Outside Activities for Tweens
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These days, it’s a never ending battle to get your kids to go outside and play rather than sitting inside and staring at some sort of gaming device or TV set. Especially as they get older and become “too cool” to play outdoors.
I don’t have to preach to you about obesity rates in America, or the fact that kids aren’t interacting with one another like they used to.
Happily, as parents we have a certain amount of control over that.
I’m a firm believer in forcing the kids to go outside and shutting the door behind them. And 90% of the time, they will find something fun to do out there. But it’s a lot easier to talk them into going outside if they are looking forward to doing something special.
Younger kids are usually happy with a simple swing or slide. But as they approach the age of 10 and 11, those things become less of a challenge and they begin looking for new things to try.
Here are some outside activities for tweens and older children to enjoy.
Older kids are ready for a new type of play. Many of these suggestions contain a certain amount of risk, and you’ll want to be sure to supervise and teach your child ways to enjoy these activities safely.
I try to keep in mind that scrapes and bruises come with having kids, and it’s just another thing for them to learn from. But we do what we can to avoid more serious injuries.
Here are some outside the box ideas for putting a new spin on toys they might already own. Plus some ideas for adding to your yard for fun for the older crowd.
With a little guidance, the kids can set up their own obstacle course. What toys do they already own to use?
- Hula hoops, taped up pool noodles, or even old tires could be set up to run through or spread out to jump from one to the other.
- A fallen tree could be a balance beam.
- Sticks could be jumped over either lying on the ground or propped up on chairs for a bigger challenge.
- Boxes or rocks could be placed just so to zig zag through.
Encourage them to race each other or themselves for their best time. Or they could come up with the best creative way for getting through the course.
Bonus points for having your kids help you build one. There are tutorials for building one on the side of an existing shed or barn (even basement!), or you can make a free standing one.
These pegs have good reviews, although we haven’t tried them (yet).
Set up a range for some Nerf gun or BB gun competitions.
You can print out or draw an old fashioned paper target taped to a box. Stack up cups to be knocked over. Dangle old cans from a string tied to a stick or tree branch.
Your imagination is the limit!
A fort can be as much or as little expense and work as you desire. You can encourage the kids to use objects they find around the house, yard, barn, or shed to create their own makeshift fort.
Or you can buy materials to build a more permanent structure (even a tree house). Kids love to help and learn from building things with their parents!
As kids get older, this goes from being a fun way to “play house” to a place to have some privacy to read or spend some time on their own.
Kids never seem to tire of jumping on a trampoline. From trying out different flips and jumps to jumping with a friend, there are so many ways to enjoy it.
This toy is probably not for moms with a weak stomach, but I think that one with a net can be a lot of fun for everyone. Keep in mind that they still pose a certain risk, so you’ll want to set up some rules.
I recommend checking Craigslist or a Facebook yard sale for local deals, or watch for sales on Amazon or at your local stores.
Also not for the faint of heart mother, a zipline is a lot of fun!
You will want to make sure you can find a good location in your yard with proper sized trees before you invest in this one. Please take precautions such as helmets and seats since many broken bones result from ziplines each year. (Ask me how I know.)
We own one similar to this zipline, but friends have told me it’s easier and cheaper to make one yourself.
Biking, Skateboarding, Scooters
Riding a bike can be fun and offers your child a certain amount of freedom.
Your child probably already owns a bike or scooter. If he or she seems bored with it, challenge him or her to set goals for time or distance. This little bike computer is cheap and adds a new twist to their play.
My boys can always amuse themselves with the basketball and hoop that we have in our driveway for an hour. They also love to play kickball.
If your child doesn’t have a buddy to throw with, invest in a pitch back so they can play baseball without chasing it.
These tips will give your kids hours of outside fun. Maybe they’ll even forget about screen time!
I’d love to hear your suggestions for encouraging outside play, especially for older kids! What makes your kids want to go outside?