101 Things to Do When Kids Say 'I'm Bored'
'I'm bored.' Kids love saying it; parents hate hearing it. Banish boredom forever with these 101 kid-tested fun activities.
When kids are bored, the best thing for parents and child care providers to do is help them identify ways in which they can entertain themselves. Aim for activities that engage the senses and are at the right level of difficulty (e.g., not too easy, not too challenging). Create a "boredom box" with coloring books, action figures, and a puzzle to encourage independent play when a child says she's bored. Update this every few months with a new kit activity book.
If you're looking for a new activity to do together, here are 101 great ideas for when your little one whines, "I'm bored!" We've divided them into two categories: "Indoor Activities" and "Outdoor Activities." We even included a city-by-city guide of actual activities you can do around town -- for free (or almost free)!
For Active Kids
- Construct an indoor obstacle course.
- Find a kids yoga tutorial on Youtube and follow along!
- Help your child rearrange their bedroom.
- Break out Twister and hold an epic tournament in your living room.
- Play lily-pad leap with small rugs and towels strategically placed throughout the playroom or living room.
- Play Hot Potato -- use anything from a bean bag to a bar of soap.
- Put on some music and have yourself a dance party.
- Set up your own DIY bowling lane. (Here's how: Spray-paint two-liter bottles to use as bowling pins and a handy soccer ball as a bowling ball.)
- Start a game of "Simon Says" -- it's a classic that never gets old.
For Creative Kids
- Act out your child's favorite book.
- Add a fun twist to a healthy dessert -- turn your fruit salad into a fruit pizza instead! (Watch our fruit pizza video to learn how.)
- Braid lanyard key chains to make fun gifts for friends and family.
- Bring out the pots and pans and practice drumming skills.
- Build an indoor tent or fort with couches and some bed sheets.
- Build new structures and objects out of LEGOs (without using the instructions).
- Compose a poem (e.g., haiku, sonnet, etc.).
- Create beautiful works of sand art with homemade colored sand. (See the video above.)
- Design -- and fill in -- your own mad libs.
- Establish your own secret language and handshake that only you know.
- Exercise those finger-painting skills by trying to replicate a famous painting.
- Host a watercolor night where everyone paints their favorite (fill-in-the-blank).
- Learn how to make origami.
- Make friendship bracelets.
- Organize a movie night. (Plan for it by drawing tickets, making popcorn and setting up the room like a theater.)
- Publish a pretend newspaper.
- Pull out the costume box, put on funny clothes, and have a photo shoot.
- Put together a jigsaw puzzle.
- Reminisce about your favorite family vacation and draw pictures of everything you did to make a book.
- Send letters to soldiers -- a thoughtful note will brighten their day!
- Sew a pillow. Just grab some fabric, scissors, stuffing and a needle and thread.
- Show them how to make a vision board.
- Track down some old socks and draw faces on them to make sock puppets -- then put on a show!
- Try your hand at making paper crafts. (Need inspiration? Watch our step-by-step paper crafts video tutorial.)
- Upgrade bathtime with homemade bath fizzies. (All you need to do is combine citric acid, baking soda, and cornstarch.)
- Whip up some homemade play dough.
- Write a letter to someone special (e.g., Grandma, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, your child's favorite athlete, etc.) and help them mail it.
- Bake cookies for the neighbors or your family members.
- Cook an entire meal -- or a full day's worth of meals -- together. (Watch our video on healthy dinner ideas to get some inspiration.)
- Lay out a tasting platter of new and exotic foods to try.
- Make homemade ice cream sandwiches. (Need inspiration? Watch the video above.)
- Pick out a "no-bake" recipe to try. (Fresh fruit popsicles, anyone?)
- Practice good table manners by pretending to go out to a fancy restaurant (at your own kitchen table).
- Read a simple, kid-friendly cookbook together -- and maybe even pick out a couple recipes to make later!
- Set up a make-your-own-sundae station.
For Kids Who Love to Learn
- Ask "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and then plan your day around that career. (e.g., What would a fireman wear? What would a teacher do?)
- Count and roll loose change lying around the house.
- Discover a new card game.
- Explore the world with Google Maps -- find your home, your child's school, favorite spots, etc.
- Head to your local library to catch a storytime session or peruse the shelves for a new read.
- Learn magic tricks.
- Memorize all 50 state capitals.
- Teach yourselves the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet.
- Test your memory -- try to recite all 50 U.S. states in alphabetical order.
- Try your hand at brainteasers, such as Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and word searches.
- Turn on the radio and play "Name That Tune."
- Visit an interactive museum.
- Work on piecing together your family tree.
For Active Kids
- Cool off at the municipal pool.
- Go to a mini golf course and play a round or two.
- Hold your own a sack race. (You can also use pillowcases for this.)
- Jump rope.
- Make your very own slip 'n' slide.
- Organize an at-home field day, complete with tug of war and team colors.
- Plan an eye-spy scavenger hunt (e.g., something shiny and blue, something round that makes noise, something clear, etc.).
- Play catch in a local park or the backyard.
- Practice doing cartwheels, somersaults, and handstands in the backyard.
- Ride your bikes through the neighborhood or on a local bike path.
- Roller blade.
- Run relay races.
- Run through the sprinklers.
- Schedule a park playdate with a friend.
- Start basketball game of HORSE or just shoot hoops.
- Teach them how to hula hoop.
- Throw around the Frisbee with some friends.
- Try playing balloon volleyball.
- Walk the dog (and maybe even give him a bath!).
For Creative Kids
- Blow homemade bubbles. (Just mix 1 cup granulated soap or soap powder, 1 quart warm water, and liquid food coloring. And voila!)
- Construct a sun dial.
- Create cool-looking bubble paint prints.
- Draw cool murals on your sidewalk with your own homemade ice chalk. (Check out our "How to Make Ice Chalk" video to learn how.)
- Dress up in last year's Halloween costumes and have a costume parade through your neighborhood.
- Pick flowers (from your own garden, of course) and create a flower arrangement for the dining room table.
- Take a walk around the neighborhood and let the kids take pictures (with a disposable camera) of the things that they see.
- Upgrade your white T-shirts with some tie-dye! (See the video above.)
For Kids Who Love to Learn
- Get messy with some science experiments! (e.g., Make a paper mache volcano and mix baking soda and vinegar for an explosive reaction!)
- Google popular constellations. At night, head outdoors to spot natures bountiful creations.
- Head to the local farmers' market and look for interesting products you've never seen before.
- Put together your very own time capsule to bury in the backyard.
- Set up a lemonade stand.
For Outdoorsy Kids
- Build an outdoor fort with tarps and bungees around trees.
- Camp out in the backyard.
- Feed the ducks and pigeons at your local park.
- Host a picnic lunch for your friends and family.
- Plant a tree.
- Research different types of birds in your area and go bird-watching!
- Satisfy your sweet tooth by making s'mores the whole family will love. (See the video above.)
- Search for four-leaf clovers.
- Start a mini garden.
- Take a hike and explore nature.
- Try your hand at geocaching.
- Walk on the beach and collect seashells.
- AUSTIN: The 10 Best Free Things To Do in Austin, TX When Kids Say I'm Bored
- BOSTON: The 10 Best Free Things To Do in Boston, MA When Kids Say I'm Bored
- BROOKLYN: Here Are the 10 Best Free Things to Do in Brooklyn When Your Kids Say ‘I’m Bored’
- CHICAGO: The 7 Best Free Things To Do in Chicago, IL When Kids Say I'm Bored
- HOUSTON: The 5 Best Free Things to Do in Houston When Your Kids Say, ‘I’m Bored’
- LOS ANGELES: 10 Free Things to Do Around L.A. When Your Kids Say 'I'm Bored'
- MIAMI: The 10 Best Free Things to Do in Miami When Your Kids Say, ‘I’m Bored’
- MINNEAPOLIS: 10 Free Things to Do in Minneapolis When Your Kids Say 'I'm Bored'
- TAMPA: The 5 Best Free Things to Do in Tampa When Your Kid Says ‘I’m Bored’
Originally written by Kayla Mossien. Updated by Alexa Gahan and Katie Bonadies on 30 June 2017.