This list of things for teens to do while stuck at home came from so many of you asking for advice. While we're certainly in the midst of unusual times right now, many situations arise when teens will be home alone with "nothing to do", for reasons ranging from school breaks to illness.
If you're already hearing, "I'm bored" after just a day, try any of the suggestions below. Keep in mind, with teens it's important to balance responsibility and reward. While you shouldn't have to reward your teenagers for every single thing they do, you also want to keep things fun and incentivize them if you're trying to keep spirits high over an extended stay at home.
70 Things for Teens to Do While Stuck at Home
Because this list of things for teenagers to do when bored at home is so long, I've divided it into subcategories.
Teaching Teens to Cook & Bake
- Every kitchen technique you'll ever need to know - Learn every basic cooking technique in the book with these super-simple how-to videos from the B on Appetit test kitchen.
- Learn how to cook the perfect grilled cheese - my friend Erin created several cooking videos for kids this week. While they may be targeted to tweens, no one can leave for college without this skill!
- Bake the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies - the secrets for everything from how to mix to how long to bake.
- Practice making the family's weekly meal plan
- Make a charcuterie board
- Perfect basic knife skills - Food Network makes it easy...
- Work your way through every recipe in a favorite cookbook
Online Learning from Home for Teens
Even though teens may play the vacation card, it's still important to keep up routines. This is especially important if your teenagers are getting ready to graduate or are taking AP/Honors classes.
Yes, I'm a professor, but I also consulted with my K-12 educator friends and found quite the list of online educational resources. Visit Amazing Educational Resources for the full list, but here are the most trusted resources from my friend:
- Khan Academy
- Discovery Education
- AP Classroom - a free, online platform to provide students with practice and feedback on every topic and skill that’s tested on an AP Exam.
- How to Homeschool for Free Using Google - in case you need some help navigating online learning
- College Admissions Gameplan - this is for kids elementary through high school
Brush up on History
Since our future can seem bleak right now, it's the perfect time to brush up on our history. Remind your teens you're not necessarily talking about the history found in school textbooks. Instead, encourage them to learn the history behind one of their favorite music genres, places they hope to travel to or even the history of an event they've attended.
- American Archive of Public Broadcasting - Access to thousands of historic public television and radio programs.
- A Brief Tour of the Last 4,000 Years - popular Ted Talk
- Reconnect with our generation - if your kids still don't know who the original Material Girl is, perhaps they need to watch this CNN documentary (they also made them for other decades too).
- The Bible Project - these guys explore the books and themes of the Bible with free, animated videos in a way I've never experienced before.
- Memorize the Presidents of the United States - it's a good party trick to have
- Dive into Family Genealogy - it's not just ancestry.com that can help you these days
- Become a detective - allow your teens to uncover the history of your home, property or even a family story you don't know all the pieces of
Learn a New Skill
Being stuck inside for an extended period of time is the perfect time to learn a new skill. Whether it's to earn extra cash or serve as a way to escape and relax, any one of these ideas could become a new favorite pastime:
- Get creative - Jerry's Artarama has free online art instruction videos.
- Learn to play the guitar - this guitar icon offers a free trial
- Learn a new language - my kids prefer Duolingo and Tiny Cards. They may not be fluent by the time they return to school, but they could learn some new words and phrases.
- Write an eBook
- Study accounting - hear me out: tax season is upon us and schools surely aren't teaching our kids how to keep basic books; this is the time for them to learn.
- Take a personality test - (anyone heard of the Enneagram?)
- Follow my tips for How to Record an Online Video
How Teens Can Stay in Shape
Many of our teens are athletes. My kids' coaches already sent an email asking them to do the stretches they normally do at the beginning of practice, plus find ways to work on their hand-eye coordination.
I've already seen many online fitness websites and apps extending their free trial. Not to mention, YouTube is full of free fitness channels.
- Beach Body - free 2-week trial
- Take a hike, literally - social distancing doesn't mean you have to stay inside, just stay a safe distance away from others.
- Peloton App - no bike necessary! That's right, the Peloton App is currently offering a 90-day free trial on its app, offering workouts that you can do without their famous bike.
- Jump rope or shoot some hoops outside
- Nike Training Club App - This top-rated app offers 185 free workouts for all ages.
- Fitness Blender YouTube Channel - 6 million subscribers can't be wrong!
- Start dancing - think TikTok, but longer :)
Calm Anxiety & Worry in Teenagers
- Meditation for Anxiety - Yoga with Adrienne is a great YouTube channel with free yoga videos
- 3 Ways to Stay Connected during Uncertain Times - a blog post I wrote based on a sermon I recently heard; scroll to the bottom for a list of Bible verses that speak to anxiety specifically
- Journal - I start every day by writing down my dreams and journaling events from the day before. If your teens don't already have a journal, today is a great day to start. I buy this 3-subject notebook from Staples every year.
- Pick up knitting - it's not so much about making something as it is about a repetitive behavior that sets your mind at ease.
- Pray out loud- this should be a first priority, not a last resort
- Learn origami - this ancient Japanese paper art is as soothing as it is intricate. I"d also recommend these coloring pages for adults to help self-soothe these days.
- Look for the helpers - In the immortal words of Mr. Rogers, you will always find helpers in times of trouble. Encourage your teens to look for the helpers and find ways to support their efforts.
Put Them to Work
- Learn how to code
- Start a website
- Open an Etsy shop
- Hone a current skill
- Become an entrepreneur
- Think of something you can sell
- When all else fails, have them help clean the house!
Become One With the Earth
Depending on the time of year, your teens can get outside and really accomplish something. These ideas will not only make them feel good, but can contribute to the overall well-being of your home and community.
- Plant vegetable seeds in egg cartons - if you can't buy seeds, consider using seeds from fruits and vegetables you're already eating at home or check with your local library.
- Make a birdfeeder
- Grow wildflowers
- Mow the yard - this can even turn into a great side-hustle!
- Climb a tree or build a fort (surely they're not too old for this, are they?)
- Go outside and look up - with teens being on their screens so much, never underestimate the value of going outside and turning their attention towards the heavens, even for 60-seconds.
- Camp out - with the weather warming up and everyone getting stir crazy, consider setting up a tent and spending the night outside...even if it's just in your own backyard.
I don't know about you, but I'm prone to buy my kids' a new pair of shoes or shirt, only to find they already had something similar buried in their closest. This is the perfect time to have them pull everything out of their closets and drawers and take a literal inventory of what they own.
This can also give your kids an appreciation for just how much they have. If you want to add an additional motivator, consider telling them they can keep a portion of the profit of anything you re-sell. And watch my IG stories for daily tips and tasks this week. Have them start by organizing:
- Front Hall Closet
- Bedroom Closet
- Bathroom/Makeup Drawer
- Bedroom Drawers
- Linen Closet
- Game Room/Basement shelves
- Junk Drawer
Reconnect with Those You Love
If you can't be with friends and family, why not find another way to connect? Many of today's teens have lost the ancient art of picking up a phone or handwriting a card. There's no time like the present to bring this back!
- Handwrite a letter to grandparents - bonus points if they use cursive!
- Get on FaceTime with friends
- Create an online photo album - gather photos and videos from a past event or previous year and share them with family members.
- Plan ahead - many teens are missing major life events like national championships, proms and even class trips. Plan an online meetup or a virtual way to celebrate
- Create a Personal Board - a great friend shared how she had her kids create a 'Board" of 5-7 people - some older, some younger and some contemporaries - who will be there to guide them, help them make decisions and just to lean on when times are tough.
- Find a new pen pal - consider sending postcards back and forth with a friend. It's funny plus it's fun to get actual mail these days.
- Make a list - send out a Google form to friends and family asking them about their favorite ______(fill in the blank) or Top 3 _______ (movies, songs, games). Then collect the answers and share the list via email or social media. This helps you not only get to know each other better, but gives you new things to watch and listen to while stuck at home!
While I'm on the topic, I would LOVE to see our teens spearhead a movement. Perhaps it's gathering a group of friends virtually to help connect neighbors in need. Maybe it's setting a goal as a group (like running a 5K once we can all get out of the house again). Whatever it is, encourage your teens to be the leader instead of sitting and waiting on someone else to come up with a good idea.
I'll come back to update this list as I think of other ideas of things to do when your teens are stuck at home. But please feel free to leave comments with your ideas too.