What sorts of activities do eleven year old girls enjoy?
July 13, 2009 6:50 AM   Subscribe

I have a ten (nearly eleven) year old niece who is coming to spend a week and a half with me this month. What sorts of activities do eleven year old girls enjoy?

I have a ten (nearly eleven) year old niece who is coming to spend a week and a half with me this month. I am super excited, but I haven't really spent much time with her in the past 5 years since I moved away from home. What sorts of books, tv shows, magazines, movies, and summertime activities do eleven year old girls enjoy? I want to stock the house with things she will like having around. Most of my friends have children, but they are much younger, so to ask around is moot. I live in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin (boo), so lots of outdoor options are available to me.
posted by elgalan207 to Human Relations (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by naplesyellow at 6:54 AM on July 13, 2009

You could also ask her when she gets here. Lots of girls like scrapbooking and reading and art, but lots of girls like sports and outdoorsy things. Rather than try to plan out every bit of your week and a half together, why not ask her what she likes and spend her first afternoon planning out her stay? You'll get to know each other better and she won't be stuck doing anything she doesn't want to do.
posted by Phire at 7:04 AM on July 13, 2009

Camping, with smores. Have a movie night, and let her pick out two PG-13 (or non-slasher R-rated) movies at Blockbuster that her parents probably wouldn't let her get. Bake cookies. Bike rides, if you can borrow an appropriately sized bike from a neighbor, or rent one. Find out if she's read something like Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, or The Secret Garden, and read a couple chapters every night so you finish it before she leaves.
posted by zoomorphic at 7:04 AM on July 13, 2009

Seconding Phire.

Some things that my daughter liked at that age (only 2 years ago):

webcam to stay in touch with BFFs back home
music (Is SummerFest still going on?)
reading (Get a hammock so she can laze away a summer afternoon in the yard?)
bike riding
swimming /water park (a beach? the Dells?)
carnivals / fairs / amusement parks (When is the Wisconsin State Fair?)

Also: Jonas Brothers
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:19 AM on July 13, 2009

If anyone had tried to plan a week of activities that "typical girls enjoy" for me when I was eleven, I would have been completely bored and alienated.

Actually, I did visit my aunt when I was around that age, and my favorite memories include weeding the garden and digging around in the woods with my cousin. They showed me MTV for the first time, but it wasn't interesting to me.
posted by amtho at 7:23 AM on July 13, 2009

While I agreewith Phire that planning out everything in advance is probably not the best idea, if you leave it up to her I wouldn't be surprised if you get a lot of "I don't know" 's and "whatever" 's, so having some suggestions will be helpful
posted by Midnight Rambler at 7:26 AM on July 13, 2009

Definitely craft projects. To expand on naplesyellow's suggestion, I'd recommend anything from making postcards (rubberstamps, stickers, markets, cardstock, found paper objects, etc) to send to her friends and family to something involving leaves collected on a nature hike (sunprints are pretty awesome).

A you-pick farm and baking pies (or even better, handpies, the cupcake of the pie world) would have been right up my alley at that age.

Trips to bookstore cafes are good, too. Make her feel grown-up by getting "coffee" at the cafe.

And on preview, what Phire said about letting her choose is right on. Provide her with ideas so you don't get stuck in an "I dunno" loop, though.
posted by amelioration at 7:27 AM on July 13, 2009

What sorts of activities do eleven year old girls enjoy?

It's different for each eleven year old girl. Ask her.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Definitely craft projects"

My daughter was 11 just a few months ago. If you'd said this to her she would have rather impolitely laughed in your face. Or moped. Or laughed at you and then moped. Or made an obtuse joke about it, then laughed. Or made an obtuse joke about it, then moped. Or any other combination of laughing, moping, and obtuseness.


Described that way, you probably wouldn't get a face-laugh but an impish "uh, no."

"Also: Jonas Brothers"

Another face-laugh. This time rude rather than merely impolite. It's possible something would be thrown at you. That thrown object may or may not be an 8" kitchen knife or a cinderblock. Or a lit stick of dynamite.

"A you-pick farm and baking pies"

Not all girls dig food and cooking. My daughter does in no small part because I've brainwashed her into it from a very young age, but is really only able to get some her friends to do kitchen stuff with her because it's a social activity.

"Trips to bookstore cafes are good, too... getting "coffee" [tea] at the cafe."

If I were loaning you my daughter, this would be very true. Bookstore and a cup of tea are the stealth "shopping" activity of her world.

"don't get stuck in an "I dunno" loop"

Second best advice in the thread so far.

"ask her what she likes and spend her first afternoon planning out her stay"
"It's different for each eleven year old girl. Ask her."

DING DING DING DING! Winner by knockout!

To all this I would add:
Access to her email / Facebook / MySpace / Google Talk
Borrow a Wii.
"Me" time and respect for her solitude needs.
Insight into your life rather than arriving at your house to find a pre-formed playpen for her.
posted by majick at 7:48 AM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm not an outdoorsy person in the slightest, but I had a ton of fun canoeing with my dad in Wisconsin when I was about 11. We never bothered camping, we'd just go on day trips. It's a great combination of physical activity, cool nature stuff, and quiet time to talk one on one.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:17 AM on July 13, 2009

When I visited my grandparents, my grandma used to take us grocery shopping with her the first day. It was always fun to pick out a few snacks myself. For movies and such a combination of letting her pick, and exposing her to one of your classics (your favorite movie that she has a chance of enjoying). Seconding internet access and some alone time.
posted by ejaned8 at 8:20 AM on July 13, 2009

Yeah, kids (at least, from what I remember when I was one) can smell prescribed "this is what boys/girls your age enjoy" activities from a mile away. Nthing the "ask her what she's into" recommendations. That said, she's not necessarily going to know what there might be to do around where you live, so there's nothing wrong with having a list of suggestions; It never would have occurred to me to ask to go see the National Cathedral when I was a kid, yet visits there are one of the fondest memories I have of time spent with my Grandpa.

(Disclaimer: I don't have kids and haven't been in a niece/nephew hosting situation yet, so what do I know? But that would be my approach, based on times I stayed with grandparents and aunts/uncles as a kid.)
posted by usonian at 8:37 AM on July 13, 2009

I went to stay with my aunt the summer I was 11 and we kept it simple:

Learned about the city, which is where both my parents grew up. Saw all the local sights.
Did lots of cooking
Hung out with her next-door neighbour's kid who was similar in age
Bought some clothes with the money my father left her with

I had a blast. Although I did get a little homesick halfway through and cried to my parents over the phone, all my memories of this trip are fond ones.
posted by sunshinesky at 8:45 AM on July 13, 2009

If you're not sure you'll get a clear answer about what she likes to do from her, maybe ask her parents? You can get an idea of whether she likes/dislikes/might be into/hates different things.

Many girls her age are into crafts, and there are a lot of really cool craft kits. If she is into crafts, is there something that you know how to do that you could teach her (knitting, etc?)?
posted by radioamy at 9:19 AM on July 13, 2009

When I was about that age, I used to spend the weekend with my aunt and uncle who also lived near the woods and had a lot of outdoor activities available. My uncle would always pull a few books off his shelf that he thought I might like- like my aunt's old Nancy Drew books or his botany books with cool illustrations and stick them in the guest room. Usually they would give me a small present that would keep me entertained outside- like a butterfly net or a magnifying glass, or sometimes they would just let me borrow my uncle's camera and send me home with the "arty" pictures I took.

The best part though, was since they weren't used to being around kids, they treated me like a little adult. They talked about politics and science, answered my questions, and then asked for my opinions and seriously discussed them. And I got to drink coffee with breakfast.

So I guess what I mean is, maybe your neice would like stickers and the Jonas Brothers, and for you to change up your life to accommodate her, but maybe she'd like a vacation from being a kid.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 9:22 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

as everyone else has said, it varies. i was never "girly" but i did really enjoy getting my first real pedicure and getting my eyebrows waxed with my aunt when i was about 12. that might be something fun.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:26 AM on July 13, 2009

Video games! When I would go and visit my grandmother when I was about that age, the greatest thing in the world was video games. Video games were good for all those lulls in the day, between activities and so on when my grandmother wanted a rest. They gave her a chance to stop worrying about entertaining me... And they gave me a chance to play video games, man!

Of course, there are plenty of video games out there that I'm pretty sure 11 year-old kids wouldn't like. But if you have any gaming systems, and if she seems generally interested in the idea, it wouldn't be too hard to rent some she'd like.

And, more generally, I have to agree with the people who are saying you should probably ask her parents what she'd enjoy doing.
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:48 AM on July 13, 2009

Take her grocery shopping and let her get all sorts of things she can't eat at home (within reason). You'll soon enough find out how she feels about the Jonas brothers and everything else in that age range.

Good luck and have fun.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:55 AM on July 13, 2009

I'd drop her a note now with some links to the websites of stuff to do in your area (water park, used bookstore, mall, state park, theater, zoo, craft supply store, pool, carnival, etc.) and ask her whether any of those appeal.

If you just ask her, "what do you like to do?" you're likely to get an answer like "hang out," or just "I don't know, whatever," because a lot of pre-teens/teens are shy or have difficulty articulating specific preferences to adults. (though some aren't, of course. And some adults are. I am.) But if you give her a list of activities and tell her she can pick any or all or something else entirely, that may spur her thinking.

Also, be sure to give her some time to just hang out. Let her watch movies and sleep late and relax some days rather than feeling as though you have to have activities planned all the time.
posted by decathecting at 10:10 AM on July 13, 2009

When I was an 11 / 12 year old girl i enjoyed the following:

riding my bike
wandering in woods / nature trails / parks
being in my room and not having anyone bother me if thats what i wanted (CRUCIAL)
Instant messenger (today this might be more cell phone texting and facebook)
reading (I was taken to teh bookstore and allowed to pick oout $x of books to read)
Crafts (again - take to the craft store and given a budget so i could pick out what I wanted to do)

I also really liked (and still do) when my parents, grandparents, whoever would indulge me by playing with my hair. If your neice like having her hair played with or her foot massaged or her back scratched you might offer to do this on a bored night watching tv ("I'll play with your hair if you scratch my back"
posted by WeekendJen at 10:16 AM on July 13, 2009

Yes, majick, everybody's kid is different. Which is why I prefaced my list with the words "Some things that my daughter liked at that age", which you apparently missed in your rush to snark. Good grief.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:36 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone, these are great. She's such a sweetie with the biggest heart, and I just want to have "stuff" around the house for when we have downtime at home. She doesn't have that pre-teen angst thing down yet, so as long as I don't kickstart that somehow, I will consider the trip a success!
posted by elgalan207 at 11:36 AM on July 13, 2009

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