50 Fantastic Free Things to do with Kids aged 8-12

Finding low cost things to do with your tween can sometimes be a challenge. So here are 50 Fantastic Free Things to Do with Kids aged 8-12:

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inside bubble#1. Stand Inside a Bubble

Create your own bubble mix and see if you can blow giant bubbles big enough to stand inside!

We have some great bubble ideas here and for night time fun, 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.

You may also like How to Make an Obstacle Course11 Outdoor Activities to Ensure Kids Stay Fit

#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.

You might also like reading 33 Fun Projects for 8-12 year olds.

#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.

party cakes iStock_000003202560XSmall#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 you’re thing, here’s 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 10 of the handiest apps for stop motion.

#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 5 fun science experiments to try. Or you could try making a “volcano” with breadsoda and vinegar. Also some more fun ideas in these Halloween Experiments for Kids.

#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!

playing-cards-kids_0#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 have a go at.

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 interesed in.

Tip – make sure you don’t take other people’s photos without credit so put the origin of the image beside it or a link to where it was found if you want to use it.

#15. Climb a Tree

The world looks a whole lot different when viewed from the heights of a sturdy tree.

#16. Measure a Tree

Head out the nearby park or woods, with a ruler and tape-measure, and measure 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.

Check out our Best Apps for Cooking Games, there are some for wannabe chefs on it.

camera#18. Try some 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.

You may also like these Popsicle Stick Crafts for Kids

#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?

guitar#22. Learn to Play the Guitar

Master a new tune on the guitar or another instrument that you have around.

Google Free Easy Tunes for the Guitar 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.


Here’s our message:


#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 with Kids.

#27. Make an Ant Farm

With glass jars and some soil, you can create a simple ant farm and do some ant-watching.

#28. Make Some Slime

Try making Slime, or try the Pepper and Water Science Magic trick or have some fun with Red Cabbage!

#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 pizza garden?

#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.

Birdfeeder#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 Ireland 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 thunder storm erupted! Even if you don’t get away, you can always set up your tent in the back garden.

#34. Run a Bootcamp

Have the kids participate in your own boot camp. Ease them in to it by having them walk 2 laps of the garden. Next let them jog around. Throw in some jumping jacks, lunges, squats and leg lifts. Are they sweating yet? How about some hula hoop jumping skipping. Cool down afterwards.

#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.

rockpaperscissors#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.

laser game#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.

photo credit: Mrs Logic viaphotopin cc

#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.

09-monopoly-board.w529.h352.2x#45. Have a Board Game Tournament

Play some board games together.

Here are the 20 Best Family Board Games and 10 New Board Games to Try.

#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 (more tips here).

#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.

pizza margharita#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

Gardening with kids is great fun – they love to get mucky and see the result of their work. If you have room, why not assign them their own flower 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 a how to grow your own pizza garden and tips for growing vegetables.

You might enjoy reading 50 Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids

#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 for tweens? Share them with us in the comments below.

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls