Winters in Maine are cold and long – add in a global pandemic, and if you’re like many parents, you’re hearing “I’m bored” a few times more than you’d like. But while boredom might feel inevitable – the benefits that come from it are actually plentiful. The truth is boredom is good for kids! Feeling bored helps kids to be present and more aware of the world around them – and eventually, that awareness yields creativity and the ability to find joy in objects and environments they might typically overlook. Embracing boredom and finding happiness in the every day is a skill that kids can use over and over – even into adulthood.
That said, embracing boredom and nurturing creativity isn’t always easy – it takes practice to make it happen. That’s where these winter boredom busters come in handy. Next time you hear “I’m bored” – seed their creativity with one of these ideas, and then let the kids take it from there. Start small, then let them dream big. #DreamBigStartSmall
- Make your own Rube Goldberg Machine
Rube Goldberg was a famous American cartoonist known for his depictions of wildly elaborate machines designed to accomplish simple, menial tasks. Typically, the machines were made up of a series of independent contraptions, each designed to trigger the initiation of the next. The cartoons gained such popularity that people began building the contraptions in real-life purely for entertainment.
Building your own Rube Goldberg machine can be a great boredom buster – and is the perfect way to make use of everyday toys and objects you already have around the house. Start by talking with your kids about a simple goal – for example – get this marble from point A to point B or figure out how to turn on a light without using your hands. Then encourage your kids to use things they already have around the house to accomplish the simple task in a fun and elaborate way.
- Create an Obstacle Course
Boredom can sometimes make kids feel lethargic or tired, so one of the best things you can do when boredom hits is to get them moving. Obstacle courses are a great way to encourage creativity, movement, and a little fun competition. Make sure you engage the kiddos in the actual course building – for many, that’s the fun part! You can use regular household items for all kinds of obstacles, both physical and mental. For example – do 10 jumping jacks on the rug, then hop on one foot all the way to the chair. Then say the alphabet backwards and forwards before moving on to the towel tunnel!
Once you’ve devised a fun course, get out some energy by having the kids race against the clock to score their best time.
- Make A Coffee Filter Snowflake
If you need a boredom buster that doesn’t involve tearing your house apart (ahem, obstacle course), these DIY paper snowflakes are fun for all ages. They’re simple to make but allow for a lot of creativity in terms of embellishment. All you need is a package of coffee filters, a pair of scissors and some markers, paints or other crafting supplies.
To make the basic snowflake, fold the coffee filter in half, then in half again – and repeat one more time. You should now have a triangle-folded coffee filter. Use a pair of scissors to cut a few shapes into the folded side of the triangle. Then, unfold the paper, and voila – a snowflake! You can watch a great tutorial here if you’re a visual learner!
Once you’ve made a couple of basic snowflakes, challenge the kiddos to get creative by painting or coloring the coffee filters beforehand, then decorating them with glitter, stickers, or other embellishments and cutting new patterns to create unique snowflakes.
- Snow Painting
Another great way to beat boredom is to get outside, and snow painting is one way to make outside time last more than 5 minutes. All you need is a bit of food coloring mixed with water in a squirt bottle. Mix up a couple of colors and send the kiddos outside to make their masterpiece. If you have younger kids that are still working on things like spelling words, you can bring remote school out into the snow as well. Have the kiddos write out all of their spelling words in the snow with their snow paint!
- Sensory Slime
We know, we know – the word “slime” strikes fear in the hearts of many parents – but slime is actually a great sensory (and chemistry!) activity for kids of all ages, and this homemade recipe tends to be a little less slimy than some of the store-bought varieties out there. Start with the basic mixture (1/2 cup white or clear glue, 1/4 tsp borax powder, and 1 cup water) and then get creative by adding in things like food coloring, glitter, or even small trinkets or toys. Need some inspiration? Check out this tutorial for “Arctic Slime” and get mixing!
Feeling bored is a normal – and important – part of childhood. But learning how to embrace it takes time and practice. Help your kiddos learn this critical skill by seeding their imagination with a small idea, and then let them dream big as they take it from there.
What are your favorite boredom busters to get through Maine winters?