Help turn the boredom blues into a fast, fun two-step

“But mom, I’m bored. I’m really, really bored.” Tired of hearing kids sing the boredom blues? Change up the song. Get them observing and thinking about the world around them, and you’ll be doing them a two-fold favor: breaking up their routine and shaping and sharpening important academic skills.

Here are three simple, on-the-spot activities that get them thinking—and multiplying, observing and dividing:

Math on the Street – Walk along a neighborhood street with your child and play “I Spy a 3-D Shape.” The winner is the first person to find each of these shapes: sphere, cylinder, cone, cube, and rectangular prism. You may see the shapes in balls, streetlight globes, trash cans, fence posts, bird feeders, watering cans, ice cream cones, road-construction cones, birdhouses, doghouses, or cardboard boxes.

Math in the Kitchen – Invite your child to help you prepare individual fruit salads for members of your family. Give your child the opportunity to use fractions as both of you arrange fruits on each plate. Cut fruits into halves and fourths, and have your child name the fractional parts. Encourage dividing fruits, such as grapes, cherries, and strawberries, into equal groups.

Creature Features – Use facts about animals to reinforce multiplication facts. For example, if one spider has 8, how many legs do 5 spiders have? Encourage looking up facts about animals, such as how many legs, wings, or ears they have. Then ask how many of each feature there would be if there were as many as 8, 9, or 10 of them.

Or add a little bite to the dog days of summer with Rebecca M. Gruber's “41 Outdoor Activities to Get Kids Out of the House This Summer,” from, part of the PopSugar website network. The creative list of games, crafts, and activities include the tried-and-true as well as the virtually brand-new. Among them: edible popsicle painting, playing sidewalk sudoku, making ice cream in a coffee can, creating a giant Kerplunk game out of tomato cages and the traditional, entrepreneurial venture of a lemonade stand.

Kids’ #1 reason for boredom is “there’s nothing to do.” Counter it with 50 “somethings”!