Boredom Busters - Cool Games & Crafts to Stretch the Imagination

School'’s out! It'’s midsummer and the novelty of week after week of free time is beginning to wear thin. The words "I’'m bored" are uttered more and more frequently as children mope about while you shake your head in bewilderment. Are these the same kids who have bedrooms that look like toy stores? Sound familiar? Have no fear! We'’ve collected creative activities to banish those summer blahs. Best of all, they are all something you could do right now- with the stuff you already have around the house. The kids will be amused and …might even learn a little something!

Act Up! Kids love to dress up and be center stage. They can write the play, make tickets, advertise, design a set, make the costumes and prepare snacks.

Camp Out. Don't forget how much fun a tent set up in the backyard can be. Can’'t find the tent? Hang an old sheet over the clothesline. Some snacks and an old radio will keep them amused for hours.

Cards & Games. Dig back into your childhood memories (before Game Boy and Nintendo!) and teach the kids how to build a house of cards and play classics like Solitaire, Sorry!, Old Maid, Chess, Risk, Crazy Eights, Battleship, Go Fish, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Candyland, …

Flour & Salt Clay. Mix together 4 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 1 1/2 cups warm water. Knead until smooth and then make your shapes. The clay needs to be air dried before being painted. It can also be tinted with food coloring. If not used immediately, store the clay in an airtight container.

For the Birds. With a needle and thread, string popcorn or puffed wheat to hang on trees for hungry birds to enjoy. Wary of needles? Spread peanut butter on a pinecone and hang it from a tree by a string. Roll it in birdseed if you have any.

How does it work? Let the kids take something apart. An old typewriter, record player, clock, or radio are great for building motor skills in little fingers.

Make Some Money. Help the kids come up with an idea for earning some extra spending money. Maybe they can help you or a neighbor clean out their garage, babysit, wash cars or dogs, mow yards, rake leaves, wash windows. In a busy area, they could even sell lemonade and cookies!

Olympian Hour. Hold your own neighborhood Olympics complete with ceremonies. Involve everyone in running races, swimming contests, obstacle courses, an egg toss and watermelon seed-spitting.

Pet Rock. Scrub up a smooth rock and paint on some personality with tiger stripes or wacky hair. When it’s dry, glue on googly eyes or buttons and voila!

Pinch-it Putty. Mix together 4 tsp. white glue, 3 Tbsp. cornstarch, and food coloring. Add more of either ingredient to get the desired consistency. Then, squeeze, pull, poke, and roll putty.

Papier Mache. For paste, mix one part water with one part flour. Newspapers are torn into strips and saturated with the paste. The messy and fun part is covering shapes with several layers of newspaper strips. Shapes can be made with air-filled balloons that can be used individually or taped together to make animal and people shapes. The balloon is popped after the papier-mache is dried, and a hole can be cut in the top to fill with candy for a pinata. Bowls and other containers can be used as molds and covered on the outside with papier-mache. When the papier-mache is dried, the children can paint it and add their own designs.

Running & Jumping Games. Help the kids stretch their legs by teaching them old favorites like shadow tag; kick the can; red rover; duck, duck, goose; Mother, may I?; red light, green light; hopscotch; no ghosts out tonight; Simon says; …

Scavenger Hunt. Give each team (or child) a list of things to find and a time limit. Include some things the children will be able to easily find as well as some they will have to create. For example: 1 wet towel, 5 small stones, 3 dandelions, a drawing of our dog, and 4 red rubber bands. Give points for creativity.

Tabletop Hockey. Place heavy books around the edges of a table to form a rink (or tape cardboard strips around edge), leaving gaps for goals. Then, use Popsicle sticks or spoon handles for hockey sticks, and a wad of paper for a puck.

Toothpick Architecture. Build bridges, towers, buildings, etc. out of toothpicks joined together with playdough, Sticky Tac, or wads of chewing gum.

Tricky Toe Pics. For something really silly, hold a crayon or felt marker between your toes. Draw pictures and designs on paper taped to the floor.

Volunteer. Encourage the kids to help out. Go on recycling walks to clean up the neighborhood roads or visit a nursing home. Clean out the playroom and donate outgrown toys. Older children might even be able to find an apprenticeship that could lead to a regular after-school job in time.

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