5 Activities For Boys and Moms

activities for boys

My sister had children before I did—two sons. When they were little, I would watch her run through her litany of activities for boys and think, “Whew! That would wear me out! There is no way I could be so active all day.”

Flash forward a few years to when I had my son. Now I was the one who was shooting hoops, keeping fish bait in my freezer, and avoiding the balls that flew through our house at any given moment. I didn’t know I had it in me!

Now I actually enjoy coming up with activities for my son. One of my favorites involves a hammer and a clock radio. Intrigued? Let me tell you about that one and a few more. Here are  5 activities moms can do with their sons.

1. Learn and Smash

I don’t know what gave me the idea, but I’m glad it came to me because my son loved it. I took him and one of his friends to the Salvation Army on half-price day and let them peruse the electronics section. “Choose something,” I said, “and I’ll let you take it apart, see how it works, and then you can smash it!”

One of the boys chose an old clock radio ($2), and the other chose a small paper shredder ($3). So for less than the price of 10 minutes of arcade games, we were set.

First, I helped the boys take apart their finds. We looked at the wires, switches, and buttons and talked about what made them work. Then came the real fun. Each of the boys put on a pair of safety goggles, grabbed a hammer, and took turns smashing it. After each hit, we would examine the parts that survived and the ones that didn’t.

Needless to say, this was a very popular activity.

2. Nail It

Grab a piece of wood, or buy a 2 x 4 at the hardware store. Take as many nails as will line up on the board when spaced about 2 – 3 inches apart. Hammer each nail into the wood just to the point where they are secure. Next, grab those safety goggles for your son, and give him a hammer.

Before he starts hammering, make sure you go through the safety tips: Keep your free hand out of the way of the hammer. Hit directly on the nail head. And don’t “wind up ” and lift your arm high above your head to get momentum—it’s unnecessary.

If you want to get a little fancy, buy a bird box kit you can build together.

3. Go Fish

A really nice, elderly man at church gave my son a practically new fishing pole he had never used. With that, a fisherman was born. The first time we went out together in our neighborhood, my son stood on the bank of a very muddy, gunky, dark-watered canal. He didn’t catch a thing, but he loved casting his line.

Once I saw he was serious, I found an inlet just a mile or so from our house where he could stand on the bank and fish. And he actually caught something! After that, he used an old cast net to catch his own bait fish (sometimes successfully, sometimes not).

As with any activity where boys are involved, give your son the knowledge he needs to stay safe. We talked about how to secure the hook before he started walking while holding the fishing pole. I pointed out the need to be careful when throwing the cast net so he wouldn’t get entangled. But when it comes to advice on how to actually catch the fish, I’m mum. (Here are 10 things boys do want to hear from their mom.)

4. Mix Master

This activity might make you feel a little guilty about “wasting” food but, if you see it as a learning experience, it’s really not wasting—it’s educational. Here’s what it sounds like at our house: “Mom, can I mix some milk with orange juice?” A couple of minutes later. “Mom, can I put some flour in here… what about some Coke?”

Eventually, my son had a gloopy, globby, food-colored bowl of goo. Since the oven was already heating for dinner, he spread his concoction in a baking dish and slid it in to cook. The result? Very interesting. The clean up? Even more so.

5. Radical Reaction

Most boys love the sight of something exploding or bubbling over {Tweet This} —think soda cans shaken and opened with great glee. For this activity, you can get fancy and build a volcano out of Play-Doh or mud-packed dirt outside. Just be sure to insert a plastic cup or tube in the center so you can create an eruption. Or you can forgo the volcano and let your son put a bowl in the sink.

Either way, fill your cup, tube or bowl with five parts vinegar and then let your son add one-part baking soda. You’ll get a fizzy, foamy reaction. If your son asks you, “Why does it do that?”, here’s your answer from the Ask a Scientist site: The reaction between baking soda and vinegar is an acid-base reaction followed by the dissolution of a gas.

See, you’re not only a fun mom, you’re a smart one too. 🙂 Don’t miss iMOM Director Susan Merrill’s Mother Son Bucket List.

© 2014 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.

In The Comments

How do you have fun with your son? From one boy mom to another, I'd love to know!


  • Laura B.

    I have found that quality time is not as easy at 14 as it was at 4. Here are things we do: Nature hikes, going to airport to watch planes, cooking together, get a treat & take a drive listening & sometimes singing music, going to salvage stores with a $5 bill, going to Radio Shack or the hardware store without time constraints or an agend (and being present so he can tell me what all the things do), have a fire in our back yard pit & roast marshmallows & hot dogs (why do boys love fire so much???)….and yes, letting him throw things into the fire (sticks, leaves, etc.) It’s not as easy as when we could sit & color or make a robot suit from a box, but I love my big guy just as much.

    • Wow! Love your ideas, Laura. I’m going to try some. And, you sound like such a caring mom. 🙂 Nancy

  • Laurel M

    When my sons were teens we were on vacation in northern Minn. we built a potato canon. The comments were how many moms do you know who would do that. As a single mom it was a huge success that mom would do something like that. (Don’t do this near houses we were in the north woods)

    • Yes, if someone says, “How many moms do you know who would do that?” — you’re on the right track. Now I’m going to have to look up how to build a potato canon! 🙂 Nancy

      • workinmomma72

        Hey. How do you build a potato canon? Lol but seriously.

  • Jennie

    My boys are still young ( 2 & 7) and one is a sensory kid so we wrestle and have pillow fights. Clearing some space in the living room or basement and just letting them ‘get me’ makes them laugh so much.

    • Jennie, I hear you on the pillow fights! I do just what you do, find a clear space and have at it! Nancy

  • Tricia

    Great article and awesome activities! The link to the bucket list can no longer be found. Where can we find that? I’d love to have a copy. I have your daughter bucket list already.

  • Azul83

    Why does this have to be segregated to boys only? I would happily do this with my son and daughter.

    • Ashley

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Yes! My daughter would like some of these too. Thanks for the reminder! Nancy

  • Jasmine F.

    Thank you for the great advice! We were only blessed with one child, a son. He is now 12 and I appear to still be a “cool” mom. Thank you for the additional ideas, I will be printing out this article and am excited to see which activity he would want to do first!

    • Jasmine, let us know what he likes best! Have fun with your boy. Mine cracks me up every day! Nancy

  • Suzanne VanRenselaar Sergis

    Great ideas and made me want to play.

    • Have fun! Nancy

  • Angie

    Puddle jumping on rainy days then warm up with hot chocolate with the works (whipped cream, sprinkles, a cherry). I also take him to the free workshops at our local Lowe’s store usually once a month and of course we build forts and have special snacks like ants on a log inside.

  • Kristi

    We have accumulated a lot of small, soft balls, so when it’s cold outside and the boys get restless, we play dodge ball in the basement. You can also buy a pack of “snow balls” – soft fabric balls – and have an indoor snowball fight. My boys and their friends from ages 5-11 love this!

  • Kristi

    We have accumulated a lot of small, soft balls, so when it’s cold outside and the boys get restless, we play dodge ball in the basement. You can also buy a pack of “snow balls” – soft fabric balls – and have an indoor snowball fight. My boys and their friends from ages 5-11 love this!

  • They’re Grown Now

    Once when my two sons were bored (this is sort of gross) I sat them several feet across from each other outside in lawn chairs. I then gave them each a drinking straw, and a sheet of notebook paper for them to have a spitball fight! In hindsight, making paper targets beforehand would probably have been a good idea.

    • Love it! I’m going to do that with my son today! Thanks, Nancy