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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 know how rough my kids are on things, so I opted for these wooden disks and a heavy duty glass jar that I picked up at a thrift store. My friend used popsicle sticks in a metal bucket.
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?
Discussion (45 Comments)
Love this! I get your if heading I’m bored. Thank you Wellness Mama!
So looking forward to trying this!
Do they pick, knowingly, what the chore is? I mean, are they consciously choosing the chore or fun task or do they stick their hands in the jar and pull a chip out not knowing what it will say?
Usually thy close their eyes!
I love this. what a great idea!
I think I might make one of these for myself! (I’m a 20-something grad student who lives alone. I’m not bored very often, because school keeps me plenty busy, but sometimes on the weekend I can’t get myself motivated to get up and do anything. Something like this might help!)
This is excellent!! Also, the extra jobs can add up to special credits for earning money, free time, etc. Thanks so much !
Love this! Wish I’d known about it years ago.
I LOVE this idea!
Love this! What a great idea!
My kids are all grown now, but when they were little and bored I’d tell them to clean their closet. In doing so they’d always discover some long forgotten treasure to capture their interest in the moment.
I love that idea! You kill 2 birds with 1 stone there, get the kids to clean the closet and foster their creativity. Awesome. Your experience speaks.
The bored jar is an awesome idea! I cannot wait to get started on this. My 3 year old can occupy herself, but my 5 year old gets so restless and like she says “needs an activity…..because she needs to live her life” Yikes. That’s what I’m dealing with. At times, it’s’ tough, I have to get dinner on, I love the idea of pulling out the bored job so I can get on with the laundry and dinner. And she’ll have fun making it with me. Thanks =)