As much as every parent wants a long list of fun things to do on weekends with their middle schoolers this fall, each also longs to find ways to connect to their tweens during this phenomenal albeit precarious stage of life. Here are four fall outdoor activities that may bring you and your tween closer together, with laughs shared and memories made along the way.
Build a Time Capsule
There’s much about this year that you and your tween may not wish to remember, but making a time capsule is one of the fun things to do on weekends that will help preserve your tween’s favorite hobbies, songs, Marvel superhero characters, athletes, TV shows, and more through magazine clippings, trinkets, memorabilia, photos, etc. In addition to all the ‘stuff’ you will stash away, also include in the capsule (which can be a simple as a shoebox or a big mason jar) two hand-written letters, one from you speaking to the person your tween is currently and one they will write to their future self. Then make a plan to open up the time capsule together in 5 or 10 years.
Color games are usually toddler fodder but this autumnal hunt is one of the most fun and competitive fall outdoor activi-ties for you and your tween. This color-based scavenger hunt pits parent(s) against kid(s) as you race around outside to find as many items of a certain color as possible in the allotted time. Set a timer for 60 seconds and yell out, “yellow,” “orange,” “red” and so on, while scrambling to photograph all of the outdoor things that include those colors. Winner gets extra sprinkles on their ice cream!
Bob for Apples
Nothing says classic fall weekend fun more than bobbing for apples! First, go apple picking (of course) and then toss those farm fresh apples into a big bucket of cold water. This is one of those fall outdoor activities for families that’s sort of like fall fishing only with your mouth standing in for a rod & reel and crunchy apples in place of freshwater trout. Take turns with your tweens trying to fish out the apples with your arms tied behind your back and your teeth sinking into crisp red delicious apples. Bonus points if you let your teen take and then share a hilarious Boomerang video of your head trashing around in the water!
You and your tween have already caught a few apples, now pack them up with some veggies, hummus and string cheese plus your actual rods and reels, then head to a local fishing hole for one of the most classic fall outdoor activities: fishing. It makes no difference if you catch anything this time, because what you’ll really want to reel in is important bonding time with your tween.
A Tween Curated Outdoor Movie Night
For years you’ve been sharing your favorite music, sports teams, and foods with your kiddo. Now as tweens, they’re finding and defining themselves through songs, TV shows, social media, movies and more. Because projectors are so affordable and easy to use (some plug right into your smartphone!), turn your driveway or yard into a drive-in movie thea-ter this fall to watch what they love (maybe it’s The Umbrella Academy TV series on Netflix or the new Mulan movie on Disney+) and munch on their favorite snacks. Letting your tween curate an outdoor movie night will demonstrate that you truly see them and are interested in the people they are becoming. It will also go a long way to developing/strengthening a connection with your tween that will, with luck, last a lifetime. Who knows, maybe they’ll even put on a fun fishing movie!
Discover more fun things to do on weekends outdoors with your kids!
Jeff is a dad of teen daughters, avid traveler, photographer, and freelance writer. He’s penned stories on family travel, outdoor recreation, the environment, parenting, and more for Fodor’s, Reader’s Digest, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, PBS, and Esquire, among other publications. Find him on his blog, OWTK.com and on Instagram @OWTK. Jeff is also the publisher of the quarterly literary zine, Stanchion