13 cheap (but genius) ways to keep kids busy when they're bored

I love summer. I love having my kid home for the summer. While it makes my writing work a little more difficult, it's nice to hear them chattering away throughout the day. What I don't love are these two little words that seem to spill out of their mouth without much effort: I'm bored.
As far as I'm concerned I'm bored is tantamount to a four-letter curse word. I almost inevitably launch into a "when I was your age we didn't have the internet or tablets or cable or Netflix..." tirade and then offer them a list of chores to choose from. (After all, if you're bored, it means you have time for a chore). They usually become un-bored rather quickly.
If you'd like to solve the "I'm bored" problem with a little more diplomacy, here are a few sure-fire ways to keep the kids entertained:
1. Homemade slime
This surprisingly simple (and rather messy) project will keep your kids entertained longer than you can imagine. You'll need white glue, borax, shaving cream, food coloring, glitter, a bowl and zip lock bags. We even added some tiny beads to give our slime some popping action. Check out the full recipe from Mom Advice.
2. Soap clouds
For this super simple project you'll need a bar of Ivory soap (it's the only one that seems to work), a piece of waxed paper (or a paper towel) and your microwave. Set your timer on for a few minutes (you can stop it when needed) and watch the magic happen. And for all of you worry warts: you can still use the soap once the kids are done playing with it. If you want to get crafty, check out how Our Best Bites turns this into cookie-cutter shaped soaps.
3. Zentangle simple
This relatively new art method focuses on the use of structured patterns. Kids will enjoy getting their craft on, and you'll enjoy how easy it is on the budget. You'll need scissors, an empty cereal box, yarn, tin foil, tape, and markers. Check out this adorable video from Let's Lasso the Moon to see how simple this is.
4. Egg-drop
Even if your kids have tackled this project at school, they'll love trying again. You'll need an egg and various materials (like tape, bags, string, cardboard). The goal is to create a container sturdy enough to drop an egg from up high to prevent it from cracking (you could also use water balloons). Check out Science-Sparks full tutorial.
5. Soap-boat race track
A perfect activity for a birthday party or a simple way to entertain the little ones for hours: you decide. You'll need a piece of rain gutter (check your hardware store), a bar (or two) of spa, toothpick, fabric and a glue gun). Check out the super easy tutorial from I Heart Naptime and let the games begin!
6. Make dry foam paint
This three ingredient paint is easy enough for kids to make on their own. All you need is shaving cream (hello dollar store), white glue and food coloring. You'll need to mix equal parts glue and shaving cream in a ziplock bag and then add food coloring. Cut off a bottom corner of the bag and paint like icing, according to Dabbles and Babbles.
6. Nail polish marble paint
Let the kids create a unique piece of art using newer (dollar store) nail polish. You'll want to work outside or in a well-ventilated room to avoid breathing in nail polish fumes. Check out the full tutorial from Pink Stripey Socks.
7. Cowboy up
Give your kids a little hand-eye coordination practice by creating spinning targets for their nerf guns. All you need is a trifold display board, some markers, and skewers. The kids will stay entertained by finding a target for their foam bullets that don't include your arms! Check out the instructions from Frugal Fun 4 Boys.
8. Make your own water paint
It's almost ridiculous how easy this is (and you can use what you already have at home. Grab all of your dried out markers, small containers (with lids) and water. Put water in each container allowing the markers to stand upside down until you get the shade you want. Check out this tip from Growing a Jeweled Rose.
9. Make salt crystal feathers
Your kids can grow their own crystals on a feather. The best part: you don't need any fancy ingredients. These crystals just use salt, water, and fake feathers (you can usually find these for a few bucks at a craft store). Check out the simple trick from Schooling and a Monkey.
10. Make a water bottle sprinkler
Keep the kids cool and entertained without spending tons of money on a sprinkler! Grab an old plastic bottle and poke (medium-sized) holes all over. Slide the hose into the mouth of the bottle and turn it on.
11. Iceblock treasure hunt
Hit up the dollar store for a bunch of cheap toys the kids will enjoy. (You can make several with age-appropriate toys). Freeze the toys inside a bucket/bowl of water and then let the kids get them out using a spray bottle, paint brushes etc. Check out this cool idea from Macaroni Kid.
12. Ping-pong shootout
This super cute idea lets kids get a little wet (water guns) and work on their hand-eye coordination. You'll need ping-pong balls, cheap water guns, and some golf tees. The idea is to have the little ones shoot the balls off the top of the tee with water. You could make more than one and turn it into a race. Check out the full idea from Planet of the Aples.
13. Nighttime bowling
Take some leftover water bottles and fill them with tap water. Crack a bigger glow stick and toss it inside the bottle. Seal the lid. Set up 10 for fun night-time friendly bowling pins.
If your kids are bored this summer, let them try out one of these fun ideas! Make sure to share them with your friends on Facebook too!

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