Ideas for keeping Secondary school aged children entertained at home

(62 Posts)
soniamumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 19-Mar-20 15:35:07

Pre-teens and teens can be tricky customers when it comes to keeping them entertained at home.

Here are a few of our best ideas (and some of yours!) for keeping them busy.

Share your own ideas in the thread, and we'll add them to the list.

Strength and honour.

1. Visit the Louvre

Budding linguists will enjoy a virtual trip round Le Louvre. Ooh la la!

2. Take a tour of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Pay a visit virtually to some of Ireland and Northern Ireland’s landmarks.

3. Try out these Stem activities

Stem activities from Network Rail for older train enthusiasts. Follow them on Twitter, too.

Related: The best online learning resources for children and teens

4. Take a dance class

Re-watch Strictly and perfect some new moves or tune into Oti’s dance classes on YouTube. Paso Doble, anyone?

5. Find the international space station

Spot the International Space Station going over. Sometimes it’s good to ponder the wonders of the universe and remember how tiny our planet really is.

6. Try some microwave baking

Make mug cakes in the Microwave. We heard the experts have put together a bit of info on this…

7. Get into conservation

Wildlife, geography, conservation and more with the legendary Steve Backshall.

8. Visit the Uffizi gallery in Florence

Teenaged art lovers will love the bold and colourful pieces in Florence’s Uffizi gallery. Visit it online here.

9. Explore Britain’s secret World War II bunker from your sofa

The Liverpool War Museums closed for now but the virtual tour is fascinating and they’re running some brilliant ‘live history lessons’ from their Facebook page: Western Approaches HQ.

10. Have a movie marathon

The whole of the Harry Potter series should keep them busy for a while. If you had the foresight to stash a box of Microwave popcorn at the back of the cupboard before all this began, so much the better.

Related: Ideas for keeping primary school children entertained at home

11. Try a science challenge

Leave budding scientists in the capable hands of James Dyson for a while with his science challenge cars. (If you’re low on dry spaghetti maybe oversee some of these).

12. Listen to an audiobook

Audible just put loads of its children’s audiobooks online for free. Three cheers for them!

Try Audible for free

13. Take a trip to New York

A virtual trip to New York should always include a look round MoMA. Treat them to a hot dog afterwards and they’ll feel just like they’re in the Big Apple (almost).

...and while you’re (not) there, catch some opera at the Met Opera house, which is currently streaming performances each night.

Exercise classes you can do at home, courtesy of one of the United States’ biggest gym chains.

14. If you have a dog, try to teach him some tricks

“If you have a dog we are teaching our dogs more tricks, I can recommend joining this Facebook group if you fancy learning how to teach your dog some tricks - to do it just for fun or working towards trick titles with DMWYD. Super helpful group, and keeps dogs and kids entertained.”

Related: The best family board games

15. Write a novel

They’re never more creative and less self-conscious about their writing than at this age, believe it or not. They don’t have to show anyone, but then again they might even find time to self-publish it.

16. Start a book club

Or start a grown-up book club with them with books you’ll enjoy too. John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns has a list of discussion points you could use to spring off from.

Buy The Fault in our Stars

17. Go to a stay at home festival

The Cosmic Shambles Network is holding a Stay At Home festival with guests including Robin Ince, Josie Long, Mark Gatiss, Stephen Merchant and more. Check it out.

18. Learn how to DJ

By downloading this free app. You did buy them those headphones, right? Please say you bought them those headphones…

Buy headphones

19. Learn how to play an instrument

Get them to practise their musical instrument. There’s no time like now to get seriously good at guitar.

20. Host a Netflix party

Netflix and chill (well, less of the chill, perhaps, but they can watch Netflix with their friends, here.

21. Host a virtual house party

Meet up with their mates on House Party.

22. Learn a new language

Download DuoLingo to their phone and they can learn a language for free. How cool would it be to go back to school speaking Mandarin?

23. Help them redecorate their bedroom

Or if you can’t lay your hands on any paint, just a thorough declutter and a couple of hours’ rearranging furniture can make it seem like a whole new room. And giving them a space they want to retreat too might save everyone's sanity.

What are your suggestions for keeping teens entertained? Post them on the thread and we’ll add them to the list.

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OP’s posts: |
InMySpareTime Thu 19-Mar-20 15:50:51

Send them out to help buy groceries/mow lawns/walk dogs/collect prescriptions for vulnerable neighbours.
Let them paint artwork on their bedroom walls (if it's awful or offensive you can always repaint it when they leave home!)
Get them to do chores round the house. In my house, if you walk on the floor you help vacuum, if you use crockery/cutlery you help with the dishwasher, if you wear clothes you wash them.
Have a "Bake-off", with a parent judging.
They'll mostly still be set schoolwork online, remind them of that!
Movie day/night with popcorn, fizzy drinks and several films in succession.
Get them to video chat with their friends, perhaps they could have a Jamming session with instruments remotely.
Have a sort out of old clothes/toys, clean them and pass them on to families with younger children.
Let them sleep in nice and late, and stay up past their bedtime.
Go hiking in the countryside (National Trust made their parklands free to use for the crisis duration)
Board games
Binge watch Box sets
Give them a patch of garden to grow veg or flowers over the summer.
Put thick cardboard down the stairs, sofa cushions at the foot of the stairs, then let them slide down the staircase. (It's deliciously irresponsible fun).
Charity shop challenge: £10, 10 minutes, make up an outfit from things you find in a charity shop.
Picnic tea

GrimDamnFanjo Thu 19-Mar-20 16:02:03

Creating their own mine craft world

InMySpareTime Thu 19-Mar-20 16:23:11

Home gym (even if it's weight training with tins or resistance training with shopping bags)

Gazelda Thu 19-Mar-20 16:46:57

the Body Coach is doing a 30 min PE session every morning on YouTube.
Photography and photo editing project.
Make up the photo books I've been meaning to do with all my digital pics.
Write letters to older family members who are not online. And phone them too.
Couch to 5k

SoupDragon Thu 19-Mar-20 16:51:29


You can't do that at home!

ADreamOfGood Thu 19-Mar-20 17:16:35

We're in a flat without a garden, in the middle of a conurbation, have to stay isolated due to underlying conditions... I'm starting to despair a little. DH and I have to work so tying up two laptops and two tables, and two separate rooms. Dd's room is a box room in the eaves I'm not the box room troll I promise! so no space to work, DS has a desk but it's so far from the router there's no signal (he has never had computer-based homework before!).
Not sure what to do really.
Outdoor space is all verboten because of the volume of population (they have been set PE homework! <weeps>), baking is out (DH using kitchen table to work, on conference calls all day).
Sorry to be so negative but we're not even a struggling family, so lord knows how they're managing.

PopcornZoo Thu 19-Mar-20 17:29:48

Writing stories
Rearranging their bedrooms

InMySpareTime Thu 19-Mar-20 17:42:30

@ADreamOfGood everyone is allowed out to exercise, jogging, walking and cycling are all OK as long as people keep 2 metres apart.
DS is currently playing football in the park, which is fine as he is with only one friend, and they're not playing contact.

letsstayhappy Thu 19-Mar-20 18:36:58

YouTube workouts


Get the Lego out of the loft!

Life skills - cooking, baking, painting fences/rooms


Daily gratitude diary


Board games

Creating YouTube content

Sorting out bedrooms

Pegase Thu 19-Mar-20 18:44:44

Duolingo to learn a language for free

Futurelearn or coursera for older teens

ADreamOfGood Thu 19-Mar-20 20:05:23

@InMySpareTime I know we're allowed but it's more of the volume of people that live here and the size of the park!
DH has tried to go out at night several times but we live on a main road and there are dozens of people trying to walk their dogs, giving him evil looks if he steps near them (not that he wants to go near anyone anyway).

LonginesPrime Thu 19-Mar-20 23:02:35

perhaps they could have a Jamming session with instruments remotely

Oh dear god, I can't think of anything worse than this with the lagging on Skype- especially at the moment when everyone is overloading the wifi!

Dave's guitar riffs will be buffering all over Jimmy's vocals...

ADreamOfGood Thu 19-Mar-20 23:21:03

Well, we went for a walk in the dark! And managed to avoid too many people. Probably helps that it's really cold this evening. Brrrr.

girlpancake Fri 20-Mar-20 08:51:41

Hi, I'd really like to do partner gymnastics/partner acro with my son, but all the youtube videos seem to be incredibly bendy twin girls. Anyone find anything that's a bit less intimidating??

AlphaJura Fri 20-Mar-20 10:53:54

Films (could try and throw some educational or historical ones in so they learn something)
Making things. If you have daughter with long hair, scrunchies. Plenty of ideas on Pinterest
Cleaning lol (have to bribe mine to do that)
Learn dance routines
Gaming/board games

DirtyDripSpout Sat 21-Mar-20 07:05:41

Painting by numbers
Diamond painting kits (great if they used to love Hama beads when they were younger)
Chin-ups challenge using a home chin up bar. Chart progress over days
Do TikTok dances with them

4forkssake Sat 21-Mar-20 13:39:18

Martin Lewis has a Financial Education Textbook you can download - have yet to look at it but it's to teach 14-16 year olds about managing finances etc. Might be worth a look

LonginesPrime Sat 21-Mar-20 15:07:29

Martin Lewis has a Financial Education Textbook you can download

A textbook, you say?

<^rushes to cancel movie and pizza night^>

4forkssake Sat 21-Mar-20 18:17:40

@longlinesprime yes cos we all need sarcastic feckers at the moment don't we. Nothing wrong with learning a bit of financial management when they've got sod all else to do. Didn't suggest they spend their Saturday night doing it so enjoy your pizza hmm

LonginesPrime Sat 21-Mar-20 18:55:30

Sorry, @4forkssake - it was a joke and I did consider saying that but then figured it was obvious.

But I accept that people are on edge and less likely to read things that were intended to be gentle joshing as that and more likely to see it as a malicious personal attack. It truly wasn't meant that way. blush

My DC still have shedloads of schoolwork and DD's schools is running the normal timetable over web conferencing. But I agree that financial literacy pack is good so I wasn't knocking the actual idea.

RedskyAtnight Sat 21-Mar-20 19:13:54

Tidying their rooms smile

Lovemusic33 Sat 21-Mar-20 19:43:54

Dd2 14 has been knitting as well as a few other crafts, she wants to try felting.

Dd1 16 will mainly be sleeping, gaming and moaning.

4forkssake Sat 21-Mar-20 20:46:55

@Longinesprime sadly sometimes on here things are said that aren't meant as a joke so apologies back to you. My eldest has to log on to school so lessons as normal here. grin

LonginesPrime Sat 21-Mar-20 21:28:31

No worries @4forkssake!

In a way, I wish they weren't sticking to a rigid schedule for school as it means we all have to follow their school timetable and family activities can only really happen in the evening - so not much different from when they were at school!

DS has signed up for Skype language lessons, and he might take some music lessons too. Schoolwork is going to be a bit shit as he was supposed to be doing GCSEs, but that's a whole other thread! DD is happy just watching Netflix and doing art, I think..hmm

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