Do you remember when your little kids used to basically live outdoors? There was always a new adventure to be found. Whatever the weather, we made an effort to get daily exercise and fresh air together. Screen time and homework were barely a part of our vocabulary. Did life seem just a little more “fun” back then?
Ever since we hit the tween stage – and no thanks to COVID keeping many of us indoors for months at a time – we’ve found it’s getting harder by the day to put the screens down and encourage regular outdoor activity with our older kids.
The warmer weather is approaching, and we have an action plan this summer!
We’re sharing with you here our favorite outdoor activities. Some are for enjoying in the backyard; others will require a little more equipment and adventures beyond the home.
Tween Activities to Enjoy in The Backyard
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Allow your tweens to create a scavenger hunt outdoors and do what they love most “taking selfies!”
A photo scavenger hunt for tweens is a great outside activity. It will help them learn teamwork as they cooperate in solving the problem at hand. It will also help boost your tween’s self-esteem as it offers a sense of achievement, and it is also super simple to put together.
This excellent learning tool includes 50 sheets that let your tween spot up to 16 things in the great outdoors. They are flexible and can be used in camps, field trips, vacations trips, outdoor parties, and you do not have to worry about them getting damaged as they are made up of high-quality paper that is sturdy and durable.
Nature activities for tweens such as weaving, carving, or pottery are great for your tweens as they help build their imagination skills and relax them. It can range from making things skillfully with their hands to messing themselves out with paints.
Nature crafts are a fantastic creative way for your tweens to self-express. They manage their feelings and improve their confidence and self-esteem, learning patience, concentration, planning, and foresight as they hone their motor skills.
Some easy nature crafts for tweens to learn include:
- Rock painting
- Pressed flowers
Between phones and portable music, it’s hard to remember how magical walkie-talkies are for our tweens. Walkie-talkies provide a fun outdoor game for tweens as they still have to utilize their imagination for fun play to enhance its use.
These hands-free walkie-talkies support long-range calls for your tweens as they play in the backyard or hike in the mountains.
There is no end to the fun trampoline tricks your tweens can come up with. You can also get involved in outdoor entertainment with your kids as you do fun things on the trampoline. The fun games include: crack the egg, horse, trampoline dodgeball, monkey in the middle, and more.
A trampoline will help your tween exercise thanks to its endurance-building workout. It’s also a great way to enhance your tweens’ muscle development, strengthen bones, and reinforce joints.
If they’re ready for a new challenge, why not add a basketball hoop?
Even if you don’t have a huge yard, there are still plenty of fun tricks and exercises they can enjoy on a smaller balcony or porch trampoline.
An obstacle course for your tweens is excellent as it will offer a great range of workout activities, all the while having fun.
With this ninja obstacle course, your tweens can learn how to climb the net, climb the ladder, spin the wheel, and also freestyle using the rings it comes with.
Obstacle courses will benefit your children in sensory processing, strength and balance, coordination, memory and problem solving, and motor skills.
You can also challenge your kid’s creativity as you have fun in the backyard and use available tools and objects to make your obstacle course! That is half the fun!
Are your tweens driving you up the wall indoors? Get them outdoor doing what they do best!
These tree climbing holds are the perfect tool to get them to test their dexterity outside. Even if you don’t have the perfect tree in the yard, try an external wall on the house to get them pushing and challenging themselves.
One of the quickest ways to get our tweens in the outdoors is getting out there ourselves.
An entertaining and competitive game set will always do the trick. Backyard games will help keep you and your kids active as it boosts their physical stamina and fitness. (Not to mention bringing out the competitive inner child in all of us!)
What tween doesn’t love a little more independence? Getting them a garden tent will help them satisfy the feeling of “grown-up.” Garden camping will allow them to set things up the way they love as they practice the long-deserved independence they always crave for.
As they assemble and put up their tent, they also learn problem-solving skills and adventure.
A garden camp will also increase their self-confidence by encouraging them to appreciate nature. They will also learn how to unplug and enjoy the simplicity of nature (as long as they’re set up far enough away from the wifi!)
Why not look for a backyard activity for tweens that will provide learning as they enjoy it? Perfect, right? As your tweens enjoy this blastful rocket that soars up to 100 feet while lightening up the sky, they can also get to learn today’s technology and science behind the “why” and “how.”
This STEM outdoor activity kit is excellent as it will help them understand the physics of motion and aerodynamics. As your tween stomps the extra-large foot pump, they practice balance, fine motor skill development, physical exercise, and scientific exploration.
Making hideouts ad dens is a great outdoor summer activity for tweens as it’s the absolute favorite thing in the world. Well, for my boys, it is!
The activity of making dens will help your tween learn to be creative with pegs, sheets, shower curtains, chairs, tables – anything they can get their hands on really that you don’t mind going outside and possibly getting dirty.
Den building will help your tween develop physically, learn teamwork and cooperation, and develop social skills, as their independence and self-esteem grow while having fun.
One built, they also have the perfect getaway outside to hide from siblings – and you! – in the great outdoors.
Water games never grow old, even for your tweens. And not only will these water fights keep kids cool in the hot summer, but they will also help them learn how to improve their balance and coordination.
Rather than simply squirting each other, set up some more challenging and fun party games – or if you’ve got the facilities to do so, why not host a pool party? Through plenty of fun inflatables and pool toys into the mix – you’ll be surprised what skill they actually take!
Think kids have outgrown bubble wands? Oh, you better believe it. This one can totally transcend ages! You’ve simply got to make it more challenging and fun as your kids get older.
Giant bubble wands will challenge your older child’s dexterity and creativity.
Are you looking for a healthy and prosperous outdoor activity for your tween? Gardening it is.
Your tween is ready to be responsible and care for the veggie or flower patch they love. And as your tween’s garden grows, they develop responsibility, critical thinking, self-esteem, and gratification.
Your tween weeding the garden, pruning the shrubs, and watering may lead to a lifelong passion and career (and quite possibly a few extra coins in their pocket as a thank you!)
Photography is a great outside activity for tweens as it helps promote creativity and self-expression. It also helps manage stress promotes fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Your tween will create and keep memories with friends as it boosts mood and increases happiness.
Rather than just using the built-in camera in a smartphone, why not get your tween their first digital camera so they can start learning how to shoot in manual mode?
Add some fun by challenging them to come up with some trick photography shots. Can they make their friends look smaller than the dog? Or how about making the house look like it’s being crushed by a giant bottle?
Sports And Hobbies Outdoor Activities For Tweens
Ready to head beyond the yard for some outdoor fun this summer? Let’s see if any of these outdoor sports and hobbies will take your tween’s interest:
Hiking is a fun outdoor activity and a great way to get some fresh air but even our tweens still need a little encouragement to hit the trails at times.
Having them equipped in the right gear will certainly help, from comfortable trail shoes to waterproof jackets in case the weather turns. A small hydration pack will help them keep up their energy levels.
We need to make our children feel they are not forced to march by including games and activities when we hit the trails. Add in activities like scavenger hunts, take along a digital camera or binoculars to capture the action, or let them be in charge of the map to motivate older kids along.
Scooters are wheely good fun! Bringing your tweens outdoors for races and relays is a brilliant way of engaging those competitive kids out there.
When they have a more grown-up 2-wheel scooter there are plenty of possibilities for tween fun outdoors. Not only their own set of wheels for visiting mates, some pro scooter models work great in skateboard parks too for testing their stunt skills.
Live close to water? Boogie boarding is a great outdoor physical activity for your tweens that has physical benefits and helps your kids become confident swimmers.
It is also great as it allows your tween a level of independence as they build confidence in the water with their friends. Even if there are no big waves to catch, they’ll have fun learning how to balance or being pulled along by their friends.
Paddleboarding is a solo endeavor that is water fun and a great beach sport for tweens and teens. It’s a healthy outdoor sport that offers the opportunity for family time and bonding.
This sport will help your tween learn how to balance as it involves core stability and strengthening of the whole body, one of the best outdoor sports for an all-over workout testing body and mind.
Sure, almost every kid has a bike, but what sort of bike does your tween need? Getting a mountain bike to conquer the trails as they race with their peers will be an excellent sport for your adventurous tween. Learn to master how the gears work in your favor and control your speed from flat roads to hills.
A camping trip is great tween fun, even for a night. The fun-filled adventure in a new environment and setting makes it a great outdoor activity for all your family.
Tweens especially will enjoy many new skills they can acquire. Why not ask them to help pick the perfect spot to pitch your tent, assist with the fire starting, and keeping critters from getting in the tent!
And of course, no one can resist toasted marshmallows and s’mores around the campfire, right?
Outdoor fun doesn’t get more simple for tweens than flying a kite. Sure it sounds easy, until they’ve gotta go it alone!
Getting your kite airborne and caught in the breeze is trickier than it first sounds but once they get going, there’s loads of fun your tweens can have playing kites.
They won’t realize that they’re actually problem-solving, working on hand-eye coordination, and peripheral awareness, all while keeping their body active outdoors.
See how a selection of different shaped kites will affect aerodynamics! The perfect activity for kids looking for a step up from paper planes.
Learning how to skate has its thrill that your tween will enjoy with his friends. Roller Skating is among the best physical activities to get your tween to exercise and have fun at the same time. It is excellent for cardiovascular health and helps build your tween’s physical endurance.
Roller skating is also great as it helps encourage brain development while lightening your tween’s mood and reducing hormones that cause frustration and mood swings.
Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity where your tween has to locate hidden containers (geocaches) outdoors and share their experience online. It uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device.
Your tweens have to be creative with what to hide in their geocache container and even where they hide it.
Kayaking is a great outdoor activity for your tween to undertake with their peers. In this sport, your tween and their friends do not focus on winning or losing but on challenging themselves each time they go on the water, all the while enjoying themselves.
It’s a great bonding sport that not only gets your tween outdoors but also helps them build their upper body strength as they become more independent and responsible.
OK, so you may have flat right refused to get the kids a dog, or it’s simply not practical with your living arrangements and lifestyle. But what about offering your neighbors a dog walking service?
There are plenty of dog owners who work all day and may be strapped for time to take their pooch out to play. Once your child understands the basics of doggie care (and cleaning up) they’re almost certainly ready for the responsibility of dog walking.
If they do a good job, there’s a fair chance they’ll earn themselves a little spare change too for spending on other fun activities!
One of our favorite recent memories has been nights spent at Grandad’s house out in the countryside where the skies are unpolluted and blanketed in stars. Your tweens are the perfect age to learn how to use their first telescope and grow an appreciation of the vast night skies that surround us.
Not only will they appreciate being able to stay up later at night, the exhilaration of spotting a shooting star, or identifying the planets can be an incredible and memorable childhood experience.
I’m not going to pretend that getting your tweens to immediately jump into action and get outside will be easy.
Trust me, I know. I’m as guilty as any of thinking, “as long as they’re not disturbing me and we’re all enjoying what we’re doing, what’s the rush?”
Cellphone addiction and excessive screen time are truly becoming an issue, particularly for this pre-teen age group. Sometimes it takes far more than just instructing “go outside” to break habits and reap the benefits of outside time – for all of you!
Even if you don’t consider yourselves an “outdoorsy family”, there are so many good reasons to make sure outside time remains an important part of your family’s routine.
- It helps increase fitness levels for our tweens (and often us by default while we’re joining in!).
- Exposure to nature can diminish stress and anxiety levels.
- It helps our tweens become kinder and better at interacting with others in social settings.
- Outdoor games for tweens also provide sensory and intellectual stimulation enhancing concentration, creativity, and general performance.
- It encourages our children to take risks and push their boundaries.
- Getting tweens outside will also help them get the sunshine they much deserve (and need – hello Vitamin D!)
- And the best one is that it helps reduce screen time for our tweens.
We hope that this list has inspired you with some new ideas to get your older kids outside this summer.
Some of these activities are great solo pursuits. Others are best undertaken with friends and family, however you like it. Outside time is vital for us all in a society increasingly reliant on screens to reconnect. It need not be a chore but something fun to look forward to.
We’d love to know what other outdoor activities your tweens love, let us know in the comments below!