Simple Activities for Children to Play when Bored

Elena Zidar |

Hi Everyone. I hope you are all well.

For over two decades, I've been passionate about working with families, and this path has led me to some incredible experiences. From being a school staff member to a nursery manager, a nanny, and a family support worker - each role has been a stepping stone in understanding the beautiful complexity of parenting and child development. These experiences and insights have led me to my latest adventure - founding Zidarkid, a toy shop specialising in wooden and soft toys from environmentally conscious brands. It's my way of combining my passion for child development with my commitment to sustainability.

I'm so excited to share some of my favourite childhood activities with you. These are the simple joys that shaped my early years and continue to inspire me in my life today.

I've realized that some of the best activities for children are in fact, the most memorable experiences that often come from simple everyday things found right at home. 

Let me take you on a little trip down memory lane and share some of these magical moments.

Sock Puppets: A World of Imagination

Oh, the adventures my sister and I had with sock puppets!

Growing up, we didn't have many toys, but we always had socks. It's amazing how a simple sock can transform into a character full of life and stories. I remember us giggling for hours, creating voices and personalities for each puppet. These little cloth characters can support all areas of a child's development - from storytelling to math skills and fine motor development. It's a beautiful reminder that creativity knows no bounds.

Shadow Play: Stories on the Wall?

Who else spent evenings creating shadow puppets? I certainly did! There was something magical about turning off the lights and watching our hands come to life as bunnies, butterflies, and all sorts of creatures. I can still hear the laughter as we tried to outdo each other with increasingly complex shapes. It taught us creativity, storytelling, and how to think outside the box - all while having a blast!

Leaf Printing or Leaf Pressing: 

Nature's Art Studio 

Leaf printing holds a special place in my heart. I remember the excitement of collecting leaves of different shapes and sizes, then carefully pressing them between the pages of heavy books. We'd stash these books under the sofa cushions and forget about them. Months later, it was like a treasure hunt, rediscovering our perfectly pressed leaves and using them for art projects. It was our little secret garden, preserved between pages. 

Home Cinema: A Cozy Adventure 

As a nanny, I loved creating special cinema experiences for the children, especially when they were feeling under the weather. We'd make tickets, pop some (salt-only!) popcorn, get a drink in a water bottle and snuggle up in a darkened room. I insisted on whispering if we needed to talk, just like in a real cinema. It was our little escape into other worlds, all from the comfort of our home. 

The Energy Buster: Run It Out! 

For those high-energy days (and oh, there were many!), I had a secret weapon: the garden run. "Five laps around the garden!" I'd call out, or "Ten jumps on the trampoline!" You'd be amazed at how effective this simple technique was. I even brought it into my school work, teaching it to other staff members. It was like magic - giving children the power to decide when they were ready to concentrate again. You would not believe sometimes how many circles were needed, but it worked.

I Spy: Road Trip Edition or Home Experiences

Car journeys were never boring in my world. I remember playing 'I Spy' on one journey. It was all going well until "I spy something beginning with Ch." After guessing everything from 'chair' to 'chocolate', I gave up. Her answer? "Chraffic light!" (She meant 'traffic light', of course). Twenty years later, and that moment still makes me smile.

These simple activities remind me that childhood is full of wonder, and it doesn't take much to spark joy and learning. As parents and caregivers, we have the power to create magical moments with the simplest of tools - a sock, a shadow, a leaf, or just our imagination.

What about you? Do you have any favourite childhood activities that you've passed on to the little ones in your life? I'd love to hear your stories!

Until next time, keep playing and exploring!

Warmly, Elena


p.s Website that has many interesting activities that you might like to see is BBC Tiny Happy People: https://www.bbc.co.uk/tiny-happy-people

They have wonderful activities divided into ages that makes it really easy to use. We used to use this website a lot with Families when I used to work as a Family Support.