Rare is the parent who's never heard their child say "I'm bored!" It can be tempting to answer that all-too-familiar declaration with some screen time, but it doesn't have to be that way. Keeping your children engaged and amused without a screen doesn't have to be a complicated or expensive affair; use the following simple and imaginative boredom busters for kids to help them stay active both physically and mentally this summer.
1. Create an in-home bowling alley by marking off bowling lanes with masking tape on the floor, and set up some partially filled water bottles as pins. Use a tennis ball to knock them down. If your kids are older, you can teach them to keep score like you would at a traditional bowling alley.
2. A child with a box of sidewalk chalk and time to burn can come up with some amazing street-side or driveway artwork. Go old-school and draw out numbered squares for a game of hopscotch. Have your kids lie down and trace each other's outline and then complete the self-portrait.
3. If your game closet is tapped out, don't worry - new board games don't have to be complicated and expensive. Introduce your kids to classics like chess, Chinese checkers, Battleship, Monopoly, Blokus and Sequence. Your kids can sharpen their strategic thinking and everyone can join in the fun of playing these favorites.
4. Give your child some paint and the opportunity to get sloppy, and they will take full advantage. You can set up a painting station with art paper or canvas panels and a paint set (watercolors, finger paints, etc.), and allow them to use it however they see fit. They can paint landscapes, family portraits, their favorite animals, or channel their inner Jackson Pollock and just splatter away. Just be sure to lay down a thick blanket or drop cloth to protect the area from any collateral damage.
5. Imagine playing a game of bean bag toss, but using water balloons instead of bean bags; you've just bumped up the fun factor significantly. Lay 3 or 4 hula hoops flat on the driveway, and use them as targets for the water balloon toss. Develop a scoring system that awards more points for accurate shots from longer distances.
6. Grab some notebook paper and create some epic paper airplanes using templates from websites such as Fold N Fly. Once your child has created their plane(s), have them decorate their new aircraft with colored markers. If they're up for it, put on a paper airplane race or aerial maneuvers competition. Tip: You can also use construction paper for added durability.
7. Inexpensive arts and crafts supplies such as pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, construction paper, glitter, pom poms, etc., can provide an endless source of creative inspiration for your child. Watch as they begin to allow their imagination to run wild with sculptures, paintings and other works of art.
8. Simple toys such as frisbees, jump ropes, bouncy balls, hula hoops and so forth can definitely keep your child occupied with fun outdoor activities. They're also a great way for your child to get some exercise, which will ultimately promote better health and well-being.
9. Grab some of the toys listed above, as well as some bubbles and new sidewalk chalk, at the store and set up a scavenger hunt around the house and yard. Strategically hide these new items as rewards for following the trail of clues.
10. Go on a family adventure to explore some of the parks, public pools, recreation centers and playgrounds in your local area. A few hours is all it takes to shake up the daily routine and will give you all an opportunity to have fun and make meaningful memories together.