How to Get Your Tween Outdoors and Off the Screen

You can get your tweens off the screens with these fun outdoor activities. It just takes a little preparation and enthusiasm.

How many YouTube slime videos can one tween watch? According to my unscientific, yet highly personal research, the world may never know.

There doesn’t seem to be a point at which a tween decides they have seen all the slime that’s fit to see. Unfortunately, that leaves it up to us as their parents to find alternatives that are as attractive as a borax solution (and sometimes change the wifi password).

Yet, it isn’t an impossible task. It doesn’t take superpowers, nor moving to a dead zone, but it can require us to put down our own technology. Our entire family will benefit from more interaction with nature and less with a screen.

So what can you do to get your tweens more interested in outdoor activities, and less about the latest squishy makeover?

Outdoor Activities for Tweens

Encouraging Your Tweens in Outdoor Activities

There are many options to consider when encouraging your tween to get outside more, but the success of each idea will depend on your child’s interests and personality.

Outdoor Sports

Sports give many tweens and their families the opportunity to be outside and off the devices. There is also a sport for almost every personality. Whether soccer or baseball for the extroverted child, or golf or cross country for the more reserved child, there is certainly a sport that will appeal to your child.

Organized sports are a great option for many families, however, the downside is that you’re often forced into a schedule, not of your own making. With a large family, this has always been an issue.

There were even times a child wanted to play a sport but I wouldn’t know the practice days until after I signed her up. That just isn’t going to work when coordinating the schedule of a family of eight.

So if sports aren’t your or your child’s thing, or the scheduling demands are too great, don’t worry there are still ways to get everyone outside.

Family Activities in Nature

Getting outside as a family is a great way to bring that somewhat unwilling tween along. It also gives you the benefit of being in nature but also encourages family connection.

Whether camping, hiking or simply raking the leaves, getting outside with your tween will make it more enjoyable for everyone. They may appear as if they don’t care or would rather be anywhere but with you, but that isn’t the case. Tweens still want to be included, even when they’re making it difficult.

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Other Organized Outdoor Activities

Perhaps sports aren’t a good fit and you don’t see yourself camping anytime soon, there are still activities to get your child outside.

The obvious options are scouting organizations or 4H, but you might be surprised at the other things you will find if you look. Just yesterday, I was at our local library and saw an announcement that they are having a “picnic” family storytime. Bring a blanket, a picnic, and enjoy storytime outside. What a great idea!

Field trips are also a great way to spend some time in nature. Over the years of homeschooling, we’ve had many field trips with an outdoor or nature focus. Where should you look?

  • National, state, and local parks
  • Nature centers and zoos
  • Botanical gardens or arboretums
  • Libraries
  • Rescue centers (i.e. bird of prey rescues)
  • Local chapters of organizations such as the Audobon Society

You never know what you might find with a little digging. A homeschool event with our county watershed organization had the kids marching through a local creek and testing water samples. So do a little digging and see what you can find.

Make Outdoor Activites Interesting, Fun, and Purposeful

Kids are clever. They are very aware when an activity or lesson is contrived. They don’t want to talk about building a fire, the want to BUILD A FIRE! Isn’t that true of most of us?

Learning is pleasureable but doing is the height of enjoyment.


So no matter how fabulous the opportunity to get outside may be, if we can’t give it some meaning and make it sound compelling, we will be met with opposition.

So what do tweens want to do? They want to be capable, they want to learn something useful, and they want to do more than they believe they are capable of doing. They may not recognize these desires, but they will be so proud of themselves and feel confident when they master a new skill.

How can you give your tween the opportunity to learn valuable outdoor skills when you don’t know the first thing about tying a knot? Make THiNK OUTSiDE boxes a part of your life of learning.

Think Outside Boxes
My tween learning to use the fire striker in the THiNK OUTSiDE Fire Box.

Learn Outdoor Skills with THiNK OUTSiDE BOXES

When I first checked out THiNK OUTSiDE BOXES, I was pulled in by their tagline.

Inspiring curiosity. Fostering independence. Encouraging a life of learning.


It’s like they know me! This is everything I believe about learning and homeschooling, and I knew I was in for a treat. So what comes in each box?

  • An activity booklet that gives you instructions on the included tools, interesting facts, and hands-on ideas
  • An online, downloadable lesson plan with Objectives, Lesson Plans, and Vocabulary
  • 3-5 pieces of high-quality outdoor gear

We first dove into the Nature box which focuses on insects and includes a bite and sting kit, self-illuminated trail tweezers, a magnifying glass, and a fun, collapsible frisbee.

Did you know you can determine whether a snake bite is venomous or nonvenomous by the bite mark? Since we live in an area with both types of snakes, this is certainly useful information. I plan on hanging this bite and sting kit in the garage so it is always available in an emergency.

Outdoor Activities for Tweens

Next, we gave the Fire Box a try. This box includes a fire striker, cotton tinder, kindling logs, and a collapsible bellow.

All of the kids love to have a fire in the fall, but finding dry tinder in our moist environment can be tough. The included campfire kit has everything we need to keep us toasty warm on a cold evening.

Outdoor Activities for Tweens

What I love most about THiNK OUTSiDE BOXES is that they are filled with useful and practical items and information. Knowing how to build a fire is an important skill. It can also serve them very well to be able to identify poisonous bites and stings.

This isn’t a kit of crafty, busy work that serves no further purpose. THiNK OUTSiDE BOXES provide instruction and practice in real-life skills, which will ultimately make your tween confident and capable.

If you’re looking to upgrade your nature study to better suit your growing children, consider THiNK OUTSiDE BOXES. When given the opportunity to learn a practical skill with real materials, tweens will rise to the occasion.

Tweens Need the Right Outdoor Activites

Tweens are at a tough age, trapped somewhere between childhood and growing up. They often aren’t sure where they fit in. Just deciding between the playground or shopping can seem monumental.

We can help ease this transition by getting them outside and engaging in hands-on outdoor activities that give them a connection to reality.

Maybe we don’t find the right outlet immediately, but homeschool moms are exceptionally resourceful, so keep offering options. You never know what might inspire their curiosity.

Perhaps we will eventually find an outdoor activity that is at least as appealing as the latest YouTube video.

Go checkout THiNK OUTSiDE BOXES and use coupon code HOME10 to get $10 off your first order through 2019. This would make a great Christmas gift!

Looking for other nature study ideas?

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About Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six, always-homeschooled children, who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of homeschooling draws upon Classical to Unschooling and everything in between.  While homeschooling her children and writing about learning outside of school, she tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills.

One thought on “How to Get Your Tween Outdoors and Off the Screen

  1. I’m not familiar with this company, thanks for sharing about it! I struggle with getting my oldest teen off the electronics and interested in something else now that he’s past the Lego and toy stage. My younger teen likes to draw so he usually does that when not on electronics.

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