How many times in your mom hood do you think you’ve heard the phrase “mom, I’m boooored”? My guess is around 2,693 times. It’s right up there with the phrases, “mom, I’m hungry” and “mom, I need money for…..”. I’ve read a few articles that say it’s good for kids to be bored. It builds problem solving, promotes creativity, and encourages them to use their mind and bodies. Their whole body, not just their thumbs like when they play Mario Cart. So when my kids are bored I try and let them figure it out, which they usually do. However, sometimes its necessary to help their creative process along. So I decided to create a boredom buster to turn to when all else fails, the boredom box.
Boredom Buster 101: What is a boredom box?
A boredom box is a special container that only comes out when all other methods of busting boredom have been exhausted. It is filled with activities that kids can choose from to keep themselves busy. Most often there are things inside that they can do on their own or together, but sometimes there is an activity that they may need parental assistance with.
Some items are new, some are “recycled” ;), and some are simple DIY activities. I make sure that none of the items break the bank and I change them out each month or so to keep all my kiddos interested and excited when they get to use the boredom box. These item belong only to the boredom box so even after they have used them I either return them or put them away to rotate in to the box another time.
As exciting as it is, there are rules so that the box does not come out too often and the activities don’t get used up all in one visit.
Rules for the Boredom Box
- The boredom box is only allowed out once a week, and only after they have made an effort to play with other toys or activities first. You can allow it more often if you’d like but be sure to keep it limited or the draw will wear off.
- Homework, chores, and other responsibilities must be taken care of first. This is a great incentive to use if you want your kids to help out around the house.
- They can only choose one activity per boredom box visit. You can decide whether you want to allow one per child or one as a group. I do a little of both, depending on how well my kids have been getting along that day.
- If it is a reusable activity it gets returned to the box when the kids are done playing with it. Later I usually remove that item and replace it with a different one but keep it to rotate in again the next time.
How to Build a Boredom Box
Step 1: Start with a plastic container or box.
Find an extra plastic storage container in your house or use a cardboard box you left from a delivered package. Lord know we all get enough Amazon Prime boxes delivered on a regular basis 😉 I just used one that I had laying around, but I like this one from Target because of the easy latching handles.
Step 2: Let your kids decorate it.
I used my Cricut to cut out some vinyl adhesive to label the box but you can use a sharpie if you don’t have a Cricut. Then, I let my daughter draw pictures and use regular and foam stickers to decorate the entire thing. This box was a boredom buster already!
Step 3: Fill your box.
Wait until your kids aren’t around and fill up your boredom box with all sorts of activities to choose from. See my list of great ideas to add to your box below.
Step 4: Close it up until its time to put to use.
Tell your kids how the boredom box works, no, they can’t try it out that second:) Then, find a spot for your box, preferably out of reach from your kids. When the moment comes that they just can’t find anything to do, pull it out. You can go by my rules or switch them up to suit yourself.
Items and Activities for Your Boredom Box
DIY kits and activities:
Bracelet making kits. Use portion cups or test tubes to hold an assortment of beads and the bracelet cord. It gives them everything they need without a huge mess all over your floor.
Stem kit. Put toothpicks and mini marshmallows in a baggie and challenge them to build a tower with it by connecting the toothpicks to the marshmallows.
Slime kit. Give your kids permission (again) to make some slime (again). Use this super simple recipe. Leave the food coloring out of the equation to avoid any unwanted mess, although if color is what you want you can include colored glue.
Squishy ball kit. Get some rad balloon, flour, a funnel, and an empty water bottle and let your kids make squishy balls. A.k.a. stress balls, they can make you one too 😉 Click here for the full tutorial from Natural Beach Living.
Rocket science kit. Put a couple film canisters and alka-seltzer tablets in a baggie with instructions on how to create your own rocket. Instructions: Decorate your “rocket” with sharpies. Fill the film canister 1/4 with water. Drop 1/4 tablet of alka-seltzer inside. Seal tightly with the lid. Quickly flip it over and set it lid-down on the ground. Watch your rocket fly.
L-C-R. As an adult we often play this game with dollars but let your kids just play it with the included chips. The last kid with a chip wins. Give it a twist by offering a mystery gift to the winner. Keep it small like a dollar toy, candy, or even just a dollar bill.
Other games ideas:
- Flash cards
- Teach them a card game from your youth
- Book of mazes
Classic game ideas:
- Hang man– print out or draw one and make copies
- Tic-tac-toe– give it a twist and let them play with M&Ms
- Scavenger hunt– Click to print out this one or make up your own.
- The dot game– each player get a different color pen, pencil, or marker and takes turns connecting two dots. They are only allowed to connect them vertically or horizontally, not diagonally. The objective is to see who can make the most squares in their own color while trying to thwart the other player from making squares. Get the printout here.
Reinventing old toys:
Block challenge. This is an activity that will prompt kids to play with the toys they already have. Grab a block from a set, tape it to a card and write a challenge on it. Such as, build the highest tower you can, build a staircase, or build a house.
Play Doh prompt. Nothing gets kids playing with all of their old Play Doh tools like new Doh does. Especially if its something they’ve never had berfore like the new Play Doh Color Burst. Or include the dry ingredients and an easy recipe in the boredom box and help them make their own.
Lego Baggie. Do you happen to have a bazillion Legos around your house? Those things end up every where don’t they? Well, grab a handful of them and put them in a plastic baggie. Write instructions that the kids have to use all of the Legos in the bag to build something. They are allowed to add more pieces if they would like. Chances are it will start a building session that will keep them going for a while.
Outdoor activity ideas:
Velcro toss and catch.– reinvent the game of catch with these inexpensive velcro catchers.
Bug Hunt. Get a pack of plastic bugs and have the kids take turns hiding and finding them around the yard. Set the rule that they have to be visible to avoid losing them.
Make their own fossils. Allow each child to take a scoop or two of air-dry clay. Instruct them to flatten it and head outside to use items from nature to make and impression in the clay. Viola! Their own fossils. Once the clay dries they can paint them too.
- Check out the clearance isles in Target or another department store.
- Visit the dollar store and pick up a few items there.
- Click over to our List of Tech Free Kids Activities
Now your ready to bust boredom!
Your kids will be entertained and excited every time the boredom box comes out, and you get extra points for being the super momma that you are. Don’t forget to subscribe so that you don’t miss any of the amazing posts coming up from DIY Detectives.