If you’ve heard the dreaded “I’m bored” refrain from your little ones one too many times lately, consider tasking them with a creative, safe, and (most importantly) self-guided activity. There are countless interesting things kids can do with simple household items or a couple of arts and crafts supplies, but they may just need a little nudge in a creative direction. Parents, bookmark this list for a solid bank of go-to ideas for when those boredom blues sneak up.
01 of 11
Put that leftover bit of crepe paper from your last party to good use by creating a hallway laser maze, a la those classic spy movies. While kids might need a little help taping streamers near the ceiling, they can play independently, stretching over and crouching through their maze. Bonus: this activity is quite physical, so some little ones may be ready for a solid nap after their at-home heist.
02 of 11
A tried and true quick craft, paper spinners can be distracting fidget activities for lots of kids, especially those who particularly enjoy illustration and animation. Challenge kids to create a set of spinners, and bonus points for drawing successful optical illusions (think: a bird escaping its cage or a simple twisting spiral).
03 of 11
Glitter makes everything better, and homemade slime is no exception. Use your favorite DIY slime recipe to mix up a bunch, then add color, glitz, and even plastic beads. Don’t hesitate to designate an easily wipeable slime zone in your home (a kitchen counter works well) to avoid messy slime spills and splatters in hard to clean-up places.
04 of 11
Especially clever for littler kids, this activity turns color learning into a game by creating a simple scavenger hunt. Kids need to simply track down items that match each rainbow-hued scribble. If you’re looking to make things more challenging, ask kids to spell the color names after finding each item, or task them with finding objects in various color combinations.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
05 of 11
Just a little bit of forethought can lead to a full morning of playtime for little ones. Freeze action figures, small toys, or other plastic bits in a mixing bowl full of water overnight, then unmold into a large storage bin and challenge kids to rescue their toys. Provide warm water in squirt bottles and plastic utensils (no sharp metal) for a super safe expedition.
06 of 11
Not only will children revel in imaginative story time while using a fun set of story stones, but they can absolutely take part in the creation of them too. Opt for a theme to get the ball rolling (think: outer space, fairy tale, or superhero), then illustrate each stone with a descriptive image. Keep these handy for any rainy day when the boredom starts to settle in.
07 of 11
Colorful, creative, and (relatively) mess-free kids’ activities are rare, so mix a big batch of rainbow rice for plenty of go-to, easy clean-up fun. Color plain white rice by mixing with acrylic paint (let the little ones in on this action too; it’s super fun to smoosh the paint and rice together) and set to dry—no baking necessary. Kids can then create illustrations with the rice, mix and sort it, or just use it for tactile play. Worried about teeny grains of rice ending up all over your floor? Bring this one to the back patio and sweep those strays away.
08 of 11
For an inexpensive and quick calm play option, create a set of glittery mediation jars. While these are a wonderful option to calm an over-stimulated child, they’re also a valuable quiet time tool. Encourage kids to make their own zen jars, adding their original spin on color and glitter choice to encourage a sense of ownership over their ability to enjoy quiet play.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
09 of 11
Round up those felt scraps for a super simple DIY that’ll keep kids active, despite being indoors, for hours. If the little ones tire of hopscotch, use the mat for fun simple addition and subtraction games (jump to the answer for five minus three, or jump on two numbers that combine to make ten, for example). This activity captures kinetic learning at its best, so it's perfect for more active kiddos.
10 of 11
Parents can create a structure using wooden dowels, clothesline, or an outdoor tent frame, then kids will have a blast adding sheets, blankets, and, of course, tons of cushions. Encourage children to build different types of forts: one for reading, one for naps, and one for picnics. Parents, be sure that your structures are secure before allowing little ones to decorate, of course.
11 of 11
When the weather is just right, the only thing kids need for a fun, active afternoon is a homemade kite. This project does require some wood trimming using a sharp craft knife, so parents will need to assist with the creation of the kite, but once it’s made it can last for multiple kite-flying sessions of fun. Challenge kids to create their own designs to see whose kite catches the most wind and flies the highest.