Summer Boredom Bucket List: Day 1

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Highlights magazine had a great feature in its July issue of 30 ways to turn your kids’ words around when they come harping to you that they’re “bored” this summer. Yes, sometimes it’s good to be bored. But also: it’s summer; they’re kids; coronavirus means camps are cancelled or starting late; and you as a caregiver deserve to stay sane. I’m guessing you are as hungry as I am for ways to keep the littles entertained!

Tonight I’m kicking off a week-long series of posts, a full week’s worth of activities to stymie the statement, “I’m bored”. We’ve tested all of these in the past month, so I can guarantee they work!

Idea 1: Make a Jumbo Jump Rope. The first time I heard, “I’m bored”, I pulled out every scarf from my dresser and tied them into one long rope. A giant jump rope!

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Because Travis hasn’t had much practice even on a regular jump rope, first I encouraged him simply to work on his jumping skills, back and forth over the dangling scarves. This was a super fun challenge!

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Well then little sister grabbed on, and it became a shaking scarf for musical play. Use a rope like this to shake shake shake, then stop/freeze, teaching your child about pauses in music.

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Then Travis pretended he was climbing a rope up, hand over hand, like a ninja! And then mommy got captured. Uh oh, I hadn’t quite planned on that one.

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As you can see, one long line of ropes busts boredom.

Idea 2: Bake a Giant Chocolate-Chip Cookie. If kids announce they don’t know what to do and it’s only 8.45 in the morning, then it is definitely time for a giant cookie. “Let’s make a cookie as big as a pizza!” I said, and I instantly had two happy faces, even my toddler marching around the kitchen chanting “cookie cookie!”

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Luckily I had a mix in the pantry, making this easy for me too. The mix, a dash of almond milk, a little oil, and a little vanilla, and we were ready to pat our cookie into a circle on a pizza pan. After it baked, we even sliced it with a cookie cutter for a snack time full of chocolate smiles.

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Idea 3: Balance a Pen on One Finger. This little challenge turns out to be quite a moment of zen. What worked best? By trial and error, Travis and I worked out the following formula: elbow supported (either on one knee or on the table); pointer finger crooked back; cap removed from the pen; and then finding the fulcrum. Balance!

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I was proud of Travis not getting frustrated, too!

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Idea 4: Do Stuff with Tiny Stones. What couldn’t we do with tiny rocks? This boredom prompt filled a whole afternoon! First we headed outside to the driveway, where we knew there were just the right tiny pebbles near the garage, and the kids gathered them into a bucket.

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They then discovered the storm drain, and spent almost half an hour plinking rocks through the holes and watching the water ripple at the bottom!

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Okay, I got them inside, and now we had so many ideas. First we piled them up and built pyramids.

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Then we decided to get artsy. I hot-glued rocks to two pieces of paper and asked Travis what he saw to finish the drawing. He thought this one looked like a deep-sea anglerfish!

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I made a second into a stone wall in front of a house (meaning this was a boredom buster for mama, too).

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Then we decided to paint the remaining stones. For the blue, we put them in a cookie tin with blue paint and shook until coated. “Loud!” Veronika said. The orange ones we painted normally with a paint brush.

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We left them to dry, and then by evening we could play games that involved two sides, like jacks…

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…or tic-tac-toe (make that tic-tac-rock).

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Treasure Sandboxes, Two Ways

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After digging for dinos and enjoying a pretend day at the beach, it was time to turn our homemade sandbox into a gold mine! We played around with this idea in two ways, first as a diamond mine and then panning for gold.

For the diamond mine, I gave each of my kids a paper cup with a handle to collect any treasures they unearthed.

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Ideally I would have used pipe cleaner handles, but we’re all out! Floral wire worked in a pinch; just make sure to twist any pointy ends safely away.

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I buried four “gems” from our dress-up box in our container of sand and pebbles. Each kid got a shovel, and the digging began!

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Veronika seemed unsure at first, until big brother Travis joined in. He loved searching for a glint of treasure.

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Veronika preferred rinsing off the glittering finds in a little bowl of water on the side. This was simple but good fun in the sunshine (you’ll notice we’ve moved the sandbox outside).

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For the second version, it was time to pan for gold. This time, I painted a few pebbles with gold metallic paint. Toddlers will love helping with this step!

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Let dry completely.

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In the afternoon, I buried the “gold” in the sandbox and set out sand sifters instead of shovels.

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Ours are in fun animal shapes, though it would be more realistic if you have classic circular ones. Once again, we had a dish of water on the side to rinse off any gold nuggets the kids discovered.

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Surprisingly, this didn’t hold their attention for long, but perhaps they were all mined out!

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Cool Whip Painting

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What’s better than finger paint in the bath tub? Edible finger paint in the bath tub of course!

When I spotted this brilliant (and delicious) idea, I knew it would be worth the mess. For a vegan cool whip, try Whole Foods’ non-dairy whipped topping from the freezer aisle. Let thaw in the refrigerator about 3 hours prior to this activity and it will be the perfect consistency when you’re ready to play.

I divided the whipped topping evenly among the tins of a large muffin tray. Add drops of food coloring to each cup.

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To get the full rainbow, we mixed a few of our colors (red + yellow, blue + red). Older toddlers might enjoy helping with this step!

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Then I simply stripped Veronika down to a diaper, handed her a paint brush and set her loose in the tub. She immediately started painting.

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“A rainbow!” she said, even though she only had one line of color. What a perfect idea, so I started to paint stripes in rainbow order on the side of the tub. Some of the paint dripped onto her leg as a result. “Oh no!” she said, but I assured her it was okay because this paint was edible.

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She looked at me with surprise; usually I chide her not to eat paint, ha! So I dipped a finger in and held it up to her tongue. “Yummy!” she said with absolute delight.

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“Try blue?” So I dipped a finger in blue for her. “Try green?” You get the idea. Well clearly we were going to need plastic spoons!

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After this it became more feast than art project. At this point, big brother Travis needed to join in. He loved both taste-testing and smearing the paint on the tub with a brush.

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He even tried turning it into body paint!

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Meanwhile, I kept using the paintbrushes around my happy diners. This little fish was swimming right on the bottom of the ocean.

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Clean up was surprisingly easy. Strip everyone down and run the water and rinse (humans and tub alike). Travis even loved using a washcloth to scrub the walls until they were sparkly clean.

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3 Ways to Celebrate Watermelon

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We learned that the whole month of July is National Watermelon Month (as if we need an excuse to eat it when this fruit is the epitome of summertime), so today we decided to throw a party for this fantastic fruit!

The kids loved getting silly with this. First we needed to decorate, so we made watermelon a banner of… watermelon!

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Color the center of paper plates pink with marker or crayons, then add green around the edges for the rind. Don’t forget the black seeds!

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If you want, cut the plates into triangles and string up in a garland this way like watermelon wedges. We left ours as circles and I festooned the kitchen door with this ode-to-watermelon.

How better to celebrate watermelon, next, than to eat it! For fun, we cut some slices into “fries” and dipped them into yogurt “ketchup”.

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Or, cut a circle cross-section from a whole watermelon and spread with your favorite yogurt. This could be a pizza… Or a cake! Travis decided he wanted his topped with non-dairy cream cheese instead.

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Any favorite watermelon treats in your home? Please share in the comments!