If there’s two words that strike fear into the heart of any parent, it’s the dreaded “I’m bored.” No matter how many toys they have, no matter what their screen-time allotment is, no matter how many books they haven’t read, the boredom blues still seem to strike when parents are least prepared for them.
No longer. These DIY activities for kids will ensure you have an arsenal of boredom-busters ready and at your disposal, most of which only rely on household materials. Some are indoor activities and some can be done outside, so you’re not depending on the weather. There are toddler activities that can be aged down for even 1-year-olds to do, but there are also DIYs that teens and tweens will be thrilled to take on and hang in their bedrooms. Most of these ideas are more on the craftier side of things, letting kids get out all their art supplies and go wild with their creativity. Others are more physical, though, in case you’re looking for a new spin on a backyard game. There might be a learning component to the activity, or it could be just for fun. When they’re done, they might have forgotten about their screens altogether.
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Falling Leaves Snow Globe
This is a fun activity that gives kids a chance to dig in their hands as they make art. Fill a tub with foaming shaving cream, add food coloring or paint on tip, then swirl with a butter knife or stick, and when you lay a piece of paper on top, it comes away with a cool, marbled pattern.
DIY Lava Lamp
Lava lamps are back, baby, in a groovy new way. And if you want the homemade look, you can do it yourself with vegetable oil, food coloring and antacid tablets.
Fill a plastic tub with dry rice, raw pasta, Kinetic Sand or water beads, and let the kids go to town scooping, pouring and digging for little treasures you’ve hidden. These sensory bins expose them to different textures and helps them work on their fine motor coordination.
Orange Peel Bird Feeder
Kids can whip up these bird feeders from birdseed, popcorn and an orange peel. When it’s hung, give them a sketch book and some art supplies and see if they can draw and identify the visitors that stop by.
Paper Chain Wall Hanging
We know tweens and teens love nothing more than personalizing their rooms, and wall art made from paper chains is a versatile DIY for these purposes. They can use the tutorial to get the rainbow pattern, or sketch out their own ideas on graph paper.
Pool Noodle Obstacle Course
If you have a printer, you can get some printable temporary tattoo paper and use it to dress up old planters, mugs, pencil cups and the like. (And if you don’t have a printer, you can just use a lot of little, store-bought temp tattoos.) Tweens will have a great time finding patterns that match their bedrooms or school supplies.
Mini Lid Banjos
These may not sound like the real thing, but they look adorable — and you can dress them up basically any way you want. They’re the perfect doll-sized instrument for a pretend band.
These paper planes are perfect for kids — just fold and let your imagination fly. Increase the challenge by making some cardboard targets for the planes to fly through.
We love a two-for-one activity: First, paint abstract shapes with watercolors, and then have older kids cut the paper into strips and fold them into wearable art.
Felt Elastic Bookmarks
With bookmarks this cute, they might even be motivated to do more reading. You can whip these up in a snap with some felt, googly eyes, glue, and elastic.
Dress-Up Mermaid Tail
You’ll probably have to help with the sewing on this one, but the kids can help design and craft their own slip-on, slip-off mermaid tail for pretend undersea adventures.
Polka Dot Slime
Slime is the trend that’s never going away, and the only thing better than making a mom-approved mess is doing so with the extra fun of polka dots. (Can you guess what they’re made from?)
This explosive science experiment (disguised as permission to make a mess) is a lot more palatable when contained in a glass dish. Add food coloring for colorful lava.
Take rock painting a step further: After the paint’s dry, the images on the stones become characters in a story everyone can tell together.
Nature Craft Bugs
Your kids can use things they find in nature to replicate what they see in the great outdoors. The secret to this craft is using a coat of Modge Podge to make the bugs shiny (and keep the leaves from drying out).
Tie-Dye Spin Art
Transform your salad spinner into a carnival-style spin art machine. Just make sure you fill squeeze bottles with washable paint, in case splatters land outside of the coffee filter canvases.
These paper frogs really jump! When the fun of folding origami frogs is over, extend playtime with sidewalk games to see which hopper can jump the furthest.
Kiddie Car Wash
The old backyard sprinkler gets a major upgrade with this kiddie car wash, which uses PVC pipes and a hose connector to become the ultimate backyard car wash. Your kids will have endless fun running between the sponges and pool toys.
To you, it’s just glitter; to them it’s magical pixie dust. Sprinkle some over your pint-sized garden and wait for the fairies to come out and play!
Thrift store finds become a backyard music station (and save your everyday cookware from your little maestro’s enthusiastic playing). With a few modifications, you can probably set up an indoor version of this one-man band wall, too.
Fashion straws into 3D shapes for an activity that’s one part science, one part silly fun with bubbles. With practice, you can make square and triangular bubbles!
Water Balloon Batting Station
Funfetti Play Dough
Skip the cupcakes and make this sprinkle-packed, two-ingredient play dough instead. The mixture is even edible (but nearly all sugar, so don’t turn your back on little ones for too long).
Pool Noodle Water Wall
When they start using pool noodles as makeshift swords, tie the toys to a pegboard and hold a good, clean water race instead. Just be sure to keep the towels handy.
File this under genius parenting hacks: A piece of rain gutter picked up at the hardware store becomes a slick race track when you add water and an adorable soap boat. All kids get to make their own flag!
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