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Need ideas for fun things to do outside for older kids/teens

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My kids have always enjoyed being outside but this summer they aren't outside near as much as they used to be. I think the biggest reason is that our court has really changed. We used to have a ton of kids living on our court and all the kids no matter the age would spend hours playing kickball, baseball, etc. The dynamics of the court have really changed. A few families moved away and now most of the kids on the court have very young kids. The only kids left that are near the ages of mine haven't been very nice this summer. My kids really do enjoy being outside but there is only so much for them to do given their ages. We really don't have a good place for them to ride their bikes except for within the subdivision which has gotten pretty boring. This is the first year that we haven't belonged to a pool and several neighbors also bought new pools this year, which I doubt they will invite my kids too so that is kind of a bummer too.


My oldest dd keeps pretty busy with friends but still likes to spend time outside with her siblings and in fact lately is the one begging for them to spend sometime outside with her. We have a basketball hoop but unfortunately most of the day you have to face the sun to use it. I'm trying to think of a few items that I could buy for them so that they can enjoy time outside. So far I've come up with badmitton and that beanbag game (although right now I've haven't found a beanbag set that doesn't cost a fortune). I would love more ideas. I wish they were little again so that they could spend hours in the sandbox and on the swing but time marches on :crying:

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How about getting them the dangerous book for boys? My son is really enjoying some of the things in there and it has lots of suggestions for things to do.



I'd second this. DS (10)has a couple survival manuals and he is constantly in them - along with an Edible Wild Plants manual. He and our oldest dd (13) want us to desperately drop them off in our uncle's timber for a week to "see if they can live." Um, hm, NO, but good suggestion. :D


Our oldest has wanted a dog for a good, long while and after careful consideration, she got a GSD in February. She's taught him to run on a lead while she bike rides and she takes him for a ride every day. She's trained him to Sit and they're working on Down now. But that accounts for her being outside with him, working, 2-3 hours a day.


Gardening is fantastic.


Raising animals is a good one too. Even if you live in a city, you can usually have rabbits. The genetic breeding on rabbits is SHOCKINGLY fascinating. Look up Japanese Harlequins and you'll see some really neat color patterns. We're enjoying having a buck with different color does, guessing what color the babies will be and then seeing how they turn out. We're starting to consider what breeding stock we want next to improve this characteristic, or the color, or a heavier build, etc. You can do the same with chickens if you have space.


Get them into landscaping, herbs, or wild flowers. Go camping. Do you have a nature trail by where you are? Generally anything that can be done as both an individual AND as a family is a good thing... Because the family doing it can bond ya'all together and grow the interest, and when the interest takes off, then the child can still do it as an individual, you know?


Bike riding is another good one.

Building a fort.

Digging up fishing worms, and of course, fishing.


For boys, if you are a bit more rugged? Trapping and learning to tan. (If you live in town, you do NOT want to catch the neighbor's cats...)


Fixing things - just buying old radios and televisions and letting them take them apart in the garage. You'd be surprised what they can learn just ripping stuff apart, kwim?


I will say, getting a dog has been the best for us. I'd love to agility train our terrier, but I'm afraid we'll both have to admit the truth - she's the boss. :( But a dog has been awesome.

Edited by BlsdMama
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  • 4 months later...
Guest Homebody

The U.S Forest Service has a real cool website for activities of this nature. It has tons of outdoors things to do for both kids and parents. Good thing my job(we're a marketing company) started on their "Where The Other You Lives" campaign with them!


Here's the website: Where The Other You Lives


The website is very useful, it's a response to the staggering number of kids spending more times indoors than out these days. The University of Michigan did a study recently that said that kids spend about 50% less time outdoors today than kids did 20 years ago.


It's good to see parents trying to fight this staggering trend.

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Whittling with a knife is pretty impractical indoors.

Building forts or shelters is always a fave.

One of the things that has helped DD with this is that I kept the back yard pretty wild. If she had to worry about leaving things on a lawn, she would have spent a lot less time out there. The other two helpful things have been providing a lot of materials, and a way to wash up. I used to put two dish pans on the back deck, one filled with warm soapy water and the other with clear water. Along with a rag, this is an excellent handwashing set up that enables her and her friends to clean up a bit without having to come inside. The materials I provide are things that I have looked for or run across. A neighbor cut down a tree, so I got him to give us chunks of the trunk and slices of the trunk--great stools and stepping stones! We have leftover bricks from a project. We go to the local appliance store for refrigerator boxes from time to time. I buy plants and seeds when she wants them. I salvaged a perfectly good, large wading pool from a throwaway pile. It was missing a plug, so I plugged it with an old sponge. We grew tadpoles in that for two years, accidentally establishing a colony of newts in the yard in the process. I encourage nature poetry writing and journalling. I don't care if she and her friends get very, very muddy. I bought her a kit to make concrete stepping stones, although she has not used that. (I was sure that she would. I'm not quite sure why she didn't.)


DD is 13 now. Her friends remember her yard as the coolest one in the whole city. Most people think it's a mess, pure and simple, but it has been great for her. When she is old enough to want to have friends over in a more genteel garden, we'll change it; but not before.

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