In our house there are a few “bad” words that the kids are absolutely and completely forbidden to say, like “I hate,” “I can’t,” and “I’m bored.” But that doesn’t mean they don’t ever say say it – in other creative ways – or feel that way when we don’t have scheduled activities. How do we beat the “I’m bored’s?” With independence-building boredom busters, of course!
My goal in beating the “I’m Bored’s” is twofold: to find something to engage the kids AND to encourage them to find their own fun and create their own activities without adult assistance.
All you need are a few bowls or bags of craft materials and a couple of our favorite Elmer’s Glue products. Your prep time is minimal but your children can be occupied for hours!
- paper (construction paper, colored tissue paper, printer paper, or magazines)
- felt or foam (precut or whole sheets)
- crayons or markers
- craft sticks or popsicle sticks
- pom poms
- googly eyes
The type of glue that works best depends on how much time you have. If you need to quickly get through an activity and clean it up in about 10-15 minutes, Elmer’s CraftBond Glue Spots are your adhesive of choice. If you have more time, set out Elmer’s Washable All-Purpose School Glue Sticks, which are easy to use and there are no spills or drips to worry about. If time or mess isn’t an issue, Elmer’s Washable School Glue will do the trick.
15-Minute Boredom Buster
If you just need to quiet the kids down and are looking for something that will engage the kids instead of zone them out, the perfect recipe is:
Glue Dots + Googly Eyes + Pom Poms
The second I put these out, the kids immediately stopped bickering and started creating games together. The googly eyes never fail to make them laugh. I thought they might make weepul-like creatures, but they ended up creating a “colony of Maow Monsters,” complete with a “Maow Monster predator”(that would be the one-eyed craft sparkly craft stick thing in the pictures) and community rules and laws for their new breed of playthings.
I actually only had fifteen minutes before we had to leave the house, and the kids were upset we had to leave the Maow Monster activity behind. The first thing the kids did when we got back home was to find their Maow Monsters and continue playing their made up game in their make believe world for almost an hour. When they got bored, they returned to the materials I still had left out and began creating more toys to play with! I never heard an “I’m bored” for the rest of the day – but the best part was that they stopped looking to me to give them something to do.
30-Minute Boredom Buster
If you have a bit more time, set out:
Glue Sticks + Paper or Felt + Markers
You can also put out sequins and other embellishments. Depending on the age of your child, you can pre-cut shapes or simply leave out scissors and paper or felt.
Another fun idea is to use craft sticks or clothespins to create puppets and animals. If you’re using markets to decorate your craft sticks and clothespins, we love Elmer’s Painters Markers because they can mark virtually any surface. We use them on leaves to make leaf art!
This felt creature ended up being a “steed” for the Maow Monsters.
60-Minute Boredom Buster
Any of these activities could fill an hour, but if you know you need to keep the kids occupied for a longer period, whip out:
Q-Tips + Construction Paper + Liquid School Glue
When he saw this set up, my son ended up making fossils and skeletons. This was a great activity to get him to concentrate for a long time and really work to see his idea come to fruition. I don’t have a snapshot of the final product, but it is so much more intricate than I anticipated it would be!
The great thing about this activity – and all the activities here – is that there are no specific end products. Your kids can spend as much or little time as they want with the materials and the only limits to what they can do are the limits they put on their own imaginations.
My favorite thing about leaving materials out with no direction is that the kids are creating something on their own and they actually are making their own toys!
What is your go to boredom buster? Share with us in the comments below!
Here are a few more great activities to encourage independent creativity:
Keep #RaisingThinkingKids and have fun!
Disclaimer: I’m thrilled to be collaborating with Elmer’s to share our easy activities and crafty inspiration for busy moms and families like ours who want to spend more time unplugging and reconnecting. We receive lots of glittery goodies as part of this relationship, but as always, all opinions are our own.