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Avoiding the B-Word: 16 Summer Boredom Solutions

Nowadays, teaching your kids how to enjoy simple, old-fashioned fun is not easy. Nevertheless, it is worth your time - you won’t be trapped on the "I need a new toy every week" spending treadmill and your kids will be able to entertain themselves at any time and place. This means less whining, less fighting with siblings, and fewer discipline problems for you.


1.     Design your own board game.  If you’ve got a kid who’s a board game freak, toss him the ultimate challenge (along with a set of dice): ask him to design his own board game and to teach the rest of the family to play. He can borrow elements from existing board games or create his own game from scratch using materials you have around the house.

2.     Start your own family blog.  Keeping a web log (or ‘blog’) is the hottest online craze. Your family can get in on the fun for free by signing up for a blog with one of the free services like You can use your blog to keep in touch with friends and family members across the country, share artwork and family recipes, swap photos, or keep a trip diary while you’re traveling.

3.     Organize a treasure hunt.  Encourage your kids to plan an indoor or outdoor treasure hunt for their friends, complete with a treasure map. Host a neighborhood fun day. Play it straight by sticking to tried-and-true picnic games like the wheelbarrow race, the egg toss, x's and o's beanbag toss, and the three-legged race or go a little crazy by coming up with your own wacky events - like playing a game of road hockey using pool noodles and a beach ball. Let the games begin!

4.     Start your own parent-child book club.  Pick a book that both parents and kids would enjoy and send out book-shaped invitations to your book club guests. If you want to get really fancy, bake a book-shaped cake, too. It's a great way to keep the kids on track with reading during the summer months (and to get through some of the books on their summer reading lists, if they were assigned a long list of "must reads" at the end of the school year).

5.     Help your preteens to plan their own murder mystery party.  They’ll have fun planning everything from the menu to the 'murder.'

6.     Schedule a neighborhood movie night.  Rent a few kid-friendly flicks and make a smorgasbord of healthy snacks, keeping allergy and choking hazards in mind. Then get ready to enjoy some great movies together.

7.     Make a fort- indoors or outdoors.  It's a childhood rite-of-passage that every kid should experience.

8.     Plan a progressive dinner with other families on your block.  Have veggies and dip at one house, pizza at another house, and a fresh fruit buffet at a third house. (It’s kind of like playing follow the leader, except you’re playing follow the food!)

9.     Make your own jigsaw puzzle out of a thick piece of cardboard.  Or buy a pre-cut jigsaw puzzle kit at your local craft store. You can also find puzzle template online that turn your photos into puzzles. Your child's favorite stuffed animal can become a puzzle in a flash.

10.     Decorate clay flowerpots.  To keep the paint from rubbing off, finish the flowerpot by spraying on a layer of spray-on acrylic. Or leave it "au naturel," if you prefer.

11.     Make hand puppets out of a pair of oven mitts.  Glue or sew on fabric, felt, hair, buttons, sequins, and other materials to finish your puppet. Then have your own puppet show.

12.     Make a map of your house, your backyard, or your neighborhood.  When you’re finished making your map, laminate it and hang it on the wall.

13.     Go back to collage.  Make a collage out of pictures cut out of magazines, brightly colored swatches of paper and fabric, and ?found objects? from around the house -Popsicle sticks, feathers, wallpaper remnants, ad flyers, old sewing patterns, and miscellaneous kid-friendly treasures.

14.     Play architect.  Turn an old shoe box into a miniature dream home. (The lid makes an ideal ‘roof.’)

15.     Make your own musical instruments.  An old coffee tin makes an ideal drum, provided you file off any rough edges and glue the lid on tightly. An unsharpened pencil with an eraser on the end makes a great drumstick!

16.     Start climbing your family tree.  Send e-mails and letters off to relatives asking them to share their best family history stories via a postcard, letter, or email. If they have access to a computer scanner, ask them to scan in the best and oldest family photos in their possession so that everyone has copies.


Ann Douglas, creator of the bestselling The Mother of All ® and The Mother of All Solutions ® parenting series (and a mom of four), offers a multitude of activity ideas in The Mother of All Toddler Books (Wiley, $15.99)   and  The Mother of All Parenting Books (Wiley, $15.99) .

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