Summer Ideas: Boredom Busters Jar - SLO Classical Academy
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Summer Ideas: Boredom Busters Jar

Congratulations! We have officially made it to summer break. We hope that you have some plans to enjoy this break with your family. Anyone else feeling like you are trying to squeeze in two summers’ worth of activities into one shorter summer?

Even though this summer may be quite a contrast to last summer and our kids have opportunities to do more away from home, hopefully, they will still have some days to just be bored. Here is an idea I (Sharon) shared last summer to help to keep ideas flowing for what to do during those summer hours. The Boredom Busters Jar was a hit in our house and my daughter has inquired many times if it will make a return this summer. Read on for how to put together a Boredom Busters Jar for your house.

Now at our house,  I intentionally avoid using the words “bored” or “boredom”. My hope is that if I limit my use of those words, then my kids are less likely to whine at me, “I’m bored!” Call me crazy, but for the most part, it has worked. But let’s face it, boredom is a part of childhood, nevertheless, it is not necessarily a bad thing. (Read more about that here.)

Boredom: The desire for desires.

– Leo Tolstoy

Kids are gifted with incredible imaginations and they should be required to use them. However, sometimes our kids just need help remembering what their options are. Or as Tolstoy expresses it, they desire a desire. A simple “go play” isn’t always enough to spark those imaginations and motivate them to play. In the spirit of giving our kids options, here’s an idea for you to try this summer. 

Summer Boredom Busters:

Last Friday I sat down at our homeschool desk, pulled out a pad of Post-its and a pen, and started writing individual activities on each Post-it. My goal was to create a “well of ideas” that my kids could draw from when they were at a loss to find something fun and constructive to do with their time this summer. I began with trying to think of toys etc. that my kids have that I know do not get played with frequently, either because they are out of sight, therefore out of mind, or because other ones are just more popular. Then I brainstormed other activities that I thought would keep them entertained, focusing on ideas that they can do together. (Bonus!)

As I was writing, I simply stuck each Post-it note on the desk in front of me with the intention of folding and stuffing them all in a mason jar when I was done. My kids were intrigued by the multitude of bright green Post-its and wanted to know what it was all about. When I told them, they immediately began contributing their own ideas. (Why can’t they think of this stuff when I say — “Go do something”?) My 11-year-old even suggested adding things like, “Practice Latin”. Their excitement was contagious, and maybe for the first time, we started to really look forward to this unusual summer.

We then discussed the rules of the jar. This is how we envision it working (but we’re flexible): The children pick out a Post-it together and if it is feasible to do that activity at that time, then they do it. The decision is made for them! 

When we had quite a collection of ideas written down and agreed on by all of us, we folded them up and placed them in the jar. We then debated the name. “Summer Ideas” or “Stuff to Do” didn’t quite have the ring we were looking for. “Boredom Busters” won out because who doesn’t love alliteration? We also made a “Busted!” bin as a place to put the completed activities in case we want to put them all back in the jar and start again. 

Ready to put together your own Summer Boredom Busters Jar?

Here’s a brief breakdown of how to make your own — may it be another tool in your toolbelt this summer to foster creativity, connection, and cheer.

What You’ll Need:

  • Slips of paper (Post-its work great). If you have children of varying ages and stages, you may want to have different colored Post-its for activities that are specific to each child. 
  • A jar or any sort of container will do.
  • Some time to think through the possibilities. 
  • A pen to write them down.

How to:

  • Write down ideas — You can start writing down the ideas by yourself, but if your kids are old enough, I strongly encourage having them contribute their own ideas. They will feel more invested and hopefully will be less likely to complain when they pull out an activity. Consider putting in some extra special activities to encourage buy-in into the jar. For my kids, we included a bonus 1/2 hour of screen time and a few other special activities.
  • Decide on the rules — The “rules” are totally up to you. Do siblings have to pick one out and do it together? What happens if you can’t do that activity right away? (i.e. Mom is not available to get out the craft box). Once done, does the activity go back in the jar or is it set aside, perhaps in a “Busted” bin? Is there a limit to how many times a day/week? If you decide you don’t want to do that activity can you pick another? How long are they expected to stick with the activity? These are all up to your family. Just remember to keep it fun!
  • Have a notepad handy to add any new ideas.
  • Modify as it makes sense for your family. Perhaps you ditch the jar and just stick the Post-it notes on the fridge or living room wall and they can see all their options at once and choose that way.

Some Ideas:

And in case you need some ideas of your own, here are just a few of the options from our jar. My intention was to have the majority of the activities require minimal adult assistance and offer a variety of outside and inside options. 

  • Go on a bug hunt
  • Build a fort
  • Listen to an audiobook
  • Paint
  • Playdough
  • Water play outside
  • Write a note to a friend or relative
  • Facetime a relative
  • Pick an art book (We have a collection of coloring books, mazes, dot-to-dot, etc. for them to choose from)
  • Play a game
  • Create and do an obstacle course
  • Count lizards
  • Ride scooters around the block
  • Do a puzzle
  • Play with the Marble Maze
  • Watch a how-to-draw video
  • Play with the wooden blocks
  • Make a puppet show
  • Put on a play with the dress-up clothes
  • Write a story

And if they still insist on whining at you, “I’m bored!”, our good friend C.K. Chesterton has an excellent retort for you:

There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.

SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above-mentioned websites, businesses, or organizations. 

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