Things to do when it is to [hot, cold, windy, rainy, snowy, dusty, or insert your own weather here] or when you are [bored, lazy, tired, incapacitated, waiting on someone or thing, or insert your on time waster here].

Many people just still and do nothing when what they originally had planned cannot be done. And while just sitting is fine sometimes, occasionally you want a challenge. Here are some challenges that one person or several can do to pass the time. Some require a computer, but others just need you.



Needed- Two or more people or teams and a map or an atlas.

Taking turns one person names a landmark shown on the map. A landmark can be a town, park, river, road, etc. The other must name where it is located. One point is awarded for each correct answer. The map now goes to the one who just answered the question and the other must now locate the landmark. The first to 15 wins.

When in school, we played this ‘game’ to help learn geography and then
 expanded it to pass the time on trips.



Needed- One or more people. Pen and paper for each or a computer.
Many games are made from finding words from groups of letters, Scrabble, the newspapers’ Jumble Words, Boggle, Word Search Puzzles; the list goes on and on. This is a variation on those.

Basic rules/ single person: Choose a word, and then create as many words as you can from its letters. If you are using a computer, the spellchecker can verify spellings. However, it does allow for some words that neither Webster’s dictionary nor I have ever heard of, for instance: ni, fe, ata, it also allows some proper names.

Multiple person variations:
A) Each person makes a list in a certain amount of time, the one with the most “real” words wins.
B) One person creates a word, the next person creates a word, if the player cannot create a word or creates an invalid, misspelled word, then he is out. The game continues until only one person is left.

I have played this at a baby shower, where the baby’s name was the base word. And I’m not bragging, okay I am, but I won with over 40 words in five minutes. The name was Chase Joseph Wilson, can you beat my record?



This is a game I grew up playing that slowly evolved. The basic game is very simple. And is designed to help teach the alphabet to children and to increase their vocabulary and memory skills.

Needed- Two or more people.

Basic game: The game starts with a player saying; “I was going to Grandma’s, and in my suitcase I took an apple (or another word beginning with a).
The next player says, “I was going to Grandma’s, and in my suitcase I took an apple, and a banana (or another word beginning with b). And so on with each player naming the items already in the suitcase and adding one more until the letter z is reached, or in our case the parents got tired of the game.

Expanding the game/ variations: My sisters and I played this game constantly when we traveled. You are welcome to insert your sympathy for my parents here. However, we got bored just naming things, so we made some changes.
A) Make a story out of the items placed in the suitcase. My parents gave awards for the most entertaining story.
B) Instead of Grandma’s, you were going to a particular place and all the items had to be something you would use there, for example: a bikini would not be needed at the North Pole, but mukluks would.
C) Keep a count of the items placed in the suitcase. First person, one apple. Second person, two apples, one banana. Third person, three apples, two bananas, and one chinchilla (to eat the fruit of course.)
D) Don’t stop at z; continue cycling through the alphabet, until exhaustion sets in or until the suitcase is too heavy to tote.
Usually we ended up just laughing at what we had in the suitcase and having fun. But for all you competitive type A’s out there, forgetting an item, not being able to think of a word, or laughing to hard to speak, will all cause a person to be eliminated from the game. The last person coherent is the winner.



When my parents had enough of the suitcase game, but there was still a ways to go, we would play the road sign game. This is a very easy game that increases a person's recognition skills.

Needed- One or more people and a road with signs or other things with letters, car tags, bumper stickers, etc.

Basic Game: As a person goes down the road, he identifies the alphabet in order. He can use anything with letters found along the road, including signs held up by other vehicles. We did this once, Dad’s car had a CB (it is like a 2-way radio, for the youngsters out there). And we were stuck on the letter Q. So we used the CB to ask a big truck to hang one out its window, and he DID! He also hung out every other letter left in the alphabet. My parents called that game null and void. We thanked the trucker, and I’m sure he got a big chuckle out of the whole thing.

Variations: Again, we got bored quickly. Some people claim that if we had been growing up today, we would be considered ADD. But those people are just jealous of our imaginations and improvisational skills.
A) Find numbers instead of letters.
B) Compete. Who can find the entire alphabet first? My mother did not encourage this one, because it led to fistfights in the backseat.
C) Use only one letter per sign, vehicle, trash bag, whatever.

One boredom note about this game. If you travel the same path frequently, you will memorize the best place to see letters.



This game is a lot like the alphabet game. But one is finding things, instead of letters.

Needed- Two or more people, a road, and scenery.

Basic Game: There are two basic ways to play this game.
Version 1) Choose a single item to look for. Each person counts all they find, they one with the most wins. This version can go by many names depending on what is being looked for:
Fifty-state Tag- finding car tags from each state, bonus for ones from other countries.
Bug Run- count VW beetles on the road. Convertibles are double and if you call a white one you lose.
Cow Game- count the cows beside the road, horses are two points. If a cemetery passes, you lose all your points.
Version 2) An impartial person, calls out what to look for, when that item is found a new item is called. This version is more like a scavenger hunt.

Variations: There is an inexhaustible list of different ways to play this game. We never played it much, because it was less fun than the suitcase game, but it is perfect to help people learn what different items are.
A) Use a different language. While playing version 2, the caller names the items in a foreign tongue.
B) Make the items different depending on the abilities of each player, for example: the four year old finds cows, while the eight year old finds red cars, and the ten year old finds signs that advertise food.
The variations could be listed forever, but I’m bored.



This game and the next one have been around for a long long time! I think Noah played this on the ark.

Needed- Two or more people and scenery.

One person SILENTLY identifies an item that he can see. Then says, “I spy with my little eye something (here they say whatever color the item is). The other player(s) then look for items that color and name it. The person to correctly guess the item picks the next.

Can’t you see Noah and his family now?
Noah: I spy with my little eye something greenish blue.
Noah’s wife: The water.
Noah’s wife: I spy with my little eye something blue.
Noah’s Daughter: The sky.
Noah’s daughter: Sigh. I spy with my little eye something greenish blue.
And don’t forget the son, “I’m bored; this is stupid. Are we there yet?”

I’m sure there are variations to this game, but we never found any. And it is very hard to find items that are more than one color.

One other spoiler note. I have a nephew that is color-blind. Everything he sees is gray! If you value your sanity, do not play I Spy with him.



This game has a history probably as long as I Spy. Depending on the people, playing it is either fun or nerve racking.

Needed- Two or more people.

Basic Game: One person SILENTLY chooses an item. The other players then have up to twenty questions total to guess the item. All questions must be answered yes, no, sometimes, or unknown. The person to correctly guess the item wins. If no one has guessed the item after twenty questions, the person who chose the item wins.

I am sure there are variations to this game, but my sisters chose such stupid things, like dryer lint, and a thumb, that I refused to play it.

For Christmas, Santa brought me a ball that would play twenty questions with you. It is very fun to play with a crowd.

These are all various things that can exercise your brain while you have nothing else to do. And if scientists and doctors are to be believed, it might even help prevent the memory loss and confusion that afflicts some elders.

I’m bored. Do you know any new games that can be played with little or no items except your brain?