Creative Play for the Bored Child


Bored! When there’s nothing to do

Having fun in play or being bored and complaining that “there’s nothing to do” is really a mindset. Many parents have taught their kids that it’s the parent’s job to make sure their children are happy and have things to do. Children have been taught that they deserve to be able to have fun without any effort on their part. They’ve been taught that when they are bored, it’s their parent’s fault or their responsibility to fix the boredom problem.

‘Trouble is, they have been taught wrong. No wonder they expect their parents to meet their needs for entertainment. Children have been trained to expect it.

Well now. How can parents undo what has been done? How can they help their kids figure out ways to be entertained on their own instead of expecting their parents to meet that need?!

So what’s a mom to do when her kids are bored or think there’s nothing to do? Here are some suggestions of things that worked in our home.


Bored? There’s plenty to do!

  1. Chores provide entertainment. Give him a chore or a job and have him complete it. If he is still bored, give him another job. He will probably find something interesting to do quickly so he won’t need to keep working your list. Oh yes, you can expect him to help with daily activities of living in your house. If he lives there, eats there and sleeps there, he needs to help with the upkeep of his home.  So start by making him responsible to keep certain areas clean and presentable. It might be boring, but he can’t complain that he has nothing to do.
  2. Clean out the toy closet and put one container (such as blocks or Legos or some other former favorite) high enough that he can’t reach it. Sorting and organizing the toys will get his attention and he’ll probably find some toys he hasn’t played with for a while. If he’s still bored, tell him he can play with anything in the closet except for those wooden blocks/Legos/former favorite. You might be surprised at how quickly he will be able to think of things he could do if only he could play with forbidden blocks or other items. Ask me how I know! It’s called reverse psychology, and it works.
  3. Practice. Have your kids practice a skit or play to perform for the family or a neighbor. Let them choose a story or assign one to them and give them free rein to make costumes and props. They might even have more fun deciding how to do it and practicing than actually doing the performance. This used to keep my kids entertained for hours. They had so much fun perfecting their performance that the actual “program” was less fun than the practicing and coming up with ideas on how to do it. This is a great idea for helping children interact with other folks in a nursing home or other senior citizen event. This will take work on your part – but it will be worth it because they will learn so much (and you will, too.)
  4. Get involved. Make some playdough (click here for a great recipe). Spend time having a story time. Older kids can read to themselves or to younger kids. By the time story time is done, they will no doubt have thought of something else they could do for entertainment. Give some of your time to play a game with them. If a child is struggling with learning his numbers, play a game like Sorry where he will be exposed to numbers. He will learn while he’s playing. I read several books to our kids – a few chapters at a time – always making certain I stopped at a point of suspense in the story. They clamored for more, were anxious for the next story time, and then were relaxed and ready to go outside and play when downtime was over.
  5. Reach out to a lonely or hurting neighbor. This will take your time, but you will be modeling some powerful stuff here. Help them mix up some cookies, make a card, and/or go for a visit. Place a phone call or skype with family members or friends who are not at home. Take them with you to visit elderly friends or neighbors, or adopt a grandparent in a nursing home who needs a family. By the time they’re done reaching out, they’ll be ready to come home and “act out” the things they learned.
  6. Recycle toys and books. Always have a container of toys and books put back, then switch them out two or three times a year. Keep a stash of previously unplayed with toys, books, or new items hidden. On a dark and desperate day, pull out a surprise or two. The kids will love seeing an old toy/game/puzzle or having fun with something new, especially if you take the time to get them started. I used to snarf up items at yard sales to have on hand for a “this is going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
  7. When no one gets along. When kids just won’t get along, try this. Have each child choose a toy to play with and put each of them in a different room.  Tell them they can’t talk to each other, but can just play alone since they can’t get along anyhow. That happened in our home one day. I had two boys in two different rooms, standing in the doorway looking forlornly at a brother they could not talk to or play with. Suddenly having a playmate was more important than having their own way. I made them work for the privilege of being able to play together. They had plenty of time to think and decide how they could have gotten along earlier and not had this consequence. When I finally lifted the playmate ban, they played together in harmony for hours (as I grinned inside myself the entire afternoon).
  8. Project Day. When you have a deadline for a project, here’s a suggestion that comes from my experience. When we had four kids under the age of five years, I had some writing deadlines, so Tuesday was declared “Project Day.” After the house was tidied with everyone “helping”, we did a project together. It was simple. Once we went on a walk and gathered as many different colors and shapes of autumn leaves. We placed them inside hard-cover books so they would lie flat. Later, we created a tree on the kitchen wall from the leaves. Choose something that goes with the season or the significance of something happening in their lives. By the time our project was done, it was time for lunch and quiet or nap time. My boys knew that on Project Day I played with them in the morning and in the afternoon they were free to play; however, they could not bother me while I was typing away. I think it worked so well because I poured my heart into them in the morning and they did not feel deprived of attention.


The Balance with Boredom and Entertainment

When a child feels secure from the attention and love you give him, he will more readily go off and entertain himself. When his love tank is low, he will be clamoring for attention. A child who uses his mind will have plenty to do for entertainment. Keep electronic toys and television at a full minimum and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your child’s mind will find things to do that are both educational and entertaining.




Pumpkin Cheesecake Delight (No-Bake)

pumpkin cheesecake


This pumpkin cheesecake delight truly is a delight – because it is easy and it is delicious. I mixed it up one evening and little Miss, who visits sometimes, could not wait to lick those beaters! She hung around the kitchen waiting and waiting.

The next day, I served it to guests. My eighty-year-old neighbor asked for seconds. When I asked how large a piece he wanted, he said, “Make it a big one!” so I knew exactly what he thought about this. Since he’s more of a meat and potatoes person, I knew it was a winner.

pumpkin cheeseccake

Instead of spreading the mixture evenly, I flicked the top with a spatula.

I suppose you could add some ginger snaps instead of graham crackers to the crust, but what I made worked fine for us. When you’ve got some leftover pumpkin in the fridge and some cream cheese just waiting to be used, make this recipe. It comes together so easily and there is no baking time involved.

Your kids will be begging to lick the beaters, too!

pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake Delight (No-Bake)
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
This no-bake cheesecake is so easy to make - and guarantees happy tummies at the end of the meal. I had kids begging to lick the beaters and was glad I had enough "licking" to go around.
  • 1 package graham crackers (I am partial to Honey Maid)
  • ¼ - ½ cup butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (or 12 oz. if you like cream cheese)
  • 1½ cups sugar (I used 1 cup brown sugar and ½ cup white sugar)
  • 1½ cup cooked pumpkin (or 1 cup pumpkin if you like less pumpkin)
  • ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or you could add ¼ tsp. nutmeg and ¼ tsp. cloves)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups Cool Whip (I use generic brands) OR you can whip up your own cream and use that instead.
  1. Crush graham crackers (I use a blender)
  2. Melt butter in microwave
  3. Mix graham cracker crumbs and butter together, being careful no to all too much butter. You want the crumbs to stick together but not too wet.
  4. OPTIONAL: bake at 350 for 5 minutes to help crumbs hold together. (I don't).
  5. Put graham cracker crumb mixture in a 9 x 9 inch pan
  6. OPTIONAL: bake crumb mixture at 350 for 5 minutes to help crumbs stick together more. (I don't).
  7. Mix together cream cheese and sugar
  8. Add pumpkin and spices
  9. Mix in Cool Whip and stir until completely blended
  10. Pour over the crumbs.
  11. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  12. Cut into 12 even slices
  13. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream (or Cool Whip)


Fragrant Whiffs of Joy – A Book Review and Giveaway

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy by Dorcas Smucker.  It’s book giveaway!

I have a friend who purchases brand new books to give as gifts. She reads the books first, being careful to open the pages only slightly so the reader will never know that the brand-new book she is given is not “brand new”.  I suppose I could do that with the book  Fragrant Whiffs of Joy that I received from Dorcas, but I can’t imagine reading an entire book with the spine only half-open. I’d get a kink in my neck for certain. Plus, I’ve decided I’ll keep it myself because I’ll want to be reading it again.

One thing I like about Dorcas Smucker’s writing is that she “shucks it down to the cob”.  She does so gently, but firmly. There’s no question about what she thinks or where she stands. There’s also no question that this Mennonite minister’s wife loves Jesus, her family, and her community.

She finds beauty in the ordinary days. All of us have days that are ordinary and we could find beauty in our ordinary days, if we stopped and paid attention. Too often we don’t take the time to really notice the beauty in ordinary days like Dorcas does.

Another thing that I like about her writing is that, as she deftly tells a tale, she uses intricacies that most folks don’t notice to help us see the kaleidoscope of colors that can be found in our days. By the end of her story, she neatly wraps up the pieces she left floundering out there and puts it all together.

I’ve learned a lot from Dorcas. I’ve learned a lot about relationships and being authentic. In the chapter “The Minister’s Wife,” she relates this conversation.

“Are you looking forward to the conference?” my sister asked.

“I guess so,” I said. “Except that nobody intimidates me like a Mennonite minister’s wife.”

“But,” she sputtered. “You’re a Mennonite Minister’s wife!”

“Not really,” I said, and then whispered. “I’m actually just pretending.”

I’ve learned that it’s okay to “shuck things down to the cob” (actually, I knew that already, but Dorcas helped enforce my belief that it is something we ought to do, Mennonite minister’s wife or not). I have been reminded that family dynamics in relationships don’t go away just because we grow up and live in other communities and it’s still important to claim our heritage and our family.

“You don’t have to live someone else’s life or write another culture’s story. You have a life, a history, a story of your own. It is worthy of telling, and no one else will ever tell it quite like you can. . . “

Dorcas’ book Fragrant Whiffs of Joy is just what the title says it is. Small, simple tantalizing whiffs about life, wherein we find the joy that is ours if we but seize it.

The book has thirty-six chapters, but you don’t have to read it as a book. You can read just one chapter at a time and wait for days until you pick it up again. It’s good coffee table material as well as bathroom enjoyment. If you’re like I was when my kids were small, going to the bathroom was a place to go to get some space – and some good reading. It still is!

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy

Dorcas writes about her family and her church. She writes about marriage and adoption.

“What happened next is unknown, but Steven remembers living on the streets, like so many other street children in Isumu, eating leftovers at open-air restaurants and watching the rivalry and violence among the older boys. Someone took him  Into Africa . . .  they couldn’t find any family, anywhere, for Steven.

So we adopted him  into ours.

Dorcas tells secrets that not many of us would tell. I enjoy her tales of her father and the way he sees life in slow motion. I delight in the prayer requests of her Sunday school class – from the hurt finger to the missing cat and the unborn calf.

Sometimes, when you read this book, you will howl with laughter. Other times, your heart will feel softened. And at times, if you’re a woman, you’ll find a tear in your eye.

If you’d like a chance to get a FREE copy of this book, enter your name in the drawing. If you are the fortunate winner, I’ll mail your copy – and it will arrive before December.

Christmas is coming, so if you’re looking for a gift for a special gal or woman in your life, consider getting one of her books. If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, the cost is $14.00 ($12.00 plus $2.00 postage).

For copies of some of Dorcas’ other books, contact Dorcas at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.  Checks or PayPal accepted. (

Oh yes, don’t forget to sign up to be in the drawing!  Sign up in the comments below, private message me, or send me an email at  The drawing will take place on Friday, November 17, 2017.  You have until 11 PM to register to win!


A note from Gert: I am so sorry that my social media buttons are not working. If you want to share this post with a friend, you can tag your friend and click on this link.


From “Addled” to Inventor


Thomas Edison was the youngest of a large family. A hearing problem and a disconnect with his attention span (“prone to distraction”) made it difficult for him to learn. Or perhaps, it would be correct to say that it was difficult for a teacher to teach him. At any rate, his school teacher labeled him as “addled”. After twelve weeks of being in school,  his mother pulled her hyperactive child from the classroom and taught him at home.

Instead of stifling her son, she allowed him to fill his appetite for books and for learning.  She managed to do this with him learning independently.

According to the story told by Thomas years after his mother’s death, he was homeschooled after that comment from the teacher. He recalled that his mother did visit the school to speak with the teacher about the term he used to describe her son.

From that day forward, she taught Thomas at home. She recognized his abilities and encouraged him to learn and to stretch himself. She also understood his problem with being easily distracted.

Not once did she treat him as someone who was unable to learn. Not once did she focus on his seeming learning disability. She knew her son, and she knew his capabilities. With that in mind, she encouraged him to learn under her tutelage.

That young boy became a famous inventor. Were it not for him, our world would be so different now. There is no doubt that the response of his mother pushed him in the right direction to use his mind and become an inventor. That boy was Thomas Edison.

As mothers of children who are in school or out of school, there are some things we can learn from Mrs. Edison.

In today’s world, a teacher labeling a child with words like “addled” would send the parent straight to the principal or the school board. No doubt the mother would be blasting it all over social media, developing an instant following whereby she could prove that there was nothing wrong with her child, that the system was flawed, and that the teacher or school was at fault and was failing her child. This child would become entitled, feeling that all the world is a stage and he is the central figure, today and always. All the world is a stage, and the child’s performance is the best he can do and cannot be measured or downgraded by anyone. For, after all, he is a child and the world owes it to him to let him succeed.

Tell me it ain’t so!

This does not just happen among parents who are not believers. It happens in every school setting there is. A child gets his feelings hurt and one or both of the parents rush to his rescue, declaring war on the teacher, the school board, or the school system. Sometimes it happens in our own churches. A Sunday school teacher reprimands a child, and the parent gets upset.

A teacher invokes a consequence and parents get in an uproar. A rule is handed down and enforced, and suddenly the world is unfair and no child should be left behind or be made to endure such a hardship.

Mrs. Edison taught, by her example, that even when life is not fair, we can rise above that unfairness. She took an unfortunate situation and turned it into something positive – and in turn channeled her son’s mind, developing an inventor the likes of which we have not seen since.

What would have happened to Thomas had he remained in that school?  Who knows. Perhaps a teacher would have come along who encouraged him, who saw the potential in his little mind and bolstered it by her support and applause.

For Thomas, it didn’t happen. And he was none the worse for the school system that failed him BECAUSE his mother did not allow this to defeat him or to defeat her.

Her attitude shaped his world and he gave us the light bulb, the telephone, the telegraph, and so many more things. The unfairness of a label did not stifle his mind because his mother did not allow that to happen.

Thomas didn’t know life was unfair, for his mother took the situation and turned it into something positive for Thomas. She rose to the occasion, rose above the unfairness, and succeeded in outfitting her son with developing his full intellectual potential despite the unfairness of life.

Had Thomas Edison been raised to be “entitled” to have the best education, the best help for his mental distractions, the best advantage possible, think how different his outlook would have been. Instead, he had a mother who rose above the label given her son, who didn’t fault or blame the teacher or principle and proclaim it loudly for everyone to hear. We have a mother who faced the battle squarely in the eye and won the conquest.

Not only do we have Thomas Edison to thank, we should also applaud his mother.

Moms – when you think you need to right the wrongs for your kids, when you think it’s time to set things straight, when you want your child to have always and only the best, remember Thomas  Edison and his mother.

Remember that life is not fair – and the sooner your child learns it, the better he will succeed. Help him learn to rise above the difficulties instead of bailing him out. Help him accept what limitations he has, then encourage him to reach for the stars. Cheer and applaud, but don’t trample others underfoot in order to achieve success for your child. Don’t addle your child by focusing on the label. Focus instead of who he really is.

I am not saying that when adults are wrong we should applaud them. I’m not saying that speaking with an adult in private is never in order. I’m simply saying this: when we respond wrongly to what happens to our kids, it can mar them for life. Is that really what we want?

We tend to want to make sure that no one else does something that will mar them, yet we fail to consider how our own attitudes and actions can cripple them. We can raise bridge builders or we can raise delinquents who always expect others to fight their battles for them instead of owning up to their own weaknesses and wrongs.

Choose the high road; help your child respond positively when life is unfair instead of encouraging him to wallow in the mire of a wrong mindset. Teach him that in Jesus, he can do all things. Instead of trying to make an adult pay for hurting your child, model to him that nothing is too hard for God and He can help us rise above what is unjust and untrue.

When you think life is not fair for your child, remember Thomas Edison and his mother. Respond like she did. Who knows, you might be raising a son who, because of your attitude, will contribute a wonderful good to society.