21 Fun Activities Parents Can Do with Their 8-Year-Old
Parents and 8-year-olds can agree that boredom is real, and they are constantly on the lookout to combat it. For 21 fun activities that can be done on a weekday, weekend, or too-long summer break, keep reading below!
1. Go on a Nature Walk
Going on a nature walk is a great choice for almost any 8-year-old, whether they’re wiggly, shy, loud, distracted, or calm. You can let them run up ahead and run back, mosey along slowly, touch leaves they pass, learn how to pet dogs they meet, or just walk. Kids have options here!
If you have a hiking trail available, this gives you the security to let them explore more. If you don’t have a trail, keep them distracted on the sidewalk by identifying plants.
2. Have a Bug Hunt
This activity isn’t for the squeamish parent, and check to make sure you don’t have any dangerous bugs in your area before you let your child get too adventurous. However, this can also be a great activity to learn safety around those scary bugs.
Get a magnifying glass and a glass jar with some holes in the top, and go find some rocks. You can download an app or use a computer for identification. This is a win-win, since 8-year-olds love learning about “gross” bugs, and adults love seeing their kids learn!
3. Make a Sensory Table
Join your child in playing and exploring new textures! Sensory tables aren’t just for preschoolers.
You have a lot of options here, but a classic method is to cover your counter in trash bags and make a space for each of the five senses. This helps your child play freely, and makes clean-up easier on both of you. It’s easier to get messy when you’re not worrying about the house recovering.
For taste, try putting down some fruits, veggies, pudding, or other foods that have a texture or flavor your child isn’t used to. Talk about how they might not like these foods right now, but their tastes change as they get older! You can also try having them lick things like a paper towel, a dry toothbrush, or other safe objects for texture exploration.
For smell, you can have them close their eyes and try to identify perfumes, shaving cream, foods, or paper. Re-use other things on the table!
For touch, you can get hands-on with your activity. Both of you can stick your hands in bowls of beans, plates of shaving cream, or cups of pudding. Eat a “messy treat” that usually isn’t eaten with your hands, like a pie or a fruit salad. Try rubbing the textures all the way up to your elbows, just like your kid, before washing off in the sink. This is the time for silly!
For hearing, they can close their eyes while you play different sounds on your phone, and they can listen to the sounds of things at the table. What’s squishy? What’s scratchy? What sounds do beans make when they fall into a bowl?
For sight, they can describe everything they see to you. Let your little scientist tell you about color, shine, shape, size, and all the other details. What do you see that you can describe to them? Get that brain working!
4. Show Them Your Favorite Childhood Movie
What movie did you love to watch when you were a kid? Pop some popcorn and turn out the lights! Share some memories while the movie plays, like who your favorite character was, what things have changed, or why you liked the show. If the movie is the Iron Giant, bring a tissue box and get ready to talk afterward.
5. Make a Pillow Fort
When is the last time you made a pillow fort? Well, now is the perfect time to practice! Just be emotionally prepared for your kid to knock it down, since kids and coordination are the age-old enemies of stacked cushions. If they do bring down the fort, teach them how to put it up again.
Once you’ve made it, grab some snacks and a laptop for a movie night. Raising a child is the perfect excuse to play like one!
6. Make a Lego City
8-year-olds are ready for more directed creative play than you might expect, and this is an opportunity to tell a story with them. Help them make a Lego city on a counter or a floor! Plan out city streets, talk about a castle or a mayor’s office, ask who lives there, and make room for silly.
When you’re done or ready for a break, you and your child can decide if Godzilla should take down the city, or if it can stay to grow another day. Do you have a future architect, construction worker, or filmmaker on your hands?
7. Paint, Finger Paint, or Puffy Paint
Have you ever mixed paint with shaving cream? If you haven’t, you should start now. The experience isn’t complete without mashing your hands into it at least once.
Get a poster-sized paper from the store for each of you, lay them on the floor or counter, and go to town! The only rules are to keep the paint where the paint belongs and to use your hands. This is downright therapeutic, and you can show off your cool art when it dries.
If you don’t have the space for that, or your kid hates being messy, it’s also fun to go back to classic painting! You can paint on crafts, paper, eggs, or whatever fun thing you have on hand and feel like decorating. You make the rules!
8. Play “Store” with Real Change and Candy
Build math skills and imagination at the same time! Give your child some change and have them practice social interactions, budgeting, and counting out their money. They might have more fun playing the game than eating the candy, and you can switch roles from time to time to make them the “storekeeper.”
With this activity, it’s helpful to have them buy small candies instead of a chocolate bar. They can get individual Skittles, single Tootsie Rolls, a few peanuts, or fun-sized candy bars, for example. Non-candy items are also an option, but they don’t have the immediate reward that chocolate or small treats do, so make that choice based on your child.
9. Play Dungeons and Dragons—Yes, Really!
Does this seem like a crazy idea for an 8-year-old? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely! This game can be tailored for younger children, and 8-years-old is a great time to start. You’ll just need to help them design their character and stats.
This game teaches creative skills, social skills, risk evaluation and consequences, patience, and basic math, along with being a fun and cheap way to bond and kill time. It’s so effective that it is actually used as a therapy in some elementary schools!
10. Go to a Children’s Museum
If you haven’t been to a children’s museum before, prepare to be a little jealous of your child. These spaces are designed to get your kid playing and interacting with their environment in a way they can’t anywhere else. Plan to spend a few hours here, if not most of the day, and you might end up leaving with a year-round pass.
11. Visit Your Other Local Museums
If you have a nerdy kid, embrace it. Do they want to be an archeologist when they grow up? Great! A scientist? Fantastic! Are they strangely obsessed with history? Good for them. Nobody likes a serious, curious little eight-year-old better than a museum tour guide, except maybe an actual researcher. Give them a little notebook where they can write down questions for later!
12. Go Out to Lunch With Just the Two of You
This is a great way to build memories and social skills with your child. Practice manners, table etiquette, and ordering, while also giving your kid a chance to talk to you without having to share your attention. Some picky eaters can be more adventurous in this situation, too, since they feel grown-up. Make sure to take a picture and tell stories of your own!
13. Go See a Local Arts Performance
This isn’t an activity for every kid, but some 8-year-olds love seeing a ballet with their parents and grandparents. Some are even fans of the opera! Just make sure the play or performance is child-friendly before attending. Some Shakespeare is not made for young eyes.
14. Go Hiking
8-year-olds are ideal hiking companions for people who like to enjoy their surroundings. Prepare yourself to have every bug, leaf, and berry along the trail pointed out to you. Pack some snacks and plan your time liberally, since this hike will be more about the experience than a location goal, and you should have a great time.
15. Bake Cookies
Who doesn’t like cookies? No matter your culture, diet, or taste, you can probably find a cookie recipe for you. This activity is a wonderful combination of sensory exploration, life skills, and math potential, since you can introduce fractions in a very tangible way.
Talk about science while you’re at it, like why we need baking soda or salt in the cookies! What would happen if a part of the dough didn’t have salt? What about if it had peas instead of chocolate chips? Yes, these questions are silly, but why not ask them?
16. Make Lunch Together
This is another activity made for the pickiest or most adventurous of eaters! Kids love to eat food they made themselves, and that they picked out themselves. You can stick with teaching them to make a sandwich, or you can start by going to the store and letting them pick any single vegetable or fruit they see so they can try it.
Make sure your expectations are realistic for a child during this activity. They will definitely make a mistake at some point, but that’s why they’re learning. This is a great opportunity for learning to bounce back from an “oopsie” moment.
17. Imagine Out Loud
“Hey, let’s imagine together!” is a sentence that gets a child’s attention. What will really get their attention is following it with “imagine if we could get ten scoops of ice cream to stay on a cone! How silly would that be? I think I’d want unicorn flavor.”
This probably seems goofy, and honestly, it should! Learning how to imagine out loud is good for teaching kids how to be silly without “fibbing,” and for working through some of their crazy schemes later. No, they can’t actually get four scoops of ice cream at the shop, but you can sure imagine it!
18. Have a Dance Party
Get those wiggles out! Get silly! Nobody is there to judge you but your child. What music can you turn on? Did your favorite song just start playing in the grocery store? It’s the perfect opportunity for a spontaneous dance party, wherever you are. If your kid really loves dance, try getting a dance game or looking up a simple routine to learn together. The worst thing that can happen is you both get some exercise.
19. Play the Exercise Game
If you have an active kid, this game is a lifesaver. Challenge them to a ten-minute workout, and make it fun! Can they army-crawl across the living room floor? How fast can they run from room to room? Can they go up the stairs without using their legs? How high can they jump? The magic words here are “wow, that was so fast!” and “I’m going to time how fast you can go!”
20. Make or Buy a Surprise for the Other Parent
This is a sweet way to teach your child some empathy and thought for others. Ask them what surprise they think their parent would like, and make a plan to make it happen. Does their parent like a special kind of cake? Maybe they can help you bake it! Do they love having their bed made? Teach the child to make it! You could go on a walk to the store to buy a balloon or favorite candy bar, or make a card just to say you guys love your special person. Make a memory for everyone involved!
21. Read Together
Evidence has shown again and again that reading is good for kids. You can read to them, set up an audiobook while you do another easy activity, or read next to each other, depending on your kid’s needs and your own abilities. A dyslexic parent, for example, shouldn’t feel ashamed that they’re using a good audiobook instead of reading out loud, and you can both enjoy the story!
Not every activity on this list is made for every kid, but you’re sure to find something you’ll both enjoy. Use it as inspiration, get creative, and go have fun!