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10 From GEM: Fun And Easy Things To Do With Your Preteen

 

Creative Commons/jackie weisberg

Creative Commons/jackie weisberg

10 From GEM:
Fun And Easy Things To Do With Your Preteen

If you’ve been following 10 From GEM, you’ve noticed that we’ve given you ideas for easy activities you can do with your kids at different stages. We’ve finally reached the 9-12-year-olds—the not-a-little-kid-but-definitely-not-a-teenager group. This age group is a challenge because they want to establish independence and may not want to have fun with you. But keep reading for 10 activities you can do with your preteen to stay connected and have fun at the same time.

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1. READ A BOOK TOGETHER

Creative Commons/Passive Income Dream.com

Creative Commons/Passive Income Dream.com

There’s so much parents can teach their children with just a book and an open mind. Read a book with your preteen and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to have discussions about life. Think of it as having your own book club. Start by allowing her to choose a book and get your own copy. Set aside time where you might read aloud to each other. If that won’t work, read on your own and choose a time when you’ll get together and talk about themes and events in the book.

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2. TAKE YOUR PRETEEN TO WORK

Creative Commons/SodexoUSA

Creative Commons/SodexoUSA

Does your preteen really know what you do all day? He may know your job title, but he might not be aware of your responsibilities. Arrange to take him to work with you. This isn’t a chance for him to get a day off from school and play on his cell phone. Get into the spirit of things by having him dress appropriately for your workplace. Create projects for him to do. Ask if he can shadow your co-workers for a short period of time.

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3. DO A PROJECT

Creative Commons/Susan (expectant1)

Creative Commons/Susan (expectant1)

This project can be big or small, but do one that your preteen can really get behind. Maybe her bedroom needs redecorating. You can paint together. Perhaps she enjoys digging in the garden. Give her a small space to tend. The idea is that whatever you do, you do it together and that includes shopping for the necessary materials.

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4. PLAY VIDEO GAMES

Creative Commons/AnaleaGwendolyn

Creative Commons/AnaleaGwendolyn

You’ve watched your preteen spend hours slack-jawed and fixated with his video games. Even if you can think of a thousand better things to do, play some of his games with him. Yes, he’ll probably wipe the floor with you, but that will be part of the fun for him. And he just might like teaching you something you don’t know how to do.

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5. FAMILY CHALLENGE

Creative Commons/iFlook

Creative Commons/iFlook

If you’ve never tried a family challenge, you’re in for a treat. The challenge can be simple and last for less than a day or elaborate and go on for several days or even several weeks. The idea is that you and your preteen (really the whole family) come up with activities that each person must do. If you have a large family, you can work in teams. Let the kids formulate the tasks. They can be mental or physical and there should be some sort of prize at the end.

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6. PLAN A FIELD TRIP

Creative Commons/doccal

Creative Commons/doccal

Remember when field trips were always a highlight of the school year? You can duplicate that feeling for yourself and your preteen by planning and going on your own field trip. As with school field trips, there should be an educational or cultural element to it. Visit a small, lesser-known museum in your area. Catch the local theater’s version of Brigadoon. Enjoy the sounds of the high school chorus. You don’t have to live in or near a big city to have a cool, fun field trip.

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7. TAKE A CLASS TOGETHER

Creative Commons/johnanthoney

Creative Commons/johnanthoney

Get quality time with your preteen and learn something new by taking a class. Check with local businesses, community centers, and health clubs for opportunities you can do together. Some class options include painting, cooking, yoga, photography, theater, and foreign languages.

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8. ONE-ON-ONE TIME

Creative Commons/dharperino

Creative Commons/dharperino

Going out one-on-one with your preteen will create lifelong memories. Plan the outing with as much care and attention as you would a date with your significant other. Take each child on his or her own fun day (or night) with just you. Do something interactive or at least make it balanced. For example, if you go out to see a movie—which doesn’t allow conversation—end with dessert so that you have a chance to talk.

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9. DO GOOD

Creative Commons/FCMichigan

Creative Commons/FCMichigan

Helping others builds character and encourages feelings of empathy. Show your preteen how to reach out to others by volunteering together. Don’t just make it a one-time event. Based on your family’s lifestyle, make a commitment to work together on behalf of other people. Try some activities like delivering meals, donating to a food pantry, or picking up litter.

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10. MAKE A DREAM BOARD

Creative Commons/beyondy2k_us

Creative Commons/beyondy2k_us

Whether you call it an interest board, a vision board, or a dream board, this is an excellent way for both of you to create the lives you each want to have. Preteens are full of ideas, dreams, and goals, but they don’t always know how to figure things out. A dream board is a visual representation of what’s going on in their heads. You never know what new dreams will be mined. Cut out pictures of things you love, paste them to a poster board, and watch your lives unfold.

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What are some things you do with your preteens to stay engaged with them? Leave your ideas and comments below.

More From GEM:

10 From GEM: Fun Indoor Activities For Babies And Toddlers

10 From GEM: Easy, Indoor Activities For Preschoolers

10 From GEM: Easy Indoor Activities For Big Kids

 

(Editor’s note: This piece originally aired 5/2/2013)

 

 

 Alexis Walker

 Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is a stay at home mom and writer who loves all things chocolate. Read more about Alexis on her blog lilliebelle.org or email her at alexistrasswalker@gmail.com.

 

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