1. Community
  2. /
  3. Children & Parenting
  4. /
  5. Activities for kids

101 exciting things to do with kids aged 9-12

Kelly Sundstrom
May 19, 2017

Every parent dreads hearing those two little words that tweens tend to repeat ad nauseam: "I'm bored!" Finding things to do with kids ages 9 to 12, however, can curtail these boredom woes. Many children in this age bracket will head straight for their tablets, phones or computers when they're bored, but New Jersey-based psychologist and play expert Dr. Jacqueline Chinappi encourages parents to limit screen time.

Dr. Chinappi suggests that excessive use of electronic media can worsen behavioral problems like ADHD and can even lead to childhood obesity.

And she's not the only one. Dr. Anne Fishel from the Department of Psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has studied how long the typical 8-to-12-year-old spends in front of a screen, such as a television, tablet or computer, and the results are frightening.

The average was 11 hours per day! The next time your preteens start complaining about not having anything to do, try out some of these stimulating activities to do with kids:

  1. Set up easels and paint pictures outdoors.
  2. Visit your local science museum.
  3. Learn how to knot friendship bracelets.
  4. Go to a coffee shop and write poetry.
  5. Put on an impromptu play.
  6. Put together a scavenger hunt, suggests Dr. Chinappi.
  7. Visit a trampoline park.
  8. Bake a loaf of homemade bread.
  9. Build and launch a model rocket.
  10. Go on a camping trip at a campground.
  11. Wash the family car together.
  12. Go apple picking.
  13. Go on a family bike ride.
  14. Sprout beans in a jar that you can plant in the garden.
  15. Weave on a loom.
  16. Learn how to play musical instruments together.
  17. Look at slides through a microscope.
  18. Create a nature journal.
  19. Embroider cloth handkerchiefs to give as gifts.
  20. Dye cotton cloth using berries and tea.
  21. Go roller-skating.
  22. Make homemade candles out of beeswax.
  23. Visit a living history museum.
  24. Toast s'mores over the fireplace, which you can eat while sharing stories, as Dr. Fishel recommends.
  25. Have a water balloon fight in the backyard.
  26. Look at the moon with a telescope or binoculars.
  27. Play 20 Questions, encourages Dr. Fishel.
  28. Teach them a card trick to amaze their friends.
  29. Draw a map of your neighborhood using graph paper.
  30. Put together a homemade kite from newspaper and balsa wood.
  31. Knit scarves.
  32. Learn Double Dutch jump rope.
  33. Visit a corn maze and get lost.
  34. Make homemade popcorn.
  35. Build unusual snowmen and take pictures.
  36. Go bowling.
  37. Carve a pumpkin.
  38. Give each other facials.
  39. Put together a time capsule and bury it in the backyard.
  40. Rake leaves into a pile and jump in, Dr. Chinappi suggests.
  41. Create a homemade papier-mâché globe with a balloon.
  42. Build an igloo out of snow.
  43. Turn a shoe box into a diorama.
  44. Visit a nursing home.
  45. Make a birdhouse out of wood.
  46. Teach your child how to make dinner from a recipe, suggests Dr. Fishel.
  47. Make beads out of clay and string them into jewelry.
  48. Learn to surf.
  49. Make homemade candy together.
  50. Tie dye T-shirts.
  51. Skip stones at a local pond or lake.
  52. Paint each other's portraits.
  53. Set up an outdoor obstacle course.
  54. Learn how to fold different types of paper airplanes, says Dr. Chinappi.
  55. Have a room-cleaning competition!
  56. Put on a family talent show.
  57. Go fishing together and then cook the fish for dinner.
  58. Teach them to play chess (or learn with them).
  59. Use a video camera to create stop-frame animations.
  60. Learn to fold origami.
  61. Play Hangman.
  62. Learn to juggle together.
  63. Try to memorize favorite poems or verses.
  64. Make a salt dough volcano.
  65. Learn a few yoga moves.
  66. Fill a balloon with baby powder to create a homemade stress ball.
  67. Have a bake sale to raise money for charity.
  68. Learn how to quilt together.
  69. Make sculptures out of soap.
  70. Each-tay em-thay Ig-pay Atin-lay.
  71. Take a train somewhere.
  72. Learn to play tennis.
  73. Make your own bows and arrows, and practice archery in your backyard.
  74. Host a dance-off in your living room.
  75. Make something out of recycled materials.
  76. Make homemade bath fizzies.
  77. Take old appliances apart to see how they work.
  78. Work on a puzzle together.
  79. Learn to speak another (real) language.
  80. Go geocaching together.
  81. Set up a domino track on a large table.
  82. Teach them how to do laundry.
  83. Collect clothes and toys for charity.
  84. Make a duct tape wallet or purse.
  85. Take a trip to an amusement park.
  86. Go get ice cream cones.
  87. Play ping pong.
  88. Play flashlight tag.
  89. Go on a hike at a national park.
  90. Learn Morse Code together.
  91. Find a walking stick and paint it.
  92. Play charades.
  93. Go to the zoo.
  94. Learn cup stacking.
  95. Make marionette puppets and put on a puppet show, Dr. Fishel suggests.
  96. Roll a pine cone in peanut butter and bird seed to create a bird feeder.
  97. Set up a lemonade stand.
  98. Shoot baskets at a gymnasium.
  99. Decorate hats and shoes with paint pens.
  100. Put on a magic show for friends and family.
  101. Turn a lemon into a battery.

Once you and your kids get started on this list, you'll probably never hear that they're bored again! Or you will, and that's OK too. 

Kelly Sundstrom is an award-winning journalist, author and artist. As the mother of two twice-exceptional children, Sundstrom understands the importance of taking part in family activities together.

Read next: 25 after-school activities and games for every type of kid

Leave a comment

Create a free account with Care.com and join our community today.

Sign up
Related content

How much should you pay for a babysitter?