From learning a new language to testing their interior decorating skills, these fun activities for teens will keep them occupied when they're over the latest video game.

By Melissa Klurman
April 14, 2020
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Teens may not need constant supervision while they're quarantining like younger kids do, but since they can't take part in regular social activities, it's important to come up with new ideas for them to try out so they're not playing Animal Crossing and watching TikTok the entire time they're social distancing at home. Here are some non-stressful, easy-to-pull-off activities for teens to try during quarantine—a few of which are so fun, you may want to join, too.

Get in the Car and Drive

Here's one you have to do together, but that your teen won't mind spending time doing with you: Practicing driving. For kids who have their permits, or even ones with new licenses, make Driver's Ed a part of their day while the roads are empty. You can take a ride on a highway where there's no fear of tailgaters, or honestly, even other cars, or head to a big empty parking lot (hello, vacant malls) to practice parking and K-turns.

Redesign Their Room

Since your teen is probably spending more time than usual in their room, let them personalize or update their space. This doesn't mean an expensive remodel, but a hands-on, working activity (ie, something that takes time and elbow grease). One quick and easy project: wall decals (there's a large variety on Amazon)we especially like the polka dot project. Are they craftier? Try refinishing a piece of furniture from a DIY video. Hardware stores are open, so you can also get paint and brushes for a color overhaul.

We know they're missing their friends, so they can finish up their room redo with creative print outs of their bffs—check out Social Print Studio for full-size posters, tiny stickers, and large film strips to use as borders.

Plan a Virtual Movie Night

Movie theaters may be closed, but your teen can still have a movie night with friends. Just download the Netflix Party extension (don't worry, it's free). This will let your kid and their friends all connect to the watch the same film in real time and chat about what they're seeing. Or, let them plan a family movie night (if you let them choose what to stream, they'll definitely stay to watch); make it feel more like a special event with a Movie Night in a Box kit.

Cook Up a Project

With time to spare, let the teens free in the kitchen for an afternoon. There are dozens of cooking sources making their classes complimentary, including the Culinary Institute of America which has tutorials on basic techniques. On Instagram, teen fave TasteMade is live streaming "quarantine kitchen" with follow along food ideas and pastry chef Christina Tosi of Milk Bar (the inventor of cereal milk ice cream and potato chip/pretzel/coffee ground "compost cookies), does a live "mystery" baking recipe every afternoon.

Have a more advanced chef in your house? Let them take over dinner duties for a night—or have them Zoom meet with friends to cook, and eat, lunch.

Life Prep Skills

Okay, don't tell them we told you, but teens are ready for a little more responsibility around the house, and this might be the time to gently slide some new activities into their routine; the key is to tell them it will get them ready for when they head to college post self distancing. Try introducing them to vacuuming and laundry if they're not doing it already (and have them watch this brilliant dad humor video if they have any questions). Honestly, there's no wrong way to go here if they at least try it.

Try a New Workout

Having all sports cancelled and gyms closed is tough on everyone. But getting adrenaline pumping at home is a great mood booster, and we found some fun options that can be done at home.

Yoga: Even if you don't have a special mat, lay out some towels and let them dial up classes from Glo (currently offering a free month's trial) which matches up personal style preferences with 4,000 class options, including meditation and mindfulness, which is super helpful in these stressful times.

Jumping Rope: Elevate the playground staple with weighted ropes that synch to a special app with Crossrope (a bit like Peloton for jump rope, but much less expensive).

HIIT: Have a Thor fan in the house? Muscled Aussie sweetheart Chris Hemsworth has his own workout platform, Centr, and he's giving free trials during the COVID-19 crisis, with subscriptions starting at $10 a month.

Play Yard Games: If you have a yard, change up the way you use it by ordering up some old school yard games which are good summer activities for teens. Old school croquet (Heathers anyone?) doesn't take up much lawn space but is a game the whole family can play. Order up a basic net online and you can play volleyball or badminton by changing out the accessories. Apartment dwelling? A table top ping pong set is a good indoor activity for teens, too.

Learn a New Language

Even if they're already studying a foreign language in school, have them check out the cool, and free, Duolingo app. They can choose any language from Arabic to Welsh (and Klingon, too) and then not only be guided through game like challenges, but they'll also be connected to a world of other students to compete against and also befriend (one recent example: a teen in New Jersey studying Japanese connected with a student in China studying English, a bit like having a postcard buddy when we were young).

Train to be a Rockstar

If you have an instrument going unused and unloved in your home, give it a second chance at life and have your teen sign up for a School of Rock one-on-one remote music class. If they're already musically inclined, have them connect with Hookist a global songwriting collaboration where musicians from around the world submit lyrics based on the theme "One World". They can vote and comment on their faves, and then a new lyric is established in the song each Monday and Thursday. It's fun and social -- just what teenagers need right now.

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