7 Quick, Easy, and Cheap Summer Boredom Busters


Eddie Cochran claimed there was no cure for the summertime blues, while my daddy always said, “Idle hands are the devil’s play thing.” Both certainly seem true for a summer at home with two Tasmanian devils boys, so I’m always on the search for fun, easy activities to keep them occupied. Here are seven of our family’s favorites.

Bubble Painting

We just tried this one out this morning. A few bowls, some liquid food color, a bottle of bubble mix and paper (we used watercolour paper) made for some very neat art. We tried hanging the paper up as someone wanted to use their new dollar store bubble gun instead of blowing bubbles, but it worked better with the paper laying flat. Clean up was a breeze, and even my three year old got in on the fun dipping his fingers and wiping them on the paper.

A variation on bubble painting is to use squirt guns (also available at the dollar store) and fill them with water with liquid food color (or liquid watercolors if you have some on hand) and blast away.

Bubble Painting
“Painting” with food color and bubbles made for a fun morning.

Hot Chocolate Bath

It gets so hot here sometimes it’s nice to stay inside. On especially muggy days, I like to watch cold weather movies (think Polar Express) and pretend it’s winter. My hooligans love chocolate, so what’s more fun than a hot chocolate bath?! I filled the tub with water, added a packet of plain old hot chocolate mix, used white balloons for marshmallows, and offered up a big bowl of shaving cream as the whipped cream on top. Easy peasy clean up too.

Stuff in Jars

Empty jar, baby oil, water, food coloring, glitter, whatever thinks you can think. In general, I try to stick to plastic jars/bottles, and I’m ALWAYS sure I glue the cap in place. Among the favorites are a calm down bottle and a jellyfish bottle.

The jellyfish was pretty simple, although it looks tricky. When making your “jellyfish,” a clear plastic bag works best, but white will work too. Start by laying the bag out flat. Then cut out a square. Pinch the square in the middle to make a little bubble for the “head.” I used thread to tie around the “neck,” leaving it loose so air/water can get in/out. Start cutting the tentacles!! The finer and more jagged you cut, the more it looks like a jellyfish.

The calm down jar is very easy to make as well. When your child gets over emotional, these jars have proven to calm kids down and bring them back into focus. You’ll need a small jar (make sure it’s one that will hold liquid tightly), 2 tubes of glitter glue, half a tube of glitter, and water. For an extra punch of flair, add a few drops of food color

Stuff in Jars
Our jellyfish in a bottle and calm down jars have been the most popular.

Dry Erase Markers

Dry erase markers are my friend. The boys can use them to draw on practically everything — windows in their room, our sliding glass door, road trip masterpieces on the car windows, the fridge — and clean up is so simple even they can manage without much whining.

Vehicle Play

My 7-year-old loooooooves cars and trucks, so we have quite the collection. You name it, and we’ve tried it. Cars in shaving cream, mud, paint (use their tracks to paint!), sand, rice, beans, popcorn… I’ve even “buried” marbles in modeling dough to be dug out by excavators! Bonus points for following up the activity with a “car wash.”

Painting with cars and trucks
When it’s just too hot outside, I often make use of our bathtub for messy activities like painting with cars and trucks.

Dinnertime Dash

Struggling to keep the kids busy while getting dinner on the table? Turn dinner into art! Try painting with spices (mix a little paprika with water to see what I mean!)  or use the veggie scraps and a (dedicated) ink pad for stamping veggie shapes. Although potatoes have always been a popular “printing” item for littles, try whatever veggies you’re using. We’ve had great results from okra and celery!

Summertime Science

Pan of baking soda, scatter drops of liquid food coloring over the top, bowl of vinegar, eye dropper. This took over an hour as they learned about acids and bases and color mixing dropping vinegar onto the baking soda. They loved it!

The Mad Scientist
Baking soda, vinegar and food coloring makes summertime science fun.

I have to admit, I’m a Pinterest addict so I probably saw these ideas (or some variation) along the way. Make the activities your own, let them make a mess or be little (or however that goes), and most importantly – HAVE FUN!

Got a fun idea to add to the list? Tell us about it!


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  1. Awesome ideas!

    My girls and I love to draw, specifically doodle. We each start a piece and after a few minutes switch until everyone has worked on each piece. The original artist gets it back to “finish”. The results are interesting and fun…And forces us to work together.

    I appreciate your creativity.


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