Is there any better season than summer? It’s one of my favorite times of year because I enjoy gardening and the opportunity to take regular walks outside. Now that I’m an empty-nester, I also love summer because I get to spend extra time with my grandchildren while they have a break from school! When my kids were all still at home, I loved the opportunity to have more time with them as well.

But as quickly as the “summer fun” arrives it seems that our grandchildren, children, and teens have started in with their I’m-so-bored and there’s-nothing-to-do’s. Can you relate?

It can be particularly challenging to keep those active minds busy all summer long, let alone find new ways to build connections with our kids.

Your teens and pre-teens can seem independent a lot of the time, but they still need some ideas to stay busy through the summer! That’s why I wanted to share some fun and economical activities to help keep your teens engaged and busy until school starts back up again.

Here are 10 summer activities you can do with your teen:

1) Video/Picture Scavenger Hunt

Teens love competition! You can use that to your advantage by sending them out on a hunt to find a specific list of pictures or videos (or you could do this as a family!). You can create your own list or find a list of options here.

2) Plan a Meal

Put your teen in charge of making dinner one night each week. Give them the requirements (meat, fruit, vegetable), but let them be creative too! They can be in charge of the meal from selecting the menu, doing the shopping, and making the food. This is a great opportunity for them to learn a variety of skills and have fun! I highly recommend a build-your-own waffle station with endless toppings or making a nacho table for a memorable time together as a family.

3) Learn a Trending Dance Together

I’m sure your teens already have their favorite people to watch on TikTok and Instagram. Even if they don’t have social media, it can be hard to escape the dance-mania. This could be a great opportunity to bond with your teen. Have them pick out a dance trend and then spend an evening practicing the moves together. When you are ready, hit record to document it!

4) Cut Out Cookies

Why reserve the fun of cut-out cookies to the holidays? Summer is a great time to enjoy the process of making, cutting out, baking, and decorating cookies! Need a good recipe and practical steps? You can find that here.

5) Board Game Playoff

Choose a board game to play nightly as a family for an entire week. Encourage competition and keep track of who wins in order to identify a grand champion! To increase excitement, purchase a trophy and have a small prize for the grand champion. If you find a game your family really enjoys, you can repeat this throughout the summer as well!

6) Pick a Book to Read as a Family

You could read the book aloud to your teens, switch off who reads, or get the audiobook version. (Audiobooks are a great option for when you are running errands or for long trips.) When you finish the book or series, throw a book-themed party! Depending on your rules around screen time, you could also use family reading time as a way to earn additional screen time later in the day.

7) Story Time with Grandparents

Have your teen call their grandparents once a week to find out how they are doing and to ask them about one memory from their teen years. The first time they call, have your teen tell them they’ll be calling once a week to check in and hear a story from their life. That way grandma and grandpa can be thinking about stories to share.

(If your teen’s grandparents aren’t living, an aunt or uncle could do the same!)

8) Go on a Hike

Don’t forget to take your dog if you have one! There are so many great trails and parks that are likely within an hour of your home. You can download or visit AllTrails to find what is near you. Be sure to pack the trail mix or grab a disposable camera to encourage your children to be unplugged!

9) Geocaching

Everyone loves a treasure hunt, and think of geocaching as a modern-day treasure hunt! You can find specific geocache locations near you and sign a log once you find it. There are clues in the app once you arrive at the general location. You can find all about geocaching at

10) Plan a Trip

Have your teen plan a trip for the entire family. It could be a day, weekend, or week-long trip. You give the guidelines of dates, cost, number of days, and distance limitations, and then let them make the plan! As long as they’ve stayed within their guidelines, resist the urge to change up their plan. This will give them an incredible sense of accomplishment! If you have multiple teens, ask them to pitch their trip ideas to the family in a PowerPoint. Then have the family vote for the winning trip!

It can be hard to keep your teens occupied during their free time over the summer. But with a little bit of planning, you can connect with them personally, make meaningful memories, and have a whole lot of fun!

Here are a few additional resources you may find helpful as you seek to connect with your teen this summer:

Want regular encouragement?

Subscribe to get Jill's latest content by email.

(You can view our privacy policy here.)

Powered by ConvertKit