101 exciting things to do with kids ages 9-12

April 14, 2020

Despite having a seemingly endless number of options at their disposal, it’s almost inevitable that kids in the 9-12 age group will regularly utter the two dreaded words: “I’m bored.” While this catchphrase is — let's face it — a little annoying, it's important for parents and caregivers to remember that physical and mental stimulation is crucial for tweens, and the relationship between the two is symbiotic.

“Being stimulated mentally and physically is very important to kids in this [9-12] age group,” says board-certified pediatrician Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, noting that the latter plays a vital role in the former. “Tweens should be striving for 30-60 minutes of heart-pumping exercise a day, which in turn will improve overall wellness, including better sleep, more confidence, decreased anxiety and depression and better focus.” Trachtenberg notes that, while team sports come with social benefits, things like “running, yoga or even taking a brisk walk together” are just as good for getting their heart rate up.

When it comes to finding mentally stimulating activities for tweens, Trachtenberg recommends activities where kids can “relax and be creative without being judged.” “Reading, doing art projects together and cooking and baking are all great ways to bond with children and work on their mental fitness,” Trachtenberg notes. 

The next time the preteen starts complaining about not having anything to do, try out some of these stimulating activities to do with tweens:

  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.

  7. Bake a loaf of homemade bread.

  8. Build and launch a model rocket.

  9. Go on a camping trip at a campground.

  10. Wash the family car together.

  11. Go apple picking.

  12. Go on a bike ride together.

  13. Sprout beans in a jar that you can plant in the garden.

  14. Weave on a loom.

  15. Learn how to play musical instruments together.

  16. Make paper spinners.  

  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. Toast s'mores over the fireplace, which you can eat while sharing stories.

  24. Have a water balloon fight in the backyard.

  25. Look at the moon with a telescope or binoculars.

  26. Play 20 Questions.

  27. Teach them a card trick to amaze their friends.

  28. Draw a map of your neighborhood using graph paper.

  29. Put together a homemade kite from newspaper and balsa wood.

  30. Knit scarves.

  31. Learn Double Dutch jump rope.

  32. Visit a corn maze and get lost.

  33. Make homemade popcorn.

  34. Build unusual snowmen and take pictures.

  35. Go bowling.

  36. Make foliage faces together.

  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.

  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 the tween how to make dinner from a recipe, suggests Dr. Trachtenberg.

  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

  55. Have a room-cleaning competition!

  56. Put on a talent show together.

  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. Learn a few yoga moves.

  65. Fill a balloon with baby powder to create a homemade stress ball.

  66. Have a bake sale to raise money for charity.

  67. Make a salt dough volcano.

  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 the backyard.

  74. Host a dance-off in thee 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. Go get ice cream cones.

  86. Play ping pong.

  87. Make pom pom flowers

  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..

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

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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