76 things your kids can do when they’re bored (without electronics)

Seriously, this list could keep your kids from touching the computer for YEARS.

There is a mighty struggle that goes on all day, every day, and parents the world over know what this struggle is: man vs. electronics. Or perhaps more truthfully, parents vs. their children’s love of electronics. The battle is a grueling one and as long as there are children and television and video games, it is one that will continue.

Parents come up with their strategies for combatting the lure of electronics. Some set time limits, others make chore lists that must be completed before the TV can be turned on. Pediatricians everywhere seem to agree that one important step is to keep televisions and computers out of your children’s rooms, but still the struggle continues.

Kids tend to turn to electronic distractions when they’re bored, so one option is to head their boredom off at the pass. Having a list of other fun, stimulating activities your children can choose from on any given day can help you cut down on the hours they spend in front of a screen. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Science experiments

1. Create lava lamps with oil, water, Alka-Seltzer and a 2-liter soda bottle or tall glass vase. (Here are the instructions and an explanation of how it works.)

2. Drip drops of food coloring in a stationary bowl of milk, then add a dribble of dish detergent and watch what happens.

3. Make elephant toothpaste with this recipe.

4. Experiment with magnets.

5. Squeeze oranges and make fresh orange juice.

6. Pour the three primary colors of paint in a plastic bag, seal it, then experiment with mixing colors and making designs.

7. Have a baking soda and vinegar volcano-making contest.

8. Make a rainbow jar using liquids with different densities. (Here are instructions and ideas for which liquids to use, like honey, water and corn syrup, and what order to put them in.)

Physical activities

9. Have a jumping-jack contest.

10. Run laps at a local track.

11. Create an obstacle course by stringing rolls of crepe paper back and forth across a hallway.

12. Go fishing.

13. Do yoga.

14. Make a long, elaborate hopscotch course.

15. Swim at a local swimming pool.

16. Have a water balloon fight.

17. Have a dance party.

Arts and crafts

18. Use leaves to make art (i.e. leaf rubbings, leaf animals, leaf bouquets).

19. Make garden ornaments by painting rocks you find in the garden.

20. Make a stop-motion video.

21. Make cereal necklaces.

22. Make colored play dough. (Try this recipe. The secret ingredient is cream of tartar.)

23. Experiment with making shades and tones of different colors using paint (add black for shades or add white for tones).

24. Make a puppet show with hand drawings cut out and glued to popsicle sticks.

25. Make props for a homemade photo booth. This blog has some ideas to get you started.

26. Use Q-tips or pencil eraser to make dot art. (Here’s an example.)

27. Make sock puppets.

28. Make animals out of healthy snack food. (Insects never looked so delicious in this blog.)

Service activities

29. Bake cookies and doorbell ditch them at a friend’s house.

30. Make a shirt with your handprints and give it to a parent or grandparent.

31. Look through your clothes, toys, or books and choose some to donate.

32. Write and send a letter to a long distance relative.

33. Volunteer at an animal shelter.

34. Start a kid’s book club with your friends.

35. Walk around the neighborhood and pick up all the litter you see.

36. Write inspirational messages on your sidewalk or driveway with chalk.

37. Interview a grandparent and write down his or her life story.

Explore new hobbies

38. Learn a card trick and then teach it to a friend.

39. Learn sign language.

40. Read a book.

41. Write a book.

42. Memorize the names and faces of all past U.S. presidents.

43. Create a new dust jacket for your favorite book.

44. Plan a family vacation, real or imaginary.

45. Make paper airplanes.

46. Check a learn to draw book out from the library.

47. Make homemade ice cream.

48. Write a song.

49. Learn to hula hoop.


50. Make bowling pins out of empty bottles or toilet paper rolls and knock them over with small plastic balls.

51. Create a bean bag toss game.

52. Play kickball.

53. Turn a cardboard box into a car or clubhouse.

54. Make and play a memory matching game.

55. Play tennis with clean fly swatters and balloons (or make your own paddles with paper plates and popsicle sticks).

56. Make tic tac toe playing pieces out of paper plates, then tape your tic tac toe board out on the ground.

57. Make an indoor blanket fort.

58. Play ring toss with glow-in-the-dark rings.

59. Stage a Nerf gun war.

60. Go on an indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt.

61. Play Heads-up 7-up.

Field trips

62. Attend story time at a local bookstore or library.

63. Visit The Leonardo museum (science, art and technology museum all in one!).

64. Visit an antique store.

65. Take a ride on public transportation.

66. Visit a park you’ve never been to before.

67. Visit a pet store and learn about how to take care of different animals.

Enjoying the outdoors

68. Set up a tent in the backyard.

69. Make a bird feeder with whatever materials you have at home (a toilet paper roll or pine cone rolled in peanut butter and bird seeds, perhaps?). Bird watch and record how many birds you see. Learn the names of the birds you don’t recognize.

70. Take a nature walk around the neighborhood collecting plant samples, then display and label what you found on a poster board.

71. Plant a vegetable garden in plant boxes or the backyard.

72. Have a picnic.

73. Run through the sprinklers.

74. Build a tree house.

75. Go for a bike ride.

76. For more fun ideas and activities to keep the kids out of your hair and off of their electronic devices, visit The Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City.

Katie Nielsen

Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.