Between after-school time, rainy or lazy weekends, sick days and—of course—a pandemic that forced kids to stay home for months on end, parents know that it can be maddeningly hard to to provide entertainment to bored children. And while there’s no need to feel guilty about screen time, it’s understandable that kids’ use of screens is one of parents’ top concerns. So, if you’re struggling to find entertainment for your kids to do when they’re bored other than screen time, we get it, mama. This list of 20 tech-free, fun activities for kids should keep your preschooler or toddler might take some planning in advance, but will keep your kids busy (without the eye strain) and give you some time to get things done.
Here are some fun entertainment ideas for kids to do when they’re bored.
Create a game box
Fill a box with things your child can play with alone—items like coloring books, playing cards or easy puzzles. When you need to keep your kids entertained, give them the box. While your child might resist a bit at first, but the more you do it, the more they’ll accept “game box time” as part of their routine.
Have them make their own cartoon
Instead of watching cartoons, have your children make their own. Give them a piece of paper and some crayons, and ask them to draw you a hero and a bad guy. When they’re done, let them come back and tell you their hero’s story.
Let them help you
If you’re cooking or cleaning, let them assist you. Give them a job they can handle. For young kids, that might be stringing beans or setting the table. For older kids, that might be slicing vegetables, sweeping the house or taking out the recycling. It’s entertainment and dinner help!
Give them an important task
Give your child a task, and make it a really big deal. Tell them they need to draw a picture for daddy, or that they need to make a block fort for Grandma. If they think it’s an important job, they won’t complain about working on it independently.
Create an idea box
Brainstorm ideas with your children about what they can do to overcome boredom. Write down their suggestions, and put them in an empty box. Then, the next time they’re bored, have them pick out one of their own suggestions for entertainment. Given that it was their idea, they’ll be more willing to actually do it.
Offer creative toys
Any toy that lets a child create is sure to keep them distracted for a long time. Invest in Legos, puzzles, and Play-Dough. Not only will your child be able to play with them for hours, but they’ll build up their spatial reasoning, too.
Design a treasure hunt
Hide something like a coin or a sticker somewhere in the house. Give your kids a clue, and let them run wild trying to find it. If you make it a bit tricky to find, you’ll build up their resilience—and their ability to find things without begging for your help.
Encourage outdoor play
Don’t forget how your parents kept you busy. Just give your child a ball and a stick, and let them run wild. If you’re worried about their safety, just keep them in sight. They’ll be fine.
Host a play date
Work out a deal with another parent in your neighborhood. When you need some time, send your kid over to play with their kid. To be fair, you’ll have to let them send their kid over sometimes, too. When two kids play together, they keep themselves distracted.
Build a fort
Give your child a few pillows and a blanket, and challenge them to turn the couch into a fort. No child will turn down the chance to make a secret base—and they’ll be much more likely to play independently once they’re inside.