The “tween” age (9-12 years old) can be a tricky time for kids! Too old for toys, but too young for a part-time job or to go to church youth group (our youth group starts at 7th grade). Electronics can be a huge pull for this age group because they don’t know what else to do with themselves! I often hear moms saying that they don’t know what to do with their tween-age boys, and so I decided to compile a huge list of things that tween-age boys might enjoy doing. Included in this list are several ideas for chores, because tweens are ready to take on more responsibility and will probably even enjoy this (although they may feel resistant at first).
**Disclaimer: There is no set age that kids are ready to do more dangerous things, such as mow the lawn. You are the best judge of your child’s readiness – please don’t take my age recommendations as set in stone! This post is designed to be a reference and a spring-board for ideas. Take what you can use, and leave the rest.
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- Wood working. Learning to hammer a nail and use basic tools is a great skill for older boys! Home Depot sells scrap boards for 50 cents and $1, and Aidan has had a great time sawing and hammering on scrap boards in the garage. He even made me a wooden cross for Christmas two years ago!
- Take apart old appliances. Do you have any broken appliances or machines lying around? It’s fun to take apart an old phone, printer, toaster, etc. Then save the parts for inventing and tinkering.
- Start a business. If your tween age son is wanting to earn more cash, why not help them start their own business? My son really enjoyed pet sitting for neighbors before we moved last summer. He made up some fliers this year in our new neighborhood, but hasn’t found any clients yet! Hopefully he’ll be able to connect with some neighbors who need his services. It only takes 1 or 2 families who travel regularly to provide some good pet sitting opportunities! Other ideas: bringing in trash cans for neighbors for a small weekly fee, doing odd jobs such as weeding flower beds or washing windows, washing vehicles.
- Snap circuits. If you’re not familiar with them, Snap Circuits are building sets that use electricity to create awesome projects. The pieces “snap” onto a base, and it’s easy to create electrical circuits without a bunch of exposed wires or alligator clips. We own the Snap Circuits sc-300 set, and it has been totally worth it. We paid $49 for our set, and the current Amazon price is $39.93, which is a good deal. Aidan can easily follow the instruction manual by himself and has built a dog whistle, a morse code generator, several “space wars” sounds, and a spinning propeller that really launches into the air.
- Legos. I’m not sure that Legos can ever be outgrown! For the child who needs some direction with their Legos, we have many building challenges here on this site! Check out all of our Lego ideas here.
- Outdoor recreation. Ideas for being active outdoors: tennis, archery, bike riding, frisbee golf, skateboarding, hiking, running, swimming. We have an archery place near our house that does a league on Monday night. Aidan is hoping to try that out soon!
- Geocaching. We haven’t been geocaching yet, but it’s on our list! This is another way that the whole family can enjoy being active together.
- Build a chain reaction from craft sticks. This takes some time to build – but the results are totally worth it! Fun for the kid who enjoys domino effect type things. Instructions in the original post.
- Take on real projects. My almost 10 year old can often be restless around the house and a pest to his younger brothers, but he is so focused when he has the opportunity to do real grown-up work. Boys this age like to feel needed, and they like to know that their work is appreciated and is making a real difference. Some ideas: learn to use the lawnmower, spread mulch, weed flower beds, organize a closet, have their own table at a garage sale, plan a meal and cook it, move heavy things for an elderly neighbor, clean out the garage.
- Go on a “career” field trip. It’s never too early to start thinking about the future! What are your kids interested in? Call your vet and see if they will let you come for a “behind the scenes” tour. In our area, the National Weather Service does field trips if you sign up as a group. Check out the options in your area!
- Do their own laundry from start to finish. If they don’t already know how to operate the washer and dryer, age 9 is a great time to get started! Tweens can sort their own clothes, wash, dry, fold, and put away. It’s good to have the experience of thinking ahead (when do I need to have school pants clean, etc.) and following through.
- Get crafty! One of our favorite older kid crafts was our Pipe Cleaner Ninjas. So. much. fun! I keep getting e-mails from readers with pictures of their ninjas. They have been a hit! Other big kid crafts: Ninja Stress Balls, Make a marble bowling game, Parachute Cord Bracelets
- Crafting with duct tape. Aidan and I have recently discovered crafting with duct tape! Here is a tutorial on making a duct tape wallet. Or, make some duct tape Lego capes!
- Learn how to cook or bake. Who says boys shouldn’t cook? Tween age boys can learn to make grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, omelettes, brown ground meat, cook spaghetti, bake cookies, make a cake, and more. Plus, their future wives will thank you someday!
- Photography. A good point-and-shoot digital camera is so affordable now, and a child with an artistic eye might really enjoy photography!
- Keva plank toys. These are a new discovery for our family! We bought the Keva Contraptions set that comes with 200 planks and 2 balls. The instruction manual is really well done. I was impressed at how quickly Aidan was able to build some really amazing structures! The one in the picture above is called a “cascade,” and the ball rolls back and forth across the platforms and then comes out at the bottom and lands in that square. Building with Keva planks requires patience and a steady hand, but it’s a great challenge for older kids who enjoy building and engineering.
- Explore your scientific side. The budding scientist might enjoy a book full of projects to make and do. Check out Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things. We enjoyed making plastic from vinegar and milk from that book! Another favorite idea – mix up some magnetic slime.
- Build a bridge. Kids can also do some engineering with materials that you already have on hand! Build a bridge with straws and straight pins that is strong enough to hold 100 pennies. Or build a bridge out of popsicle sticks.
- Film making. For the guy who is not really into building and engineering, how about film making? I talked to a friend who said her boys spend HOURS creating stop-action movies with their toys. They film with an iPad and use iMovie to put it together. It’s also fun to film humorous sketches or plays.
- Learn to play guitar. If you can do lessons, go for it! If you can’t afford lessons, guitar is an instrument that can be learned from books and Youtube videos, especially if your child has already learned another instrument such as piano. (I am saying this as a violin teacher!) I taught myself guitar after playing violin for years, and it’s a relaxing (and useful) hobby.
- Volunteering. 9-12 is too young to officially volunteer most places, but look for things to do as a family. We have enjoyed helping with landscaping at our church and volunteering at the Institute for Creation Research. Learning to serve is so important for this age group! It’s really fulfilling to do something for others, and this age group is getting to the point where they can really grasp that.
Do you have tween boys? What do your boys enjoy doing? Please leave a comment if you have more ideas to share!