Kids between the ages of 8 and 12 and known as ‘tweens’ because they are somewhere between childhood and teens in their development. It’s a time when they start to grow up and become more independent. They move away from their parents as they establish their own identities. Encouraging good behavior at this time is about communication and having a loving family home where there is respect and understanding for them. One way to aid this is to find some fun activities for pre teenagers that you can do together. Even if they do them alone, try to get involved in the preparation and discussion to show your kids that they have your support.
How do I have fun with my tweens?
If you share a mutual hobby or interest, this can be easy but for most families, things are more tricky. Instead of seeing this time as a challenge, see it as an opportunity to introduce your child to different hobbies and pursuits. I think that kids have to try out a few things before they find something that ignites their passion.
This is the time for older kids to develop a new skill or find fun things to do that can carry them through their teenage years and into adulthood. If they can find something that they truly enjoy now, it will help them as they go through life. For example, if your child loves to play a musical instrument, as they get older, they might join an orchestra. This would help them to make friends even if they moved to a new area to live.
Activities for the whole family
Getting everyone involved is a great idea although your pre teenagers may be reluctant at first. The trick is to find something they want to do then the offering is unlikely to be refused. Some ideas are:
- Geocaching – a treasure hunt in the great outdoors. You could even hide your own geocache or travel bug and wait for the reports.
- Growing a herb garden or making a small vegetable patch – Let them pick what you are going to grow and try something different or exotic such as Zucchini Tromboncino
- Let the kids cook dinner and serve it up restaurant-style with a waiter and menus
- A family bike ride can be fun but you could also make this a bit different by hiring a tandem or a Surrey bike
- A visit to the amusement park or theme park can be pricey but are great for a special treat. Let the kids work out a plan for the day and research what is the best order to do the rides for minimum queue times.
- Challenge their competitive streak with a trip to an escape room. You’ll have plenty to talk about afterward as you dissect your strategy.
- Planning a family vacation goes better when you involve your tween at an early stage. Find a destination with things they might want to do or see and let each family member pick a day of the vacation where they choose the activity for the day.
Games for pre teenagers
If you’ve already established a family game night then do not give up on this now! However, you might like to get some new board games or card games more appropriate to your tween’s skill levels.
Take time together to choose some new games or let them make up and host a family quiz night. Other suggestions for activities for pre teenagers are:
- Mystery games have an air of intrigue and I have some great ideas for mystery games here
- An obstacle course is a great physical activity for them and their friends. Older children can create their own course. How about making a spider’s web of tape them making them work as a team to pass each other through the web?
- Laser tag is the perfect way for pre teenagers to burn off energy. Just be sure to take plenty of snacks and drinks as running around can be thirsty work.
- There are lots of card games available which would be fun to play such as exploding kittens or Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza Card Game.
Rainy Days activities for pre teenagers
Rainy days don’t sound like much fun yet they are the perfect opportunity to hunker down indoors and try a new activity. Make the best of these days by having some kind of a plan or a pre-written list of different activities. Choosing from a list means that your tween doesn’t waste time trying to think of things to do. How about:
- Creating a reading nook in the home. Your pre teenager might not be interested in fiction books so you could gently suggest a comic book, a nonfiction book, a magazine or a travel brochure.
- Jigsaw puzzles or picture puzzles can be very absorbing. If you sit alongside your tween to complete some of the puzzle, you may find that they chat to you about something important to them. It’s a great way to create a safe space where they can open up about anything that is bothering them.
- Your tweens could try following along with a Bob Ross YouTube tutorial and create their own art work. Strictly speaking of course, this is not a screen-free activity, but I think it is worth including as a suggestion as the activity is so creative. If you want to keep to screen free then your kid could try painting by numbers. There are lots of inexpensive kits available for kids of all ages.
- Indoor picnics are always fun. Get your pre teenager to help make the food and pack it into containers or get them to set the scene with blankets, cushions and decorations. Your tween might find this delightful with a group of friends.
- How about some modular origami polyhedra whereby you create 3D models by fitting together pieces of paper. Beginners’ models are simple to make but take some time and patience.
- Grow some tasty, healthy food indoors by sprouting seeds in a jar or grow a bean plant in a jar.
- Try a treasure hunt as these have more complex clues than a standard scavenger hunt. This dinosaur treasure hunt will keep them occupied for about an hour and is very easy and quick to set up.
Outdoor Activities tweens will love
If it’s sunny and dry, then some pre teenagers thrive outside in the fresh air. Some might still prefer to stay indoors but, at this age, we should respect their decisions. If you do have an outdoors loving tween, try:
- Camping where your tween researches where to go or cooks a meal one of the nights. Get them actively involved rather than a passive participant.
- How about creating a time capsule from a watertight and airtight container? You could add some coins, a newspaper headline, a poem or piece of artwork. Whatever your tween feels would interest people when the time capsule is dug up in years to come.
- Take your pre teens to a rock climbing centre to burn off some energy and feel a sense of accomplishment. If they are not keen on heights, try bouldering where they move across the rock face rather than UP.
- Creative pre teenagers might like to make fairy gardens. This kind of project encourages imagination, planning and inventive skills which, in turn, can help improve self-esteem. They could even make this a group project with some of their buddies.
- The simple but challenging drop the egg experiment could be captivating for the whole family. Each person gets an egg and must package the egg to give it maximum protection. Each egg is then dropped from the same specific height to see which survive and which eggs smash.
Get them Baking and Cooking
Food preparation is a valuable life skill to have and it’s important to get tweens active in the kitchen. When your tweens become young adults and leave home, it’s important that they can make themselves a healthy meal and budget and plan what they are going to cook. To acquire these life skills, pre teenagers could:
- Make cookies for a cookie swap – check out my recipes here.
- Create and serve a dish at a family celebration – preferably one they have chosen themselves.
- Cook a treat for special events such as birthday parties or Halloween – help them to research recipes.
- Plan meals with a budget in mind and make a grocery list.
- Make cakes for a bake sale for charity.
Crafting at their ability level
There are so many different ways that bored teenagers and tweens can get involved with crafting. They could even work on a craft project in a group and enjoy some quality time with friends or family in a fun way. I have some suggestions of fun crafts projects that would be suitable for pre teenagers:
- Make a mini terrarium using a recycled plastic water bottle and some materials from the dollar store.
- Use an old book and a sharp knife (under adult supervision) to create this impressive Halloween paper craft pumpkin.
- Projects such as these cute bubble bath bombs are a satisfying way to create items for gifting.
- Try rock painting and theme the images you paint to the time of year
- Make and fly a kite. A sneaky two activities in one!
- Create some beautiful marbled paper with a bit of shaving foam.
Your pre teenager will probably be keen to have a sleepover at some point. Let them organize it themselves but only after you have set clear boundaries. These can include: How many guests can come, the start and finish times, ‘lights out’ time, which rooms can be used and which are ‘out of bounds’. Sleepover activities for pre teenagers include:
- Have a theme to your sleepover like an indoor beach party with some homemade ice cream.
- Set up a pancake bar for breakfast and get the kids to make their own combinations of toppings.
- Have a photo booth station with hats, a wig, glasses and other props.
- Host a fashion show by getting all the guests to bring some favorite items with them. You could even make it a PJ fashion show.
- Give all your guests a cute journal, some stickers, washi tape and colored pens. Encourage them to write down some things they are grateful for that day.
- If some of your guests are quieter and get drowned out by the more lively people then the best way to deal with this is to have some speaking activities that get everyone involved and enjoying themselves.
Pre Teen Parties
If your tweens want to hold a party, get them to help with the planning and preparation for the party. Let them make the decision on the theme and style of the party (within reason) and the food that will be served. Party activities for pre teenagers will very much depend on the theme of the party but here are some ideas that will go down a storm:
- Have a dance party with a karaoke machine. You could even theme the dance party to a style of music or a particular era.
- If you don’t want to host a party at home and there is a water park close by, this could be a great solution for tweens. Make sure you check for non-swimmers before you set off so that you know each kid’s limitations. Also, a smaller group would be better for a water park party than a larger group. Make sure there are enough responsible adults for the number of kids that are coming especially if younger siblings are tagging along.
- If you are planning to have an outdoor party then I have a whole post on outdoor party activities here >>
- How about throwing a science party where the pre teens can do some science experiments? There are some great tips in the video below:
Other ideas for party themes are listed in my blog post here.
Days Out With activities for pre teenagers
Family days out together can be great fun if you plan carefully and pick somewhere that your tween will find interesting and exciting but won’t break your budget. It’s a good idea to have some things to do as part of the day so that everyone gets involved. You could try:
- Disc golf is a fun game if you have a course that is local to you. If your tweens are very competitive, you could agree before you start that you are playing for fun. Agree at the start that you won’t be keeping track of the scores.
- Families who are adrenaline junkies might like to try a zip line, high ropes challenge or jet boat ride.
- If your kids complain that they are not interested in museums, try to find a themed museum where the theme matches an interest of theirs such as an aviation museum, maritime museum or science museum.
- Visit a planetarium for a journey into space and learn about astronomy.
- Explore caves and caverns that are open to the public to foster a love of geology. You could also try some fossil hunting if you don’t have any caves nearby.
- Try a ceramic cafe where you can talk, paint, eat and drink or maybe a board game cafe where your host can introduce you to a new board game or another activity like D&D.
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