What can I do?? Can I do screen time?  

I was sitting at a swim meet on Tuesday morning – I was not sure what to expect so I left the rest of the kids at home.  I looked around and all of the siblings who had to come along to watch were on devices and it made me sad!  I started thinking, what did we do when WE were kids?  We used our imagination, right? We made up games to play and entertained ourselves! Our kids are missing out on being bored and using their imaginations when we hand them a phone or iPad to keep them busy.

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When I hear the “I’m bored, “I used to feel like I had to sit down and think of something to do with them, but now I give them a few ideas and they figure something out. Hide and seek, pillow fights, building legos, making a story book, coloring.  Unstructured time helps children to be creative and use their imagination. It also helps them to develop their own hobbies and passions. If children are constantly busy, their brains don’t have down time to get the creative juices flowing.  Children actually NEED to be bored.

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According to Dr. Laura Markham at Aha Parenting, Boredom also helps kids to decide how to manage their unstructured time. One of our biggest challenges as adults, and even as teenagers, is learning to manage our time well.
Nancy H. Blakey, the author of the Mudpies Activity Book series says,

“Preempt the time spent on television and organized activities and have them spend it instead on claiming their imaginations. For in the end, that is all we have. If a thing cannot be imagined first — a cake, a relationship, a cure for AIDS– it cannot be. Life is bound by what we can envision. I cannot plant imagination into my children. I can, however, provide an environment where their creativity is not just another mess to clean up but welcome evidence of grappling successfully with boredom. It is possible for boredom to deliver us to our best selves, the ones that long for risk and illumination and unspeakable beauty. If we sit still long enough, we may hear the call behind boredom. With practice, we may have the imagination to rise up from the emptiness and answer.”
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Dr. Laura Markham says, when children are bored, it is usually because:
  1. They’re so used to screen entertainment that they aren’t practiced at looking inside themselves for direction.
  2. Their time is always so structured that they aren’t used to finding fun things to do with their “free time.”
  3. They need some parental connection. All kids need to check in with their parents for refueling during the course of the day.  {Try doing 10 minutes!}

Here are 115 examples of screen-free ideas from Dr. Laura Markham:

  • Make a book of jokes
  • Make a laser obstacle course in your hall with yarn or tape
  • Build a fort with blankets and pillows
  • Write your Grandma a letter
  • Cut out paper dolls and costumes for them
  • Get a magnet and make a list of everything in your house that is magnetized
  • Get a ruler and measure things in your house, recording their length
  • Put on some music and dance
  • Wash the mirror with a sponge
  • Write down ten things you love about each person in your family to surprise them
  • Brush the dog
  • Draw a tree
  • Make a dollhouse out of cardboard
  • Learn a tongue twister
  • Make homemade ice cream in a baggie
  • Dig a hole in the back yard
  • Give the dog a bath
  • Find shapes in the clouds
  • Make paper airplanes and fly them
  • See how many times you can dribble the basketball
  • Cut a guitar out of cardboard and add rubber band strings
  • Paint a picture
  • Play capture the flag
  • Wash the car
  • Make a birthday card for the next person you know who is having a birthday
  • Plan a treasure hunt, with clues
  • Ride your bike
  • Make a scene in a cardboard box
  • Use boxes to build a castle
  • Use an eye dropper to drop vinegar tinted with food coloring onto a pie pan filled with baking soda
  • Start a journal
  • Make homemade wrapping paper
  • Mix ivory soap, kleenex and water to make clean clouds on a cookie sheet
  • Organize your room
  • Write a story
  • Create a play with costumes
  • Make paper bag puppets or sock puppets
  • Cut out pictures from magazines and make a collage
  • Use plain white paper and envelopes and decorate your own personalized stationery
  • Cut up old holiday cards and make holiday stickers for next year by coating the back with gelatin glue, let dry (dissolve 2 tsp gelatin in 5 tsp boiling water.)
  • Surprise your mom by making lunch
  • Make a zoo for your stuffed animals
  • Have a lemonade sale
  • Make & decorate a calendar of the summer, with important dates marked.
  • Put juice & cut-up fruit into ice cube trays to make ice cubes.
  • Create a family newspaper/newsletter
  • Make dessert
  • Use masking tape to make a race track for your cars all over your living room
  • Play Tag or Freeze Tag
  • Start a collection (leaves, rocks, buttons) and make a museum display
  • Hang a clothesline in your room and clip photos to it to make an album
  • Create a circus performance
  • Learn a new card game
  • Make a potion lab or pouring station outside with food coloring and containers (wear an apron!)
  • Set up a shop and be the shop keeper
  • Make your room into a rainforest
  • Make a sculpture from pretzels and peanut butter
  • Write the story of your life
  • Do a something kind for someone, in secret
  • Make an obstacle course
  • Play Simon Says
  • Bowl in your hallway with soda bottles or toilet paper tubes
  • Make a placemat (just laminate it at the local copy shop)
  • Write some limericks or haiku
  • Decorate an old teeshirt with cool buttons & fabric pens
  • Start a club
  • Make rock candy
  • Plant a terrarium
  • Make a daisy chain
  • Decorate a rock and make a house to keep it as a pet
  • Use old cardboard tubes and boxes to build a marble maze.
  • Make “funky junk” art out of old jewelry
  • Read a book
  • Make snow globes or calming jars with glycerin and glitter
  • Have a water balloon fight (outside!)
  • Memorize a poem and recite it for your parents
  • Make a boat using a plastic soda bottle base & popsicle sticks (use duct tape) for the top, then float it at the pond.
  • Draw a picture of a desert island with all the things you would want on it
  • Blindfold your sibling & take them on a tour of your house & yard, then trade places.
  • Play a board game
  • Play Mother May I
  • Make a fairy house for your garden
  • Cut out a crown, tape into a circle to fit your head and decorate
  • Create your own board game
  • See if you can draw a picture with your foot.
  • Draw on the sidewalk with chalk
  • Play hopscotch
  • Set up a restaurant and serve pretend meals
  • Play jumprope
  • Play with bubbles in the sink
  • Plant some seeds
  • Make a windsock
  • Use the hose and a tarp to make a slip and slide on your lawn
  • Paint your toenails
  • Play dodgeball with a soft ball
  • Make a curving line of dominoes and knock the first one so they fall down in a row
  • Weed the garden
  • Make puppets with old socks, buttons & markers.
  • Make a list of fun things you can do without a grownup
  • Mix liquid hand soap, cornstarch and food coloring into paint and paint the bathtub.
  • String beads to make friendship bracelets.
  • Use the hose, pvc pipe and soda bottles to construct waterways in your yard
  • Use pipe cleaners to make animals
  • Use pipe cleaners to make an indoor ring toss game
  • Use a basket and string to rig an elevator to hoist stuffed animals up your stairwell
  • String a necklace out of pasta
  • Practice kicking a soccer ball
  • On a hot day, give kids sponges and a bucket of water outside, and let them toss them to each other
  • Glue popsicle sticks together to make picture frames, decorate.
  • Make and fill a bird feeder
  • Make playdoh
  • Paint sea shells or rocks
  • Make bean bags
  • Blow bubbles
  • Give your dolls or stuffed animals a bubble bath

What do your kids do when they are bored?

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Comments

  1. Excellent comments and love the amazing list fo activities to do with kids!!! Great job, Lil Runner!!!

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