Got bored teens? We’ve got the solution. These 21 super fun at-home activities for teens are guaranteed to quell boredom and inspire hours of amusement.
Kids change as they grow. It can be hard, as a parent of a teen, to realize that their interests are not what they were when they were young. Giving a bored teen something to do isn’t as easy as handing them a bubble wand or placing them in front of building blocks like it was just a couple of years ago.
It is far too common for a teen to spend most of their downtime on their phones or playing video games. Too much screen time or an obsession with social media is unhealthy for the psyche and can cause teens harm. You can help your child find different ways to connect with friends and have fun while also reclaiming some of the joy of being a kid.
At-home activities for teens remind your child of the strength of the family unit, that you don’t always have to be out to have a great time, and that there is always plenty to do for a creative mind.
21 Boredom Busters for Teens
“I’m bored!” I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it. As an alternative to telling your bored teen to rake the lawn or do a load of laundry—both valid options—try offering them something fun to do. Make it a challenge to try everything on this list at least once.
In my family, we have a boredom jar. It is a simple mason jar filled with slips of paper with the following activities written on them. Every time someone says they’re bored, they can reach into the jar and find something new and exciting to do. We also keep a notebook and pen next to the jar so if anyone thinks of something they want to try someday, they can write it down and slip it into the jar for the future.
Fun Activities for the Family
The following activities are those that you can do with your teen. See if you can involve every family member. The bonding that happens while sharing these moments is priceless.
1. Write a Bucket List
Older kids spend a lot of time thinking about the future. Encourage this by having them make a bucket list.
Have everyone in the family make a list of everything they want to see, do, and accomplish while they are alive. Share your lists with each other, and then put them in an obvious place, like the refrigerator. Talk about the steps you can take to start crossing items off of each of your lists and then get to work!
Seasonal bucket lists are another great way to inspire family-friendly fun. Teens and younger kids alike enjoy planning cool things to do each season.
Check out these bucket list ideas for a fun way to celebrate different seasons with your family.
2. Family Karaoke
My family loves karaoke. We have a karaoke machine but we often use a karaoke channel that has a wide variety of songs we all enjoy. It’s easy to find karaoke tracks with lyrics online if you are so inclined. Up the fun factor by having themed karaoke nights. One night can just be oldies, the next country, and so on.
3. Board Games
Board games offer ample opportunity to spend time together. With such a vast variety of games, you are sure to find one that everyone in the family can enjoy. Switch it up from time to time and try out card games or even a jigsaw puzzle.
When you are finished with a game or a puzzle, teach your teens to pay it forward. Donate good condition games and puzzles to hospitals, senior centers, or schools.
4. Family Movie Night
One of the most popular family activities is family movie night. Break out an old favorite or try something new.
It is important to do your due diligence first. If you have objections to certain behaviors or language, check an online guide to ensure the chosen movie has the content you find age-appropriate.
At the same time, remember your teenager is growing and your definition of appropriate may need to evolve along with them.
5. Murder Mystery
A murder mystery game is a fun choice for families with older kids. You can purchase a murder mystery game or search for one online. Can’t find something you love? Make up your own! If your teen is younger or very sensitive, you can choose a crime caper rather than a murder to be the focus of your mystery.
6. Name That Tune
A fun game for bored teenagers is Name That Tune. Pick a favorite playlist and play portions of a song. Whoever guesses the name of the song, the name of the artist, or, if you’re really trying to up the difficulty, the name of the album, wins.
Take turns letting different family members choose which songs others have to guess. There are pre-packaged versions of Name That Tune, but it can be a lot more fun when you pick the tunes and make the rules.
7. Learn a New Skill Together
Learning new things never goes out of style. Your teen might be reluctant to take on a new skill alone. Offer to learn something new as a family. Take language courses together, learn a new sport or pick up a crafting hobby. No matter what you choose, the important thing is that you’re learning together.
Fun Things to Do Outside
Fresh air and sunshine are always a great substitute for screen time. If the weather is cooperative and you have adequate, safe space, send your teen outside!
A time of boredom is a perfect time for a teen to hone their photography skills. Encourage them to get outside and take pictures of anything that inspires them. They are probably already good at selfies, but what about portrait photography, pictures of pets, or nature photos? Learning the best angles and the right lighting takes time.
As an added challenge, you could give them a list of things to photograph. Let them make a photo book or photo album with their favorite shots.
9. Take a Field Trip
If you and your teen are tired of being cooped up inside, take a field trip. You don’t have to go far for a field trip to have meaning.
Walk around your neighborhood or visit a local park. If possible, walk to a nearby food truck, coffee shop, or ice cream stand. Go to a neighborhood farmer’s market or a dog park. Meet some new neighbors or say hi to those you haven’t seen in a while.
Another option is a virtual field trip. Virtual field trips are offered by many museums, zoos, and animal sanctuaries. These online events allow you to explore places you might not otherwise get a chance to see. Some such tourist attractions even have scavenger hunt forms on their websites that you can print out to help kids stay engaged during their virtual visit.
10. Bury a Time Capsule
Time capsules are good, old-fashioned fun that can be enjoyed again in the future. Have your teen create a capsule with reminders of who they are now and what’s happening in the world around them. Once they are satisfied, give them permission to bury the capsule. They may want to make a marker for the location so its spot doesn’t get lost when it is time to unearth it.
11. Nature Walk / Neighborhood Walk
Taking a walk in the great outdoors is a healthy way to break the boredom. You can encourage your teen to take a walk on their own or, better still, join them. Use the opportunity to talk with your teen about their hopes and dreams. If they don’t feel like opening up, idle chit-chat is fine. It’s more important that you’re taking a walk outside and enjoying each other’s company than achieving a particular agenda.
12. Make an Obstacle Course or Scavenger Hunt
A backyard obstacle course is fun to design because it can look any way you want it to. Your teen might want difficult turns, jumps, and a climbing apparatus. They may even want to add a messy area with mud or glitter. This is a great time to invite younger siblings and have a friendly competition.
If mobility is an issue, have a scavenger hunt instead. You can ask competitors to find things, take pictures, perform tasks, or do all three.
13. Create a Drive-In Movie at Home
The joys of the drive-in theatre are seldom experienced anymore. Why not get our teens to bring them back? Set up a screen by hanging a white sheet on a clothesline or affixing it to a garage door. Use a projector to show the film and set out “cars” in the form of outdoor pillows or blankets. You can even invite the neighborhood to watch with you. Don’t forget the popcorn!
14. Throw a Glow Party
Parties after dark can be pretty exciting when you’re a teen. Buy a large supply of glow sticks, tell them to invite a group of friends, and have fun! A dance party can be held outside on a patio or in a driveway. They might just want to hang out and chat, which is always fun. Make sure to supply plenty of snacks!
If you’re really ambitious, set up a black light and decorate snacks with tonic water. This will make the snacks glow as well!
At-Home Activities for Teens
Your teen won’t always be able to do things outside. Having plenty of indoor activities ready is perfect for when it is cold or raining outside.
15. Cooking Lessons
Free time is a great time to learn important life skills. Teach some basics about cooking, like how to make the best grilled cheese or the right way to whisk eggs for a fluffy omelet. If your teen is already a great cook, teach them a new recipe that both of you will enjoy or plan a special meal together.
Your bored teen may need a change of scenery. Let them redecorate their room however they see fit. They can upgrade their childhood bedroom to something that is more teen appropriate.
If that’s not possible, have them update their closet. They can remove the clothing they no longer like or that no longer fits. Top the evening off with a clothes fashion show to bid adieu to those clothing items that are getting donated.
17. Get Crafty
Crafts are always fun. They can be a solo or group activity. They are so varied in nature that everyone can find a craft they like. Making bath bombs is easy and fun. Adult coloring books are relaxing and require little effort. Woodworking can create useful items. Your teen can even spend the evening making simple bookmarks or learning origami.
18. Make Extreme Milkshakes
Extreme milkshakes are extremely amazing. The Internet has a large number of extreme milkshake recipes but you can also make your own.
Combine one scoop of your favorite ice cream with a topping of your choice and 1 1/4 cups of milk. Top that with more ice cream, whipped cream, chocolates, baked goods, candies, and as many decorations as you can manage. Get the whole family involved and see who can make the most outrageous extreme milkshake.
19. Start Writing a Novel
Everyone has a story in their mind. Encourage your teen to put it on paper.
The hardest thing to do, when writing a novel, is to get started. Give your teen the push to write. If they’re not sure where to start, give them a list of writing prompts to choose from. Once they get started, they may not be able to stop. Even if they don’t finish the novel it is worthwhile to let creative juices flow.
Is your teen too daunted to try to write a novel? Suggest poetry or short stories. Even journaling can be a rewarding way to write.
20. Learn a New Instrument
Music is a wonderful thing. Learning an instrument takes time and patience. If your teen is bored, start music lessons. They can be taken in person or online.
Don’t just consider the tried and true piano or guitar lessons. Your teen might want to learn the ukulele, the drums, or even the harp. Perhaps your teen is more of a singer. Let them take singing lessons.
Whichever path they choose, always be their cheerleader by encouraging the valuable lesson that comes from working hard and achieving something great.
21. Read a Good Book
Sometimes the best way to combat boredom is by reading a good book. There are so many different types and styles of books out there that it is possible to constantly read and never come close to seeing them all.
Give your teen the motivation to read by suggesting a book club. Talking about books with a group of peers is far more fun than reading a book alone. Another option is to only read books that have been turned into movies. You and your teen can both read the book, and then watch the movie together. You can then compare and contrast the book and the film with each other.
Even the so-called “solo” activities in this list can be done together. In fact, your teen is likely to both enjoy and benefit from the quality time you spend together. Before long, one of these at-home activities for teens will become a favorite pastime for both of you.
For more ideas on how to connect with your tweens and teens check out 20 Ways to Connect with Your Tween Daughter and 5 Ways to Connect with Your Teen (Even When They Don’t Want To).
Sophie Agbonkhese is a writer, veteran homeschooling mother of four, and a recovering overachiever (who occasionally relapses). She is the founder of My Cup Runs Over, a site dedicated to helping busy women simplify and enrich their lives, homes, and homeschools. When she’s not writing or debugging websites, Sophie spends her time reading with her kids, gardening, listening to audiobooks, and striving fruitlessly to have a clean house for at least five minutes. She lives in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, Ben, and their children.