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As kids get older, it’s harder to keep them occupied. These activities for tweens and younger teens – fun indoor games, DIY projects and cool art ideas – will keep them busy.
They’re well past the age of playing dress-ups and the screens are calling – loudly. When you’re having an inside day, what activities for tweens and young teens can you try? Tap into their creativity, put them in the driver’s seat and watch them go (with a little guidance here and there). Fun indoor games, DIY projects and cool art ideas with tangible results will quickly become the only motivation they need.
Let them graffiti their room! Trust us, it’s not as off-the-rails as it sounds. Give them a sketchbook and pencils to draw a graffiti work of their own design. You can help them find inspiration by showing them the works of artists famous for creating street art; think Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy. Next, have them draw the sketch, again in pencil, on to a canvas; for a bigger work, three same-sized square canvases will make a cool art collection. Once they’re happy with the drawing, get them to make it permanent with coloured paint markers, then hang the works in their room.
If your tween is very particular about what they’ll wear, this is the perfect DIY project for them; alternatively, the tees make great gifts. Get some pencils and a piece of paper to draw a design on, then stick that design to a thick piece of cardboard. Next, get a plain white T-shirt. Trim the cardboard with the design stuck to it, so that it fits inside the tee.
Now, it’s time to draw the sketch in pencil onto the T-shirt. Once your tween is happy with the sketch, they can make it permanent with fabric markers (note: slipping the cardboard inside the T-shirt will stop the fabric marker from bleeding through to the back of the T-shirt). Remember, some markers require ironing at the end to set. If your designer is keen for their T-shirt to have lettering, stencils come in very handy.
Even if their passports can’t get a workout right now, they can still immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and flavours of a faraway destination. Have your tween create a ‘boarding pass’ and attach it to some sticky tape or a pin. Then, using a map of the world or a corkboard with the world map printed on it, get your tween to close their eyes and stick their boarding pass to the map. Wherever they land will be the launch point for the day’s adventures – watch movies, listen to music, read stories and create recipes inspired by that destination.
Gratitude journals are a growing trend among adults but may seem like a bit of a snore to younger teens. There’s an easy fix for that: give the concept a glow-up. Instead of telling the story of their day in words, encourage them to do it in pictures: budding artists may like to use coloured pencils to draw stand out moments from the day, otherwise an instant film or polaroid camera is a great idea. Just give them a line-free workbook (A3 is a good size for a visual diary) and let them go. The results will also preserve memories for years to come.
Get some competition happening and test their skills with a few improvised and fun, indoor games. For example, start with a round of table hockey-meets-ping pong: tape a paper or plastic cup to one side or end of a table or kitchen island bench; repeat on the opposite side. Hand each player (you’ll need two) a wooden stirrer or popsicle stick and have them stand next to one of the cups. The cup they’re next to is their opponent’s goal. Then put two ping pong or small Decofoam balls on the table and start the competition. The first person to sink a ball in their goal, while stopping their opponent from doing the same, wins a point. Keep going to see who can reach 10 points first.
Got a pair of canvas sneakers that have seen better days? Don’t toss them just yet. Younger teens and tweens will enjoy an afternoon of playing fashion designer and this DIY project will give the shoes new life. Lay some newspaper down, remove laces, then stuff the sneakers with more newspaper to hold their shape. Then, using a hot glue gun (close adult supervision is required here), dot the back of coloured and silver gemstones and use tweezers to stick them to the sneakers. Another great option is fabric paint – use fine tipped brushes to create patterns with glitter paint. If your sneakers are black, use that colour as a base to create a sparkling night sky.