Parents with older children are sharing their ideas for the best activities for teens and tweens. Share your recommendations, too!
Our dynamic list includes a mix of simple activities teens can turn to when looking to fill some extra time at home, along with interesting hobbies that might captivate older kids long term, perhaps even leading to entrepreneurial ventures or creative ways of earning extra cash.
Browse fellow parents' suggestions for the best things for teens to do when bored at home or on a rainy day, and be sure to share your experiences in the comments to help other families, too!
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Alexandra F.: My teen and tween love to ask our Google assistant to give them Jeopardy-style trivia questions, but they also enjoy going through our many trivia-style board games and pulling up random cards to test their knowledge. And, since they were introduced to the Kahoot platform in school, they'll sometimes create trivia challenges for one another on there, too.
Alexandra F.: Yoga is a calming and centering activity for teens and tweens, and one easily done from home thanks to the many free yoga videos available online. If yoga doesn't interest your teen, there are lots of great (mostly free!) online workout videos that will help them stay active and fit, including pilates, kickboxing, dancing and more.
Give a Mani/Pedi
Alexandra F.: Whether they use polish or not, giving their hands and feet an at-home spa treatment will keep teens occupied and their fingers and toes looking their best!
Make a Playlist
Shila: If your teen is often clamped in headphones listening to the latest beats and pop hits, turn that musical passion into a plan! Encourage your child to make a playlist for themselves, for a friend or family member, or even for a party or travel. I know that I'd personally love if someone young and cool could make me new running playlists every month or so! ;)
Try a New Hair Style
Alexandra F.: YouTube has plenty of tutorials to suit any style and hair type, so next time your teen tells you they are bored, point them in the direction of the comb, hair products and mirror, and tell them to get creative!
Solve a Rubik's Cube
Alexandra F.: Though it seems like magic to me, thanks to my son I now know there are several algorithms you can learn to solve this classic 3D puzzle, as well as multiple versions of it beyond the traditional 3x3 cube. Teens and tweens can spend an afternoon or many learning these, or even trying to break their own records for how quickly they can solve it.
Listen to a Podcast
Alexandra F.: The explosion in popularity of podcasts means teens and tweens are sure to find one that fits their particular interests, and they are great for listening to while on walks around the neighborhood, working out, doing dishes and otherwise helping out around the house!
Do a Volunteer Project
Shila: Not only will your adolescents fill the hearts of others, it can fill their own, too. In addition, this experience could come in handy for a college essay or job interview. Teens can look for volunteer opportunities in their own community, such as visiting a nursing home or helping at a soup kitchen or shelter, and even explore ways of volunteering from home.
Start a New Book Series
Shila: Browse a selection of some the best books for middle schoolers or books for high schoolers and encourage your teen to get lost in a new book, or better yet, series of books. Help them create an environment where it's most cozy and fun to read, such as on a picnic blanket outside with snacks, or inside tucked in a bean bag chair, warmed by the fireplace, etc.
Time Lapse Photography
Shila: Encourage your tween or teen to wake up every morning and take a single photo of themselves from the same angle every day for a full year! Later played in a slide show, their time-lapsed album is a hoot to view come year end. Bonus: if you have even younger children, assign your tween or teen the duty to create a time-lapse album of them too.
Start a Book Club
Alexandra F.: Teens can gather a group of friends - or even family members! - and agree on a new book to read together. Book discussions can happen once everyone is done with the book, or every few chapters, and can be done over video chat if gathering in person is not possible or practical.
Bake a Treat
Alexandra F.: Most tweens and teens should be able to follow a recipe and safely handle kitchen tools and utensils, so share your favorite easy dessert recipes and send them off to bake the family a yummy treat! If they're into cooking shows, they can challenge themselves to use certain ingredients, make an over-the-top confection, or really focus on presentation.
Do a Puzzle
Alexandra F.: Get a challenging puzzle, clear off space on your dining room table, and keep your older kids busy for days. This is always a fun activity to try as a family, too, either as part of a family night or over the course of a week or two, with everyone coming to the puzzle on their own time and at their own pace.
Cook a Meal
Shila: Cooking is one of the most practical and best activities for teens and tweens! Teens can start with easy recipes for kids that may not require an adult to be present the whole time, then move on to more advanced dishes as they progress in skills and confidence. Plenty of family-approved Crock Pot recipes require no stovetop flame at all.
Go for a Run
Shila: Even novice runners can set a goal and condition themselves by mastering small intervals at a time. For example, if your teen's goal is to run one mile non stop, she can aim for a quarter mile at first, then a half mile, then three-fourths of a mile and finally, the full mile. They will enjoy the runner's high and perhaps sleep better at night, too.
Engage in Citizen Research
Alexandra F.: The Zooniverse platform allows non-scientists to participate in real scientific research across a wide variety of disciplines, with tasks that can include charting stars and galaxies, monitoring animals in the wild, or deciphering ancient texts. Minors will need to sign up with a parent's consent and email address, but teens can dive into their interests from home while advancing scientific research across the world. Volunteers are generally asked to answer simple questions about documents, images and/or videos provided through the platform to help scientists further evaluate the data.
Write a Story
Alexandra F.: Teens can write a story, keep a journal, dive in to poetry, or find their own preferred way to express themselves creatively in writing. Platforms like Google docs make it easy for teens to share their writing with others, too, in case they want to collaborate with a friend.
Start a Business
Shila: Above making money from chores around the house, entrepreneurial teens will love pocketing profit from their own business ideas, products, and/or age-appropriate handy work.
Camp in the Backyard
Shila: Pitch a tent in your backyard and encourage your older kids to enjoy an all-nighter under the stars. Enhance this "out wild" experience by bringing along flashlights, chill music, and a favorite book.
Try your hand at some creative s'mores recipes that can be made over a firepit or inside an oven, too.
Have a TV or Movie Marathon
Shila: TV offers a window of entertainment for all ages! Pick a weekend to enjoy a movie marathon (i.e., Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc.) or binge-watch an entire TV show season. Start by browsing parent-to-parent recommendations of TV shows to watch with your tweens and teens, then press play and enjoy! You can also divvy up the screen time by watching one or two episodes a night for a week to spread out the excitement.
Learn a Card Trick
Plan a (Virtual) Garage Sale
Shila: Invite your teen to plan a garage sale. It's more than a single-day event, the foundation of a good sale requires another few day's worth of pulling the right inventory from your home, advertising, setting up tables, and running a precise cash register.
Other options to purging and reselling household items can include managing the job via social media like Facebook, reselling platforms like eBay, or approved online consignment sites like Poshmark (to name a few). Teens can manage the job safely by uploading photos and tracking the sale details online.
Primary photo: ao Truong on Unsplash
Upparent collects community-submitted recommendations and reviews, and any ideas that are shared reflect the opinions of individual contributors.