Screen-Free Fun For YA & Middle Graders

Screen-Free Fun For YA & Middle Graders

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Remember the days when our childhood was filled with endless hours of imaginative play and exploration? As adults, we understand the importance of providing opportunities for children to disconnect from screens and engage in activities that nourish their minds, bodies, and spirits. That's why we've curated a list of screen-free ideas specifically tailored for kids aged 9-12. From outdoor adventures to creative arts and crafts, there's something for every young explorer to embrace the joy of offline entertainment.

Key Takeaways:

  • Encourage outdoor activities to promote adventure and exploration.
  • Foster creativity through engaging arts and crafts projects.
  • Promote a love for reading through book clubs and reading challenges.
  • Spark curiosity with hands-on science experiments and STEM activities.
  • Stay active through games, sports, and physical activities.

Outdoor Adventures

Get your kids off the couch and into the great outdoors with these exciting screen-free activities. From nature hikes to bike rides, there are endless opportunities for adventure and exploration.

Encouraging outdoor play not only helps kids stay active but also allows them to connect with nature and develop their problem-solving skills. Whether it's discovering new trails, building forts, or going on scavenger hunts, here are some screen-free ideas that will keep your kids entertained.

Hiking and Nature Exploration

Hiking | Definition, Types, & Facts | Britannica

Take your kids on a nature hike to explore the beauty of their surroundings. Choose a nearby park, forest, or nature reserve where they can observe plants, animals, and natural habitats. Encourage them to take pictures or sketch their findings along the way.

Bike Riding Adventures

Creative Ideas for Family Bike Adventures - We Love Cycling

Do your kids love riding their bikes? Plan a bike ride adventure where they can explore new routes, discover hidden gems in your neighborhood, or even organize a family bike race. Make sure they have their helmets on for safety!

Camping and Campfire Fun

Turn your backyard into a camping site and let your kids experience the joy of sleeping under the stars. Set up a tent, build a campfire (with adult supervision), and share stories and laughter as you roast marshmallows for s'mores.

Scavenger Hunts and Treasure Trails

Halloween Scavenger Hunt Pumpkin Trail Checklist - Twinkl

Create a scavenger hunt or treasure trail for your kids to embark on. Hide clues, objects, or treasures around your home, backyard, or a local park. This activity will get their hearts racing as they solve puzzles and search for hidden surprises.

Activity Benefits
Hiking and Nature Exploration Encourages physical activity
Promotes curiosity and appreciation for nature
Enhances problem-solving skills
Bike Riding Adventures Improves cardiovascular fitness
Boosts endurance and strength
Instills a sense of adventure and exploration
Camping and Campfire Fun Creates lasting memories
Fosters a love for the outdoors
Promotes family bonding
Scavenger Hunts and Treasure Trails Stimulates critical thinking and problem-solving
Builds teamwork and communication skills
Provides excitement and entertainment

By engaging in these outdoor adventures, your kids will not only have fun but also develop important life skills and create lasting memories. So, get ready to explore the great outdoors and embark on unforgettable adventures together!

Creative Arts and Crafts

Encourage your child's creativity with these engaging arts and crafts activities. From painting and drawing to DIY projects, they'll have a blast expressing themselves while developing their artistic skills.

Let your child's imagination soar as they explore various art mediums and techniques. Whether it's creating colorful masterpieces or crafting unique jewelry, these screen-free activities will inspire their creativity and nurture their self-expression.

Here are some exciting arts and crafts ideas to get your child started:

  1. Create a scrapbook using photos, drawings, and mementos from special events or vacations.
  2. Design and decorate their own t-shirts or tote bags using fabric paints or markers.
  3. Build a model using clay or play dough, or try their hand at sculpting with air-dry clay.
  4. Make homemade cards for family and friends, adding personal touches with colorful markers, stickers, and glitter.
  5. Experiment with different painting techniques such as watercolors, acrylics, or finger painting to create beautiful artwork.

These creative activities not only allow your child to explore their artistic side but also enhance their fine motor skills, problem-solving abilities, and attention to detail. They'll learn to think outside the box and appreciate the beauty of their own creations.

Let their imaginations run wild and watch as they proudly showcase their masterpieces!

Benefits of Arts and Crafts Activities Skills Developed
Encourages self-expression Enhances fine motor skills
Fosters creativity and imagination Improves problem-solving abilities
Develops patience and attention to detail Promotes visual and tactile learning
Boosts confidence and self-esteem Encourages critical thinking

Book Clubs and Reading Challenges

Encourage a love for reading and foster your child's imagination by starting a book club or participating in reading challenges. These screen-free activities not only enhance their literary skills but also provide an opportunity for social interaction and intellectual growth. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started:

1. Selecting Age-Appropriate Books

Choose books that are suitable for your child's age and reading level. Consider their interests, but also introduce them to different genres and authors to broaden their literary horizons. Engage them in the selection process by allowing them to have a say in picking the books for the club.

2. Organizing Engaging Discussions

Encourage lively and thought-provoking discussions by preparing questions or prompts ahead of time. This will help stimulate conversation and ensure that everyone gets a chance to share their thoughts and opinions. Make the sessions interactive by incorporating activities or games related to the books.

"Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are." - Mason Cooley

3. Setting Reading Challenges

Add some excitement to the book club by setting reading challenges. You can challenge your child to read a certain number of books within a specific time frame or explore different themes or genres throughout the year. Reward their accomplishments to keep them motivated and engaged.

  • Challenge them to read a book from every genre, such as mystery, fantasy, historical fiction, and biography.
  • Encourage them to read a book written by an author from a different culture or background.
  • Set a goal to read a specific number of pages or chapters each week or month.

By participating in book clubs and reading challenges, your child can develop a lifelong love for reading and expand their knowledge and understanding of the world. It's a fantastic way to keep them engaged and entertained without relying on screens.

Science Experiments and STEM Activities

50+ Of The Best STEM Water Projects and Science Experiments For Kids

Ignite your child's curiosity and foster a love for science with these exciting hands-on experiments and STEM activities. Designed for kids ages 9-12, these screen-free ideas will captivate young scientists and inspire them to explore the wonders of the world around them.

From building robots to conducting chemistry experiments, these activities offer endless opportunities for discovery and learning. Whether your child has a passion for engineering, biology, or physics, there's something here to capture their imagination.

Encourage your child to think critically, problem-solve, and apply scientific principles in a fun and engaging way. These screen-free experiments and STEM activities will not only entertain your child but also help them develop essential skills such as observation, experimentation, and logical thinking.

Robot Building

Best robot building kit –

Let your child's creativity and engineering skills shine by building their own robot. Whether it's a simple cardboard creation or a more advanced electronic robot, this activity will introduce your child to the principles of mechanics, circuits, and programming.

Chemistry Experiments

Unleash your child's inner chemist with a range of safe and exciting chemistry experiments. From making volcanoes erupt to creating slime and invisible ink, these experiments will spark their curiosity and teach them about chemical reactions, states of matter, and more.

Engineering Challenges

20+ Engineering STEM Challenges With Simple Materials - Sunshine Whispers

Challenge your child to design and build structures using everyday materials such as toothpicks, popsicle sticks, and marshmallows. Engaging in engineering challenges will help your child develop problem-solving skills, spatial awareness, and an understanding of structural stability.

Science Fair Projects

Science Fair Project Ideas - TinkerLab

Encourage your child to take their passion for science to the next level by participating in a science fair. Whether they choose to investigate the effects of magnets, explore the properties of light, or conduct a biology experiment, science fairs provide a platform for creativity, innovation, and scientific inquiry.

Let your child's imagination soar and watch their love for science grow with these hands-on experiments and STEM activities. By providing screen-free opportunities for exploration, you are fostering a lifelong curiosity and passion for the world of science.

Active Games and Sports

Physical Education, Games and Sport – Myddle CE Primary and Nursery School

Promote physical fitness and teamwork with these screen-free ideas for kids aged 9-12. Engaging in active games and sports not only keeps children active but also helps develop important social and motor skills. Whether it's playing traditional playground games or joining organized sports leagues, these activities provide an opportunity for fun and learning.

1. Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag | Youth Group Games

Organize a thrilling game of capture the flag in your backyard or at a nearby park. Divide the players into two teams and designate specific "flags" for each team. The objective is for each team to capture the other team's flag and safely bring it back to their own territory. Capture the Flag encourages strategic planning, teamwork, and physical activity.

2. Obstacle Course Challenge

Children's Obstacle Course Equipment | HART Sport 

Create an exciting obstacle course in your backyard using hula hoops, cones, ropes, and other household items. Designate different stations for various physical challenges, such as crawling under a table, jumping over hurdles, and balancing on a beam. Time each participant and see who can complete the course the fastest. Obstacle courses promote agility, coordination, and problem-solving skills.

3. Scavenger Hunt

The Great Scavenger Hunt • Haverford Township Free Library

Plan a scavenger hunt that takes kids on a journey to discover hidden treasures. Create a list of clues and hide small prizes or treats throughout your home or neighborhood. Encourage kids to work together or compete in teams as they solve riddles and follow the clues. Scavenger hunts enhance critical thinking, teamwork, and physical activity as children search for the hidden items.

4. Sports League

Youth Sports Leagues - Family eGuide

Encourage your child to join a local sports league or team. Whether it's soccer, basketball, tennis, or any other sport they enjoy, participating in organized sports provides a structured environment for skill development, teamwork, and friendly competition. Sports leagues not only promote physical fitness but also teach valuable life lessons such as perseverance, discipline, and sportsmanship.

By incorporating these screen-free games and sports activities into your child's routine, you can ensure they stay active, engaged, and socially connected. Encourage them to have fun, make new friends, and discover the joys of physical activity.

Cooking and Baking Adventures

June 2016 Kid's Baking Adventures & Young Baker's Hangout | Online Recipe |  The Maya Kitchen

Introduce your child to the wonderful world of cooking and baking with these screen-free ideas for kids aged 9-12. Not only will they have a blast in the kitchen, but they'll also develop essential skills and a lifelong appreciation for food and nutrition.

Let's dive into some fun and tasty cooking and baking adventures:

  1. Cooking Classes: Enroll your child in cooking classes where they can learn basic kitchen skills and techniques. From chopping vegetables to sautéing, they'll gain confidence in the kitchen and learn to create delicious meals.
  2. Recipe Experiments: Encourage your child to explore new recipes and experiment with their favorite ingredients. Let them take the lead in the kitchen and unleash their creativity. Who knows, they might invent the next popular dish!
  3. Family Recipe Tradition: Pass down family recipes from generation to generation. Involve your child in preparing the family's special dishes and share the stories behind each recipe. It's a wonderful way to connect with your heritage and create lasting memories.
  4. Baking Bonanza: Dive into the world of baking by making cookies, cakes, bread, and more. Let your child measure ingredients, mix the batter, and decorate their creations. Baking not only stimulates their senses but also teaches patience and precision.
  5. Kitchen Science: Combine cooking and science by exploring the chemical reactions in the kitchen. Teach your child about the science behind baking soda and vinegar reactions or demonstrate how heat changes the texture and taste of food. It's a great way to make learning fun and delicious!
  6. Farmer's Market Adventure: Take your child to a local farmer's market and let them choose fresh ingredients for a meal. Discuss the importance of supporting local farmers and buying seasonal produce. Back in the kitchen, they can prepare a farm-to-table feast.

By engaging in these cooking and baking adventures, your child will not only develop useful culinary skills but also gain a deeper understanding of nutrition, creativity, and cultural traditions. So put on your aprons and let the kitchen adventures begin!

Music and Dance Exploration

26 Great Dance Games & Activities (For Kids, Teens & Adults)

Let your child's creativity shine with these music and dance exploration activities. Encourage them to explore their musical talents and express themselves through rhythmic movements. From learning to play instruments to choreographing their own dance routines, these screen-free ideas will inspire their artistic endeavors and provide hours of entertainment.

Learn to Play Instruments

How to Learn to Play an Instrument - YouTube

Music has a profound impact on cognitive development and emotional well-being. Introduce your child to the world of music by guiding them through the process of learning an instrument. Whether it's a piano, guitar, violin, or drums, playing an instrument fosters discipline, enhances concentration, and promotes creativity. Encourage your child to practice regularly, and watch their musical abilities flourish.

Create Dance Routines

15 Ideas To Help You Make Amazing Dance Choreography | STEEZY Blog

Do you have a little dancer in your family? Help them unleash their talent by encouraging them to create their own dance routines. Provide them with music of their choice and challenge them to choreograph a routine that showcases their unique style and moves. Dance not only boosts physical fitness but also allows children to express their emotions and tell stories through movement.

Benefits of Music and Dance Exploration
Enhances cognitive development
Promotes self-expression and emotional well-being
Fosters discipline and concentration
Boosts creativity and imagination
Improves coordination and physical fitness

Embark on a journey of creativity and self-discovery with your child through music and dance exploration. These activities provide a screen-free avenue for personal expression and enjoyment. Encourage your child to indulge in their passion for music and movement, and watch them thrive in their artistic endeavors.

Historical and Cultural Immersion

Expand your child's horizons by immersing them in the rich tapestry of history and diverse cultures through these interactive screen-free activities. By visiting museums, historical sites, and participating in cultural festivals, your child can develop a deeper appreciation for the world around them.

Visiting Museums

How Curious People Visit Museums – scott thorp

Step into a world filled with wonder and discovery by taking your child to museums showcasing historical artifacts, art collections, and scientific wonders. From natural history museums to art galleries, these institutions provide a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Some must-visit museums for kids aged 9-12 include:

  • The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
  • The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
  • The Louvre Museum in Paris

Exploring Historical Sites

10 Must Visit Historical Places Around the World | Zameen Blog

Embark on a journey through time as you explore significant historical sites in your local area or during family vacations. From ancient ruins to historic landmarks, these sites provide a tangible connection to the past and offer a unique learning experience for kids. Popular historical sites for kids aged 9-12 include:

  1. The Great Wall of China
  2. The Colosseum in Rome
  3. The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt

Participating in Cultural Festivals

Visiting Cultural Festivals to Teach Kids about Other Cultures -  Multicultural Kid Blogs

Immerse your child in different cultures by attending local cultural festivals and celebrations. From food festivals to traditional music and dance performances, these events offer a vibrant and interactive experience. By experiencing different customs and traditions, your child will gain a better understanding and respect for diversity. Some notable cultural festivals perfect for kids aged 9-12 include:

"Attending cultural festivals not only exposes children to different traditions and customs but also encourages acceptance and appreciation for diverse cultures." - Cultural Anthropologist Jane Schmidt

Festival Location Date
Carnival Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February/March
Diwali New Delhi, India October/November
Chinese New Year Beijing, China January/February


By embracing screen-free ideas for kids aged 9-12, you can create a world of fun, learning, and adventure beyond digital devices. These activities promote creativity, curiosity, and physical and mental well-being, allowing your child to thrive in various aspects of their development.

From outdoor adventures that ignite their love for nature to engaging in creative arts and crafts that nurture their artistic skills, there is a vast array of possibilities to explore. Reading challenges and science experiments stimulate their intellectual curiosity, while active games and sports foster physical fitness and teamwork.

Encouraging your child to participate in cooking and baking adventures can instill a lifelong love for food and nutrition. Music and dance exploration activities allow your child to express themselves, while historical and cultural immersion activities help them gain a deeper appreciation for the world around them.

It's time to break free from the screen and unlock the full potential of your child's imagination. Incorporate these screen-free ideas into your child's routine and witness their growth in creativity, curiosity, and overall well-being. Embrace the joy of offline entertainment and watch your child blossom into a well-rounded individual.


How can I encourage my child to participate in outdoor adventures?

There are several ways to get your child excited about outdoor activities. Start by planning nature hikes, bike rides, or even camping trips. You can also encourage them to join sports teams or participate in outdoor games with friends and family.

What are some creative arts and crafts activities for kids aged 9-12?

There are plenty of creative arts and crafts activities to try. Your child can explore painting, drawing, pottery, or even try their hand at DIY projects. Let their imagination run wild and provide them with the necessary materials and guidance to make their artistic visions a reality.

How can I start a book club or reading challenge for my child?

Starting a book club or reading challenge is a great way to promote reading and engage your child. Choose age-appropriate books that align with your child's interests and invite their friends or other kids in the community to join. Set reading goals, organize discussions, and create a fun and supportive environment for literary exploration.

What are some science experiments and STEM activities for kids aged 9-12?

There are numerous science experiments and STEM activities that can captivate young minds. Encourage your child to build robots, conduct chemistry experiments, or explore the wonders of physics and astronomy. There are plenty of online resources and age-appropriate STEM kits available to help guide their learning and curiosity.

How can I involve my child in active games and sports?

Involve your child in active games and sports by organizing backyard or neighborhood games like capture the flag or tag. Additionally, consider enrolling them in local sports leagues or clubs that align with their interests. Encourage them to try new sports and activities to keep them active and engaged.

What are some fun cooking and baking adventures for kids ages 9-12?

Get your child involved in the kitchen by introducing them to cooking and baking adventures. Teach them basic cooking skills, experiment with new recipes, and encourage them to plan and prepare meals for the family. This will not only develop their culinary skills but also teach them about nutrition and healthy eating habits.

How can my child explore music and dance?

Encourage your child's love for music and dance by providing them with opportunities to explore different instruments and dance styles. Enroll them in music or dance classes, allow them to experiment with composing their own music or choreographing dance routines. Provide them with the necessary resources and support to nurture their passion.

What are some ways to introduce my child to history and different cultures?

Help your child immerse themselves in history and different cultures by visiting museums, historical sites, or cultural festivals. Encourage them to read books or watch documentaries about different time periods and cultures. Engage them in discussions and encourage them to ask questions to develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

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