This list is a mix of classic pastimes and hobbies as well as modern activities and projects that that teenagers and pre-teens can enjoy while bored and passing the time at home in self-isolation.
This time of isolation is very challenging for all of us right now, but as a mom and a daycare provider, my heart aches most of all for all the teens and pre-teens out there. Not only are they missing their friends and their extra-curricular pastimes and activities, they’re at a really difficult age to be stuck at home. Younger kids can play for hours and are easily entertained by a simple craft or activity, but older kids… not so much.
Ideas for ages 10-16
I thought it would be nice to put together a list of hobbies, interests and projects that older kids in the 10-16 year age range might have fun exploring and experimenting with.
Hours, weeks, or a lifetime…
These aren’t just quick crafts to kill an hour or two. They’re projects that can be done over many hours, days (or weeks), and activities that may even become life-long hobbies for your teen.
Some of the ideas listed below are classic pastimes, like knitting and gardening, that you can get lost in for hours, that they may have never thought to try. Others (like diamond painting and coding) are new to our radar.
Hopefully your teen (or tween) will give some of them a try. Whether they just dabble and experiment, or they dive right in and develop a passion for them, your kids will benefit from learning new skills, experiencing something new, and with any luck, they’ll find some enjoyable ways to pass their days while they’re hunkered down safely at home.
Special thanks to the HH Facebook community for submitting some of these suggestions and to Leah, one of my hooligan graduates, who suggested a few of these ideas in her own post about surviving self-isolation as a teenager.
For your conviencience, this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
51 Hobbies and Projects for Teens and Tweens:
- Learn to sew – make baby blankets, drawstring tote bags, or face masks for family or your local hospital.
- Learn how to knit, crochet or macrame.
- Learn how to weave (see our beginner projects here).
- Learn how to cross stitch – make Christmas ornaments or birth announcements for family).
- Learn embroidery.
- Hook a rug or a wall hanging. There are lots of latch hook kits here.
- Do a Paint by Number. (get kits here)
- Join the masses and try Diamond Painting – order kits here.
- Give paper quilling a try. (get kits here)
- Take an online art class.
- Purge your closet and turn old tees into no-sew tote bags.
- Braid a rug from old tee shirts.
- Learn Origami – donate to a local hospital to brighten patients’ rooms. (beginner kits here)
- Interview extended family members over the phone to help older relatives feel less isolated. 30 Interview questions here
- Research your Family Tree on Ancestry.com
- Upcycle a piece of furniture with leftover paint and wallpaper.
- Paint a mural on a bedroom wall with acrylic craft paint.
- Plant a garden – order vegetable or wildflower seeds online.
- Host a DIY Escape Room – Download your printable kit here. (affiliate)
- Start up a penpal relationship with a far-away friend or relative.
- Raise chickens or honey bees. Do your research first.
- Foster an animal.
- Take an online photography course.
- Learn a new language. Duo Language makes it fun and easy.
- Learn American Sign Language with a free online course.
- Start a journal and document this time of self-isolation. See our Mod-podged journals here.
- Start a blog – Learn how here.
- Learn how to code.
- Be a virtual babysitter – Use Zoom or Face Time to read/do circle time with younger cousins or a neighbour’s child to give parents a break.
- Do a 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle without looking at the box.
- Read an entire book series (great ones here and here ) or listen to an audio book series.
- Write your first novel or screen play.
- Make jewellery and get a head start on Christmas and birthday gifts.
- Start a scrapbook (digital or traditional).
- Organize your family’s photo albums.
- Write to a celebrity.
- Create a design book, and redesign your bedroom or the whole home with magazine clippings, fabric scraps etc.
- Try soap and candle making.
- Build a model dollhouse or bird house. (get kits here)
- Participate in an online paint night.
- Make baskets out of braided plastic bags. (tutorial here)
- Research your dream career – take an online aptitude test, look into salary, requirements, local college courses and tuition etc.
- Make a sculpture with scrap materials, paper mache and paint.
- Paint wine bottles to give as gifts. I worked on these ones for weeks.
- Join an online group or club – many organizations like Girl Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers etc. have put their programs online.
- Do a photo of the day assignment. (inspiring assignments here)
- Think of a business idea and plan it from concept and target market to costs and marketing.
- Find an old vehicle to fix up and tinker with.
- Outschool.com has really cool online classes for kids ages 3-18. There’s everything from cake decorating to Lego.
- Learn a musical instrument. A ukele is inexpensive, and really fun and easy to learn.
- Grab a skipping rope and dedicate some time every day to perfecting some advanced tricks. The exercise will be great for your mental and physical well-being.
You may also enjoy:
- Weaving Crafts for Kids
- 40+ Homemade Gifts for Kids to Make
- 40+ Chapter Books for Boys ages 8-16
- 70+ Chapter Books for Girls ages 5-13
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
Thank you for mentioning Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers in your post. I am a Lone Ranger Guider (all our Rangers live far from each other and us, and participate only via Canada Post and Internet). We have 21 Rangers this year, a huge number for a Ranger Unit, but that is how it goes in our current Covid world. I came looking for new ideas to offer the Rangers – projects to help with earning their badges and awards, as well as ideas for things to make our Zoom meetings more fun and enriching. I really appreciate your ideas and posts. Thank you again!
Hi Luanne! I’m so pleased that you’ve found my site, and hope that you’ll find some creative ideas for your Rangers. I was a “Brownie” here in Ontario, some 40 years ago, and I LOVED crafting to earn my badges. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve managed to keep your program up and running during these challenging times. It warms my heart to think the your organization is still going strong after all these years. x