Finding low cost things to do with your tween can sometimes be a challenge. They say they are too old for playing with toys but are too young to go off entirely by themselves. So here are 50 Fantastic Free Things to Do with Kids aged 8-12:
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Having gone through two tweens in my time, they definitely needed ideas for things to do sometimes. If you are hearing “I’m Bored” then show them this list and let them pick out some fun things to do!
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50 Fantastic Free Things to Do with Kids Aged 8-12
#1. Stand Inside a Bubble!
Create your own bubble mix and see if you can blow giant bubbles big enough to stand inside!
And for an even cooler experience, why not make some glow in the dark bubbles?
#2. Try to Skip 100 Times Without Stopping
Get the skipping rope out and have a go at skipping 100 times without stopping. Manage that? Aim for 200 now. Check what the world record is for the most skips in 1 minute.
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#3. Camp Out in The Garden
Get out the tent and set up a camp out in your back garden for an outdoor sleepover. Don’t forget the headlamps, torches and midnight feast.
#4. Build a Card House
Can you reach 4 or more levels of your card house? Check out this video showing a cool card house technique:
#5. Learn a New Trick
Got a pack of cards or magic set lying about? Time to learn a new trick or two. Here are some ideas to get you started: Magic Tricks and Card Tricks.
#6. Download and Listen to a Podcast
Radiolab is a radio show and podcast weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries. Other recommended podcasts for older kids include AstronomyCast or Stuff you should know.
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#7. Have a Bake Off
Set yourself a challenge and bake something and get the judging panel (rest of family) to mark it for you. You’ll find oodles of sweet treat recipes on our Blog.
We have some of the best baking recipes for kids here, or if cookies are your thing, here are 8 Easy Cookie Recipes for Kids.
#8. Build A LEGO Movie Set
Design and build a LEGO movie set. It could be a castle, a house, a fire station, or maybe a small town. Now see number 9.
#9. Create a Stop Motion LEGO Animation
Make a Stop Motion LEGO animation using your lego movie set. Here’s how to create a stop motion movie and some of the handiest apps for stop motion.
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#10. Go Geocaching
Geocaching is a modern day “Treasure – Hunt”. You use a GPS enabled device (Global Positioning System) or an app for your smartphone such as Google Maps will work too and you go hunting to see if you can find caches near you.
#11. Be a Mad Scientist!
We have fun science experiments to try. Or you could try making a “volcano” with breadsoda and vinegar. And if you need more ideas, check out these summer science experiments.
#12. Create a Comic
Get out some paper, pencil, pens and create a comic strip. Go wild with your imagination. Aliens! Monsters! People with animal heads!
#13. Learn a New Card Game
Ever played Gin Rummy? 25? Spit? Kids love card games and tweens are the perfect age for learning a few more complicated. Here are 15 family card games to get you started.
Need more ideas? Here are Funky Crafts for Kids Aged 8-12 yrs
#14. Start a Blog
Create a blog, WordPress and Blogger are free and are good for creating a simple blog. The good thing is you can write about things that you are interested in.
#15. Climb a Tree
Head out to your garden, your nearby park or woods and climb a tree. The world looks a whole lot different when viewed from the heights of a sturdy tree.
#16. Measure a Tree
Now that you’ve climbed a tree, how about having a go at measuring a tree? See who can find the tallest tree.
#17. Cook Dinner
Plan a 3 course meal and cook dinner for the family. Check our Food & Recipes section for loads of recipe ideas.
#18. Try Photography
Use your iPod or phone or family camera to take a series of photos. Pick a theme, e.g. colour and find items of that colour.
Try a Time Lapse Photography Project. Or you could photograph the alphabet around your neighbourhood.
#19. Build a Bridge
Build a bridge out of straws that is strong enough to hold 100 pennies. Or build a bridge out of pop sticks.
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#20. Have a Go at Programming
Why not try your hands at coding – everything you need to know is in our Coding for Kids: Decoded. Or head to a nearby Coderdojo.
#21. Make a Family Paper or Magazine
Set up a newsdesk on the kitchen table and plan your newspaper or magazine issue. What are your headline/front page stories going to be? What pictures will you use? What would catch your eye? How about creating some funny ads at the back?
#22. Learn to Play An Instrument
Master a new tune on the guitar or another instrument that you have around.
Google Free Easy Tunes for Instrument and you’ll bring up tons of websites with ideas to get you started.
#23. Make a Family Tree
Do a bit of research with your parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents and create a family tree. Take some time with your grandparents and ask them to tell you some stories from when they were your age and write them down (or put them on your new blog!)
#24. Learn How to Juggle
Juggling is a fun activity, albeit a challenge to learn. Juggling helps your hand/eye coordination, encourages brain growth and is also a great way to de-stress. Bean bags are a better choice to start with for beginners as otherwise you will tire yourself out running around after tennis balls or other bouncy balls.
#25. Create a Secret Code
Make your own secret code up and write a message to your friends that they have to decode.
The Pigpen cipher uses symbols in place of the letters.
#26. Make a Time Capsule
Find a shoebox or small box and pick 10 items to make a time capsule and then find a good spot to bury your capsule. Here’s How to Make a Time Capsule.
#27. Make an Ant Farm
With glass jars and some soil, you can create a simple ant farm and do some ant-watching.
#28. Fun With Science
Try making Slime, or try fun Slime variations like glow in the dark and glitter slime!
#29. Plant Something to Eat
All you need is a pot, some soil and some seeds. Pick something you enjoy eating (or have never tried) and how about growing your own veg?
#30. Have a Scavenger Hunt
Download a scavenger hunt and time yourself finding all the things on the list. Create your own hunt list.
#31. Write in an Ancient Language
Try writing your name in Ogham, an old Irish alphabet, with our free activity sheet that you can download and try out.
#32. Make a Bird Feeder
Have a go at making some of these different bird treats and then track bird visits over a few weeks to see which birds come to visit your garden. The BirdWatch website has photos of different species.
#33. Go Camping
A night out in a tent is definitely a must – I still remember my first night out camping, and having to run back inside when the worst ever thunderstorm erupted! Even if you don’t get away, you can always set up your tent in the back garden.
#34. Run a Bootcamp
Make your own boot camp. Some things to do on your boot camp:
- Walk 2 laps of the garden.
- Next jog around.
- Do 20 Jumping jacks
- Do 10 lunges, 10 squats and then 10 leg lifts.
- Are you sweating yet? How about some hula hooping, jumping or skipping.
- Cool down afterwards by walking 2 laps of the garden again at a slow pace.
#35. Play a Game of Charades
Charades can be played with any type of word or phrase, but with kids you may find that movie titles work best.
#36. Hold a Blinking Contest
Stare at your opponent while trying not to blink. Whoever closed their eyes first loses.
#37. Play Scissors, Paper, Stone
A game for 2 people, on the count of 3 each person shows their hand in the shape of either scissors (snipping fingers), paper (flat hand) or stone (fist).
Scissors beats paper as they cut paper, paper beats stone as paper can wrap the stone up and stone beats scissors as the stone can blunt the scissors.
#38. Play 20 Questions
One person thinks of a thing or a person and the others have to guess what it is but are only allowed to ask questions that get a Yes or a No. The others must guess by the 20th question. First one to guess gets to pick the next item to be guessed.
#39. Watch the Sun Rise
Set your alarm clock extra early and wake up in time to watch the sun rise. Listen out for different bird songs while you wait for the sun to creep over the horizon.
#40. Decorate Flip Flops or Crocs
Glam up your summer shoes by adding sequins, ribbons and buttons to them. Use craft glue and any items you have lying around at home.
#41. Bake Cookies
Bake some delicious cookies like these yummy chocolate chip cookies or chocolate chunk bars together. Here are 8 Easy Cookie Recipes for Kids.
#42. Laser Grid
All you need for this ingenious activity is some string or wool (preferably red), sticky tape, and a hallway.
You need to create a grid using the string/wool that the kids will then attemp to pass through without touching the string or “laser”. Anyone who does touch the laser has to return to the start line again.
#43. Make a Flippy Book
You will need a drawing pad, and pencil. Draw an image in the same corner of the book on each page, and make sure that each image changes slightly on the next page and so on. Stickman are a good starting point, in different poses. Then you flip through the pages and watch your drawing “start to move”.
#44. Make a Wind Chime
Wind chimes are easy to make and look charming in every environment. They can be made from just about anything- old cutlery, shells, or old keys.
I like the idea of using shells as it reminds us of a great day out at the beach.
- Collect your shells and wash them.
- Drill a little hole in the top of each, being careful not to break the shell. It is a good idea to collect some extra shells just in case some to break.
- Thread string through the shells and tie a knot after each shell. Vary the strings with the amount of shells you pace on each.
- You will then need to tie all strings together by attaching them to a stick.
- This stick can also be decorated with any left over shells. Display your fabulous windchime in the garden or inside where it can tinkle and delight.
#45. Have a Board Game Tournament
Play some board games together. Here are the 20 Best Family Board Games recommended by parents to get you started.
#46. Upcycle Clothes
Cut up old jeans to make shorts or an old T-shirt to make a sleeveless top. Then redesign as you like. Adorn them with sequins, add buttons, or tie-dye them.
#47. Play Water Balloon Dodgeball
Fill water balloons with water, divide the amount of balloons up and place them on opposite ends of the garden. Next split up into teams and stand facing each other. When the signal is given, begin throwing water balloons at the other team. When a player is hit, the other team scores a point.
Play until all the balloons are gone, the members of one team have all been hit, or a certain number of points have been reached.
#48. Make Pizzas
Make some homemade pizza and try making interesting combinations of toppings on. Why not try feta cheese and pesto? Or pepper and pepperoni?
Here are 20 delicious and simple recipes for kids to make.
#49. Get Gardening
Get your tween growing something. If you have room, why not assign them their own flower or veg bed and help them plan out their planting?
Or give them their own pots/planters. Herbs and salad leaves are quick to grow, and most kids enjoy eating what they have grown! Here’s how to grow your own pizza garden and tips for growing vegetables.
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#50. Go Ice Skating or Roller Skating
If you’ve never skated before, here’s some good advice:
Over to you now! What’s your tip for a free thing to do with tweens? Share them with us in the comments below.