University of Illinois Extension

Beat Summer Boredom

Kay Mayberry, Family Life Educator

After school has been out for a few weeks, you may start hearing your grandkids say, "I'm bored." The excitement of summer vacation fades quickly for some children. But, it doesn't have to be that way. There are lots of things you can do to help your grandchildren find fun, constructive activities to do in their spare time.

Stimulate their imaginations by asking open-ended questions. Ask questions like, "It's nice outside, what would you like to do outdoors?" or "What have you been thinking about doing?"

When you let children come up with their own solutions to boredom, you're helping them develop important problem-solving skills. When the youngster comes up with ideas, take time to listen and discuss any necessary precautions.

The mother of one grade school student uses this creative way to beat summer boredom. She and her son make a list of things he can do when he is bored. They write activities on slips of paper and put them in a jar. They label the jar as the Boredom Jar. As the summer progresses, new ideas are added to the Boredom Jar. Then when the child gets bored, he picks something to do from the jar.

Now is the perfect time to make a Boredom Jar with your grandchildren. Just start with an empty, clean jelly jar, peanut butter jar, or any other clean container and some slips of paper. You'll want to let the kids come up with their own suggestions, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Bake cookies.
  • Have a treasure hunt in the backyard.
  • Learn a new household skill like washing dishes or dusting furniture.
  • Have a picnic lunch under a tree in the backyard.
  • Wash the car and have some water fun.
  • Write a story about a fun place you've visited.
  • Plan and serve a meal.