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Do your kids complain that they are dying of boredom? My kids use to drive me crazy complaining that they were bored while surrounded by toys!
I don’t want to be their entertainment director!
I love playing with my kids, but I don’t like constantly giving them suggestions on what to do.
Thankfully, I found an easy way to banish boredom from my house. If you have a few basic art supplies and a handful of educational toys, then you can implement my boredom busting strategy too.
I spend just a few minutes each week assembling baskets full of engaging activities that the kids are free to do anytime.
The basket is always on my dining room table. Hannah and Ben can quickly pick out an activity and get right to work. They don’t need to carry materials around the house, so the mess is contained.
It is important to rotate the contents of the baskets weekly. Did you rotate toys when your kids were toddlers? This is basically the same idea. Switching up the contents keeps the baskets new and exciting. The kids want to play with the toys and create with the art supplies because they don’t know when they will be available again.
I might leave items in the basket for another week if they are still being enjoyed on a daily basis. I know it is time to switch up the basket when materials are being ignored.
How do I choose what to put in the boredom busting baskets?
The materials MUST:
- Not require any help from me
- Encourage creativity
- Be educational.
The basket should be a mix of art supplies and educational toys. I try to tie in items related to our curriculum whenever possible, but that isn’t required. The idea is that kids can use everything in the basket any time, so make sure you choose art supplies that can be used unsupervised.
I have collected these materials over several years, but if you are new to boredom busting baskets, please don’t feel like you need a ton of options right away! A few basic materials that can be rotated is enough to get started. You can add to your collection of supplies over time.
If you see something online that you like, think about how you can make it at home. I saw word tiles for sale on Etsy, so I decided to make my own. In just half an hour I had created, printed, and laminated word tiles to create sentences that went along with our Medieval unit.
Here are the boredom busting materials I keep on hand:
- construction paper
- gel pens
- colored pencils
- window markers
- washable tempera paint sticks
- water color paints
- do-a-dot paint dabbers
- play dough
- play dough mats
- play dough toys
- ink pads and stamps
- googly eyes
- pipe cleaners
- pony beads
- masking tape
- glitter glue
- craft kits
Finding cheap educational toys can be a little tricky. It can definitely be done though! Yard sales, thrift shops, and used curriculum stores are full of treasures. You can use many of these items over and over again.
Consumables like alphabet stickers can usually be found in Target’s dollar spot. I stock up every August with enough to last through the year . . . or several years. Educational toys make great gifts too. The cash register, create-a-story cards, and microscope have all been under our Christmas tree.
- math wrap ups
- unifix cubes
- cuisenaire rods
- mini erasers
- geo boards and rubber bands
- alphabet stamps
- alphabet stickers
- alphabet magnets
- word tiles
- letter and number beads
- note cards and envelopes
- create-a-story cards
- story dice
- pretend money and cash register
- themed coloring books
- flash cards
- magnifying glass
- rock identification kit
- artist stickers
Hannah and Ben like all of these items, so any combination is sure to be fun.
What if a child asks for an item that isn’t in the basket? I let them go get it. If they are busy creating and decide that a touch of glitter glue is just what their picture needs, then by all means glitter away. Rotating the materials is meant to inspire kids, not restrict them.
The goal is to provide fun, educational activities so they find a way to entertain themselves.
I store materials that are not being used out of sight. Art supplies are stored in a cabinet in my laundry room. The educational toys are mostly kept in my sitting room. Many of the smaller items fit in an under-the-bed container that I store under my couch. The larger toys live in a closet.
Here are a few themed boredom busting baskets we have enjoyed in the past:
This patriotic boredom busting basket contains – colored paper, colored pencils, a ruler, star stickers, a presidents puzzle, presidents flash cards, state capitals flash cards, geo boards, fraction math wrap up, play dough (red, white, and blue), star cutter, and play dough toys (rolling pins and forks).
This outer space themed boredom busting basket contains – a solar system floor puzzle, colored paper, colored pencils, solar system fact cards, play dough (green, blue, and white), star and circle cutters, rolling pins, glitter glue, star mini erasers, do-a-dot dabbers, sun catchers, and roll-a-story dice.
This international themed boredom busting basket contains – colored paper, colored pencils, world countries workbooks, a world map floor puzzle, pretend money, a wooden clock, a Jigsaw World Atlas book, window markers, international stickers, alphabet stamps, and an ink pad.
The Medieval boredom busting basket contains -colored paper, colored pencils, a castle craft, Medieval Tapestries coloring book, The Medieval Castle coloring book, knight stencils, Medieval word tiles, multiplication math war, cuisenaire rods and book, and castle blocks.
Not every boredom basket needs a theme though! Some weeks naturally lend themselves to themes. It is usually pretty easy to put together holiday themed baskets. But, sometimes I can’t come up with a theme quickly. Don’t spend an hour putting the basket together. At that rate you might as well play cruise director for your kids all week!
The goal is to provide enriching materials so the kids can entertain themselves.
This is our current basket. This week does not have a theme. The kids are still enjoying the red, white, and blue play dough. I added a few alphabet stickers and a math wrap up and called it a day. It isn’t fancy, but it is working. There have been NO complaints of boredom.
How are you keeping your kids entertained?
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