Jean OramHow It’s All Kid’s Play Came To Be

When my daughter was a year old, a picture in a magazine (of a bean teepee) inspired me to begin compiling a list of fun things for my daughter to do for when the inevitable came: “Mom, I’m bored.”

While it started with one image, within days I had this incredibly huge list of over 500 activities. It was like my mind opened up and all these activities I did as a kid came pouring out onto the page. My mom, who had heard I was making the mother-of-all-lists, would call me up and say, “What about this?” I would reply, “Already have it. #435 on the list.”

Although my list got large rather quickly, it wasn’t a big surprise to those who knew me as a kid. My friends used to come to me when they were bored and I’d whip up a list of play ideas. If they couldn’t agree on the things I’d listed, I’d make another list. For years that was how we decided what we would play.

After creating this massive list of all lists for my daughter, I had a “now what?” moment. My mom and I thought it might work as a book, and with more enthusiasm than knowledge about publishing, I sent a query to a publisher who took one look at this crazy pile of disorganized activities and probably had a large case of the shudders. (They said no.)

While a little disappointed, I realized that neither I nor The List was ready for publication. I then typed up the list, added a little structure and then forgot about it for a few years. (Going back to work will do that to a gal.)

A few years ago, when I decided to become a stay-at-home mom, I took a look around and realized that with families facing fewer resources and spending less time on free play, this might be a good time to share my simple, inexpensive, and creative ways of passing time. Seeing as I’d always enjoyed instigating play among young people, had a father with some webspace, and some web design software… I built a website:

In a world where children grow up quickly and the art of childhood is being lost, I hope this website will help you and your family slow the pace and rediscover the simple joys of being (or watching) a child at play. There is a whole new world waiting at your children’s fingertips–a whole world that can only be discovered through play.


P.S. Since making this site, I published the activities found here plus MORE in 1,001 Boredom Busting Play Ideas: Free and Low Cost Crafts, Activities, Games, and Family Fun That Will Help You Raise Happy, Healthy Children. You can find out how to snag your copy here.

Thank you.


Jean Oram

About Jean

Jean is a New York Times bestselling romance author and a mom who still likes to lick the whip cream off the beaters, jump in mud puddles, and climb trees.

Jean grew up on a farm in Western Canada and loves to ski, travel, and write. She holds a sociology degree with distinction from the University of Lethbridge. She has worked as an entertainment reporter, beekeeper, ski instructor, high school librarian, and children’s library program director in the public library system. She currently lives with her husband, daughter, son, and a big shaggy dog in the middle of a Lego pile.



Jean on Passion and Parenting: A Message for Parents

What do I really think about parenting? What do I value and hold dear? What do I believe? Read my message to parents here.

* Check out our playdates with other sites (in the media) and other ways It’s All Kid’s Play has spread around the neighbourhood.

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *