Are you trying to get your kid off screens? Tired of hearing, “I’m bored!” Tired of being told there is “nothing” to do? Looking for things for your tween boy to be engaged in? We’ve got you covered! This post is full of activities, hobbies, jobs, and more that tweens will enjoy.
The “tween” years (10-12 years old, but I’m including age 9) can be a challenging time. They’re not little kids anymore, but they aren’t teens yet either. Toys are not as fun, but they’re not old enough to go places on their own or have a job.
My sons are currently 20, 16, and 14, and 11, so I’ve spend many years with tweens and teens.
My experience has been that tween boys have a LOT of energy. Constant climbing, jumping, running, etc. You think they’ll outgrow all that energy when they’re older, but then they’re older and they seem to have even MORE energy! Plenty of opportunities for active play and heavy work (mowing the lawn, hauling rock, using tools, etc.) are definitely needed.
NOTE: 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.
And yes, girls will enjoy these activities too – this is just meant to be a resource for those looking for activities for boys.
Encourage unplugged play and hobbies! I’m not against technology by any means, but I do think that part of our role as parents is to help our kids find balance in this area. There are so many interesting things to do besides endless YouTube videos, social media, and video games. But kids will never discover all these things when electronics SEEM more interesting than anything else. Help them create good habits and establish productive hobbies by keeping technology reigned in at your house. Show your kids how to control their devices – not be controlled by their devices.
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This post was originally published in June 2013 and updated July 2023.
- 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 a couple years ago! These wood robots are a great project for beginners. We also recently made these scrap wood cities – another fun idea for beginners.
- 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? A few ideas: Pet sitting, bringing in trash cans for neighbors, doing odd jobs such as weeding flower beds or washing windows, washing vehicles, mowing lawns, babysitting. My 11 year old currently has a regular job picking up dog poop for a neighbor with two large dogs.
- 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. Kids can easily follow the instruction manual by themselves starting at about age 8. Projects include things like a dog whistle, a morse code generator, several “space wars” sounds, and a spinning propeller that really launches into the air.
- LEGO. I’m not sure that LEGO can ever be outgrown! For the child who needs some direction with their LEGO building, we have many building challenges here on this site! Check out all of our Lego ideas here. Here are some of our favorites: LEGO Candy Dispenser, LEGO Mechanical Puzzle, Rubber Band Powered LEGO Car, LEGO Marble Run
- 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. Also… PICKLEBALL! We bought a set similar to this one on Amazon, and it’s lots of fun. You do need access to a court, but most tennis courts seem to have pickle ball lines painted now.
Spikeball is another fun game to try! My boys love playing this together. You can take the net with you anywhere, which is fun. We often bring it to the park, etc.
- 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.
- Learn some card tricks. Here are three fun card tricks to get started with!
- Play games as a family. The tween years are not a time to pull back! Your kids need time with you now just as much as they did when they were little. Here’s a collection of 15 card games for families. Other fun family games – Blokus, Exploding Kittens, Catan. Our boys love to play Catan!
- Take on real projects. My tween 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, clean out the garage, nail on new fence slats.
- 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 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, How to Train Your Dragon pipe cleaner dragons.
- Crafting with Paracord – Paracord (parachute cord) is such a fun crafting material. You can make bracelets with it, and we’ve even made snakes! Check Pinterest and YouTube for lots of tutorials.
- 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!
- PVC Pipe Projects. We love creating things out of PVC pipe. Make a bow and arrow, a water shooter, or a marshmallow blow gun.
- 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. We bought our second son an entry level DSLR camera for Christmas the year he was 11. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the money, but he has LOVED it! He has learned so much about photography, and has really found his niche with nature photography and especially birds.
- Draw comic strips. Kids can invent their own characters and create their own worlds! We love reading some good ol’ Calvin and Hobbes for inspiration. My kids also love to draw superhero comics. We have some printable comic strip templates that kids will love.
- Keva plank toys. 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. Here are five engineering challenges that we developed for use with Keva planks.
- Do a wacky science project. 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. With adult supervision, kids will enjoy burning steel wool with a 9 volt battery. Hey, I enjoyed it too! You can also use baking soda and vinegar to make some instant hot ice. So cool. And of course, there is always the classic soda bottle rocket! (Ours flew higher than our house!)
- 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. My oldest son adores his guitar!
- 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. 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!