Creative Ideas Keep Pre-Teens Occupied and Out of Trouble

by bizilady

Pre-teens or "tweens" are a funny age group. Here are some ideas to have happy and sane parents who need ideas to use with their kids

Pre-teens or "tweens" need to be busy or they'll drive their parents crazy. Sitting in front of the television, every day or playing video games all night is pointless.
Adults in their lives need to come up with creative ways to keep them out of trouble.
Learning new skills, volunteering or some sport can be the best answer.

The Dreaded School Break with the Kids


I know there are millions of parents who are tired of hearing their kids say “I'm bored.”

Anytime there is a vacation or break, your kids will need to be entertained or occupied, otherwise there may be trouble. Pre-teens or “tweens” are defined as the ages of 9-12, still young enough to be considered a child, but not quite a teenager. This is a funny age and girls are usually more advanced that boys, so don't assume they will want the same things. Scheduling their activities and having a written contract in place that you all participated in is a big help.

 Most of my friends have dreaded the vacations and summer breaks, because they need to find babysitters, classes or some creative outlet for their youngsters. Leaving them home to be entertained by the television or computer, is not a wise decision today. The internet is unsafe and parental controls need to be initiated. I had to help a family member set the parental controls on their computer because they never used one. Kids will take full advantage of a parent who is computer illiterate.

Activities depend on Locale

What you plan depends entirely on your locale as well. If you reside in a rural area, then more outdoor activities may be appropriate. Country kids love to ride ATV or “4-wheelers” as they refer to them. Have the older kids take a hike with younger children may be fun. They can see how many butterflies they can count, or teach younger children how to count their steps.They also have county fairs and competitions to prepare for. Raising animals and caring for them is a fulltime job for kids on a farm or ranch.


Suburban kids will probably want to hang out at the mall but they can get into trouble there. Setting time limits and written contracts always helps everyone know whats expected. If they go to the mall they must have a definite purpose, such as watching a movie, joining a the walking club, or going on a “scavenger hunt.” Make it creative and fun; not mindless time killing. 


City dwellers have many programs in place as well as a wealth of cultural activities to occupy their time. Museums have programs for kids, libraries have field trips, and schools have summer arts and crafts programs. Parent groups can set up some activities. I know homeschool groups are a wealth of information and may be able to provide some guidance to other parents.

children reading to younger
children reading to younger

Preteens can work with younger children


Since pre-teens are too young to work at a real camp,then making up a local camp is a good option.

When I was a teenager, my friend and I set up a day camp type of summer school program for the local children on our street. We charged a small weekly fee to cover materials, snacks,and miscellaneous expenses for our day care.

The children were gathered up, one by one from each house at 8 am, and we all walked to the back patio of my partner's home or my garage on rainy days. We had the kids sit on a picnic table with fun activities, and some school lessons. For one hour, we taught a math lesson, then a snack break was given for 15 minutes. The next hour, we had a fun crafts activity, such as making stick houses or finger painting. other days we taught writing or read a story. Science lessons lead us on walsk around the enighborhood gathering insect, rocks, or flowers for discussion. The point is,kids have to be creative. Today I can see having young children using a laptop to learn some simple math games.


This activity will give the pre- teens a sense of responsibility and give some valuable time to younger children. It will also help them earn some community service points for their upcoming school year.

Go on a trip to the zoo, volunteer at a animal shelter or aquarium.

Parents can get together and plan a trip to the zoo. I know most are located in larger cities so find a bus company that can take a chartered group to the zoo or animal sanctuary. Learning about animals gives young and older children a renewed respect for them.

Another good place for tweens to help is an animal shelter. The responsible pre- teens can help care for local sheltered that have injured and rescued animals that need human contact. They can help feed, play with and get the word out about adopting a pet. Taking an animals home for the summer provides a valuable lesson about caring and responsibility. Both the animals and person reap the rewards.

Sports activities

The tried and true activity that usually helps parents and kids alike is sports-related. Soccer is an excellent outdoor activity in the summer months. Most kids learn valuable lessons while playing on a team. Baseball, basketball, tennis, badminton, outdoor bowling, golf are other options as well.

Indoor bowling has teams that they can join and occupy their time for a few hours each day. The indoor games such as Wii has video bowling, tennis ,baseball, boxing that will help them stay physical. I know parking the kids in front of the television or video game is a habit for many, but it just doesn’t teach social skills which is sorely lacking today.

Tweens have lots of energy and ideas so ask them what they want to do and try to accommodate them as reasonable as possible.

teaching kids to volunteer

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Points to remember when dealing with pre-teens

keep a schedule and contracts

Kids need to be busy not just on summer breaks but all year long on weekends and extended holiday breaks.There resources parents can turn to.

Remember parent groups such as the PTA, homeschool parent groups, local libraries, YMCA's, town pools, bus companies, are some resources to try. If you can, have a small group of kids go to a different house with a parent present each week. Be prepared with a weekly schedule and have your written contracts in place. Kids need boundaries and to know whats expected of them. It will make your life and theirs a lot happier.



Updated: 12/27/2015, bizilady
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cazort on 06/02/2013

When I was around this age (13) I started a morning paper route, which occupied some of my time (I'd get up early, and go to bed early). I also was very into gardening. I also read voraciously, and was into computer programming. It was also around this age that I first started experimenting with cooking, which I think was important in establishing healthy eating habits--once I started cooking I started experimenting with eating different foods, and ultimately developed from a picky eater into someone who loved diversity in my diet.

Each kid is different. I think that providing a lot of opportunities for kids to develop and become interested in different hobbies is really important. I really emphasize outside things though--I think gardening is one of the best things to encourage your kids to become involved in, as it is fun, healthy, and can save money, and is a great life-long skill to develop. And I have seen so many kids and teens get REALLY into gardening. Here in Philly there are some kid- and teen-run community gardens that are really thriving.

bizilady on 10/14/2011

crafts are an excellent way to occupy kids time when stuck indoors.

Mujjen on 10/14/2011

We just finished three months of summer vacation, that is a long time to fill! The worst time were the days when it was too hot to go out. I bought a lot of paper, glue and pens, and we did a lot of crafting. Of course, I had to be involved a lot with them, but we did have a good time together.

bizilady on 07/23/2011

@CWAHM: That's the same line my parent used on me! LOL works every time..

CWAHM on 07/23/2011

I always used the line "Hey, you could clean your room" and my son wasn't bored anymore :) Great ideas here.

bizilady on 07/10/2011

tssfacts: that's a fact; I too never told my parents I was bored.
They always had something for me to do!LOL

Guest on 07/10/2011

I was very careful not to speak "I'm bored". I soon learned that if I said those words Mom would send me out to pull sand-spurs. These activities all sound like fun.

bizilady on 07/09/2011

@Puketo: thank you .I have worked with all ages and pre-teens can be fun and a the most challenging also!

bizilady on 07/09/2011

@pkmcr: thanks for reading and commenting. pre-teens are a big challenge for any parent!

RhondaAlbom on 07/09/2011

Some great ideas. I will put a few to use for my pre-teen

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