• Vicki Manning

Zero-spend bored jars


When the weather's cooling down and there's more time spent indoors, a bored jar really comes in handy.


My boys love getting to choose what to do with their time; it gives them a sense of independence and control.



What is a bored jar?


The idea of a bored jar is that you have a container (doesn't have to be a jar, can be a small box, tub or bag even) that is filled with suggestions for activities when your child is bored. Our bored jar is just an unassuming bit of recycling with some lolly sticks in, but it's totally invaluable in our house.


Ideas can be creative, silly or practical, for example making a paper aeroplane, telling a joke or doing the washing up, and ideally they should be things that your child can do in and around your home.


So if your children are bored or you run out of activities for a rainy day, you just go to the jar/box/tub and you have a tonne of suggestions at your fingertips.


Bored jar

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In our house, our bored jar is a small recycled jar containing about a dozen lolly sticks. Each of the sticks has a suggestion for an activity written in permanent marker, that I rotate. Some of the activities are written 2 or 3 times, such as read a book or tidy your room (I sneakily add a few that make mum a happy bunny).


So if the boys ever complain of having nothing to do, I tell them they can pick one of the sticks. It might not always be met with enthusiasm, but it definitely stops them complaining of boredom!


We use lolly sticks with an activity written in permanent marker.

Writing on lolly sticks is a super easy way to do things as your kids can pick one random stick at a time and the activity is a surprise. If you don't have lolly sticks, you could always just write on some small pieces of paper and fold them up.

You can have lots of fun coming up with creative and entertaining suggestions and if you have more than one child at home, it helps to make sure the activities are suitable for all ages.


I try to avoid anything that will cost money or that creates a lot of mess. The last thing I want is entertained kids but extra housework, and if you're like me you try to avoid spending a fortune on new toys or day trips to stop the kids driving you nuts.


The last thing you want is entertained kids but extra housework

So for all those mums out there who are sick of hearing those ill fated words "I'm booored" here is the ultimate list for inspiration. I've included over 70 suggestions and the great news is, they're all FREE! If you want to print them out, copy and paste the list below, or head over to my printables page.



Bored jar activity list

  1. Draw a treasure map

  2. Invent a new game

  3. Feed the birds

  4. Go bug hunting

  5. Pair socks

  6. Make an obstacle course

  7. Press a flower

  8. Play a board game

  9. Draw a picture of your family

  10. Water the plants

  11. Draw an animal

  12. Build a really tall tower

  13. Clean the windows

  14. Write a story about yourself

  15. Learn some sign language

  16. Have a fashion parade

  17. Make an monster collage

  18. Tell some jokes

  19. Try birdwatching

  20. Read a book

  21. Put on a talent show

  22. Write a funny poem

  23. Do twenty star jumps

  24. Write someone a letter

  25. Have a disco

  26. Paint your family

  27. Watch a film

  28. Make the beds

  29. Design a new car

  30. Play charades

  31. Craft a robot from recycling

  32. Have a teddy bears picnic

  33. Paint rocks

  34. Make a musical instrument

  35. Blow bubbles

  36. Call a grandparent

  37. Dress up

  38. Try some yoga

  39. Invent a super hero

  40. Design a family crest

  41. Make a paper aeroplane

  42. Play 'i-spy'

  43. Make a junk model

  44. Play hopscotch

  45. Do the washing up

  46. Put on a puppet show

  47. Play hide and seek

  48. Make a time capsule

  49. Doodle

  50. Tidy your room

  51. Play balloon tennis

  52. Read a magazine

  53. Plan a trip to outer space

  54. Make a den

  55. Draw a mythical creature

  56. Do a puzzle in record time

  57. Make a card for someone

  58. Wash the car

  59. Play the ABC game

  60. Bake a cake

  61. Build a Lego maze

  62. Start a diary

  63. Make a gift for someone

  64. Have a bubble bath

  65. Play with playdough

  66. Listen to the radio

  67. Make a comic book

  68. Plan an adventure

  69. Take some pictures

  70. Bake some bread

  71. Find shapes in clouds

  72. Have a hot chocolate

  73. Mow the lawn

  74. Make an alien mask

  75. Sharpen all your pencils

  76. Tell a story

  77. Thumb wrestle

  78. Make a sock puppet

  79. Play a card game

  80. Design a poster


Can you think of anything to add to the list?


Flower play

How to create a sensory bin

Treasure baskets - heuristic play for babies

10 ways to play with sticks



For more playful and creative learning ideas visit:


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