Done the 50things to do before you’re 12 list?

On top, behind and going over a waterfall. Parents just look away.

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. What do children make of the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 and three quarters challenge?  For more info about parenting see my book Homemade Kids, or for my website click here 

“I’ve hunted for treasure on a beach so many times!” I’m listening to Lola, 13, running through the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you are 11 and three quarters. She looks so happy remembering some of those activities as she shouts out – “I’ve made a mud pie! I’ve done wild swimming in the Lake District! I’ve built dens! I’ve danced in the rain; did that just a couple of days ago in the hail. My friend Freya taught me how to call like an owl. I’ve never caught a butterfly in a net, but that’s because I didn’t want to do, I know it can hurt their wings.”

Turns out she’d done 47 out of 50. Looks like our summer family challenge will be lighting a fire without matches (baffling though you tube is your friend, along with wirewool and a 9v battery!), going geo-caching (which is an organised form of treasure hunt) and get over our butterfly worries – possibly by raising caterpillars.

The list suggests so many fun ideas including damming streams, camping and looking into a pond. You might want to try it (with or without children):

  • Climb a tree
  • Roll down a really big hill
  • Camp out in the wild
  • Build a den
  • Skim a stone
  • Run around in the rain
  • Fly a kite
  • Catch a fish with a net
  • Eat an apple straight from a tree
  • Play conkers
  • Throw some snow
  • Hunt for treasure on the beach
  • Make a mud pie
  • Dam a stream
  • Go sledging
  • Bury someone in the sand
  • Set up a snail race
  • Balance on a fallen tree
  • Swing on a rope swing
  • Make a mud slide
  • Eat blackberries growing in the wild
  • Take a look inside a tree
  • Visit an island
  • Feel like you’re flying in the wind
  • Make a grass trumpet
  • Hunt for fossils and bones
  • Watch the sun wake up
  • Climb a huge hill
  • Get behind a waterfall
  • Feed a bird from your hand
  • Hunt for bugs
  • Find some frogspawn
  • Catch a butterfly in a net
  • Track wild animals
  • Discover what’s in a pond
  • Call an owl
  • Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
  • Bring up a butterfly
  • Catch a crab
  • Go on a nature walk at night
  • Plant it, grow it, eat it
  • Go wild swimming
  • Go rafting
  • Light a fire without matches
  • Find your way with a map and compass
  • Try bouldering
  • Cook on a campfire
  • Try abseiling
  • Find a geocache
  • Canoe down a river

To tick off your own list and info about the National Trust’s campaign see here.

Over to you
Makes me half want to imagine a list of 50 things you should have played with from a toy manufacturer – no doubt all linked to buying something. What about you – how did your children get on with this list?

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7 Comments on “Done the 50things to do before you’re 12 list?”

  1. nicola baird Says:

    From Facebook:
    Penny: “What a fantastic list! Got 5 years to get Luke doing all this cool stuff. At least geocaching is already done!”

    Barry: “Abseiling?!! Doesn’t really fit in with the theme of discovering the great outdoors. Omit, but add “Play Pooh Sticks” 🙂

    Howard: “I’ll add pooh sticks and keep the abseiling in – my 2 love both!”

    • nicola baird Says:

      More from Facebook and Penny M: “You could make your own, but the fun thing is to look up online where other people’s are (www.geocaching.com I think), and realise that just round the corner from where you live a little secret treasure has been hiding all this time! We’ve found 3 caches on a short 15 minute walk from our house, and did a great little hunt for three between Embankment tube station and Waterloo via Big Ben. It’s really brilliant.”


  2. 47 is very impressive! I just did a quick rough count and I think my daughter (13 yrs) had done about 35, and my son (10 yrs) probably a couple less – although they might well have done things that I’m not aware of when they’ve been on school trips or with friends, you know how children often neglect to mention the things they’ve done!

  3. Nicky Says:

    48/50 – I’ll have to try rafting soon and I don’t even know what a grass trumpet is – so a bit of youtubing to do there!
    I think my 10 and 12 yr olds have done slightly less but a fairly high number still (being in cubs and scouts really helps!) – I’ll ask them later and we can start our summer ‘to do’ list!
    Great list – thanks !

    • homemadekids Says:

      Grass trumpet is a rather grand name for putting a blade of grass between your thumbs and blowing hard – you get a sort of squawk. Well done for doing so many on the list. Nicola


  4. […] will also help me cross off one of the “to do” list on “50 Things To Do Before You Are 12″ list. (“plant it, grow it, eat it”) Also found another list here. Also, a very cool […]


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