Bored kids can be hard to deal with as a parent! While it is important for kids to learn how to handle being bored without misbehaving, it is also important to offer fun and creative activities for our kids. (Especially when we are stuck at home due to weather, pandemics, or any other reason!)
Whether you are looking for ideas for a rainy day, or are stuck at home quarantining, finding indoor activities for bored kids can be exhausting! If you have exhausted your list of ideas and are needing to pull your kids away from their screens, here is some inspiration!
In this Article:
- Teaching Kids to Deal with Boredom
- A Trick for Training Your Brain to not be Bored
- A Week’s Worth of Creative Play Ideas
- 52 More Ideas for Bored Kids
This post may contain affiliate links.
Teaching Kids to Handle Boredom
Before we jump into all of the fun activities for bored kids, let’s talk about boredom. Did you know that being bored is an emotion just like being angry or sad or happy? As with any emotion, it’s not bad or wrong to feel bored.
Although, it can feel bad when you are bored! The problem with boredom comes when being bored leads to bad behavior.
So for example, maybe when your child feels bored they get angry and try to start a fight with their brother or sister. Or, maybe when they feel bored they look for people (like you) to fix it and then end up in trouble for interrupting your work or chores that need to get done.
When kids start using these negative behaviors to try to make them not feel so bored, they can have some unwanted consequences, like getting into trouble, getting yelled at, or making someone else mad or frustrated.
Choosing How to Behave When You Feel Bored
Here’s the thing though… when I talk to my kids about this they tell me that they don’t feel like they have a choice. That in the moment, when you are feeling really big emotions whether it’s being angry or feeling really bored, it can feel like that emotion is in control of you. Like you don’t have the choice of how to react or respond.
And while I totally understand why they feel that way, I know that they don’t have to let their emotions control their behaviors. I know that there are things we can do to train their brains and bodies to respond better when they feel big emotions like boredom.
Training Your Brain to Respond Appropriately to Boredom
To help you understand what I mean I want you to think back to when you or your kids first started learning to ride a bike without training wheels. Remember how wobbly and out of control it felt? You had to practice a lot in order to learn to have control over your bike and your body so that you didn’t constantly fall down and get hurt.
Training your mind is really the same. When kids (or adults) feel like you don’t have a choice in how they respond to feeling bored (or any other emotion), it means that they need to do some “strength training” on their brains.
A Fun Trick to Train Your Brain
There are lots of ways to train your brain to take control and help you respond better when you have big emotions. Here is one fun trick that I think will help your kids if they are feeling a lot of boredom (or anger caused by the frustration over being forced into a boring situation like we all are right now.)
So before I teach you this trick, I want you to understand why this works.
When you feel really big emotions blood actually leaves your brain making it harder to think and react in the way that you might normally choose. This is why your children feel so out of control when they are experiencing boredom (or anger, fear, etc.)
So, if we can do something to calm down their bodies enough that it lets blood flow back to their brain, then they can start making better choices.
There are lots of ways to do this. Check out this article on 75 Calm Down Activities for additional inspiration. Or, if this is a really big issue for you and your children, I have a Managing Emotions Bundle available as well.
But, for today here’s the fun exercise to help your children gain more control over their brains when they feel big emotions.
Step 1: Go to a couch and sit down backwards so that your feet are towards the back cushions.
Step 2: Bend down backwards over the couch so that your head is hanging off.
Step 3: Hold this upside down position for 15-20 seconds.
Not only will this help blood get back to your child’s brain, but it might also make them laugh and laughter is another way to help the brain reset and start allowing good choices again.
A Week’s Worth of Creative Play Ideas
I love creating activities for my kids that they can build on. This allows me to plan and prepare one thing that can be used in multiple ways or over a longer period than the 10 minutes it usually takes for my kids to get bored again…
Here are some of my favorite creative activities for bored kids.
Make Binoculars out of Toilet Paper Rolls
To make the binoculars, have kids decorate the individual (empty) rolls with crayons or markers.
Next, tape some saran wrap around one end of each roll.
Then, using glue or tape secure the two rolls together. If you have some string or yarn laying around, punch a hole in each tube and tie the binoculars with a neck loop so that your kids can wear them around the house.
Games to Play with Your Binoculars:
- Look out the windows and find birds, flowers, bugs – whatever makes sense for your window and your child’s interest
- Turn the couch into your “pirate ship” and play pirates
- Set up your child’s stuffed animals around the house and go on a safari
Set up a Forensics Lab
This is a fun science activity that has provided endless hours of fun for my boys. To do this, you will need:
- Blank Sheets of White Paper
- Clear tape like Scotch Tape or Packaging Tape
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (or some old eye shadow would work.)
- A paintbrush (or makeup brush)
Start by having your child scribble a section of the paper with a pencil. Roll their pointer finger around in the pencil until it is pretty coated. Then, carefully place your child’s finger on a piece of clear tape to pick up the fingerprint. Place the tape down on a separate sheet of paper and mark the name and finger (ie Daniel – right pointer finger).
Continue this process with all participating children. You can do all of their fingers or just one or two fingers from each child.
Have your kids study the fingerprints and notice the differences.
Then, get out a clear glass (or you could use a window). Have each child place their hand on the glass making sure to grip with their fingers. Then, using your paintbrush, gently dust some cocoa powder or eye shadow over the fingerprints. Blow off the extra powder and lift the fingerprint with clear tape.
On a fresh sheet of paper, place the fingerprints from the glass. Cut out each fingerprint from the second round and see if you can match it up with the original prints to guess whose prints are whose.
Games to Play with Fingerprints
If you have older kids, you can then have them hide fingerprints around and play a fun game of gem thief or cops and robbers or something similar. Have them set up a “crime scene” leaving behind a fingerprint or two. The detective has to bring the fingerprint to match up to the original prints to name the “thief”.
Make Your Own Board Games
A few years ago our local Science Museum had a great exhibit where kids could design their own board games. They had a local professor who taught game design there helping kids out. My boys had a blast being creative and coming up with fun new games.
The great thing about this idea is that you can use whatever supplies you have on hand. Recyclables, paper shopping bags, construction paper, an old deck of cards, etc.
Encourage your kids to make up a game using the materials provided. If they are old enough, have them write down the rules for the game. (You may want to get out some game rules to show them ideas of what to include.)
Allow your kids to play each other’s games. Then, give them time to revise anything that needs revising. (Something always comes up that they forgot or didn’t go as planned.) Then, play a second time with the new rules.
There are some great kits that you can purchase if you want a more professional looking game. The kit that the game designer from the Science Museum used is called The White Box. You can purchase it on Amazon here.
Build an Obstacle Course
This is a fun activity that can be altered to suit your space and available materials. We have created obstacle courses using string, painter’s tape, or even just pillows and couch cushions.
My boys really enjoy creating obstacle courses for each other. (I think this works really well for older kids.) If you have younger kids, set up a course for them.
Extra Ideas that make obstacle courses even more fun:
- Play some Olympics style music while your kids go through the course
- Create a finish line with streamer paper for them to run through
- Create the course to be done in the dark with flashlights
- Use a game kit like Chrono Bomb Night Vision to create a course using laser lights.
Design an Imaginary Clubhouse (or treehouse)
Start by having your kids imagine what they would like in their own clubhouse. Have them draw out plans for the clubhouse making sure to label everything. (Writing practice!)
Next, have your kids build a model of the clubhouse using supplies you have on hand. You could use things like:
- Toothpicks and mini marshmallows
- Recyclables such as cardboard, bottles, shoe boxes, milk cartons, paper towel tubes, etc.
- Couch Cushions
Finally, if you have the time, space, and supplies go ahead and try to actually create a clubhouse! I’ve used PVC pipes to create a fun frame. There are also some really fun fort building kits you can get if you don’t feel like going the DIY route.
This is a fun activity to do in the evenings when you have a dark room. Or, have your kids do it in the bathroom (if your bathroom has enough space and no windows.)
Set a sheet up as your screen. Make sure to leave room behind the sheet. Bring a lamp out to place behind the screen and turn the rest of the lights out.
Then, let your kids take turns acting out things behind the sheet as a shadow. (It works well to pre-write some easy ideas: dog, cat, swimming, dancing,)
Alternately, if you don’t want to set up a sheet, a piece of computer paper and a flashlight can be fun to make hand shadows with.
Newscaster for a Day
Have your kids write out scripts to report happenings around the house. They could each choose a headline, a feature story, a weather report, and a sports report. Then, using a phone or IPad have them take turns videoing each other’s news reports.
If you have older kids, let them edit the video clips together into a full news report.
Alternately, if you have little kids and want to just have them do live reporting without the video element, that can be just as fun! You can use a paper grocery bag or a box to create a “tv” with a cut out for their head.
52 More Fun Indoor Activities for Bored Kids
And, if you feel like you need even more inspiration, check out this list of fun, creative, and educational activity ideas for bored kids!
- Put on a play or a skit (you can download free scripts that help kids practice reading in a really fun way! Check out this site for scripts by grade level.)
- Create a poster on paper or on the computer
- Design a magazine cover (Use old magazines or print out pictures for a collage effect!)
- Practice Calm Down Skills Using the Calm Down Card Deck
- Write a creative story or poem
- Do Mad Libs together (if you don’t have any Mad Libs books lying around, you can find fillable Mad Libs online)
- Cook or Bake something (this lets your kids practice math skills!)
- Indoor Scavenger Hunt (You can download a free in-home scavenger hunt that I created to use for days when I wasn’t feeling well in the parenting resource library.
- Just Dance, Wii Sports, or other active video games (a Wii Sports bowling tournament with the whole family is a great low key but super fun idea!)
- Try out YouTube exercise videos for kids
- Cup Stacking Competitions (this set comes with different challenge instructions!)
- Balloon Games (google balloon games- there are a million fun options!)
- Set up a target in the garage for football, baseball or even a beach ball throwing practice
- Make Sock Puppets and put on a puppet show
- Make a photo collage (either with printed photos or digitally)
- Play family games: Monopoly, The Game of Life, Pictionary, etc. (If you need to spice up your game night ideas, check out this article on the Best Family Games by Age)
- Make Necklaces or Bracelets with whatever supplies you have (beads, macaroni noodles, embroidery thread, etc.)
- Set up an indoor movie theater complete with popcorn, a dark room, and a good family movie
- Have your kids create treasure maps for each other with clues that lead them to a hidden “treasure”
- Play with your dog or cat – teach your dog a new trick, have fun with a flashlight with your cat, etc.
- Create a Pet Spa – bathe, brush, maybe even blow-dry your dog
- Build an indoor fort out of sheets, blankets, couch cushions, etc. (maybe even pull out a string of twinkle lights for more fun!)
- Play Hide and Seek
- Put on a fashion show (have it be themed for more wacky fun)
- Play cards – maybe even google some new card games to learn
- Read together
- Play Simon Says
- Do a puzzle
- Build Legos together
- Create an obstacle course using painters’ tape in the living room
- Have lunch or dinner as a picnic on a blanket in the family room
- Use Facebook Messenger for Kids to have virtual playdates with friends or family
- Pick a board game like Battleship to play over video chat with distant cousins
- Use Google Slides to create a visual fictional story or a personal narrative (like of a family vacation.)
- Start a Family Newspaper (like in Little Women)
- Sort through dressers and pull out old/too small clothes to donate
- Search up origami videos on YouTube
- Check out the Art for Kids Hub on YouTube for drawing tutorials. (And make sure to try out this one line drawing challenge it will have your kids rolling in laughter!)
- Let your kids make a playlist and then have a dance party
- Have a Paper Airplane folding/flying contest
- Go on a virtual field trip– pick a destination, research local spots that you would like to visit, maybe learn a bit about the history, and then tour the spots you chose in Google Earth. (Try syncing your computer or phone up to your TV for a larger more immersive experience!)
- Work on social-emotional skills with The Brave Guide to Anger or The Little Brave Guide to Being Afraid.
- Set up a tent and “camp out” in the living room or playroom
- Have a Lip-sync concert (bonus points for creating a dance routine to go with the song!)
- Try out Karaoke (YouTube has free videos to use!)
- Do a virtual museum tour (The Smithsonian, The Louvre, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The British Museum, The Guggenheim, and many others all offer virtual tours.)
- Have a Tea Party
- Listen to Audio Books (Audible offers a free trial subscription and lots of great titles for kids and teens)
- Create Armor out of cardboard boxes and have a nerf gun battle
- Try building a house of cards
- Make a music video
- Start learning a foreign language or sign language
- Create a hopscotch game out of painter’s tape or masking tape on the floor
- Try making a stop motion video
Other Fun Resources and Activities for Bored Kids
I also have some other great parenting resources in my free Parenting Resource Library that could be helpful to keep your kids calm and entertained. (Like instructions and printables for creating a calm down kit.)
Sending you love and light,