The first couple of weeks of summer vacation are nothing but play dates, park visits, and pool splash-a-thons. My kids are just in awe of the concept of having all day to play, so it’s super easy to keep them happy. We’re all excited to put the hustle and bustle of the school year on pause, while we leisurely eat lunch on the deck, take naps, and roam about the neighborhood with friends. But, eventually, the newness wears off, and they want more things to do. They’re bored, and they’re sick of doing the same ole thing. But, I’m not exactly a camp counselor, so I don’t have activities scheduled every second of summer vacation. This summer, instead of torturing myself trying to come up fresh, fun ideas, I’ll turn to the DIY Bored Jar. Nothing says, “Summer” quite like popsicles and bored kids. So, round up both to get a jump start on some all-day, everyday fun.
- our DIY Bored Jar printable template
- small tin can
- popsicle sticks
- glue stick
- double-sided tape
Step 1: Print our printable DIY Bored Jar template onto card stock, and cut just inside the gray guidelines of the game cards, tin can label, and popsicle stick labels.
Step 2: Using a glue stick, adhere one game label to each popsicle stick. Set aside to dry.
Step 3: Wrap tin can label around a small, clean can. If your can is taller than the label, position the label around the center of the can like a belly band. Secure the label to the can using double-sided tape.
What’s In the Bored Jar?
- Stray Toy Bingo: Much like bridal shower bingo, have your kids create bingo cards for random toys like Legos, stuffed animals, and Pokemon cards. Then let them hunt down these items around the house to put them away. First one to BINGO gets a prize.
- Baseboard Races: Give each of your kids a Magic Eraser, and the first one to clean ten feet of baseboards to your satisfaction wins.
- Parent for an Hour (or Day): Let your kids play mom and dad for the day—making the meals, requiring mom or dad spend twenty minutes reading as part of their summer studies, setting up mom play dates, and making mom or dad take a nap.
- Book Dominoes: Instead of using dominoes to pull off a domino trick in which all the dominoes fall down, see if your kids can do it with the books they find in the house. When they’re done, have them pick out books they have outgrown to donate.
- Backyard Carnival: Take it outside and get messy. Let them throw shaving cream/whipped cream pies at each other, or fill balloons with shaving cream that they need to sit on to pop.
- Clean Out the Fridge Taste Test: This is your opportunity to get those last bits of leftovers out of the fridge. Clean it out, then blindfold your kids and see if they can tell what foods are what in a blind taste test.
- Backyard Ninja Warrior: If there’s a playset in your yard, challenge all the kids to time each other crawling across the swings and playset like it’s an obstacle course, one at a time. While each kid is crossing, let the other kids whack each “ninja” with pool noodles as they try to cross.
- Coin Tricks: Have your kids collect all the loose change they can find around the house and try rolling it, spinning it, flipping it, stacking it, and then counting it. Then let them divide up the spoils and put it in their piggy banks.
- Scrap Paper Coloring Contest: Have your kids find all the scrap paper, old school papers, and notes left in the kitchen. Challenge them to create art on the backsides, then hang it all for a day before sending it all to the “Recycling Bin Art Gallery.”
- Donation Dash: Challenge the kids to make a pile of stuff to donate, like old clothes and toys, and give them only ten minutes to run around collecting things—small prizes, like an extra scoop of ice cream at dessert and fifteen more minutes on the iPad, to the kid who collects the most toys or has the most tee shirts to donate.
- Jackson Pollock Painting: Get a canvas tarp or old sheet and put it in the backyard, gather empties and cleaned ketchup bottles or other spray/squirt bottles and fill them with tempera paints, and let the kids squirt the paint onto the canvas/tarp/sheet for a huge art project.
- Dizzy Bat Race: Have your kids place a bat on the ground vertically. Then, with their forehead pressed to the top of the bat, have them twirl around it ten to fifteen times, then challenge them to walk or run in a straight line. See a dizzy bat race in action here.
- Detention: Let the kids plan an hour of detention in which everyone has to communicate by quietly and secretly passing notes without getting caught by a cranky “teacher.”
- Yarn Spiderweb: Get some yarn, then help the kids wrap it around furniture, door handles, and curtain rods until they are standing in the middle of their very own, very hard to escape yarn spiderweb.
- Crime Scene: Stage a crime scene and leave clues…that lead the kids outside for the afternoon while you stay indoors and catch up on Netflix.
- Parent Impressions: Let the kids dress up in your clothes and then perform their best impressions of you.
- Dance Academy: Make up a bit of choreographed dance—or a wedding standby like the “Electric Slide”—and teach it to the kids.
- Minivan Scavenger Hunt: Whoever finds the most crushed Goldfish wins!
- Mop Socks Olympics: Let them slip on some clean, cushy sport socks and then dip them in soapy water and “mop” the kitchen floor with their mop socks while performing their best impression of Tara Lipinski or Apolo Ono.
- Tinker Time: Let the kids dismantle an old kitchen appliance or take apart an old bike and see how it all works.
Anytime a kid complains of being bored, point them in the direction of the Bored Jar. The kid pulls a popsicle stick with a game activity labeled on it, then finds the corresponding game card. Each game card explains the boredom-busting task in general, but you and the kids can be creative in adding new twists to each game as the summer progresses. Once a stick has been chosen, set it aside for the rest of the day. Do not return it to the jar, so that it isn’t inadvertently chosen again. To really keep things from getting mundane, don’t return sticks to the jar until the end of the week. That ensures that kids play a new game each time they pull a stick.
There you go! You’ve upcycled some popsicle sticks and a tin can to create endless super fun summer game scenarios.