Ultimate Boredom Buster: 101 Things to Do When Kids Are Bored
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How often have you heard that lately?! If you’re finding it a bit challenging to entertain kids all day during unexpected self-isolation or quarantine or lockdown, we’ve got some great ideas for you. As an adult, it can be hard to even remember what boredom is and what it’s like to think of things to do when you’re bored. But, often kids simply need a prompt or a nudge.
Regardless of circumstances, parents are driven to find fun and educational ways to spend time with our children! Below, our team has compiled a list of some of our favorite activities to try if you don’t know what to do with bored kids, especially if you’re stuck at home. You’ll never experience a dull moment with this limitless list of options, and even better – they’re educational, Design Dazzlewith a particular emphasis on STEM / STEAM!
Related post: Ultimate Guide to the Best STEM Toys
Toddlers (2 – 4 Years)
1. Make a Colorful ‘Skittles Rainbow’ (10 – 20 Minutes) — The Dad Lab has exploded in popularity and is great resource of things for kids to do when they’re bored. Many of his activities are very suitable for young kids and toddlers. The Skittles in Water experiment is a toddler favorite since it involves bright colors and delicious candy!
2. Make a Walking Water Rainbow (30 – 60 Minutes) — Toddlers love this activity because it’s so colorful, and parents love it because it’s easy to do! The STEM Laboratory has detailed instructions – basically, you put food coloring of different types into several glasses and then connect them with paper towels. At this age, your little scientist will be in awe as capillary action draws the colored liquids along from container to container!
3. Engage in Sensory Play (15 – 30 Minutes) — One of our favorites at this age (and something that will spare you from braving the shopping masses) is to practice creating letters, numbers, and shapes in shaving cream! Because shaving cream can remove marks from certain types of furniture, this doubles as a great cleaning activity. However, if you aren’t feeling up to that level of mess, you can contain the excitement in these sensory bags:
4. Make Your Own Bubbles (30 – 45 Minutes) — Looking for things to do when your toddler is bored? They will think you are a magician when you bust this one out! Simply mix six cups of water and one cup of dish soap with a quarter cup of corn syrup. Enjoy unlimited bubble play with this easy to replenish recipe!
5. Ice Painting (30 – 60 Minutes) — This is a really fun and simple activity sure to stimulate bored kids. Inspired by I’m a good mom I swear, and my daughter’s preschool class, all it takes is ice – at preschool, they use snow – a bucket for the ice, paints, and brushes. If you’re doing this indoors, it might be good to put down a tarp or towel to protect your floor. Show the children that the ice can get the brush wet and let them find out how colors mix, ice textures affect paint, and that art isn’t just for paper.
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6. Fine Motor Activities (15 – 30 Minutes) — Using this great video from Teacher Hunt as a guide, give your child some tweezers, tongs, and other tools and let them go to town showing their skills. These fine motor skills will pay off in spades as your child ages.
7. Nature Bingo (30 – 60 Minutes) — Get your young ones outside with this fun and interactive project. Inspired by an Instagram story (@rubensoltvedt, @carthrinetunes), draw pictures of things you will find on a walk close to home such as insects, trees, sticks, the sky, seeds, and birds. As your child finds each one, they get to mark it off with a sticker or marker. Perfect for getting out and getting engaged! This could be adapted to include older children by having them create the bingo drawings for younger children and including more subtle finds for the bigger kids.
8. Seed Germination Jar (30-Minute Set Up, Long-Term Observations) — Since we are getting to spring, a seed germination jar is a perfect activity. It’s simple and fun to set up and will give you something to come back to every day. Get a jar, fill it with paper towels and put seeds (beans work great for this type of thing) around the outside where you’ll be able to see them germinate. Water enough to saturate the paper towel (or an old rag will work if paper-use is a concern) without filling the jar with water. Watch and notice each day what happens as the roots and shoots emerge and grow!
9. Water Play (45 – 60 Minutes) — This is a great time to bust out the kiddie pool and create a makeshift oasis in the backyard. If you don’t have a pool, a large storage tub or even a bathtub will do swimmingly! Let your tot splash to their heart’s content.
10. Ramp Races (30 – 60 Minutes) — Another really fun and simple activity that can act as a physics lesson and opportunity for an experiment. Make a simple ramp using cardboard or a piece of wood, and roll different objects down: measure how far they go, how fast they roll, or hold races between different kinds of balls to see which wins!
11. Play Dough Mats (20 – 30 minutes) — It’s play dough, but with a difference! Download and print these super cute play dough mats from Picklebums and let your kids go to town with their creations. There are bug bodies, plant pots, human faces, monsters – so many options to inspire their doughy designs. This is a great thing to make at home for kids.
12. Pom Pom Drop (20 – 30 minutes) — You’ve probably already got everything you need for this one and it’s so easy to set up. Just tape a few cardboard rolls to a piece of board or to your wall and let your kids drop pom poms straight through. They’ll love watching them come out the other side! Busy Toddler recommends getting kids to use tongs for an added challenge.
13. Bubble Wrap Roads (30 – 45 minutes) — So simple, but almost impossible to resist. Parents will be lining up for a go at this one. Simply tape a roll of bubble wrap to the floor and have your little ones drive their cars, tractors, and trucks along the bumpy, bubbly road. Sunny Day Family suggests adding in some ramps and I think a bridge and some obstacles would be fun too.
14. Cardboard Tube Threading (15 – 20 minutes) — Great for developing those fine motor skills! Grab some old cardboard tubes (paper towel or toilet paper rolls are perfect) and cut them into smaller lengths. Kids can thread them onto a piece of rope or some twisted together pipe cleaners. The Imagination Tree suggests making necklaces or even a winding snake!
15. Puzzle Control Map (15 – 30 Minutes) — Puzzles can be a little tough for younger children, but there are so many benefits to using them. Make a control map of your toddler’s puzzles by scanning and printing the puzzle. The child can then use the control map as a guide to putting the pieces together. This not only builds confidence, but it also promotes independence and a desire for more puzzles. You can find full instructions and the science behind a ‘control of error’ on The Indigo Teacher blog.
16. Leaf People (20 – 30 Minutes) — Leaf Man is a children’s book about leaves moving around as the wind blows. Although it’s more for Fall, it can still be used to inspire little minds to create Leaf People with objects from nature. Mother Natured has some great ideas on her Instagram feed, which also include creating animals and faces.
17. DIY Matching Game (20 – 30 Minutes) — Do you have stickers? Do you have stones, bottle caps, or card stock? If yes, then you’ve got a DIY matching game in the making. Choose a selection of your child’s favorite stickers – two each – and put them on top of bottle caps or something that’s easy to flip over. Practice your child’s memory skills by using these as a memory game or as a matching game.
18. Dinosaur Dig Sensory Bin (45 Minutes) — Who doesn’t love digging in sensory bins? Make one for your budding paleontologist with sand or pebbles and toy dinosaurs. Keep Calm and Mommy On has a very easy method along with other ideas for sensory bins. If you also have older kids, they can make dinosaur bones for the toddler’s excavation site. Parenting Chaos has a great tutorial on her site, and the ingredients are simple.
19. Nature Wheel (20 – 45 Minutes) — A nature wheel is a fun way for your toddler to see the great outdoors and notice colors of nature. Using Mother Natured’s free Nature Wheel printable, children will delight in using their fine motor skills to clip a color on the wheel until the wheel is filled up. See a purple flower? Place a clothing clip on the purple! See a blue sky? Clip one of the two shades of blue.
Pre – K (4 – 5 Years)
20. Stage a Play (20 – 60 Minutes) — If your pre-K child is asking for fun things to when they’re bored, challenge them to ‘write’, rehearse, and stage a play for you as the audience. At this age, it’s going to be pretty brief, but I bet you it’s entertaining!
21. Bring the Ocean to Them (30 – 60 Minutes) — You don’t need to be near the ocean to get Pre-K kids enthused about it. Try one of these ocean-themed STEM activities and watch their imaginations take them on sea-faring adventures!
22. Go Fishing With Magnets (30 – 45 Minutes) — Using this idea from Stir the Wonder, create “fishing poles” using pencils, string, and magnets. Place a variety of items in a bin–some magnetic, some otherwise–and let them go to town exploring the concept of magnetism!
23. Build Forts and Hibernate (45 – Infinity Minutes) — Need some quiet time? This activity is the one for you! Teach your children about the concept of hibernation. Plus, one of the best ideas for bored kids is to build something! We recommend the book Bear Snores On for the hibernation part. When finished, build a blanket fort and snuggle in with some of your favorite reads to practice hibernating!
24. Set Your Child Loose on a STEM Bin (30 – 45 Minutes) — Have a lot of empty cartons or other recyclables at home? This project is for you! Add all of these materials to a box and let your child go to town creating their own innovations! For inspiration, check out this article from We are Teachers.
25. Backyard Nature Hunt (30 – 45 Minutes) — Using this great series of lists from The Nature Conservancy, send your child to the backyard to find as much as they can! Be sure to evaluate their findings together at the end.
26. Colorful Magic with Paper Towels (30 Minutes or Longer) — Watch the video below from The Dad Lab and learn how to create simple, self-revealing images using paper towels (or just paper), markers, and a plate of water. This fun reveal activity is a great way to work on letters, numbers, reading, matching, or just goofing with fun images!
27. Dancing Corn (15 – 30 Minutes) — Engage bored kids with this fun example of a classic chemical reaction. Follow the instructions from little bins for little hands to set up the demonstration. All you need is a jar, baking soda, vinegar, and popcorn kernels. If any of these are in short supply, the page offers alternatives for the liquids and popcorn.
28. Sink or Float (30 – 60 Minutes) — Learn about buoyancy using things you have around the house with this fun boredom buster. All you need is a watertight bucket or bin and a variety of objects with different densities. Fill the bucket, select an object, ask your child to predict if it will sink or float, and observe the results! Check out activity number 5 from this We Are Teachers Post for more details.
29. Mini Tornado (30 – 60 Minutes) — Teach your child about weather and fluid dynamics by creating mini-tornadoes in a jar. All you need is a clear container with a lid, water, dish soap, vinegar, and food coloring (optional). Follow the instructions for idea 17 in this post. This is a great opportunity to discuss the weather, clouds, and wind.
30. Musical Instruments (30 – 45 Minutes) — Okay, you might regret this one – it’s going to get noisy! But at least they’ll stop saying “I’m bored!” Find some items around your house to re-purpose into musical instruments. An old tin or bucket makes a great drum, a length of pipe can be a didgeridoo and a plastic water bottle with rubber bands make a very cool guiro. Before you know it, you’ve got your own family band! Visit Making Multicultural Music for some more ideas.
31. Homemade Tap Shoes (20 – 30 Minutes) — Sorry parents, this one’s noisy too! It’s so easy to do though and will keep your kids busy for ages. Simply tape a coin to the bottom of your child’s shoe. Voila, homemade tap shoes! Get them to come up with a tap-dancing routine, rehearse it and record their final performance (bring your own earmuffs!).
32. Colored Marker Spray Bottle Art (30 – 40 Minutes) — We all have them in the back of a cupboard somewhere – all those colored markers that haven’t been completely used up, but are no longer at their best. Hello, Wonderful has a great idea for using them up and keeping kids busy. Warning though – this gets messy. Definitely one to take outside!
33. Audible Stories (20 – 30 Minutes) — We know that nothing beats a story read to children from a loved one, but if you need a little break to have your coffee in peace, try Audible. Audible is currently streaming stories for a range of ages free of charge. We Are Teachers have also put together a list of children’s authors doing read aloud.
34. DIY Microscope (30 – 60 Minutes) — In our Oceans of Fun article, we mention building your own microscope to view ocean treasures. Luckily, microscopes can be used for anything, including household items and objects from your own backyard. Even an eyelash! All you need is cling wrap, clear plastic cups, a rubber band, a splash of water, and objects. Be sure to have a nature journal so they can sketch their findings.
35. Fairy and Gnome Houses (45 – 60 Minutes) — We are surrounded by trees, so my daughters take delight in making miniature fairy houses from objects in nature. It not only helps them to become more aware of their natural environment, but they use the objects as tiny tools – like fairy engineers. There are plenty of tutorials online that tell you to glue everything together, but this takes away from the natural aspect. If it’s too rainy outside, try Artful Parent’s approach of making fairy houses from cardboard boxes.
36. Make Cards (30 – 45 Minutes) — When in doubt, make cards. Fold the paper in half, let the child draw or glue objects to the front, then write a sweet message on the inside. Luckily, we can still use the postal service so why not take advantage of it? This is a fun way to send something non-digital in the digital world. Plus, it boosts creativity and community. Send them to friends, teachers, and family.
37. Archaeological Dig (45 – 60 Minutes) — This is similar to the Dinosaur Dig but on a more challenging scale. This activity features DIY excavation bars – you know, the ones where you have to pick away at the block to get to the bones? A Pumpkin and a Princess has a simple way of creating these bars, you’ll just need plaster of Paris and a few other items. Get creative and have the child guess what’s in the block (Is it a quarter? Is it dice? Is it a crystal?).
38. Embroidery Hoops (30 – 40 Minutes) — Embroidery hoops pose a number of activities for kids. For younger kids, it’s a great way to help teach sewing while keeping the fabric stable, leading to less frustration. It’s also an ingenious way of building fine motor skills and attention to detail. Something all little scientists will need in the future. How We Montessori shows you how to set up a sewing tray. And you can also consider adding buttons, drawing a shape to trace, or turning the hoop into a weaving loom.
Early School (6 – 8 Years)
39. Create with a Kiwi Crate (1 – Several Hours) — Despite the best of intentions, as parents, it’s hard to find the time to do STEM/STEAM projects with the kids. Doing the project itself is not normally the issue, it’s coming up with the idea and gathering the materials. This is why we’re such fans of monthly STEM boxes. Arguably the best STEM subscription box is by KiwiCo, who has a variety of different “Crates” for every age imaginable! The original Kiwi Crate provides engaging STEAM projects for kids in the 5-8 year age range. And nothing beats the convenience of a new crate arriving in the mail every month, especially if you’re stuck in a lockdown or quarantine situation!
40. Make a Flip Book Animation (5 – 30 Minutes) — Kids can learn how to make a flipbook animation in less than 5 minutes. All you need is a pen and a stack of paper, or even better, a sticky note pad. This video is a great and very quick tutorial:
41. Build Straw Bridges (45 – 60 Minutes) — Implement your newfound engineering design process skills to challenge your children to build a straw bridge using just straws and tape. Introduce new levels of rigor by adding constraints such as how much weight the bridge is required to hold. Find more information on how to add educational layers to this project at The Stem Laboratory.
42. Lego Challenge Cards (45 – 60 Minutes) — Using this additional resource from The Stem Laboratory, keep your little ones busy with Lego Challenge Cards! These cards range in difficulty from building a triangle that is the same on two sides to building something that flies. Your child will stay busy for hours crafting as many tiny inventions as possible!
43. Create a Lego Maze (30 – 45 Minutes) — Ask your child to create a Lego maze! Bonus points if they’re able to create one for a younger sibling to take their toy cars through. Add layers of challenges by providing obstacles or dimension to the maze.
44. Make a Cloud in a Jar (30 – 45 Minutes) — Looking for things to do when you’re bored at home?Using this great Kidspot video and some water, an aerosol can, and ice, you can create a cloud in a jar! Extend the time you use for this activity by discussing the water cycle and asking your child to create a drawing or diorama to illustrate it.
45. Tracing Shadows (45 – 90 Minutes) — Try this simple and fun activity in a sunny spot or outside. All you need is paper, a pencil, and some objects that you can set down to create a shadow on the paper. Instruct your child to trace the shadow made by the toy or object. You can let them create their own fun designs and combinations to really keep them engaged and not bored.
46. Make a Mountain out of Towels (30 – 60 Minutes) — Another fun one for your kids bored at home is to begin learning about plate tectonics and geology using towels and bins! This super simple, no-mess demonstration uses a stack of towels – ideally different colors and/or textures – and some bins or other large objects to act as the geological ‘plates.’ This post has excellent instructions for completing the whole project!
47. Eat and Learn about Properties of Matter (60 – 90 Minutes) — Take advantage of all those dry goods you bought and do an observation experiment with your child. Have your child create a chart to record their observations (see examples in the link above), and then describe those properties using their chart. To add a bit more creativity, you can include a blank column where they can record any other observations they’d like (e.g. comments about taste).
48. Weathering Stations (60 – 90 Minutes) — Set up a series of stations (or just pick your favorite) to learn about erosion. These fun activities use things you’ll have around the house to teach your child about how forces like friction, gravity, chemical reactions, and moving water wear away rocks and move soil from the top of the hill to the bottom of the valley.
49. How Tall is Your Tower? (15 – 30 Minutes) — This is one of my favorite STEM activities and is actually suitable for any age. Give your kids a pile of items and see who can build the biggest tower. It’s simple, but it’s always a winner. The items can be anything you have around the house (eg. pipe cleaners, pegs, straws, masking tape, yarn containers). There’s only one rule: the tower has to stand by itself without anyone holding it up. Good luck!
50. Go to the (Virtual) Zoo (30 Minutes – 1 Hour) — You may not be able to get to an actual zoo right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye on what the animals are up to. Parents.com has put together a list of zoos and aquariums that have live videos of their animals available to watch anytime. Some sites even allow kids to ask the zookeepers questions!
51. Balloon Rockets (30 – 45 Minutes) — It’s not rocket science, but also it kind of is! Balloons, straws, tape, and string are all you need for this fun science experiment. Kids will be delighted to see their balloon rocket whizz across the room. Why not make two rockets and have a race? Discover Explore Learn has all the instructions, but it’s so simple even very young kids can be involved.
52. Dance Party (30 – 45 Minutes) — Is everyone at your place getting a little stir crazy? Need to burn off some energy and blow off some steam? Time to break out the glow sticks and crank up the tunes. If dancing is not your thing you can always put some instructional YouTube videos on the television and let the kids go for it!
53. Dioramas (45 – 90 Minutes) — Dioramas open up a whole range of possibilities for kids. They inspire creativity, ingenuity, and resourcefulness, not to mention educational insights for science, history, and literature. If you have some boxes or trays, consider allowing your child to use them to create exhibits. It can be based on a book or historical feature, or from your child’s own imagination. If you need some extra ideas, Storm the Castle has a very long list of resources and examples to help inspire you.
54. Harry Potter Potions (30 – 60 Minutes) — Potions! Magic! Mad wizardry! Make some Harry Potter-inspired potions with non-toxic, mostly edible ingredients right from your own cupboard and say goodbye to bored kids. Craft Your Happiness has a full tutorial on how to make kid-potions, and she has free printables for your child to use as labels. Each potion has a positive spin: Elixir of Joy, Imagination Tonic, and Bravery Elixir.
55. Jolly Spring Sheep Craft (45 – 60 Minutes) — With spring and Easter upon us, one extra egg activity is to make Jolly Spring Sheep using a blown egg, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, and little ears. These really cute fluffy guys are fun to design and make. They make very quiet sheep pets, too! Find the full tutorial here.
56. Make Puppets (45 – 60 Minutes) — If you have some random socks you’re ready to toss out, consider letting your child make a simple sock puppet instead. Handmade Charlotte has a fun tutorial with resources on how to make different types of sock puppets. Once they’re made, your child can create a puppet show.
57. Tree Stump Geometry 45-60 minutes) — How about little practical life skills and artistic geometry? If you’re ok allowing your child to use a hammer and some nails, and if you have tree stumps and yarn handy, you can create a geoboard on your tree stump using this tutorial. The kids can get even more creative and string beads onto the yarn.
Middle School (9 – 12 Years)
59. Dungeons & Dragons (Unlimited Hours!) — Dungeons & Dragons has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years since the 5th edition of this iconic tabletop roleplaying game became available. And it’s not just because it featured in the popular Netflix series, Stranger Things! The Wizards of the Coast made D&D 5e, as it’s affectionately known, exceptionally welcoming to new players with the very popular Starter Set.
Parents are also starting to appreciate the learning opportunities, with the game heavily relying on a number of dice, apart from the usual 6-sided, and players learning a great deal about probability and statistics, along with regular numeracy practice. You might be wondering, “How does this fit in – we’re self-isolating!” Well, the good news is that many D&D groups already meet online using modern technology, and there’s an excellent guide with remote D&D tips and tricks to help you make this work.
58. Fall in Love with Astronomy (1 – 2 Hours) — By middle school, kids are starting to have the attention span and expanded interests that make star-gazing and astronomy a great thing for them to explore. If travel to a dark-sky area is possible, the views can really captivate urban-dwelling kids. Even if you are stuck in an urban or suburban area, it is often possible to see brighter objects, such as planets and some of their moons, using a beginner telescope or even a good set of binoculars!
60. Build a Marshmallow Shooter (30 – 45 Minutes) – Using the video below from Joshua Willoughby, your child can learn how to build their own marshmallow shooter using items found around your home. Best of all, when your child becomes bored at home, they will be able to return to their invention and instigate marshmallow fights with their siblings!
61. Learn Something new on Outschool (1 Hour – Regular Schedule) — Outschool allows adults with something to teach to guide small groups of kids through online lessons. For kids, learning something new is one of the best things to do when you’re bored. Outschool has everything from Harry Potter Potions (chemistry!) classes to Language lessons.
62. How to Clean Pennies (45 – 90 Minutes) — We all have learned about science and cleaning by working with pennies. This simple, affordable experiment has tons of opportunity for creativity and uses things you have around the house: pennies, and a variety of ‘cleaners’ (some more traditional than others). This post has great instructions and ideas. But don’t stop there! Let your child think of other substances they’d like to test, extend the experiment over several days, or experiment with other objects to clean.
63. Ping Pong Ball Catapult (45 – 60 Minutes) — Consider ordering this kit from Science Buddies with all of the material needed to build your very own catapult. Just make sure you go over the rules for launching foreign objects at younger siblings first!
64. BrainPop (30 – 45 Minutes) — BrainPop has a variety of educational videos, and in light of current events, they are offering their video services for free. We love that BrainPop provides graphic organizers and quizzes for those feeling diligent about continuing their studies as an alternative to being bored at home.
65. Make an Egg Bounce! (60 – 90 Minutes, with a few Days of Waiting) — This is a classic, simple, and fun experiment sure to entertain your bored kids at home. All you need is a hard-boiled egg, vinegar, and a jar with a lid. Follow the linked instructions to create your rubber egg. The 5-days needed for the chemical transformation give you a little something to check in on and talk about every day, which is a great way to keep the learning going while you’re all stuck at home.
66. Crash Course (15 Minutes – 30 Minutes) — We love John and Hank Green’s Crash Course series. Allow your child to use their time off school to develop their engineering skills with this completely virtual course on engineering.
67. Make a Fire Snake (30 – 60 Minutes) — This activity has a huge wow factor, sure to entertain your bored kids. Using sugar, baking soda, fuel, and fire, you can create a snake monster like something out of a movie. Follow these instructions – and check out the video first to make sure you’re OK with the results! – to set up this engaging activity.
68. Channel Andy Warhol (60 Minutes or More) — For a change of pace, try this fun art project inspired by Andy Warhol. Using the printable template from the link, or your own photo or drawing, re-create one of the famous artists’ classic pieces with paper and markers. This is a great activity for multiple kids: each can color their own print, and compare, contrast, and display together at the end!
69. Paper Plate Marble Runs (45 Minutes – 1 Hour) – Marble runs are perfect for keeping little minds busy and this idea from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls takes it to the next level. Cut the rims from those old paper plates you have at the back of the cupboard and use them to make a track for marbles to run along. You might use paper towel rolls or other items to make your marble run more elaborate.
70. Design a Treehouse (30 – 45 Minutes) — Have your kids design their ultimate dream treehouse. Or a theme park. Or a castle. It doesn’t matter what it is, just get them designing! All you need is a large piece of paper (A3 at least) and a pencil to get their imagination flowing. You might want to set a few rules (eg. their theme park must have enough bathroom facilities and car parks) or just let them go for it and see what they come up with!
71. Go on a VR Hike (20 – 30 Minutes) — You might be confined to your own home, but thanks to Google Earth your kids can now visit a national park any time they like! Totally the Bomb has put together a list of national park tours you can take from your own home. Choose a park, choose a tour and off you go. Very cool!
72. Make a Jellyfish (30-45 Minutes) — Kids will love the end result with this project. It’s not only a great way to recycle waste products, but you also get a brand new pet (that doesn’t each much!). All you need is an old plastic drink bottle, a plastic bag, some string, and some food dye. STEAMsational has all the details and great tips to get your jellyfish looking just right.
73. Build a Terrarium (45 – 90 Minutes) — Watch this video from SciShow Kids to show you how to “Build a Tiny Plant World!” With just a few plants, some soil, and a closed container, the plants will maintain their moisture inside of the jar using the water cycle.
74. Watercolor Resist (30 – 60 Minutes) — What do you get when you sprinkle salt on wet watercolor paint? A really cool picture. Take a look The Artful Parent’s tutorial on how to create awesome watercolor artwork using watercolors, crayons, and salt. The end results would make great gifts.
75. Rainbow Ice Experiment (60 Minutes) — Have you ever made rainbow ice? It’s very simple. Just get a huge ice block, a lot of salt, some liquid watercolor or food coloring, and a couple of other handy tools and follow The Indigo Teacher’s simple guide. This experiment creates rivers of color that reflect through the block while the salt slowly eats away the ice. Sounds pretty cool, right?
76. Mad Libs (30 – 45 Minutes) — Mad Libs are fun for every kid and they also teach some language skills. If you really want to kill boredom, try this supersize book of Mad Libs that includes over five books in the collection. No boredom and plenty of laughter. Maybe try to make some up on your own for an extra challenge.
77. Make a Board Game (60 – 90 Minutes) — The possibilities here are truly endless. You can create a board game for practically anything and for any age. As long as there are clear, set rules, playing pieces, and a board to play on then you’ll be set. If you need inspiration, take a look at Inspiration Laboratories. They created a homemade board game based on planetary questions. Three Little Rascals used LEGOs to make their movable pieces, and Design Dazzle created an active, outdoor game on their deck.
Teenagers (13 – 18 Years)
78. Make a Video Game in Unity (3+ Hours) — Does your teenager have a passion for video games? Perhaps they fancy themselves a video game designer. It’s actually easier than you might think! These days, there are many different options for game design that are easy to learn how to use, yet still powerful enough to make a fully-fledged video game. One of the most popular is Unity and one of the best things about it is that it’s completely free to use!
One of the best tutorials available is this one (below) by Jason Weimann on YouTube. In 3 hours, Jason takes novice game designers from installing Unity right through to a finished game!
79. Combine High-Tech with Astronomy (1 – Many hours) — For teens with an interest in astronomy, there are many ways to marry that interest with some technology, with spectacular results! Teenage astronomers can take their hobby to the next level with astrophotography. This may involve an upgrade to a better telescope for deep space astrophotography, but it can alternatively be done using a telephoto lens if you have a good DSLR camera. For stargazers with an interest in computing, electronics, and coding, there are also some great projects that combine the Raspberry Pi with astronomy.
80. Subscribe to Newsela (45 – 60 Minutes) — Typically a paid subscription, Newsela has opened their site to free accounts for the remainder of this school year. With educator vetted articles on history and current events, your teen will love tracking the coronavirus right alongside you.
81. Build a Mini PC at Home (15 – 60 Minutes) — Is your teen a computer aficionado? Challenge them to show their stuff by building their own mini-computer at home! Use this Hacktuber video for guidance throughout the process:
An alternative is to buy a ready-to-go computer kit, like that offered by Piper or Kano – you can read more about them and other options in our dedicated article on the best build-your-own computer kits.
82. Khan Academy (45 – 60 Minutes) — Have your teenager further their education with Khan Academy! As the first free online learning platform, Khan Academy is renowned for its straightforward videos designed to push all students to their fullest potential.
83. The Solo Cup Engineering Challenge (15 – 30 Minutes) — Challenge your children to cup stacking with a twist! In this new variety of the challenge, children must use only rubber bands to build a tower as tall as they are able to. Check out this TechNotes post to learn more!
84. Color to Learn (60 – 90 Minutes) — Your bored teenager at home may be struggling to stay engaged with their classwork, and especially if they have younger siblings around, may just want to do something more casual. This post has some great information and downloadable history lesson coloring templates about learning and relaxing while coloring. If the templates on this post don’t fit your needs, check Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers for more printable resources.
85. Make a Found Poetry Collage (60 – 90 Minutes) — Stimulate your bored teenager with this craft meets English assignment. Found poetry takes words and phrases from other sources and pieces them together to create something new. Let your teenager loose with some old magazines, paper, scissors, and glue, while they express themselves and get creative.
86. Play Periodic Table Battleship (60 – 90 Minutes) — Who says chemistry is boring? Learn your chemical symbols while playing the classic battleship board game. This fun twist on the classic game is engaging and is an opportunity for older and younger siblings to learn and play together. Print out some periodic tables, set them up using folders, and play!
87. Take a Virtual Museum Tour (45 Minutes – 1 Hour) — Some of the best museums across the world are opening their doors to virtual visitors at the moment, so take a digital tour of some very impressive collections (full list here). Browse the halls of the Smithsonian or the Guggenheim, or even go on a tour of the Anne Frank House or check out NASA’s Research Centres.
88. Create a Comic Book (1 – 2 Hours) — Creative teens will enjoy the process of coming up with a story and illustrating it in a very cool medium. The short dialogue and focus on pictures will even appeal to those who aren’t fans of writing. There is a range of comic book templates on the internet. I like Picklebums because they have templates suitable for all age groups, and Blank Books ‘N’ Journals has a great 100+ Page Comic Book Journal Notebook with loads of templates!
89. Paper Aeroplanes (30 – 45 Minutes) — Your teenagers may protest that they are too old for such simple activities, but watch how fast they get on board once the planes start flying around the house! There are heaps of instructions and videos on how to make the perfect paper plane online. Try Fold ‘N Fly for a comprehensive range.
90. Watch Photosynthesis In Action (60 – 90 Minutes) — Photosynthesis is one of the most amazing biological processes, but it’s really hard to see! This fun demonstration uses materials you have at home to watch leaves turn CO2 and water into oxygen and sugar. As a plant biologist I *might* be a little biased, but how fun is that!
91. Make Dinner Together (30 – 45 Minutes) — Sounds simple, but it’s an opportunity that often gets overlooked during the busy dinner rush. There are so many learning activities involved in making dinner and the teenage years are the perfect time to hone these important life skills.
92. Create a Specimen Cabinet (1 – 2 Hours) — Or if you want to add more mystery, Science Friday calls it a Cabinet of Curiosities. Do you have a rock collection, seashells, parts of skeletons, or insect casings? If so, this is a great way to display them similar to a natural history museum. You can put them on sectioned trays, pin them to Styrofoam, or label them with tags like @leonapreston shows on her Instagram post.
93. Online Art Classes (1 – 2 Hours) — Take some free art lessons through SkillShare. They offer a huge variety of art classes such as watercolor landscapes, form drawing, pencil portraits, and abstract art. Watch the weekly video and, if you want, join the discussion board. This site has many other free classes you can access for two months, or you can choose to go premium with full access.
94. Make Origami (30 – 45 Minutes) — Hone your skills in paper folding with origami. There are plenty of online tutorials with easy to challenging origami projects, but a good place to start is Paper Kawaii. She gives step-by-step photo guides and her YouTube channel can be found here.
95. DIY Punching Bag (1 – 2 Hours) — Do you need to get some energy out while building strength? Maybe let out a little cabin fever angst? Try making your own punching bag. In this tutorial, you’ll find that you only need a few household items and a little ingenuity.
96. Create Canva Designs (45 – 90 Minutes) — If you have access to Canva.com and are over 13 years old, you can build on your graphic design skills with tons of templates that Canva provides. Browse through their templates, photos, and illustrations to create posters, social media posts, presentations, advertisements, invitations, and so much more.
97. Make Slime (30 – 60 Minutes) — Just when parents across the world thought we were past ‘peak slime’, now might be the best opportunity for this kids’ favorite to make a comeback! Slime is a perennial favorite for kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers. It’s so popular, though, that it can be hard to know what recipe to use. Little Bins for Little Hands has a great page for slime-makers everywhere. It highlights a number of different slime recipes, from glow-in-the-dark to 2-ingredient slimes, plus general slime-making tips and links to every type of slime you could imagine!
98. Follow Along with Online Science Experiments (1 Hour) — MEL Science is known for their fantastic chemistry set subscription, MEL Chemistry. To help kids home to engage in science experiments, they have created MEL Academy.
From March 30th, 2020, MEL Academy will be running webinars for the following three months, where kids from 5-14 can follow along with DIY experiments and learn with the help of qualified science teachers! There are also VR lessons to help kids to engage with the underlying concepts. Parents can sign up their kids for free here.
99. Turn your STEM to STEAM with Dance (15 – 60 Minutes) — Kids need to be active – both for best learning and for general health and wellbeing! And what better way to turn your STEM into STEAM, than with dance! DanceTeachingIdeas.com has some ideas and links for how to integrate Dance with STEM, and there are some great resources for doing just that.
100. Catch up with Classmates on Skype (30 – 90 Minutes) — Even if they’re social distancing, kids can still catch up with friends and be social online. Some of the most popular apps for this include Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. Younger kids may need some help with technology at first, but kids at any age adapt to talking with each other on video chat faster than most adults do!
And, lastly, our final idea for bored kids:
101. Let them be bored! (As long as you can weather the complaints!) – Being bored is a natural part of life as a kid. Indeed, it’s often in times of boredom that children show their greatest creativity! So, let them be bored for a while. Try not to offer an immediate solution to their boredom and see what they come up with!
Written by Miranda Altice, Kaitlin Anselmo, Mark Coster, Allison Ebbets, and Jodie Magrath.