Portrait of a latin young teen boy smiling making eye contact building a robot in his electronics class at junior high school

Screen-free Activities for Tweens

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Let’s face it, screens have kind of ruined the excitement of reading a good book or spending time outdoors! It’s time we dial it back for our tweens – for their creativity, for their friendships, and for their health. We’ve been fighting the pull of screens with our tween and it is hard, but worth the fight. Trade screen time for learning to bake something yummy, playing a board game, or maybe even making a snowman. That’s right, we’re talking about good old-fashioned fun without a screen in sight. This guide is stuffed with ideas to help you pry away from screens and discover a bunch of screen-free activities. We’ve got everything from gardening and reading to skateboarding and sledding. So, are you ready to unlock a whole new adventure for your tweens? Let’s dive in.

Outdoor Screen Free Activities for Tweens

Let’s face it, stepping away from screens can open up a whole new world of adventure and health benefits for your tween (and you!) Sure, you’ll get a bit of sun, but also, engaging in outdoor activities can significantly boost your physical wellbeing both physically and mentally. So, whether you’re up for an adventure or just looking for ways to get your tween moving, the great outdoors has plenty to offer.

  • Exploring local attractions on foot – There’s an adventure at every corner waiting for you to discover it. Look up local attractions and make time to walk to some of them with your tween. Bonus points if you get them to bring a friend.
  • Riding bikes – Embrace the freedom and feel the wind as you tour your neighborhood or local trails. My tween loves riding his bike everywhere! I can almost always convince him to go for a bike ride.
  • Going to the park – Perfect for a walk, a Frisbee match, or just soaking in nature’s beauty. I know parks are typically thought of as being for younger kids. But tweens will still have a ton of fun.
  • Skateboarding – It’s not just for tricks but also a fun way to cruise around and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Drive an RC car–RC cars are not just for little kids! Even my husband has an RC car that he loves to pull out and drive around.
  • Pickleball – Grab a paddle and experience the fastest-growing sport that’s sweeping parks worldwide.
  • Rollerblading – Lace up and glide through scenic paths for an enjoyable and active outing. Our kids have been really into rollerblading lately. It takes me back to my 90’s childhood!
  • Geocaching–Head outdoors with your tween to find a treasure.
  • Play sardines–This “reverse tag” game will keep your tween and their friends entertained. One person hides, and the rest of the group tries to find them. As each player finds them, they hide with them (eventually you’ll have the whole group hiding together like “sardines”.
  • Glow in the dark kickball–take things up a notch from regular kickball, play it in the dark! Read how to here.
  • Stargazing–let your tween stay up late to watch the stars! They’ll feel so grown up and it’s an amazing experience!
  • Go for a hike–find short hike that your tween will enjoy and go explore!
  • Fly a kite–if the weather cooperates, it can be a ton of fun to get a kite into the air!
  • Play outdoor games–being in nature is fun, but if your tween is bored of simply being outside, encourage them to play some outdoor games!
  • Grab a sled and head to the hills to chase the dizzying joy of sledding, where laughter echoes with every swift slide down.
  • Challenge yourself with snowman crafting, aiming for the tallest or most creatively adorned snow guardian of the neighborhood, pushing the boundaries of creativity with every scoop of snow.
  • Walk the dog–if you have a dog, it can be wonderful to get your tween and your pup outside and moving. Win-win!
  • Don’t forget about snowball fights, a timeless classic that’s both thrilling and a great way to stay active, plotting strategy and ducking behind snow forts.
  • Try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, exploring the snow-blanketed landscape, marking it with the traces of your adventurous spirit.
boy baking muffins

Indoor Adventures for Tweens Without Screens

Forget about screens—there’s a whole world of fun waiting inside that doesn’t require any digital devices. Getting involved in screen-free indoor activities can be both a fun and rewarding experience for your tween. From board games to reading a good book, these activities are not just about entertainment; they’re gateways to learning, creativity, and connection for your child. Here are some favorite screen free activities for tweens that keep them inside.

  • Board Games: Challenge yourself and others with classics or a new favorite board game. It’s fun and brain-engaging. These are a few the favorites of our tween right now!
Sale
SKYJO by Magilano – The entertaining card game for kids and adults. The ideal game for fun,…
  • YOUR GOAL: Try to get as few points as possible through flipping, trading and collecting cards over the course of several rounds. This is only possible as long as a player has not uncovered all his cards, because then ends a round. So beware, keep a close eye on the game and be cautious and wary of the other player’s actions!
  • LOTS OF FUN for your friends and family. SKYJO is an entertaining card game that is lots of fun for kids and even older game enthusiasts (adults).
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
  • PLAY IT ANY TIME ANY PLACE- Convenient take anywhere size game.
  • SIMPLE AND HILARIOUS- Fast paced laugh out loud fun for any get together.
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WHAT DO YOU MEME? Family Edition – The Best in Family Card Games for Kids and Adults
  • Our Bestseller — Now For Families! The hilarious game you know and love, now with all the R-rated content removed for family-friendly fun.
  • Back to School Gifts for Family Fun:Family Fun: This family game is designed for ages 8+ and is encouraged to be played with 3+ players (of all ages).
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Exploding Kittens Original Edition – Hilarious Games for Family Game Night – Funny Card Games for…
  • THE LEGENDARY ORIGINAL MADE FOR TWO-FIVE PLAYERS: The card game that gave felines a license to kill. The reason more cats around the world are being given the side-eye – it’s Exploding Kittens: Original Edition! This kitty-powered card game is all about turning game night into a blast. Try and dodge exploding kittens, betray your friend along the way, and strap on a portable cheetah butt while you’re at it. The last player left alive wins!
  • HOURS OF HILARITY: There’ll be lots of chuckling. Rib-cracking outbursts. More laughs than a 90s sitcom. In every 56-card deck you’ll find creative ways to dodge the exploding kittens. Like defuse cards featuring laser pointers, kitty therapy, and catnip sandwiches. And action cards with weaponized back hair, all-seeing goat wizards, and magical pig-a-corns that grant you precognition. Looking for thoroughly entertaining kid and adult games for game night? Quest complete!
  • Reading: Dive into another world with a good book, whether it’s a thrilling fantasy or a gripping historical tale.
  • Play an instrument: Whether your pre-teen is interested in the piano or even the ukulele, taking up an instrument can be so good for them!
  • Jigsaw Puzzle: Work on a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a calm way to sharpen your mind and the triumph of placing the last piece is unbeatable.
Ceaco – Tween Dream – 200 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
  • Contains a 200 piece jigsaw puzzle.
  • Hand crafted die with unique shaped pieces. Made in the USA. Sustainably manufactured.
Buffalo Games – Squishmallows Friends – 300 Large Piece Jigsaw Puzzle for Adults Challenging Puzzle…
  • Contains a 300 LARGE piece jigsaw puzzle – these pieces are 33% larger than standard puzzle pieces for improved dexterity and placement
  • Finished size is 21.25 x 15 inches
  • Calligraphy: Try your hand at calligraphy to add a personal touch to letters and notes.
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Hand Lettering 101: A Step-by-Step Calligraphy Workbook for Beginners (Gold Spiral-Bound Workbook…
  • Paige Tate & Co. (Producer) – Chalkfulloflove (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Scrapbooking: Create a scrapbook and immortalize your favorite memories with style and creativity.
  • Darts, ping pong, air hockey: Spark a little friendly competition with games that test your speed and skill.
  • Plan a trip: Has your tween ever wanted to take a trip someplace? Whether or not you actually take a trip, planning out where you would go and stay can be a fun exercise for kids. Let them explore a new place and what they’d like to see there!
  • Do a science experiment: My pre-teens are WAY into science experiments these days. It seems like nearly every day someone has come up with an idea to test something new. We also like these pre-made kits and ideas.
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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Amazing Chemistry Set – Chemistry Kit with 45 Science Experiments Including…
  • INSPIRING SCIENCE FOR KIDS – You’ve come to the right place for a kids science kit with massive variety! Your kids will make bubbling, color-changing solutions, glowing test tubes, a colorful bouncy ball, glowing worms, and a whole lot more.
  • A TOTAL OF 45 SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS FOR KIDS – The chemistry set itself comes with more than 15 experiments, but there’s also a bonus guide with 30 additional activities using common household items! This science kit for kids is a great STEM resource!
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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Magic Chemistry Set – Science Kit for Kids with 10 Amazing Magic Tricks, STEM…
  • MAGIC SCIENCE YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE – These 10 science experiments are mind-blowing! Girls and boys will, make a coin float, change the color of water, have snow magically appear, and much more! You won’t find experiments like these anywhere else. The perfect science experiment kit for kids!
  • SHOW OFF FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY – Each experiment is specially designed to be performed as a magic trick! The included magic wand and white gloves let your children dress the part, too. Magic for kids has never been this fun and educational!

Creative Explorations

Trust me, there’s nothing quite like the excitement you get from creating something with your own two hands. Away from the screens, when we’re surrounded by real-world textures, colors, and materials, creativity just takes off. It’s a crucial step for tweens in unleashing their imagination—a resource that’s wildly unbounded at their age. Engaging in hands-on activities not only helps in sharpening their creative prowess but is vital for their all-around growth.

  • Sewing: My daughter has been begging to learn to sew. We even have fabric picked out and sitting on the counter to learn to make a pillowcase!
  • Build a fairy garden: Let your tween get excited about creating a miniature sized fairy garden.
  • Embroidery: Did you ever try your hand at embroidery? Even my 11 year old son has tried and semi-liked embroidery.
  • Crafts: From painting, building models, to simple DIY projects, embark on a journey to express creativity.
  • Making a scrapbook: Capture the moments and stories that mean the most, creating a personal treasure.
  • Play with air-dry clay: Flexing their artistic muscles with air-dry clay is such a fun thing to do! They can make anything their mind dreams up!
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Crayola Air Dry Clay (5lb Bucket), Natural White Modeling Clay for Kids, Sculpting Material, Craft…
  • CRAYOLA AIR DRY CLAY: Includes 5 pounds of sculpting clay in a re-sealable bucket.
  • DIY CLAY PROJECTS: Crayola Air Dry Clay is a great addition for teachers as classroom art supplies or for use at home. Leave your handmade clay crafts out to harden naturally—no kiln or oven necessary!
  • Build something: Get creative and build something new.
  • Knitting or crochet: Help your tween get started making a scarf or blanket! It might just become a new favorite hobby!
  • Make a video: Our kids love to make videos! It’s a fun and creative outlet.
  • Build a model kit: Whether your tween loves trains, planes, or airplanes, there is a model kit out there that they can build!
  • Paint their bedroom or furniture: Is your tween ready to move from their little kid-room colors to something more mature? Let them paint their bedroom or even their bedroom furniture.
  • Paint on a canvas: Pick up some art canvases and let your tween go crazy creating their very own art!
  • Create a comic book: My boys love the book Dog Man. They’ve tried to recreate their own comic book style books. This journal would be the perfect way to do that. But even just a paper and pencil would work!

Teaching Tweens to Cook

Do you recall those lazy afternoons spent in the kitchen with family ? It wasn’t just about the recipes; it was about the laughs, the mess, and the magic of creating something from scratch — all without the need for screens. Diving into the art of cooking and baking opens a world of creativity, bonding, and the sweet reward of tasting your own creation. Here’s how your tween can have some screen-free fun in the kitchen:

  • Challenge your tween with a new recipe: Pick something a little challenging from a cookbook or online. Every step, from preparation to the final taste, is an adventure.
  • Create a family bake-off: Invite family or friends for a baking contest. It’s about who can whip up the fluffiest cake or the crunchiest cookies. A sprinkle of competition always adds flavor to the fun.
  • Decorate a cake: Do the heavy lifting for your tween by making or purchasing a cake for them to decorate. Then let them pull out the cake decorating supplies and have fun with it!
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Kootek 71PCs Cake Decorating Supplies Kit, Cake Decorating Set with Cake Turntable, 12 Numbered…
  • All-in-One Cake Decorating Supplies Kit: Are you ready to start baking but wondering what tools you need? Don’t worry; we’ve covered you with complete baking supplies that will have you baking in no time! Non-Slip 11 Inch Cake Turntable, 12 Numbered Nozzle Tips, 50 Disposable & 2 Reusable Pastry Bags, Angled Offset & Straight Icing Spatula, 3 Cake Scrapers, and 1 Coupler.
  • 360° Spinning Cake Turntable: The cake turntable has an 11-inch diameter and spins smoothly on a hidden ball bearing, making it easy to achieve stunningly consistent patterns and gorgeous designs. With 360º clockwise and counterclockwise spinning, you can decorate cakes like the pros.
  • Bake for a cause: Encourage your tween to spend the day making cookies, brownies, or bread. Then, share those creations with neighbors or donate them to a local charity. It’s baking mixed with kindness.
  • Host a cooking show challenge at home: Pretend you’re on your favorite cooking show. Each family member picks an ingredient, and you all create something together using those items.
  • Learn to Grill: Whether its hot dogs, or something a little more intense, learning to grill can be really fun for pre-teens.
  • Learn to use a kitchen tool: This might mean firing up the air fryer, or learning to use a snow cone maker. Learning to use kitchen gadgets is a great way to help your tweens become more independent.
  • International cuisine night: Pick a country and explore its cuisine. Create a themed dinner with dishes from that country, learning about the culture as you cook.
group of tweens smiling and giving thumbs up

Books for Tweens

Encourage your tween to gather a few of their favorite books and start reading! Here are a few pointers to get those pages turning:

  • Pick books that spark their interest – Whether it’s fantasy realms or real-life heroes, choose what captivates you.
  • Form a book club with a twist – Maybe every book is a mystery, or every meeting involves a bake-off of foods from the book. Keep it engaging. This might require a little help from parents, but once it’s started, tweens are capable of keeping a book club going!
  • Stretch your imagination with different genres – Experiment with something out of their usual picks. Poetry? Sci-Fi? Your child might find a new favorite.
  • Check out our must-reads for tweens – Ask for recommendations or look up lists. There’s a treasure trove of books waiting. Here are a few of our favorites!
The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1)
  • Flanagan, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
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Wonder
  • Hardcover Book
  • Palacio, R. J. (Author)
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Ella Enchanted: A Newbery Honor Award Winner (Trophy Newbery)
  • Levine, Gail Carson (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
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Hatchet
  • Great product!
  • Paulsen, Gary (Author)

Volunteering and Starting a Business

From volunteering at your local spots to simple acts of kindness towards a neighbor, every little bit creates ripples of positivity. Ambitious kids can even turn some of their favorite helping skills into a business of their very own. Let’s talk about some ideas!

  • Volunteering at local charities: Dive into the myriad causes and pick the one that pulls —be it supporting an animal shelter or lending a hand at a local food bank, your contribution matters.
  • Helping a neighbor: Sometimes, it’s the smallest acts that carry the most weight. Offering to rake leaves in the fall or setting up holiday decorations can mean the world to someone right next door.
  • Visit a nursing home: Taking time out of your day to visit with residents of a nursing home can be really fulfilling.
  • Community clean-up: Rally your friends and organize or join a clean-up campaign. It’s a fun and meaningful way to take care of your environment and bond with your community.
  • Do yard work: Either paid or volunteer, yard work helps out the neighborhood and gives you something helpful to do!
  • Becoming a reading buddy: Partner up with younger kids at your local library or school and help them strengthen their reading skills. It’s a win-win; your tweens get to revisit their favorite childhood stories and make a new friend.
  • Food drive organizer: Take the initiative to organize a food drive. It teaches leadership and helps stock up the pantries of those in need.
  • Mow lawns: Help out neighbors or friends by mowing their lawns. Turn this into a business if you are feeling ambitious.
  • Babysitting: Whether you are babysitting your aunts kids to be a helper, or a neighbors kids to earn a few bucks, babysitting is a great way for tweens to gain some life experience.

Gardening

Gardening teaches responsibility, creativity, and gives us a tangible sense of achievement as kids watch something they planted grow and thrive. It’s a calm but deeply fulfilling pastime that slows tweens down and brings a unique joy and satisfaction through watching their efforts come to life. Plus, it’s a fantastic way for you and your tween to bond over a shared project.

  • Choose plants that are tough: Start with ones that don’t need much fuss.
  • Herb gardens in small spaces: Perfect for adding fresh flavors to cooking.
  • Attract butterflies: Pick plants that will bring these beautiful insects to your garden.
  • Try growing vegetables: It’s educational and you get to eat what you grow!
  • Gardening as a team: Work on a project with family or friends for a fun and productive day.

If you step back from screens and see the big picture, there’s a world out there full of outdoor fun, indoor games, and creative crafts waiting for your tween. Venturing into something new? It might just be the start of an incredible adventure. When your tween swaps scrolling for baking a fresh batch of cookies, or trading video game victories for the real-life triumph of nailing a perfect Frisbee toss, they are winning in a whole different way.

Portrait of a latin young teen boy smiling making eye contact building a robot in his electronics class at junior high school, with text that says "screen free activities for tweens"

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