of books that they want to read over the summer. To keep them well-supplied, get them a library card or ensure they have easy access to electronic books. 

If your child prefers to kick the ball around the yard to spending the day inside reading, encourage them with sports-themed books or books that showcase sportsmanship.

Some kids may prefer more active styles of reading. Help them find books that are full of crosswords or word games, math brain teasers, puzzles, and riddles.

E Is for "Exercise"

The list suggests 20 minutes, but more is even better. Any active play that gets muscles moving counts, such as taking a brisk walk or bike ride. You can also encourage specific exercise routines for kids that would benefit from a more structured workout.

Kids should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise each day.

D Is for "Done Something Helpful"

Having kids help around the house or neighborhood is always a good use of time and energy. Develop a list of age-appropriate chores and rewards.

Ask around in your community to find out if there are opportunities for kids to assist neighbors who are elderly or have limited mobility, such as taking their dog for a walk. You can also look for outdoor volunteering opportunities that your family can do together.

The key is for the tasks to be interesting and fun rather than making them seem like a penalty for being bored.

A Word From Verywell

If your child has done all of the above and is still begging for screen time, keep in mind that a little television or computer time could inspire active play. Challenge your child to be a producer instead of a consumer. With the technology available today, your child can write, produce, and play in content they make themselves, stimulating creativity and fun.

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