UNPLUG and ENGAGE – 100+ Things OLDER Kids Can Do at Home to Learn, Relieve Boredom and Bless Others

Nothing ruins a summer so much as the phrase “I’m BORED!”  But letting your children pass the days sitting in the air-conditioning in front of some screen or another is not the answer to this problem.  Here are all kinds of things your older children can do to engage in life, relieve bordome, stimulate their minds and imagination and use their gifts to bless others.  [Check out my son’s stop-motion videos if you want to learn the value of stimulating the imagination.]  Here’s hoping that awful phrase is removed from your home this summer.  These activities are — for the most part — FREE!, child led (not a lot of parent involvement necessary), and can be done right in your home or yard.  Almost all of them don’t even require electricity much less a screen (although I do send you to some internet links to help you get started on some of them).  Print ’em and Post ’em.  When the kids even HINT at being bored, point to the list.  Enjoy!

Go here https://blessandbuild.com/2014/07/07/unplug-and-explore-60-things-kids-can-do-at-home-when-theyre-bored/  to see my list for younger children,
and here https://blessandbuild.com/2014/07/07/road-trips-unplugged/comment-page-1/#comment-160 to see my ideas for fun things to do in the car.

LEARN and ENTERTAIN

Alone or With Friends

  1. Learn  at least 3 different kinds of  SOLITAIRE.
  2. Learn to SHUFFLE and “bridge” cards
  3. Find old  FRAMES and/or old  FURNITURE (get permission!) and PAINT them with fun designs.
    DCIM100MEDIA
  4. Practice SPORTS SKILLS – dribbling, shooting, passing, free-throws, lay-ups, kicking, batting, pitching, volleying, archery, etc.
  5. LEGOS
  6. PAINT a masterpiece (If you haven’t got any ideas, try to copy a famous piece of art.)Imagination Station
  7. Practice DRAWING – I heartily recommend Mark Kistler’s books (or videos).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAcK9BY7Ymw
  8. Explore the world from a DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE with binoculars, magnifying glass or microscope.
  9. Have a KOOL-AID STAND.
  10. Gather, clean, and price outgrown toys and have a TOY SALE.
  11. CHALLENGE YOUR BRAIN with Cryptograms, Crosswords, Sudoku or Logic Puzzle
  12. Create a MAZE, with pencil and paper or with blocks or dominoes.
  13. Write a STORY.
  14. Complete a 500 piece PUZZLE.  (or more difficult if you choose)
  15. Use RUBBER STAMPS to make a collection of cards
  16. Learn ORIGAMI. – Get a book on how to do it from the library.
    origami
  17. Listen to AUDIOBOOKS  (Check your local library for a plethora of titles.)
  18.  CLIMB a tree.
  19. DECORATE your room.
  20. Build a TREE HOUSE.
  21. ROLLERBLADE
  22. Go for a BIKE RIDE. – With your parent’s help map out a 10 mile route and conquer it.
  23. Practice creating an outstanding AUTOGRAPH.  Your signature says a lot about you.  Make it stylish and unique.
  24. Make a MINIATURE GOLF COURSE in your yard or basement.   Use soup cans for holes.
  25. Learn some fancy JUMP ROPING moves.
  26. Learn some MAGIC TRICKS.
  27. Try a simple BUILDING PROJECT – shelves/bench/wooden crate/etc.
  28. Make an awesome COSTUME.
  29. Go on a NATURE HIKE.
  30. Create a SHELTER  out of branches, leaves, etc.  Sleep in it, if you dare.
  31. Press FLOWERS.
  32. Make PICTURE FRAMES  from twigs (or any other objects) glued onto sturdy cardboard
  33. Learn to KNIT or CROCHET.fairy garden
  34. Make DOLL CLOTHES.
  35. Create a  FAIRY GARDEN in a corner of the yard.
    http://www.themagiconions.com/2010/08/make-fairy-garden.html
  36. RE-FASHION old T-shirts.
    http://darlingadventures.com/?p=574
  37. Make BOOKMARKS.
  38. RE-CREATE your favorite book illustration.
  39. DESIGN your own GAME.
  40. Write SECRET MESSAGES with lemon juice on white paper.  When dry, hold paper over heating toaster to make invisible letters appear!
  41. Start a JOURNAL or write in one you already started.
  42. Organize your photos.  Create a PHOTOBOOK.
  43. Find and ant hill,  drop some crumbs or sweet liquid nearby and watch the ANTS do their thing.
  44. Play CHARADES.
  45. Draw/write a CARTOON STRIP of your own characters.
  46. Make a MAP of your bedroom, house or neighborhood.
  47. Find a PEN PAL from another country.  Share ideas about your cultures with each other.
  48. Collect sticks and mud and build a BIRD’S NEST.
  49. Create a family or neighborhood NEWSLETTER.
  50. Make PAPER AIRPLAINES.
  51. Learn to COOK a meal.
  52. Gather junk and discarded materials and turn it into a sculpture or other piece of art.  This is called FOUND OBJECT ART.
  53. Create a STOP-MOTION VIDEO.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuexL14O9L8
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9115ZqfkXM4  (See how creative my kids are?)
  54. Learn some CARD TRICKS.
  55. Practice FANCY LETTERING – a great skill to have for making cards and signs
    CHALK ART  https://www.etsy.com/listing/175732200/jeremiah-2911-for-i-know-the-plans-card?ref=shop_home_active_21
  56. Start a BLOG.
  57. Learn to FACE PAINT.100_0071
  58. Learn to whistle, snap your fingers, swim, ride a bike or ANYTHING ELSE YOU’VE WISHED YOU COULD DO.  (Probably not flying though.)
  59. REARRANGE your bedroom.
  60. Learn to tie a variety of  KNOTS.
  61. Learn a new VOCABULARY word every week and try to use it correctly every day that week.
  62.  Play MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
  63. Pitch a tent and CAMP OUT in the backyard.
  64. Learn to make SHADOW PICTURES.
  65. LIP SYNC to a favorite song.  Or just go ahead and learn to sing it —really well!

 

 

LEARN and ENTERTAIN

With Friends / Siblings

  1. Play BOARD GAMES.
  2. Play cards with a friend.  Look up “POPULAR CARD GAMES” and learn the rules and strategy.
  3. Play MARBLES.
  4. PUZZLE RACES – Using two puzzles of the same difficulty (100 pieces or less) Race a friend to see who can complete their puzzle first.  You can also do this with teams.
  5. MAKE A VIDEO staring you and your siblings/friends.hopscotch
  6. Play HOPSCOTCH.
  7. Set up an OBSTACLE COURSE and  challenge friends/siblings to beat your time.
  8. Have a water BALLOON TOSS or an egg toss.
  9. Have a WATER FIGHT with water balloons, water guns, big plastic cups or all three!
  10. Play FLASHLIGHT TAG.
  11. Play KICK the CAN.  http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Kick-the-Can
  12. Have a SCAVENGER HUNT.  Form teams and a list of things that must be found outside/ in the house/ in the neighborhood.  State a time limit and see which team can find the most items.
  13. Record you and your friends doing CRAZY STUNTS like posing as mannequins in a store window, asking a stranger for a bite of his sandwich, handing out candy bars to random passers-by, having a parade down your street, or protesting something ridiculous.
  14. Play FOUR SQUARE.  http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Four-Square
  15. Play photographer.  Have a friend take turns with you doing PHOTO SHOOTS of each other.

 

 

Be a Blessing

We Are Most Blessed When Blessing Others

  1. WRITE a Letter.set up fair
  2. Wash WINDOWS.
  3. Clean a SHELF or DRAWER in your room.
  4. Set Up CARNIVAL GAMES for the kids in your neighborhood or for your siblings. (If you want to get really into it – have the kids bring old toys in exchange for tickets and use the old toys for game prizes!)
  5. Memorize then  Recite BIBLE VERSES.
  6. Memorize then recite a POEM.
  7. Put on a PLAY.
  8. BAKE A TREAT for your family or neighbors.
  9. ADOPT A GRANDPARENT from among the many lonely people in assisted living.  Write them notes, visit them, make things for them.
  10. Make CARDS/PICTURES and send them to loved ones
  11. CLEAN your bedroom.
  12. Pull the WEEDS.
  13. Using family friendly movies, run a THEATER in your living room for friends (complete with popcorn!).
  14. Write “THANK YOU” cards to tell someone how they’ve blessed you — even if you haven’t received a gift from them.
  15. Create circus stunts and perform a CIRCUS for/with the neighbor children.Circus Lion
  16. DUST the house.
  17. BRUSH the pet.
  18. PICK berries or vegetables.
  19. ENTERTAIN a younger sibling or neighbor child and give mom a break.
  20. Play outside with a PET.
  21. Surprise a neighbor with a GOOD DEED.
  22. Host a TEA PARTY.
  23. BATHE a pet.
  24. READ to younger siblings.
  25. ORGANIZE a dresser drawer.
  26. Clean UNDER the BED.
  27. MOW the lawn.
  28. Create a list of “RANDOM ACTS of KINDNESS” you can do.  See how many you can accomplish.
  29. Hold a neighborhood BIKE WASH.
  30. Do a STORY HOUR  for the younger children in your neighborhood.
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Road Trips Unplugged

Call me old-fashioned (and, of course, I am) but there are so many wonderful ways to entertain your family in the car.  I hate when I see kids plugged into a movie (even for a quick jaunt across town!), or when the teens in the car plug in their ear buds and tune out everyone else.  Here are some great ways to wile away the miles that help to engage all the passengers, expand attention spans and strengthen the mind.  

Toy Box / Lap Desk

Individual Lap Desk Boxes contain each child’s toys

Ready to Travel

Individual Snack Bags (healthy as you choose) for each child adds to the fun.

Go here for ideas on how to UNPLUG AT HOME . And here for over 100 ideas Older Kids can do to UNPLUG at home.

  • Alphabet Game This is a classic.   Watch the signs to find a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet, in order.  You can play together as a team, or as my family prefers, every man for himself, in which case players compete to see who can complete their alphabet first. For younger children, you can allow them to just find the alphabet letters (in order) anywhere in the word.
  • Animal Alphabet Go around the car with each person naming an animal (or any other category you choose) that begins with each letter of the alphabet.  So first each person has to name a different animal that begins with A.  Then everybody names an animal that begins with B, etc.
  • Animal Name Game This game can easily pass an hour or two of time. It requires a bit more brain power than the other 2 alphabet games and ANIMALS seems to be the best category to use since you will need a vast number of  names.  It should be noted that “animal” can include anything in the animal kingdom — mammals, fish, birds, insects, reptiles, etc.  You cannot precede an animal by an adjective unless that is part of its actual name.  For instance, brown trout might be acceptable for B, but not a brown ant.   If necessary vote amongst the other players as to weather a named animal is acceptable or not.  For this game we use the letters of the players’ first name.  All players should have the same number of letters to work with, so pick a number.  If you have a Jim in the car, you might pick the first three letters of everyone else’s name or add the first couple of letters of Jim’s middle name to equal whatever number of letters you settle on.  Now you go around the car, each person naming an animal that has not yet been named that begins with whatever letter they are on.  Each player begins with the first letter of their name and progresses to the next letter when they can think of no other animals that begin with their first letter.  Once you progress you cannot go back to a previous letter.  Other people in the car may share a letter with you and you might want to progress before they use all the animals for that letter.  When you come to the end of your letters and can think of no more animals for your final letter, you are done.  Whoever can hold out the longest wins.  Names with double letters only count that letter the first time it shows up.  So, for a 5 letter game, Nathan John would use the letters N-A-T-H-J because the A and the N have already been used, and he might be in hot competition with Natalie since their first three letters are the same.  In a 5 letter game, Natalie will use N-A-T-L-I.  We had a friend in the car that went a full hour still on her first letter – C !
  • Sing songs, sing rounds, sing harmony
  • Audiobooks – choose a book that the whole family can enjoy and listen to a professional actor read it chapter by chapter breaking as needed.  OK, I know.  Technically, this is plugged in, but since the whole family is plugged in and engaging in the story together,  AND  because books stimulate the mind SO much more than movies, it stands.
  • Tell a progressive story Someone begins a story by telling a few sentences or maybe even just a phrase.  Then the next player adds another phrase/sentence and it continues around the car.
  • Make a progressive picture Very similar to the story telling except someone starts by making a squiggle on a piece of paper then passes the paper around with each person adding to the masterpiece.  Unfortunately, the driver gets left out of this game.
  • Trivia Cards Bring a pack of cards from that old dusty Trivia game and just quiz each other.
  • Deep Questions Kind of the opposite of trivia.  Either come up with questions ahead of time or have each person come up with a question on their turn and then everybody has a chance to answer each question.  These questions are of a more personal or thought provoking matter. Here are a few examples: What is one of your well hidden strengths? If you had $5000 to spend on others, what would you do with it? What kind of invention would you create if you had the know how/ resources? What character traits are good to look for in a spouse/friend/roommate? What is something you really want to work on this year?
  • 20 Questions One person comes up with a person, place or thing.  Everyone else gets to ask up to 20 yes/no questions to try to guess what it is.  Whoever guesses correctly gets to come up with the next thing to guess.
  • Create a poem Either create a poem together or assign a topic, have everybody create their own poem (write them down) and take turns reciting what you’ve written.  To make this a ton more fun, get a book or do a google search about different types of poetry for kids.  There’s so much more than just rhyming phrases.
  • 100 Mile Prizes –  Pack a box of small trinkets or treats.  Every 100 miles, let everybody choose a prize out of the box.  (Great way to use accumulated Happy Meal toys or Dollar Store gems.)
  • Map tracking This is becoming a lost art, but get a map of where you’re going and map out the route.  Have your children follow along on the map as you travel checking the cities as you go and estimating the time / distance to the next city / exit.
  • License Plate Phrases Another classic.  Make up fun phrases to go with the license plate letters you see.  Vote on who’s  phrase is the best.
  • Comic Books – Normally, I don’t promote fluff reading, but there is a time and place to enjoy Calvin and Hobs, Peanuts, Garfield or other comic style books.  The car trip is one of those times and places.  HINT:  We found that the kids who get car sick when reading in the care CAN READ in the car at night, with a book light.  It seems seeing the scenery/cars whizzing by out of the corner of their eyes is what makes them sick.  At night you don’t see all the outside stuff .
  • Name the states and/or their capitals This is how I learned my states and capitals.  My brother and I would quiz each other whenever we went on a road trip with our parents. Here’s a little help I memorized as a kid – how many states for each letter of the alphabet:  A=4, C=3, D=1, F=1, G=1, H=1, I=4, K=2, L=1, M=8, N=8, O=3, P=1, R=1, S=2, T=2, U=1, V=2, W=4
  • Researched Topic – With older kids, choose an interesting topic of discussion a week or so before the trip.  Everybody does their own research in preparation for the big drive.  Have an informed discussion of the topic once you’ve hit the road.
  • Light up toys at night — spinny, twirly lights inside a clear globe, glow bracelets, little lighted shapes that fade from one color to another —  these are all fascinatingly cool during the long night hours.  We found a toy like a magna doodle, except it glows –LOVE IT!!!

    glo doodle 3

    Glo Doodle

  • Search Books (Usborne) Honestly, I hate the Where’s Waldo and I Spy books.  But I LOVE the Usborne search books!  They have a preschool level, a primary level and an upper level elementary level.  I think these books served as a great help in preparing for the Animal Alphabet games.
Search Books by Usborne 2

Great Search Book Series Ages 6-12

Search Books by Usborne

1001 Things To Find series Ages 3-7

  • Origami  – get a good book on the subject and a pack of origami paper and a firm board on which they can fold.  Let the fun begin!
  • Modeling Wax – this soft, pliable wax is like playdough without the crumbly mess.  It’s not cheap, but Oh, SO worth it!  http://www.magiccabin.com/Art-Supplies/Stockmarand174;-Modeling-Beeswax-12-Pieces-4-Inches-x-1-12-Inches.htm
  • Goodie Bag for each passenger Let’s face it road trips and car snacks go hand in hand.  Give each child a gift bag or ziplock bag with their name on it containing an assortment of goodies for the trip.  This may include the individual juices and snack packs.  Or make your own little ziplock packs of (likely healthier) options.  This eliminates fighting over who’s hogging what and teaches your child to ration out their goods to last through the whole trip.  Hint:  ginger snaps are a good choice since ginger helps alleviate motion sickness.
Oldies Scanned July 2013 481

Blue Treat Bag within easy reach. Box of toys makes great lap desk.

  • Plastic box of car toys for each child with lid so it also serves as a table Invest in some covered plastic boxes (one size bigger than shoebox size)with smooth (slightly indented) lids – One for each child.  Fill the box with books/crayons/ paper/toys for the trip.  The box serves as a lap table for the child and provides a place to keep all their little items contained.  It the top is slightly recessed it provides a nice tray which helps keeps crayons and toys from rolling off.  Fun tip for night driving:  Use a clear bottomed box.  Place some glow sticks inside and flip it upside down to become a light table at night.  For readers, you might want to pack a little lantern in the box or a booklight to provide a reading light at night that won’t disturb the driver.
Toys in Travel Box

All these toys fit in one lap box!

Packed Box, ready to go traveling.

All packed and ready to go

Take the unplugged challenge … at least for large segments of your road trip, if not the whole ride. The car ride is half the fun!  Plan well and avoid the misery.  Engage your children instead of plugging them in.     Continue reading

Unplug and Explore – 60 Things Kids Can Do At Home When They’re Bored

 As I write this post, my grandson (having perused this list) is playing on the floor in front of me building habitats for his rubber animals out of building blocks and various containers of water.  His pterodactyl is taped to the ceiling fan and is flying over the entire project.   When he is done setting it all up, the Playmobile people (and, no doubt any real people that happen to be here) will tour this miniature zoo to admire his creations.

When my grandson comes to stay for the week, he almost never turns on the TV, and video games are non-existent.   Growing up, my boys always had access to the “I’m Bored List”.   I made lots of lists because in the middle of raising a passel of kids, the brain gets taxed.  My lists helped me come up with creative ideas when my brain was feeling less than inspired.  Often, you would find a list like this hanging on the wall for the kids to consult whenever they got bored.

PLEASE PEOPLE — unplug the children!  

Read how to UNPLUG on Road Trips here.

Admittedly, we have amassed a great collection of toys over the years, so you might not have access to everything listed here.  Customize this list with the toy collections you have in your home.  We have always kept sets separate in a bunch of clear plastic boxes.  It makes them far more accessible than if they are all mixed up or buried in the bottom of a toy box.

A great place to start collections of your own is at local thrift shops or rummage sales.  

So here you have my “I’M BORED LIST” geared more toward younger children.  This list is largely stuff kids can do by themselves, but use adult supervision when needed.   Can you add more ideas?

Also see my list for older children here.

 

 Child-reading-a-big-bool    Read Books

Color color

 jump rope     Jump Rope 

Playdough playdough

Science Experiments Science Experiments

Play with Water Play with Water

Play with Popcorn Seeds or Wheat Berries (Like Sand) Play with popcorn seeds or grain like sand

 Write a Letter   Write a Letter

   Play Card Games       card games

stencils     Stencils

basketballBasketball

 Paint  paint

Draw Pictures  draw pictures

Cuisennaire Rods  Cuisennaire Rods

Pattern Blocks  Pattern Blocks

fraction circles   Explore Fraction Circles

Kool-Aid Stand    Koolaid Stand

Playmobile Toys   Playmobile Toys

Board Games     Oldies Scanned July 2013 117

 Toy Traintoy train

play marblesPlay Marbles

Puzzles   puzzles

 Rubber Stamps rubber stamps

origami   Origami

musical instruments    Play Musical Instruments

Clean/Decorate Your Room  clean or decorate bedroom

climb a tree    Climb a Tree

Build a City(with blocks or boxes or in the dirt)Copy of blocks

Play on Swingset swingset

rollerbladeRollerblade

ride bike    Ride Bikes

Practice Writing with the Oppossite Handwrite with opposite hand

trampoline    Trampoline

Hopscotch    hopscotch

Lego’s     legos

     golf     Golf 

Set up an Obstacle Course   obstacle course

chalk     Chalk on Cement    

Learn Some Magic Tricks Magic Tricks

Wash Windows   Wash Windows

Time Yourself in Running (or doing anything else)stopwatch

think it throughThink-it-Through Tiles  (Discovery Toys)

Clean a Shelf or Drawer in your Room    clean a shelf or drawer

 rubber animals   Play with Rubber Animals 

water balloons    Water  Balloon Fight

Set Up a Fair      set up fair

 

     toolsPound Nails, Turn Screws, Drill Holes 

Pearler Beads    perler beads

String Beads, Cherrios or Pasta beads and pasta

 Oldies Scanned July 2013 056    Dress Up in Costumes

Nature Hike nature hike

 bible verses    Memorize Bible Verses 

Memorize a Poem     poetry

Put on Play     Put on a Play

Play Croquet     Oldies Scanned July 2013 255

     Oldies Scanned July 2013 327     Decorate your bike

Play Restaurant     play restaurant

  play store   Play Store 

Make a Tent/ Fort       Make a tent fort

Try Baking or Cooking   Something  (with adult supervision)     Oldies Scanned July 2013 342

 
2013 006     Practice Face Painting