Winter can be tough for middle school boys (or boys in general). They have too much energy but often can’t get outside to work it off because the weather is too cold or snowy. Sitting at home watching TV and playing video games quickly gets old. They can get ornery and restless.
I’m grateful I live near a mall because it provides a cheap option to spend time with students in the winter. I’ve been to the local mall with middle school boys countless times and discovered that my mall trips all follow a similar script. The boys and I are always drawn to the same stores and activities. Here’s what we do:
- Enter near the food court. Get a free “Chicken California” sandwich sample from Charley’s Grilled Subs as you walk by.
- Go to Brookstone. Play with the synthetic Sand. Sit in the massage chairs for five minutes. Check out the latest, greatest new random toy they have on display.
- Mess around with the iPads, iPhones, and Apple Watches at the Apple Store next door. Take funny pictures together using Photo Booth.
- Head over to the Microsoft kiosk and play a two-person game on the Xbox One for a few minutes.
- Get a snack at a place like Cinnabon, Dairy Queen, or Starbucks ($4). If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to sit and have a meaningful conversation while you eat your snack.
- Go to Scheels. This place is a gold mine for boys. All the fun stuff is upstairs—downstairs only has shoes and clothing (BORING for guys). Start upstairs with a free fudge sample. Have a putting contest on the golf putting green. Look at guns, knives, and bows in the hunting section because just looking at those things instantly makes you feel more manly. Play a round of Big Buck Hunter ($1). Then play a quick game at the mini bowling alley ($1).
That’s it. 2-3 hours of fun at the mall for under $7. You might not have the same stores at your mall, but every mall has boy-friendly stores that could be part of a simple winter adventure.
Get creative! Challenge yourself to come up with a fun mall experience. Almost anything can break up the winter doldrums.