As your child enters the preteen years between ages 10 and 12, you may find the simple games that enthralled him in his younger years no longer hold his interest or challenge his developing abilities. Some children will gravitate naturally toward more sedentary activities, such as video and computer games. While these can have a place in your child's entertainment repertoire, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recommends that parents encourage their children in more physical pursuits to support physical health and mental well-being. When planning games for kids age 10 to 12, balance fun with physical and mental challenges appropriate to their age and interest level.
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Ready, Set, Action
When the weather allows, get the kids outside and moving. You can get creative and play "Statues" in the sprinklers when the weather heats up. One person controls the sprinkler, and, when it goes off, everyone must freeze. Anyone caught moving when the sprinklers are off is out. Have a water gun or water balloon fight. Challenge your kids to create obstacle courses or scavenger hunts for one another and race to see who can complete them first. Jazz up a game of tag by playing at night with flashlights in an open area.
When the weather dictates that indoor fun is in order, turn on some music and dance. If you are entertaining a group of preteens, play "Spot the Ringleader." Send one person out of the room while the rest sit in a circle. Select a "ringleader" and tell everyone else to copy whatever that person does without letting on who is giving the orders. When the guesser comes back, she has three chances to observe and guess who is leading the action. Preteens may also enjoy a round of "Make Me Laugh," where players take turns trying to get "it" to laugh by telling jokes, funny stories, making funny faces, or retelling funny things they've seen on TV or in real life. The one who succeeds in making the person laugh becomes the new "it."
Brain Power, Activate
Homemade versions of board games can help preteens exercise their brainpower. For example, in "Fictionary,” someone picks an obscure word from the dictionary and shares it with everyone. Each person then makes up a definition for the word and all are read aloud along with the real definition, and all players vote on which they think is the real definition. Alternatively, players can draw illustrations of phrases for other players to guess. Some 10- to 12-year-olds may enjoy brainteasers and riddles. You can make it into a group game by having the kids stand inside a stack of three to five hula-hoops (or more, if you want a greater challenge). Tell them they are trapped in a high-tech security facility and the only way out is to bypass each ring of security by answering a riddle. Give them the brainteasers one at a time and let them work together to solve it. They get to remove one ring for each correct answer until they earn their freedom.
If high adventure is in your blood, you will earn coolness points with preteens by taking them to a rock-climbing or parkour gym. If you have access to bodies of water and canoes or rowboats, along with life vests and lifeguards, your kids can hold boat races. Ziplining or ropes courses offer more entertainment for your adventurous preteen. If your family enjoys the high adventure activities, familiarize yourself with the use of appropriate safety gear and adhere to all safety guidelines for the specific activity, including proper adult supervision at all times.