Although past studies have found that boredom leads to frustration, there is now proof that constructive boredom can be beneficial for your child. We now know that parental intervention is not always beneficial when your kids claim to be bored, and that children need unstructured but stimulating environments to arouse their creativity.
Some studies suggest that children who engage in unstructured play are better able to develop their decision-making skills and to discover their own areas of interest. They also have more creative freedom.
According to one study reported on BBC, “children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.” In other words, you don’t have to feel guilty about not entertaining your kid.
There are doubts, however, about your child’s ability to manage unstructured time. Although Professor McNamara has primarily analyzed boredom in school environments, she joins a number of researchers who say that the lack of structure and the absence of organized activities can lead to frustration: “children need guidance, role models and activities that help them connect and maintain their friendships”.
Constructive boredom, therefore, means providing opportunities that allow your child to use their creativity.
Below are 100 activities for both both boys and girls to help spark their creativity. The best part is that most of these activities require minimal intervention from adults.
100 activities to keep your child busy
1. Do a puzzle
2. Make an animal sculpture out of clay. A Little Bit of Dirt has awesome ideas to help reconnect children with nature.
3. Play LEGO. Get tips on how to choose appropriate construction toys here.
4. Come up with a secret language or a secret code
5. Play with Playmobil
7. Write a story
8. Create a picture story
9. Be a reporter for a day (come up with a storyline/interview family members)
10. Make a video
11. Make a documentary about things found in your external environment (garden, park)
12. Make a documentary about things in the house
13. Paint seashells
14. Use a Bug Catcher to explore your environment
15. Use Youtube to learn a magic trick
16. Plant a garden
18. Plan a meal that doesn’t need cooking
19. Prepare a meal that doesn’t need cooking
20. Take a walk and count all the insects (animals, trees …) you see.
21. Create something using recycled material
22. Take a picture of insects in your environment
23. Pick and dry leaves.
24. Make a rainbow. You can find easy instructions here.
25. Write a comic strip
26. Measure grains (such as rice) to learn about volume
27. Put up a teepee tent using sticks and old clothes/material
29. Prepare a picnic
30. Finger paint using Washable Paint
31. Take a walk and name all the colors you see
32. Play hide and seek
33. Make shapes with dry spaghetti and play-doh
34. Paint rocks
35. Play with leaves
36. Pick flowers
37. Put up a tent using recycled carton
38. Play “I-spy”.
39. Do exercises that strenthen focus and concentration. The exercises in the guide “Nurturing Constructive Boredom: Over 101 fun activities to boost your child’s concentration and autonomy” are specially designed to help kids work on important skills such as focus, concentration, working memory and autonomy.
41. Invent a board game
42. Explore using a magnifying glass. The Curious Kid’s Science Book has over 100 great ideas for 4- to 8-year olds.
43. Play a board game
44. Make a costume
45. Make ice lollies
46. Make a monster from recycled items (tin foil, cardboard, old clothes)
47. Record a song
48. Make leaf prints. Easy instructions here
49. Invent a ball game
50. Play a ball game
51. Draw a picture from a model
52. Play with stickers
53. Make a still-life painting
54. Make a pearl bracelet or necklace
55. Draw using rice grains
56. Organize an obstacle race
57. Use Google Maps to find favorite places (your home, relatives homes, school, library, etc.)
58. Organize a treasure hunt
59. Participate in a treasure hunt
60. Build a den with recycled carton
61. Make a string phone using paper cups
62. Make a robot from recycled items (tin foil, cardboard, old clothes)
63. Try the “does an orange float or sink” experiment
64. Play inside a cardboard box
65. Start a collection (stamps, coins, insects…)
67. Pretend you’re an explorer
68. Make a card game
69. Draw a picture of the house’s exterior
70. Make a kite
71. Make fruit skewers
72. Come up with a dance choreography
73. Prepare a skit
74. Prepare for a show (make tickets, prepare snacks)
75. Use a globe to find five countries in each continent.
76. Search the Internet to find out how people from a different culture live (how they dress, what they eat, etc)
77. Make homemade bubble solutions. Different ways to make solutions here.
78. Make sandwiches for lunch
79. Write a poem
80. Make a mask from cardboard and other recycled materials
81. Find the capital cities of 10 countries and memorize them
82. Draw a portrait
83. Draw an imaginary planet
84. Create a pretend restaurant
85. Make a lemonade stand
86. Make up a song
87. Organize a family night
88. Design and build a house using recycled materials
89. Come up with a puppet show
90. Disguise yourself
91. Invent a scent
92. Do a crossword
93. Speak “in rhymes” for the next 20 minutes
94. Learn how to create something from Youtube
95. Invent the next episode of your favorite program
96. Turn recycled water bottles into bowling pins. Ideas here
97. Make a postcard
98. Make an animal using paper rolls
99. Do a paper collage using recycled paper
100. Cut out shapes (or trees, or flowers…) from old magazines
101. Grow butterflies using this great Butterfly Growing Kit
102. Play Simon says
Still short on ideas? Check out 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids or other great ideas to develop your child’s creativity.
Please share if you’ve enjoyed reading. I’d appreciate it.