My teens are much harder to keep entertained than my younger kids are. And with the Covid-19 lockdown, with limited school and no regular social life, my teens need some activities to keep them busy. As much as they would love to be on Instagram or playing video games 24/7, that’s just not an option.
Understand that while this is uncharted territory for parents, it is for kids as well. They may feel worried, confused, and frustrated. By offering them a variety of different activities to try, we help them feel more calm and take away some of the monotony of being stuck at home. We have come up with a variety of activities to help teens spend their time productively while having a good time. This list is sure to be have several ideas your teens will enjoy.
Creative Activities for Quarantined Teens
Challenging LEGO builds
I’m not talking the basic Lego projects that young kids enjoy. There are some great challenging Lego sets out there or teens can use Legos to create their own builds. If you have a large Lego set your child has completed before, this would be a good time to pull it out again.
Origami is a fun and sometimes complicated activity that can keep kids entertained for a long time. There are lots of great youtube videos detailing different origami projects. Don’t have origami paper? Any square sheet of paper will work. You can even cut paper to be square if needed.
Kids can write a script, choose props and costumes, and shoot a movie. Savvy teens can even learn to add special effects or music to their movie.
Teens love documenting their lives, and since they can’t be with their friends, they will want to take photos to share with their friends. Grab a digital camera or cell phone and explore taking photos of different subjects and apply filters for a fun effect.
Paint, sculpt, or draw
Art has a way of freeing the mind and the soul. Whether they are new to art or old pros, teens can enjoy expressing themselves through art.
Occasionally I pull out some random items I don’t need and let my kids use them to create whatever they choose. It could be a bedazzled picture frame, a birdhouse made from scrap wood pieces, or an interesting-looking robot. My teen son likes to see what he can find in our shed to create something unique.
Create a time capsule
What better way to document the pandemic then to make your own time capsule? Fill it with items which define lockdown, such as face masks, toilet paper, newspaper clippings of surging cases, or even a photograph of a Zoom meeting in progress. This will become something your teen will really value years from now when the pandemic is just a distant memory.
Social Activities for Teens Stuck at Home
Many high school students are having a hard time being separated from their friends. And it goes without saying that hanging out with mom and dad 24/7 isn’t any teen’s idea of a good time. Here are some fun ways to connect with friends and family.
Have a video chat
Having a video chat with friends is a great way to keep in touch. At our house we love video chatting with cousins and grandparents as well. Somehow, seeing loved ones on the screen and being able to talk to them makes it seem more like we’re together.
Attend a virtual concert or take a virtual tour of a museum
Your teen can enjoy a virtual concert or museum visit from the comfort of your couch. It’s a great way to feel life’s a little more “normal”. Invite friends to do the same and then talk to them about the experience.
Play board games
Have a family board game night (or day). In our family, playing games together brings out laughter and cooperation. Pull out some old favorites or try something new. Our teens and tweens love the games Telestrations, Settlers of Catan, Scattergories, and Carcassone.
Discover family history
Since teens seem to be technology geniuses, researching their family history is easier for them than for most adults. There are several free websites that help with genealogy. Teens could also spend time calling or video chatting with grandparents and recording stories and learning more about ancestors. It’s a great social activity for both teens and grandparents!
Write to a pen pal
Teens may enjoy connecting to their peers in an unconventional but safe way: letter writing! Not only will they develop a friendship with someone new, but they will also work on their penmanship, a skill that may be neglected in this digital age. There are several websites, such as InterPals and Global Penfriends, which can help them find a foreign pen pal and expand their view of the world.
Outdoor Activities for High Schoolers during Lockdown
Getting outside is a great way to improve mood and get teens exercising!
Have a Nerf gun war
A Nerf gun war is fun for kids of all ages as well as for adults. It can be done inside or outside (my kids prefer outside if the weather is decent). This is a good social activity as well as a way to get some exercise without children necessarily realizing it!
Looking for a good way to enjoy the outdoors without being around a bunch of other people? Fishing is the perfect choice to keep teens busy during the Coronavirus lockdown. If your kid needs to get outside but is tired of the backyard, suggest a trip to a favorite fishing hole!
Try hiking, biking, or walking
Enjoying nature can help take your mind off the chaos going on in the world. Exercise releases endorphins and improves mood. Whether it’s a walk around the block, a hike up a mountain, or a scooter ride in the driveway, suggest a physical activity for your teen.
Practice a favorite sport
My son is missing his first season on his high school tennis team, and he is really disappointed. The high school tennis court is totally abandoned, so he is practicing with his brothers at the court. While it isn’t the same as playing with the school team, it’s a good way for him to keep up his skills and get some exercise. Whether it’s shooting hoops, throwing a softball, or kicking around a soccer ball, odds are you can find somewhere for your kiddo to practice his or her favorite sport.
Geocaching is a huge hit where I live. It is similar to a game of hide and seek with a surprise “treasure” at the end. Enter your zip code into the find a geocache website and it will give you GPS coordinates to a geocache. Follow the coordinates and find what is in the geocache (container). You can leave it there or trade it for something of equal or greater value.
Work in your yard
Ok, this might not be the first choice for most teens, but they might be surprised at how satisfying it can be to clear out a flower bed or plant some seeds. This might be a good activity to do with your child.
Academic Activities for Teens to Do at Home
In addition to any regular school work your teen may have, here are some other academic options.
This isn’t necessarily just an academic activity. Teens can choose to get lost in a book of fiction or learn something new in a nonfiction or biography book. If your library is closed, see what audio books you can find.
Take a career aptitude quiz
This fun career aptitude quiz asks your preferences as well as strengths and weaknesses. Then it tells which career choices might be best.
Do ACT/SAT practice tests
Taking a practice test for the ACT or SAT is a great way not only to get used to the type of questions that are asked on the actual tests, it is also a good way to gauge preparation. These are full length tests. They will help teens determine what they might need to spend additional time studying.
Research college options
When I was a teen, I loved to learn about college possibilities as well as the cities where those colleges were located. It can be fun to explore options and maybe even make plans to visit some college campuses once the virus chaos calms down.
Tutor younger siblings (or neighbors, friends virtually)
If you are trying to work from home (like I am) or could use some extra time, having your teen tutor younger siblings is a win-win. You might consider paying for tutoring (money or treats go a long way with teens). Maybe a neighbor or family member could use a virtual tutor for their child.
Take online classes
If your child doesn’t have online assignments for school right now, check out free online classes. Universities including MIT and Brigham Young University offer classes for high school students and can count for credit toward high school graduation.
Make your own website
Kids can take advantage of some down time to learn the useful and marketable skill of coding. Tech-savy kids can figure out how to code their own website by doing research online or taking a free coding class through Code Academy. Perhaps they can create a blog to document their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Household Activities for Teens in Coronavirus Lockdown
These might not be the most enjoyable of activities for teens, but you never know how bribery can change a teen’s attitude! If your child doesn’t already know how to do the following activities, these are good life skills your child will need in the near future.
Whether it’s spraying off the porch, cleaning windows, or decluttering a room, spring cleaning is a good job for teens. You will likely want to give detailed instructions so it gets done in a way that’s satisfactory.
Every teen should know how to cook at least some basic dishes. If your teen has no cooking skills, try teaching some during this time away from school. For those teens who have cooking skills already, try doing a “Chopped” challenge. Give your kid some easy ingredients and let him or her figure out what to make with them.
Does your teen already do his or her own laundry? If not, now is a great time to start. You could even assign your teen to help with some of the laundry for the rest of the family.
Learn DIY skills
Simple home maintenance projects can be enjoyable for teens. Simple things like changing a furnace filter or checking a smoke detector and replacing the batteries can easily done by teens. If you feel more adventurous, give your kiddo a paintbrush and let her repaint her bedroom!
Clean and organize garage
I don’t know about you, but after wintertime, my garage could use a good cleaning and organizing. My son is actually excited about doing this job, and I am even more excited to have it done (without doing it myself!)
Organize the house
I could use help with some things like filing paperwork and organizing my pantry. These are things my teen can do quite easily. My kids will also be organizing their bedrooms during this break from school.
What are good social activities for teens during a pandemic?
Teens can still be socially active even during lockdown and social distancing mandates. A few ideas to keep them feeling connected to friends and family include board games, letter writing, or video chats. It just takes a little creativity to stay social during a pandemic, but it is certainly possible.
How can teens stay productive during lockdown?
Lockdown can teach teens about all the work that goes into maintaining a household. They can stay productive by helping with household chores such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and organizing. This is a great opportunity to develop life skills which will serve them as young adults.
What are some boredom busters for tweens and teens?
The list we’ve compiled above outlines many boredom busters to help tweens and teens during lockdown. For instance, LEGOs, origami, and painting are all excellent creative activities for quarantined teens. Additionally, they can engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, geocaching, or NERF gun wars. There is something for everyone on our list.