Activities for bored boys?
May 27, 2008 10:42 AM   Subscribe

What are some good things to do with one or two pre-teen boys? Besides play video games?

I spend every other Sunday with my boyfriend's ten-year-old son and/or his twelve-year-old nephew, and I would like to do things with them that they would enjoy, but their only interests are pokemon and video games.

I have four younger sisters and I'm very good at playing dolls and dress-up and crafts and other girly things, but I am lost when it comes to boys, especially boys who seem perpetually bored without a tv/computer screen in front of them (they both complained about being bored during a two minute walk to the park!). What are some good activities to do with them or encourage them to do themselves?
posted by kerfuffled to Human Relations (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I started learning tennis at about that age - didn't like it for a few weeks, folks pushed me to it - after that I loved it, played as much as I could for years (until I got into squash, which is even better). Most cities seem to have some public courts all over the place, maybe a $50 investment if you have no rackets.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:52 AM on May 27, 2008

Buy them a copy of "The Dangerous Book For Boys." (The title alone will get their attention!)
posted by Carol Anne at 10:54 AM on May 27, 2008

Seconding sports of some kind... just get them outdoors. They might have been bored in the park because there was nothing to focus their attention. I was introduced to surfing at an early age, they might like baseball or football... or even frisbee.

What about going on a bike ride with them? Some of my fondest childhood memories were all-day, off-road bike trips my father used to take me and my brother on.
posted by rooftop secrets at 10:55 AM on May 27, 2008

BB guns + Boys + Backyard = Good Times. (until someone loses an eye.)
posted by terpia at 10:58 AM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have a 6 and a 9, so it's a little younger, but:

- some boys love to play catch for hours on end. Get a nerf football, or a whiffle ball set, or a couple of gloves.

- You can get a cheap bocce set and play lawn bowling, tons of fun.

- All boys love paper airplanes. Scientific American had a pretty good book out back in the day, and there are thousands of PDF's with fun printable patterns out there.

- Plastic and Wood models are fun- especially battleships, guns, airplanes, and other items. You can get non-toxic glue these days, definitely a good idea.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:59 AM on May 27, 2008

Find an archery range? Roller skating/ice skating rink? Go-karts?
posted by gnutron at 11:01 AM on May 27, 2008

Poker. For money.
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:05 AM on May 27, 2008

Take them fishing. There's nothing better than the look on their face when they catch one for the first time. They'll never forget it. Ever.

I also agree with the BB gun post. Supervised... of course. I do this with my teens at the cottage. I hang some soda cans from a stick and see who can hit them all without reloading.

Anything that involves crashing, exploding or breaking things - driving stuff too. Go Karts...

posted by Scoops at 11:05 AM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

The easy answer has already been said: BB guns. If dad allows it, and you have the space, set up a few pop cans in a field (with a rock on top so the don'f fly off with only one hit).

You can also take the to go-karts, batting cages, mini golf or paintball.
posted by yeti at 11:09 AM on May 27, 2008

I say you all start leveling WoW characters together. It's a video game. It is also a brutal exercise for all of you in team work, communication, helping, and sharing.
posted by ewkpates at 11:30 AM on May 27, 2008

posted by Nelsormensch at 12:08 PM on May 27, 2008

I have two boys ages 12 and 14. We don't have video games and until recently didn't have cable either, so fun activities for us have always been the old-school things like board games & road trips & hikes in the woods etc. So my boys are pretty self-sufficient & imaginative WRT dealing with boredom. Their friends are very very different though. We went through a couple of dry years, at about 10-12 sorry to say, where my boys were invited places but nobody wanted to come here. Having a birthday party for boys who are too old for organized games & too young for horror flick all-nighters is tough without video games. My boys have one friend who won't spend the night here unless he can bring his own xbox. Um, no.

After a few false starts I found an approach that worked for us. I stopped trying to make non-screen activities "fun" for them. Just like with picky eaters (and I have found that unimaginative children have unadventurous palates as well), I'll order enough pizza for everyone, and if you don't like mushrooms (or whatever) on your pizza you can pick them off, but I'm not going to order you your own personal plain one just because that's what your mom does for you.

I would suggest for you that rather than try to win these kids over by going to the park (which probably doesn't meet your standards for fun either), that you figure out what you want to do and allow them to join you as long as they promise not to complain. For a lot of kids it really is secretly pleasurable to be invited to do something "adult" like go see an exhibit at a local gallery or have dinner somewhere that has outdoor tables & live music.

Don't try too hard to do the things on the official "boy activity" list. Those aren't things that you would be doing on a given Sunday, and it doesn't sound like they're the kinds of things these boys want to be doing (and even if it were, it's highly doubtful that they'd want to be doing those things with their dad's girlfriend anyway). Do what's fun and interesting for you, modify it a bit if necessary, and invite them along.

And then stop at the batting cages on the way home =)
posted by headnsouth at 12:15 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Role playing games - specifically, old-school D&D.
posted by anastasiav at 12:38 PM on May 27, 2008

Kickball, fishing, and poker (for money).

I played poker with my friend's 10-year olds boys (twins) last year and they loved it. (We staked them to $3.00 each, much of which they lost of course). In fact, at a barbecue yesterday, one kept bugging me to play again. Notwithstanding the fact that my 7 year old daughter cleaned him and his brother out.
posted by msalt at 12:39 PM on May 27, 2008

Seconding Nelsormench's geocaching.

Also, you don't mention whether these visits are at your place, your boyfriend's, or the boys', but if it's either of the former two, then starting some sort of large-ish DIY household project (preferably building/fixing-related-- like constructing a small shed, or getting an old mower running) might be a cool way to engage the boys. Kids that age do like to help out with things; they'd probably enjoy figuring out the mechanics and learning to use the tools, and the ongoing nature of the project might help give the activity momentum from visit to visit.
posted by Bardolph at 12:47 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Besides the many good options that people have mentioned, you might consider developing an interest yourself in Pokemon and video games.
posted by box at 1:00 PM on May 27, 2008

posted by fixedgear at 2:10 PM on May 27, 2008

Seconding tabletop RPGs. They already like the electronic RPG Pokemon, so they already have an idea of what it's all about. (If you're not already interested in RPGs this may take a bit of effort -- you need a good grasp of the rules if you want to be in charge of running a game.)
posted by CrunchyFrog at 2:11 PM on May 27, 2008

Model rockets. You will be the awesomest adult, evar.
posted by Doohickie at 2:18 PM on May 27, 2008

nthing Geocaching!

What fun!
posted by Incognita at 5:17 PM on May 27, 2008

BB guns are cool but real guns are cooler. If you can sign them up for some sort of shooting/safety class they'd love it and learn a lot of responsibility. Plus, you'd be super-bad-ass.
posted by b_thinky at 11:43 PM on May 27, 2008

I used to babysit two fifth-grader and we played a lot of black-jack...I think we used small cookies or chocolate chips instead of money. If you know how to play Texas Hold 'Em that's probably cooler.
posted by radioamy at 11:22 AM on May 28, 2008

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