Having fun together and building a relationship doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The following activities have been divided into categories for your convenience but don’t limit yourselves…if it looks like fun to you then by all means give it a try! (The numbers in parenthesis after the activity is the suggested age range.)
Marbles (ages 7-12) – Marble bowling, magnetized marbles, marble races, good old fashioned marble playing.
Visit a pet shop or the local animal shelter (ages 7-12) – Learn about an animal before you go, try to go at feeding time if possible, some pet stores have playtimes when they encourage children to play with the pups.
Draw a picture of each other (ages 7-12) – Portrait or caricature, make it life-size, do it from memory with your backs to each other.
Globe/Atlas Hunt (ages 7-12) – Find a family that lives far away on a map/globe, locate where some of the current events are taking place (globally, nationally, and locally), pick a country, and out about it i.e.- what the kids in that country do for fun, etc.
Silly celebrations (ages 7-12) – Examples: Half birthdays (have a half menu – 1⁄2 of a sandwich, 1⁄2 a cupcake and 1⁄2 a cup of juice each, sing the song 1⁄2 way through, etc), National rhyming day (everything you say has to rhyme), create your own.
Visit the library (ages 7-17) – The possibilities are endless…be sure to check out their monthly activities schedule, get free museum passes, attend performances, great rainy day game space, research something you are both interested in, explore a section neither of you has ever gone into before (like travel or pet care), and books you read when you were very little and read them again for fun, learn the history of where you live, learn about another culture (what kids do, what they eat, how they live), learn about roller coasters, learn the science behind rainbows and God’s promise, investigate what has happened in history on the day you were born or your match date, read/listen to a famous speech and memorize some or all of it, just to name a few…
Read a book together (ages 7-17) – Take turns reading to each other, read a chapter book or series when apart and discuss when together, and a new author, share books you loved at their age, look through co#ee table books with amazing graphics/pictures, historical journals, and old magazines, take a walk through the 21st century with a commemorative book, act out your favorite parts of a book, consider a book that was made into a movie and compare them.
Collect something and become an expert (ages 7-17) – Stamps, coins, buttons w/slogans, menus, cards, rocks, endless possibilities…
Attend a sporting event (7-17) – Little league, high school, pick up game or professional team.
Treasure Hunt (7-17) – In an antique store, at a $ea market or a yard sale.
Learn to play an instrument (7-17) – Learn together – the harmonica, kazoo, recorder, thumb piano, guitar, or bongo. Teach your friend how to play an instrument you already know how to play.
Learn a new talent (7-17) – How to whistle really loud, how to catch a quarter o# of your elbow, spin a basketball on your finger for 1 minute, easy magic tricks, making music with a blade of grass, hula hoop tricks, yo-yo tricks, Slinky tricks, Morse Code, American Sign Language alphabet, how to jump double-dutch, a new language, how to play spoons, how to juggle, etc.
Puzzlemania (7-17) – jigsaw (from 100pcs to 1000pcs), pencil puzzles (crossword, cryptograms, dots, jumble, acrostic, Sudoku, Tic-Tac-Toe), create a giant dot to dot using poster board, Rubik’s cube, anagrams, etc.
Games to learn and play (7-17) – Boggle, Scrabble, Trouble, Domino’s/Mexican Train, Blockus, Solitaire, 500 Rummy, Sorry, Jenga, Chess, Checkers, Chinese Checkers, Backgammon, 20 Questions, I Spy, Wii games, cup stacking, favorites from your childhood… there are tons to choose from!
Write together (7-17) – Write a story, journal (shared or individual), poetry, limericks, haiku’s, letters to the editor, letters to a public “figure, and postcards to friends/family far away.
Music (7-17) – Share a song you learned as a kid, visit a music store and sample each other’s favorite artist, do karaoke, play instruments together (if you know how), listen to classical music, discover opera, make a bottle organ, and find out about instruments that are less common (sitar, harp, sousaphone, etc.)
Repair something or try to repair something (7-17) – Small appliances, broken toys, bikes, skates, old watches or clocks – check out a book from the library or go on the website for directions if you want them, take a mini DYI class at a home improvement store.
Build something (7-17) – Use cards, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, straws, a modeling kit, 3d structure, etc.
Personal Statements (7-17) – Create a special friendship handshake, make a personal tag or a banner for your mentees room, create your own logo or slogan, make a scrapbook, or a “yearbook”.
Recording/photography (7-17) – Videotape yourselves, take pictures, record yourself singing, laughing, or reciting something and use it as a ring tone, do a photoshoot w/your cell phones or a camera (get 1 really good one developed.)
Visit an airport (7-12) – Watch the planes landing and taking off, get on the moving sidewalk or escalator, listen to see how many languages you hear, talk about your dream vacation, talk to a pilot if you see one walking through the airport, bring a book about planes and try to find them on the airfield, find out how planes can fly if they are so heavy? (the smaller airports may even let you see the tower!)
Treasure Hunt/Scavenger Hunt (7-12) – In the woods, at the beach, almost anywhere. The list can be something you find, something you see, or something you hear while you are out together.
Q Go to a body of water – lake, river, pond, bay, ocean (7-12) – Skip rocks, look for crayfish, frogs or salamanders, go fishing, wade for minnows, check out the plant life.
Sledding (7-12) – On cardboard in the summer, on a sled in the winter.
Visit a farm (7-12) – Do whatever they let you do. Try a specialty farm w/horses, turkeys, chickens, ducks, goats, llamas, buffalo, etc. Pick your own fruit farms are fun and tasty.
Blow Bubbles (7-12) – Play bubble tag, bubble basketball (up into the hoop), biggest bubble contest, catch without breaking, make the bubble solution instead of buying it.
Build a fort (7-12) – It can be made of branches in the woods or cardboard and duct tape in the yard.
Visit a gardening center (7-12) – The smaller the better. A lot of gardeners love to talk about their plants, ask questions.
Take a tour (7-12) – Firehouse, Police station or Police museum, television station, radio station, go see Christmas lights/decorations.
Go to the park (7-17) – Playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball field, boat rides, feeding the ducks, picnic or a bbq, roll down a hill, lay in the grass and look at the clouds, blow bubbles and chase them, have a catch, create an obstacle course and do it, have races (backward, crabwalk, etc), play Frisbee, learn how to use a boomerang, kick a soccer ball, fly a kite, do chin-ups, skateboard/scooter, rollerblade, bike riding, stickball, handball, tree climbing, etc.
Go to the beach (7-17) – Build sandcastles or sand sculptures, watch the sunset, collect stuff, play football or volleyball in the sand, visit a lighthouse, dig for clams, fly a kite.
Attend a sporting event (7-17) – Little league, high school, a pickup game, or a professional team.
Go to a festival (7-17) – Try foods you never had before, learn a song specific to the culture represented, participate in the activities if possible.
Grow something (7-17) – Herbs, flowers, veggies, a Chia pet, terrarium, an avocado plant.
Take a walk (7-17) – In the woods, through a town (discover one together), on the shoreline, at the marina, at the mall (window shopping only), at a vineyard, at a farm, the ecology center, a refuge, or a preserve, take a seal walk.
Water balloon toss (7-17) – On a hot day use really big balloons or use the balloons for batting practice!
Wash your car (7-17) – Hand wash, do it yourself or go in the drive-through.
Car & Bike Maintenance (7-17) – Change the oil, check and fill the fluids, oil the bike chain, replace the bike brakes, check tire pressure and fill if needed, change the wipers, rotate the tires.
Go to a play or recital (7-17) – Community playhouse, school performance, dance school recital, at the library, theater matinee.
Firepit/Camp!re (7-17) – Cook something – from wieners to smores, drink cocoa, just enjoy the fire and a nice conversation, tell stories, sing songs, word games.
Hiking (7-17) – Orienteering, geocaching, or letterboxing.
Random fun (7-17) – Play with a remote control car, boat or plane, spin tops, jump rope games, ladder ball, horseshoes, make a rope or tire swing, build a go-cart, look through a telescope, anything Nerf (play with it wet on a hot day), make a book of jokes and riddles, how many licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop, bubble blowing contest, pitching pennies, use binoculars, go to a parade, visit Brookstone’s and check out the gadgets.
Make a collage (7-12) – Use anything you want; pictures of yourselves, a famous person/hero, a holiday, things that say something about who your mentee is, a favorite sports activity, a Bible Story, or character.
Collect & paint rocks (7-12) – Do enough for a rock garden, make paperweights, add encouraging words.
Make friendship bracelets (7-12) – Wear them each time you go out and on those occasions when you have to miss a visit, use it as a reminder to pray for one another.
Paper airplanes (7-12) – Get a book to see the different ways you can make them, have races/competitions.
Decorate something (7-12) – Buy something matching at the dollar store (sunglasses, mirrors, cup, brush, notebook, tote, hat) & sew/glue on patches, buttons, beads, bling, or tassels, use fabric marker on an old tee shirt.
Use sidewalk chalk (7-12) – Make a mural, make a hopscotch grid and play, write messages for people to read as they pass by.
Take care of an animal (7-12) – Walk a dog for a neighbor if you don’t have one, make a bird feeder out of pinecones covered w/peanut butter or almond butter and seeds.
Make a map (7-12) – Treasure map (be sure to hide a treasure), a destination map (for someplace you’re going), a fantasy map (a made upland), there are endless possibilities…
Flash Cards (7-12) – Make them for homework/school help – math, science, history dates, and language, geography, capitals, anything that needs brushing up on or just for fun.
Flowers (7-12) – Pick wild!owers, press flowers (wax paper & heavy books work well), dry !owers, make potpourri.
Make bookmarks (7-12) – As plain or as fancy as you like (Don’t forget your tassel). Follow up with a trip to the dollar store, thrift store, or bargain book bin to pick out a book.
Puppets (7-12) – Sock puppets, paper bag puppets, finger puppets, shadow puppets, knucklehead puppets.
Stamps (7-12) – Ink pads of different colors, carve potato or apple stamps, make wrapping paper or cards.
Paper (7-12) – Cut out snowflakes or a paper doll and clothes, weave a paper basket, make a paper chain (write something special on each link), make an advent calendar, paper mache, learn calligraphy, use stencils, origami, make a flipbook, play table football or hockey.
Be nice to our feathery friends (7-17) – Build a birdhouse or birdbath; find out what birds are in the area and what they like to eat, leave out nesting material, and watch them build.
Make science come alive (7-17) – Make a tornado in a bottle, go online for all kinds of easy and fun science projects you can do with household items, build something from recyclables, play with magnets, use a magnifying glass (microscope if you have one.)
Make a scrapbook or memory box together (7-17) – It can be anything you want it to be, make a shadow box of an event you attend together.
Make jewelry (7-17) – Yarn and pasta, jewelry wire & gems, beads and string, braided gimp, floss and charms. Necklaces, rings, bracelets, anklets, hair clips, earrings…
Sculpt (7-17) – Modeling clay, play dough, homemade clay.
Make a Wind Chime or Mobile (7-17) – From collected shells, old utensils from the thrift store, old keys, small toys.
Other (any age)
Make & fill your own outing bag. – Use a bag you actually make or an old backpack. Fill with stuff you can take with you each time you go out; Frisbee, tennis ball, a Slinky, baseball mitt & ball, snacks, plastic bags to collect stuff, magnifying glass, compass, binoculars, a journal of your activities or special events…whatever you might use when you go out together.
LIYM Ministry Center – Basketball, foosball, ping-pong, board games.
Check the local paper for free-admission activities.
Recycle bottles & cans. – Save the money you collect to do something special or to fund your activities.
Teach each other something you’re really good at.
Role-play how to handle important situations – general courtesies. (shaking hands, introductions, etc), a job interview, a meeting they are nervous about going to, how to ask for help at school, how to say no to friends when they feel pressured.
Volunteer once a month someplace A nursing home, soup kitchen, your church, seniors in the neighborhood, etc.
Make a gratitude list & add to it periodically.
Participate in a walk-a-thon or run together.
Make a time capsule to open in 1yr or 5yrs or 10yrs. – You can make 2 and bury it in both of your back yards.
Bargain Hunt – take $5 each and go to a garage sale or thrift shop and see who can find the coolest and most useful purchases.
Redo something you enjoyed before.
Make your own favorite Low Cost – No Cost Activity list and share it with us so we can pass it on!
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