15 Old-School Summer Boredom Ideas

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We all know that summertime unfortunately means an increase in your child’s screen time, but if your children have “screen burn” from too much technology here are some great “old-school” summer boredom ideas for your little people this summer!

1. Doing Puzzles

Whether you have a toddler placing puzzle pieces into a Giant Knob First Puzzle Set or a teenager completing 5,000 piece masterpiece, puzzles are a great endeavor for any kid.

Make sure your child has space to lay out their puzzle that will not be interrupted by mealtime or a younger sibling. This is especially true for larger puzzles.

The difficulty of a puzzle is based on each individual child, but below are some guidelines for different age ranges.

  • 2-3 years: 10 pieces
  • 3-4 years: 24 pieces
  • 5-6 years: 48 pieces
  • 7-8 years: 100 pieces
  • 9-10 years: 300 pieces
  • 11-12 years: 500 pieces
  • 13 years and up: 1000-5000 pieces

2. Knitting or Crocheting

You might remember making loom potholders for your mom’s kitchen, but did you know that loom knitting doesn’t have to be relegated to a square? You don’t even need a loom, you can use just your fingers or arm.

Here is a great arm knitting tutorial to make an infinity scarf or this miniature loom for kids!

3. Making Homemade Toys

Growing up my mom used to tell me stories of growing up on my grandpa’s farm. They would pick off a cob from the rows of corn, peel it halfway to expose the silken “hair” for their doll. They would create faces and dresses for these makeshift corn dolls.

Long ago, homemade dolls were commonplace among children and became some of the most prized possessions among girls. By letting your daughter create a handmade doll, she will be creating a functional toy while making a great memory. If your daughter is too old for dolls, suggest she make it for a sibling, cousin or younger friend.

For boys, toy cars made out of a tin can body and bottle cap wheels will allow your little handyman to put to use his tinkering skills. For older boys, allowing them time with a small hand saw and a drill to make a go-cart from discarded wood and parts can give them the confidence they need to help out with bigger (and more useful) household projects.

Some item to make homemade toys could include:

  • Buttons from old clothing
  • Leftover fabric pieces
  • Old socks and shoelaces
  • Stuffing from a discarded pillow
  • Used popsicle sticks

4. Taking a Walk

We always see Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice taking long walks in large fields during the summer months. While we don’t live in such carefree times, walking is still a simple way to get exercise and relaxation at the same time.

Plan your walk in the cooler part of the day. Avoid walking from 1-3pm when the sun is the hottest. Make sure to wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water.

For fun bring along a basket to collect treasures along the way. Don’t be in a hurry with little ones. If you live near a park, you might stop at the park for them rest or run off some extra energy before heading back home.

For older children, walking can be a great time to reconnect with your children. Long walks usually equals long talks! If your children are old enough to take a walk by themselves, suggest they bring a younger sibling so they can create memories together!

5. Fort Building

Blankets and clothes pins are all your children need to make a fort in the living room. If your children are ambitious, they can try to make a fort outside with leftover wood (make sure the nails aren’t still in them!), rocks and a tarp. Challenge them to think outside the box and figure out how the American Indians survived without the luxuries of air conditioning, but allow them to fill their forts with supplies such as coloring books, snacks and other worthwhile activities.

If you have multiple children, they can become “neighbors” that come over for tea and cookies!

6. Jumping Rope

I remember jumping rope with the duo-toned segmented rope during “Jump Rope for Heart” competitions in elementary school. Slow and steady usually won the race for the students jumping rope for charity and prizes. Skipping rope isn’t just a retro pastime, it actually dates back into ancient Egypt (around 1600 AD). Children skipping rope can also be seen in medieval paintings from China.

There are many ways to jump rope. It can be done by one person or many. The types of jump roping styles include:

  • Easy Jump
  • Alternate Foot Jump
  • Criss-cross
  • Side-swing
  • Double Dutch

7. Birdwatching

Birds are fascinating creatures. A simple set of binoculars can make birdwatching much more interesting. Children of any age can complete this activity from their bedroom window or front porch

Remember that birdwatching is not only done with the eyes, but also with the ears. Many species can be identified by their call easier than by simply looking at them.

For an extra birdwatching activity, encourage your child to draw a portrait of what they see and look it up online to discover what kind of bird they are watching.

8. Kite Flying

Kites were invented in China, where materials for kite building, like silk fabric and string, were readily available. The first written account of kite flying was about 200 B.C.

But you don’t need to cut up your silk scarves to make your own. Did you know that you can make a kit from a plastic shopping bag? Check out the YouTube video tutorial here: DIY How To Make a Kite Out of a Plastic Shopping Bag

For more complex kites, your children could try their hand at making a Tetrahedral Kite or a Box Kite.

Some simple tips for kite flying include:

  • Pick the right kite for the amount of wind
  • Find a spacious area from from trees and powerlines
  • Pick a day where winds are at least 5-25 mph

9. Poem Memorization

In Heart Beats: Everyday Life and the Memorized Poem by Catherine Robson she argues that recitation of long poems helped people memorize Bible verses, but eventually poem memorization became a noble endeavor in and of itself.

In addition to exercising the brain, poem memorization and recitation can give a budding orator a reason to perform, increase creativity and give children an appreciation for literature.

For longer poems, you can even make it a family thing where each member of the family memorizes and recites a stanza.

10. Magic Tricks

The earliest documented magic trick was in ancient Egypt in 2700 BC. A ball was placed under a cup and the magicians would use a slight of hand to make the ball to appear to jump from cup to cup amazing onlookers.

A trip to the library or a simple search on YouTube can provide children with multiple avenues to learn magic tricks. If your child is really ambitious this Ideal 100-Trick Spectacular Magic Show Suitcase with Instructional DVD might be a great investment.

11. Parlour Games

A parlour game is a group game played indoors that could include charades, marbles/dice, Mahjong or any number of board games.

Playing cards dates back to the 9th century during the Tang dynasty (618–907 BC), though the design on most modern decks of cards are decidedly French. A game similar to dominoes was found in King Tut’s tomb.

One pack of cards or dominoes can provide hours of entertainment with a wide variety of games available using those simple devices.

  • Rules for Domino Games
  • Rules for Card Games

12. Paint the outdoors

Bob Ross made painting scenery popular in the early 1980’s on PBS, but painting scenery has always been a part of history.

Getting out in nature and capturing it on canvas or paper will allow your child to develop an appreciation for nature. Whether they paint a landscape or draw a close-up of a flower, they will grow an eye for the details and complexity of our magnificent world.

If you haven’t watched this remix of Bob Ross, you should. Soon, you will be inspired to paint “happy little trees.”

13. String Hand Games

Considered one of humanity’s oldest games (source: Wikipedia), string hand games may have been around as long as string has! One of the most well-known figures is Cat’s Cradle that can be played with a friend or solo.

14. Washers or Horseshoes

Many of my own childhood memories consist of uncles and grandparents tossing washers into tin cans during holidays.

Probably derived from the ancient Greek game “quoits,” washers/horseshoes consists of the alternate tossing an item toward a fixed point by opposite teams. The one who gets closest to “the pit” gets the point.

15. Write a Letter

Letter writing is a lost art. In an age where text messages and emails are the norm, there is still a certain excitement to sending and receiving letters. As a child, I remember my large collection of beautiful stationary. Writing letters (or drawing pictures for smaller children) are a great way to connect a child with grandparents as well.

You can couple letter writing with origami (another old-school boredom buster) with this Origami Stationery Kit.



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Elaine Mingus

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