My giant list of Indoor Activities for Kids is my most popular page, but what about if you have bigger kids, or what is commonly referred to as "tweens"? (Am I the only one who dislikes that term? Although it is quite convenient. But I digress.) Little kids may be easily entertained by dropping popsicle sticks in a jar, but that doesn't cut it for the 9-12 aged crowd. Indoor activities for tweens can come in handy, too. After all, big kids have big energy.
I now have a 10 year old boy and while he is much better able to entertain himself these days, he does sometimes ask me for ideas of what to do. While I think it's beneficial for him to stew in his boredom for a while, there's nothing wrong to have a few boredom buster ideas for him to choose from. I've gather a list of indoor activities for tween that will come in handy during those "stuck inside" days. (Note: this post contains affiliate links.)
One other thing before we get started. We don't have a rec room or even a large family room, so if you live in a teeny tiny space like us, rest assured, these indoor activities will work for your kids, too.
Indoor Science and Engineering Activities for Tweens
Tweens love science and engineering projects. Best of all, they promote critical thinking skills and encourage curiosity and perseverance (these are well-used words in our home).
- I think it's important to keep a couple of science experiment books on the shelves for kids to thumb through. Right now, Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun is providing some serious inspiration.
- If you are like us, sometimes gathering the materials for a science or engineering projects provides the biggest challenge. My 10 year old absolutely adores his monthly Tinker Crate, which comes with all the materials needed for a project and then ideas for experimenting with it all month long until the next crate arrives. The recent trebuchet project has been providing hours of fun. Last weekend he even made a bouncy ball. (See how he made a motor here.)
- Have an "Invention Bag" on hand for free engineering exploration. Ours (Kiddo is shown in top photo with his) contains random stuff from around the apartment as well as hardware items like pulleys, an assortment of bolts and levers, string, etc.
- Mix up something "gross" like flubber, slime or gak. Even older kids need a good sensory experience and tweens can come up with their own concoctions of these items.
- Try one of these activities to promote "growth mindset" over at Planet Smarty Pants
- Don't underestimate the entertainment power of paper airplanes. Adventurous tweens can design their own. One day Kiddo built a landing strip for them and spent an hour trying to get them to land just right! My son had a marvelous STEM play date with a fellow tween boy when they put together planes from this book of paper airplanes.
- Set up a domino run.
- Design a catapult and set up a target range. Ping pong balls or pom poms are unlikely to break anything!
Indoor Art Projects for Tweens
- Keep an art journal. Just the other day, Kiddo declared, "I feel the need to make art coming on, mom!" He got out his journal (we LOVE our mixed media vellum journal) and got to work. Having a journal makes it easy for him to keep track of his own art and look back at what he's done before.
- Zentangle is a favorite, calming art activity of ours. Kiddo uses his art journal for this.
- Make a comic book, or a giant comic strip.
- Make their own trading cards. Kiddo collects Pokemon and sports cards. I encourage him to make his own... as if a collection of twelve billion isn't enough, HA!
- Try one of these 10 ways to work with yarn from Betsy's Photography.
- Get crafty and make simple duct tape bracelets via The Gingerbread House.
- Got an animal lover? Make wooden bangles like these ones at Adventure in a Box.
Indoor Math Activities for Tweens
- Math art is always a big hit at our house. Tessellations is a fun way to start, or check out all our math art projects.
- Use algebra to make super cool snowflakes. Thriving STEM shows you how.
- There are several terrific single player games that tweens can play if they don't have a sibling their own age. Kids can play these games to practice logical thinking and spatial relation skills. My son loves his Perplexus, IQ Twist and Rush Hour games.
- My son love his Math Perplexors books.
- Play magic squares.
Active Indoor Activities for Tweens
How much space do you have? If you are one of those lucky people with a recreation room/basement you are probably used to your kids heading down there to toss a ball or jump around. But what do you do if you live in 650 square feet of space, other than heading to the local YMCA? Here are our solutions:
- Play "Land, Sea and Air". Yes, indeed, my 10 year old enjoys this, especially when he can make up his own weather events.
- Play balloon tennis. Make paddles out of paper plates and craft sticks or rulers and hit a balloon back and forth. Younger siblings can easily join in and balloons are unlikely to break grandma's crystal vase. Ping pong balls are a also favorite around here.
- Set up a pom pom race (via Lemon Lime Adventures)
- See more indoor ball games that we love.
- Set up a carnival style game with bean bags, ping pong balls or even paper airplanes. Use a large box with cut out holes as targets. Click here to see how our carnival game works.
- Consider letting kids jump on the bed. I don't allow jumping on the couch, but the bed is fair game. My son even plays his own version of balloon football across the bed.
- Dance. Sometimes what we've done is choose a bunch of words based on a theme. For example, "weather" -- the words might be hurricane, blizzard, shower, blustery. Then the kids make up dance moves around that theme. Animal words are also fun.
One thing I've noticed as he gets older, is that my son still loves to be silly and active. Since we don't have a yard, I allow him to do that indoors when we can't get out to the park. Next time your bigger kids are getting squirrelly and need a little help channelling their energy give them a list of indoor activity suggestions. You never know, they may (and will) turn it into something unique and creative just for them.
This is part of a month long series of indoor activities for kids I'm doing with other kid bloggers. Don't miss all our posts!
- Week 1: Indoor game for kids: Dots and Boxes
- Week 2: Active indoor game: Land, Sea and Air
- Week 3: Indoor activities for big kids (You're reading it!)
- Week 4: Quick and easy idea: paper airplane landing strips
Wow! Fantastic list.
Erica MomandKiddo says
Jeanette Nyberg says
Hate the word 'tweens'. It sounds so smarmy But I love these activities- it takes the strength of 10 moms to tear my tween away from her tween screens, so I think if I had some of these things ready and waiting for her she could be lured into doing something that didn't rot her brain.
I love this page!
i like this page because they give you so many ideas
This is a great list! I suspect it will come in very handy this winter with my 9-year-old ( I also hate the term tween. I almost didn't sign my boy up for a tween library club just because I hate that darn word so much!)
Erica MomandKiddo says
So glad it is useful!
The Little Tourist says
Thank you for these computer-free activity ideas!
Gwen Martin says
This is wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to share these great ideas!
A lot of children face problems with Maths and Science subjects, and therefore these activities are a great way to boost their own confidence. These activities will help them gain more experience with the subjects. The art activities are also cool too as well!
Hate is a strong word
Yes hate is a strong word
Never let your kids jump on the bed... unless you are willing to pay out for a new bed and mattress. Springs will get broken, memory foam will split, slats will break, divan bases are made of thin wood and will break too! A broken bed may result in your child getting hurt!
A better idea would be to buy a trampoline if your kids want to bounce.
oh my gosh i can finally do something without Mira [my 10 year old] complaining "i am bored"
Yay! I hope she enjoys some of the activities.