Outdoor Activities to get teens and tweens off screens
Do you find it harder to get older kids outside? Screens are such competition that there is so much for the outdoors to compete with – it’s often not the activity of choice for our teens and tweens. Older kids might need a bit more motivation to get outdoors but there are so many brilliant things for teens and tweens to do in the great outdoors if they have a few prompts! Read on for some unique ideas to get older kids outside as well ideas for getting kids of all ages adventuring and enjoying the great outdoors.
Why is getting outside so important for teens and tweens?
Getting outdoors is so important and spending time in outdoor space, particularly for teenagers. We all know that getting outside and exercise is crucial for our mental health. Now more than ever, kids and teens are widely disconnected from nature and spending copious amounts of time indoors. Being outside can reduce stress and just a simple walk can reduce anxiety or worry which is a vital mental health strategy that teens need to learn. “Wilderness Therapy” and ‘Forest Bathing’ has emerged as a way to help troubled teens and adolescents boost their self esteem but fun activities outdoors can be a simple way to give anyone a ‘feel good feeling!’ Outdoor adventures can boost confidence as they help kids build resilience (Duke of Edinburgh anyone?) With more children spending time indoors than ever before, spending time outdoors and constantly stimulated will help a child to grow in confidence and develop resilience.
If you’ve got older children and you’re looking for tips and tricks to get them off computer screens and outside here is your bumper list of great outdoor activities that teens will love! For older kids increasing the level of challenge for your outdoors adventures is really important. Teenagers enjoy problem-solving, challenges and teambuilding, luckily all of these can be done very successfully in the great outdoors but if you’re looking for ideas to help families with older children get outside you might need to increase the adventure level challenge. Try camping, canoeing, rockclimbing, rollerskating, mountain biking, BMXing for the perfect activity engaging teens. These adventures don’t have to be expensive though, sometimes challenging a teen or tween to climb a small mountain is enough to get them outdoors!
Outside Challenge Ideas for Older Kids
Sometimes kids that are reluctant to adventure outdoors – just need to be set a challenge! We took our nine and 11-year-old and set them the challenge of finding a campsite we could walk to from my house and then pitching a tent and cooking dinner. And they did it! We walked the 12 miles to our campsite, pitched the tent without the help of Dad (who we normally rely on) and cooked sausages over a fire! We may have needed help from the friendly campsite owner who lent us a fire-lighter but we did do it! They still talk with pride about their camping adventure – there were lots of memories made.
Den Building Challenge
Grab some friends together, give each team some tarpaulin, some pegs and have them build their own shelter and award a prize for the most sturdy! We also love to use these handy den making bungees when making dens, thanks to @happywildones for introducing us to these! They’re perfect for making outdoors dens. This is a fun outdoor games for groups of kids.
Ideas to get Older kids outdoors
Put the kids in Charge
Give older kids more control, let them choose the route, the trip out or even send them off ahead and allow them to create the route for younger kids or little kids. They could leave stick arrows or flour markings for a great outdoor game to mark the way – like Hansel and Gretel! This is great for a local park or woods!
Nerf Gun Wars
Might be a little unconventional but challenge your kids to Nerf Gun War and they will jump at the chance to spend some time outdoors! This is a fun outdoor activity which works well for family members or makes a classic outdoor game that works well as an extra teen outdoor party game.
Most kids like treasure hunts but for older kids geocaching can be just the ticket they need to get outside. Geocaching is like a worldwide treasure hunt using your phone – there are many different apps you can use to crack a code or find a geocache. Try Geocaching here.
Rather than making the mistake of pitching the outdoors versus screen time – make the outdoors a cool thing in itself. If your kids are gripped by computer games – use the app to get them playing games outside!
We have tons of ideas for games to play in the woods with kids in our post here!
Outdoor Activities for tweens and teens
Hire them for a family bike ride or encourage BMXing or mountain biking for more adventurous teens!
Something that’s sure to get a teen outside is the adventure of sleeping out under the stars! You can use the app star walk to find the names of the stars you’re sleeping underneath!
Photo Scavenger Hunt
Older kids love taking photos on their phones so why not combine this with time outdoors? A photo scavenger is a great way to keep kids busy while having fun. If you have tech-savvy kids, this is a wonderful way to get them exploring outside whilst tapping into their interests. Sign up below for a FREE Photo Scavenger Hunt that’s fun for all teens and tweens aged 9 upwards. Visit our shop for more Photo Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids of all ages.
Tricky Perspective Photos
Get kids to play tricks on their friends by taking funny photographs that fool the eye! Can they make the big look small and the small look big? Our kids had fun trying these in the garden!
Visit some outdoor art or create your own! See our 100 Nature Crafts for Kids for loads of ideas of Nature Art you can make – including some great ideas for tweens!
Loads of playgrounds now have skate ramps – older kids will love the thrill of learning skateboarding and its a great one to do for teens with their friends.
Fly a Drone
Getting teens and tweens outside, off the couch and out from behind their computer or TV screens could be easy when offering them some technology to play with. Obviously ensure that the drone is suitable for the age group of child but kids will love flying drones and even taking cool nature photos!
How to get older kids off screens and outside
All kids love fires – they are cosy, magical but also have an element of danger to them. Older kids will love learning how to manage and cook on a fire and eventually – cooking their dinner on a fire. We have also found that our Kelly Kettle is a lovely way to introduce children to fire. You can have a much smaller manageable fire in the base, but it can help to build confidence in dealing with campfires and handling them, before going onto the actual big fire.
Not many kids can resist toasting marshmallows – this is a sure fire way to get older kids outdoors!
And not many kids will resist hanging about in hammocks! For teens that love to read or listen to music – a hammock is the perfect outdoor accessory! This is our hammock favourite hammock recommendation.
Treasure Trails offer great ideas for family adventures, explore places local or far away with these self-guided tours. They are captivating with some tricky clues to keep all ages of kids entertained and involved. Our 9 and 12 year old took the lead for our Rochester Treasure Trail – before we knew it, we’d been walking 2 hours! Find your local Treasure Trail here!
Borrow my Doggy
If you need motivation to get your older kids out on a walk – try borrowing a dog! This great website unites dog lovers with owners who need help walking their dogs – so that dog owners get help when they need it, dogs get more playtime and people without a dog get to spend quality time with one.
Go Ape – Tree Top Adventure
With a variety of treetop adventures and courses for different climbing abilities, Go Ape is the perfect adventure that any tween or teen will find impossible to resist! See our review of Go Ape’s adventures here.
Build a bench Activity
Fun Outdoor Activities for Teens
Read here for the full range of outdoor games for teens!
Building a bench is great to stimulate kid’s problem-solving skills. Give groups of friends some string and ask them to: Build a bench that will hold you for 10 seconds using anything you can find in the woods/ outdoors. They have to be able to sit on their bench with their feet off the ground for 10 seconds. There is huge potential in this game and no bench will look like the next one! It’s a great team game for opposing teams.
Drop the egg experiment
This is a favourite science experiment game! Give your kids an egg and a piece of string and tell them to package that egg up with all the natural materials they can find. Then, they have to drop it from a specific height – high enough that the egg would smash if not properly packaged. This is a scavenger hunt game that is great for team building and communication!
Essentially, orienteering is to dump the kids somewhere and then they have to find their way back! If your children like treasure hunts, they should enjoy orienteering. The aim of orienteering is to navigate, in sequence, to different control points that are located on a special course, using a map. A great map learning and geography exercise!
Creating a Zip Wire!
Best Outdoor Activities
How about creating a zip wire to transport secret packages to your friends? Our 10 and 12 year old had a whole day in the garden creating a zip wire to transport their lunch! Try this Zip Wire kit to create your own zip wire!
Outdoor activities to try with older kids
Canoeing/ Kayaking/ Paddle Boarding
Water activities are fun games and are a great activity for older kids. Not only will these water activities for kids keep them cool if it’s hot, but they’ll help with swimming skills and improve balance and coordination. Find out how we got on our canoeing adventure!
You can have loads of outdoor fun with walkie talkies – set up secret hide outs and communicate with them – or use them whilst trying out our fun ideas for games to play in the woods!!
Going camping, even if it’s just for one night is a fun. A new environment, unfamiliar sights and sounds, other kids to meet and play with, a tent to help put up – the bonus of eating outdoors and sleeping under the stars all make for a fun-filled adventure! Camping is the perfect outdoor activity for teens and tweens! Read here for all our top tips for family camping.
Whittling or wood carving is the perfect way for creative and crafty kids to reconnect with nature. Whittling is easy to learn, fun to do, and almost everything you need to start your first whittling project is free and right outside your door – which makes it cheap and eco-friendly as well!
Children are natural foragers—they love to get outside and search for hidden treasures. Try foraging with your teen as a new outdoor adventure to enjoy! This website is a great start to learn what is safe and any precautions you need to take.
There are 100′s of family friendly festivals around the UK and most festivals hold a variety of different skills workshops – from art and crafts to dancing and singing to science and nature. There’s something for everyone, festivals can be a great bonding experience with your kids – here’s our family festival favourites!
If you have younger kids and you’re looking for ideas to get younger kids outdoors – we have loads of ideas to make walking fun for kids!
Some kids don’t need any motivation to go outside and be active, while others are a little harder to convince. Your teen might find drone flying to be their biggest passion, while others would rather go on a forest adventure and climb in the trees. It’s all about experimentation, have a good time try lots of things, encourage adventure and your teen or tween will find themselves begging to spend more time outdoors!
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NB: Some of these products were gifted for review but all opinions are my own (or my kids!).