The Great And Indefatigable “I’m Bored” Jar

“Screen time” in our house has officially become a problem. We restrict it to what feels, to me, like a normal-ish amount – half an hour of TV at night, maybe an hour of educational-type computer games over the course of the day, and a half an hour of garbage (Angry Birds, etc) – but it’s getting to the point where we’re talking about (and fighting about) iPads and phones and TV shows upwards of twenty times a day.

This is not tenable. Not only because it’s making me crazy, but also because while I’m generally of the opinion that all this “screens are the devil”-speak doesn’t take into account the enormous educational benefits associated with them (seriously, YouTube just taught my five-year-old the concept of photosynthesis, and he can now explain it better than either of his parents), I hate the fact that they’ve become the default, the thing we reach for when our kids are fighting or tired or just bored. It’s such a quick and easy solution, but it’s also not exactly teaching our kids to look to the world around them to find fun.

The other day a friend of mine brought up the concept of a Bored Jar, and it’s completely brilliant. (Apparently it’s also a thing that parents everywhere – or at least parents on Pinterest – know about, but it’s new to me, so I figured it may be new to you, too.) You literally just fill a jar with a zillion pieces of paper with activities written on them (popsicle sticks work especially well), and every time your kid comes to you and says “UGH I’M BORED,” you’re all “Here you go.” I filled ours with a mix of chores, activities that I thought would be a little out-of-the-box for our kids, and a bunch of things I knew they’d just love (“watch your favorite movie,” etc).

It was surprisingly easy to come up with 100 ideas for the jar, but in case you want to make one yourself and are feeling uninspired, here (in no particular order) is a list of the activities in our jar.

100 great ideas for a kid's i'm bored jar


  1. Teach your sister 10 animal sounds.
  2. Draw a sidewalk mural with chalk.
  3. Write a letter to Papa.
  4. Write a letter to Nana.
  5. Write a letter to Grandma.
  6. Write a letter to Grandpa.
  7. FaceTime with your cousins.
  8. Practice tying your shoes.
  9. Take the dogs for a walk.
  10. 30 minutes on ABC Mouse.
  11. Do 10 jumping jacks in every room in the house.
  12. Call Papa.
  13. Call Nana.
  14. Call Grandma.
  15. Call Grandpa.
  16. Draw a dinosaur.
  17. Find 5 toys you want to donate, then come see me for a prize.
  18. Find 10 toys you want to donate, then come see me for a prize.
  19. Write a letter to a friend.
  20. Clean one room in the house (mom’s choice).
  21. Clean one room in the house (your choice).
  22. Color for 20 minutes.
  23. Do 20 push-ups.
  24. Put on a play!
  25. See how many birds you can find in the backyard.
  26. See how many bugs you can find in the backyard.
  27. Teach your sister how to do something new.
  28. Do one chore (your choice).
  29. Practice martial arts.
  30. Play a board game.
  31. Play hide-and-go-seek with your sister or a neighbor.
  32. Call Daddy and ask him for a job.
  33. Call Nana and ask her for a job.
  34. Call Grandma and ask her for a job.
  35. Ask Mommy to teach you something you want to know.
  36. Practice on your skateboard.
  37. Practice riding your bike.
  38. Vacuum one room (your choice).
  39. 30 minutes on Starfall.
  40. Make dog treats.
  41. Do a math problem worksheet.
  42. Practice somersaulting.
  43. Draw a rainbow.
  44. Make a crazy mixture with stuff you find in the refrigerator.
  45. Empty all the trash cans.
  46. Draw a family portrait.
  47. Come up with cool names for any stuffed animals that don’t have one yet.
  48. Free-choice art project.
  49. Pretend you’re a chef and serve your stuffed animals lunch.
  50. Water the plants.
  51. Build with Legos.
  52. Look in the refrigerator and find something you’ve never eaten before, then try it.
  53. Go to the garden store and pick out a plant.
  54. Play Superheroes with your sister.
  55. Write a story about a brave shih-tzu named Lucy.
  56. Practice doing cartwheels.
  57. Play four songs on the piano.
  58. Watch an episode of Wild Kratts.
  59. Help Mommy make something yummy (your choice).
  60. Exercise for 20 minutes.
  61. Practice soccer outside.
  62. Bake a pretend cake, and have a party with your stuffed animals.
  63. The doggie is sick! Play doctor and make her feel better.
  64. Make sure all of your toys are in the spots you want them to be.
  65. Draw a picture of your bedroom.
  66. Do six pages in your activity book.
  67. Try to figure out a new song on the piano.
  68. Play fetch with the dogs.
  69. Make up an awesome new superhero and draw his or her picture.
  70. Make a list of everything you like.
  71. Brush the dogs.
  72. Come up with an awesome new animal nobody’s ever heard of, and draw it. (Don’t forget to give it a name!)
  73. Think up five cool Halloween costumes.
  74. Build a fort with blankets.
  75. Pretend to be a policeman and solve a crime.
  76. Watch your favorite movie.
  77. Be Mommy’s helper for the next 30 minutes.
  78. Watch an episode of Bubble Guppies.
  79. Make a list of everything you’re good at.
  80. Sweep the leaves off of the deck.
  81. Take the dogs to the park.
  82. Find four nature items and use them to make something awesome.
  83. 30 minutes free play.
  84. Use sidewalk chalk to make your own game of hopscotch.
  85. Do yoga for 15 minutes.
  86. Make a card for your teacher.
  87. Read a book about a cat.
  88. Come up with 10 questions for Mommy and interview her.
  89. Come up with 10 questions for Daddy and interview him.
  90. Take a bubble bath.
  91. Write a book all about yourself.
  92. Make a boat and see if it floats.
  93. Bake a batch of cookies.
  94. Pretend you’re an Olympic gymnast and complete an obstacle course.
  95. Play the video game of your choice for 30 minutes.
  96. Read one Dr. Seuss book.
  97. Watch a YouTube video about a topic you want to know more about.
  98. Practice writing letters for 15 minutes.
  99. Write a letter to your Elf On The Shelf.
  100. Take photos of your favorite things in and around the house.

100 great ideas for a kid's i'm bored jar

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