Being a pre-teen is an awkward time, right between full independence and needing consistent supervision so they don’t accidentally harm themselves or someone else. When you live in an apartment, keeping a pre-teen happily occupied is more of a test of wills than a party, unless you make it one. So how do you keep the over ten and under 13 crowd pleased without whining? Try these 25 fun ideas.
1. Get Into the Game – The card game that is. While Go-Fish and Rummy are always fun, why not pick up a pack of trading cards like Yugi-Oh or Magic the Gathering. Take an invested interest in learning the game and trading with your pre-teen, they are often eager to teach and eager to learn.
2. Make Sweets – Who doesn’t love sweets? Brownies or cookies on a rainy day is the perfect way to keep them occupied. Be prepared for begging to lick the bowl and whining about waiting to eat until they cool off.
3. Teach Them to Sew – Simple mending projects or superhero costumes can turn from sewing lessons in epic battles of heroes and villains.
4. Play Scientist – Help them perform simple chemistry experiments using safe chemicals, like vinegar, baking soda, sugar, flour, and more.
5. Hold a Contest – To see who can say the most lines of your favorite movie while you watch it.
6. Use Old Jars to Make Snow Globes – Cut up bits of white plastic and collect glass jars with tightly sealing lids. Add water and glitter, seal tightly and shake baby shake.
7. Create Mini Diagrams and Stage Battles with Toy Figurines – Boys usually have action figures and girls usually have barbie dolls; stage fake battles, reenact scenes from favorite movies, and even write up mini screen plays.
8. Create Your Own Trivial Pursuit Game – Have the kids use 3×5 inch note cards to write questions on one side and answers on the other. Have teams switch card decks and take turns asking each team their questions to see how many they can get right.
9. Get Them Gardening – Help them pick out a plant, potting soil, and pots. Take them home and teach them how to plant and care for their new pet. Seeds are often best, the magic of encouraging new life is often the most rewarding.
10. Redecorate Their Room – Allow your pre-teen to pick out new paint colors, or wall applications, curtains (new Sew Sheets work well) and use a free online decorating program to help them arrange their room.
11. Take An Art Course – Pick up a few art how-to books that feature easy to use materials like markers and colored pencils. Hold an art class and an exhibition at the end of the class.
12. Make a Collage – Pick up free magazines from library free racks or classified ads and have the pre-teens pick out their dream life. Help them create a dream board using only images and no words. Then have them write a short story about what is going on. Put on a presentation for the other family members.
13. Teach Them to Volunteer – Have them go online (under supervision) and find local volunteering opportunities you can do as a family. Food shelves, food drives, picking up trash at local parks, delivering hot meals or supplies to housebound individuals, helping at local pet shelters, and community gardens are excellent ways to get them involved with others in an upbuilding way.
14. Go Foraging – Look up local pick-your-own farms and take them berry picking, fruit picking, nut harvesting, or wildcrafting on public property or private property, with permissions of course.
15. Go on a Treasure Hunt – Have them come up with the silliest list of 25 random items, things, or shapes and go for a walk around your neighborhoods, first one to 25 wins.
16. Grab Some Legos – Or other building toys. See who can build the biggest, funniest, or most functional item.
17. Go to a Free Interactive Museum – Moat large cities have them. Get your kid involved in science and discovery.
18. Build Robots – Collect computer parts and supplies from free ads or local junk yard and thrift shops. Let them experiment with building robotic devices and supervise them to go online to learn to create automated robots.
19. Build A Fort – Indoors or outdoors, fort building is fun. Create teams to see who can build the most stable fort, or simply crawl inside to eat snacks and read scary stories.
20. Make Ice Cream – Add sugar, vanilla, chopped frozen fruit, milk, and a bit of salt to a zippered bag. Insert zippered bag into a bigger bag filled with ice and rock salt. Allow kids to take these outside and have fun mixing the ice cream until its ready to eat.