At our house, boredom is not allowed and is never an excuse to watch TV or complain. My children know all too well that complaining “Mom, I’m bored,” is a fast way to get assigned an extra chore or two.
Recently, while visiting a friend, I saw an intriguing system she used to help encourage imagination, cleaning skills and healthy habits in her children. She called it “The Bored Jar” and I asked her if I could borrow her system and share it because it works so well.
The Bored Jar
The basic idea of a “Bored Jar” is a jar, box or bucket of some kind filled with ideas of chores & activities that children can do if they complain of boredom.
At my friend’s suggestion, I created this as something to send my children to if they got bored, but they ended up loving it. In fact, they call it “the fun jar” and even ask on occasion if they can pick out something to do.
I filled our jar with wooden tokens that I had written activities, exercises and chores on. I made sure to have a good mixture of things that they enjoy doing and chores that they don’t enjoy as much so they’d be willing to pick something. I also found that the younger kids typically want to tag along with the older kids’ jobs so it has been a good way to foster teamwork.
The chores in the jar are either above and beyond their normal chores or chores that can be done more than once per day (like sweeping the kitchen floor- at least at our house!)
Bored Jar Activity Ideas
The activities will vary by your family’s needs, but here are some ideas from our jar:
- Clean the hall bathroom
- Wipe down all downstairs door frames with a microfiber
- Do 50 jumping jacks
- Write a note to a friend
- Do 30 squats
- Rearrange and re-fold a dresser drawer
- Do 10 handstands
- Draw a picture
- Water the plants
- Read for 10 minutes (or more)
- 35 wall balls
- Make a treasure hunt for a sibling
- Write a story
- Run around the yard 5 times
- Build a blanket fort
- Make a list of something in the house/yard that starts with each letter of the alphabet
- Vacuum upstairs
- Vacuum downstairs
- Sweep the kitchen (5 of these in the jar)
- Mop the kitchen
- Collect broken crayons to re-melt in silicon molds
- Jump on the rebounder for 10 minutes
- 10 minute dance party!
- Do a puzzle
- 25 cartwheels
- Play a board game
- Climb the inside rope
- Wash a load of laundry
- Fold a load of laundry
- Clean upstairs bathroom
- Invent a new game
- Play music
- Clean all the mirrors in the house
- Dust house
- Have a picnic
- Draw a picture of your family
- Load dishwasher
- Empty dishwasher
- Do 40 Pushups
- Climb the rope 4 times
- Write a note to an extended family member
- Watch an educational movie (the one they always hope to get)
- Make paper airplanes
- Find a new recipe to cook in a cookbook
- Alphabetize books
- Sweep garage
- 10 pull-ups
- Play hide and seek (inside or outside)
- Nerf gun war!
- Run up and down the stairs 5 times
How to Make a Bored Jar
Really any kind of container could be used for a bored jar and even something as simple as paper strips could be used inside.
I just wrote the activities on the wooden coins and put them in the jar. The Bored Jar now sits on a shelf in our living room and gets used daily.
What do your children do when they are bored? What activities would you add to the jar?