Looking for guidance about hobbies for teenagers that will spark their passion? Read on! Maybe you’ll ignite a spark in yourself too!
You can always tell when someone has a passion. It can be in sports, or drama, or coding, or a universe of different things, but it’s always something that nourishes them. Cultivating a hobby that they can be passionate about is good for teenagers. Hobbies can help them find both their tribe and something they can excel at, which are important steps on their path towards adulthood.
It isn’t easy to start a new hobby, especially with teenagers. Here are some thoughts on hobbies for teens that might spark a lifelong passion, as well as some info on how you and your kids can get started with these hobbies.
Have a kid that’s not a teen? Head over to our article Hobbies for Your Kids That Your Family Will Love and check out our hobby recommendations for kids 12 and under!
What is it?
Cosplay is short for costumed play—cosplayers take on the role of a favorite character by creating elaborate, visually accurate costumes. It involves crafting clothes, weapons, and accessories. Cosplay encourages skills in a variety of arts, and just how elaborate you want the costume to be is limited only by your creativity and budget.
It’s best to start small, assembling a costume out of pre-made pieces. If your kid is interested in cosplay, they probably already have a character they want to cosplay as. Find some images of the character online, and then break down the costume into individual pieces. What is the character wearing on their feet? Their hands? What’s on their head? What’s their pants situation looking like? Then, you can go through your closets and local thrift stores to find what you need. Be patient with yourselves and with each other. You probably shouldn’t try to build light-up Iron Man suits for your first cosplay. Pick a character whose costume is doable with your for-now limited skills, like Doctor Who, Harry Potter, or Kiki (and her cat Jiji) from Kiki’s Delivery Service.
If your kid decides that they want to do more ambitious and original cosplay, then eventually they’re going to have to learn how to read a pattern and sew. There are lots of patterns for making your own costumes out there, ranging from this similar to but legally distinct from Sailor Moon costume, to this intimidating Assassin’s Creed-esque coat, or this Magical Guy.
Cosplay – The Beginner’s Masterclass: A Guide To Cosplay Culture & Costume Making: Finding Materials, Planning, Ideas, How To Make Clothing, Props & Enjoy Conventions, by Miyuu Takahara and Kenji Weston.
Kamuicosplay on Youtube has lots of how-to videos.
Depending on the character, cosplay can involve a bit of painting, including area coverage and fine detailing, color mixing, and various other techniques, plus painting is its own terrific hobby, so pop on over and brush up on our Bob Ross Painting Tutorial Starter Kit For Beginners!
What is it?
Robotics combines engineering and computer science to make machines that can help people, or failing that, creating machines that can do something entertaining without catching on fire, or trying to annihilate the human race. There are lots of robotics competitions in high school, and building and programming robots can lead to your kids developing marketable skills.
LEGO Mindstorms is a good jumping on point with robotics, because of the large user community around the Mindstorms platform who can mentor you and your kids in this complex, but oh so satisfying, hobby. There’s a Mindstorms Facebook group and the LEGO Ambassador Network to connect you with more experienced LEGO roboticists. Either the LEGO Mindstorms Robot Inventor set or the EV3 Core Set will help you get started and give you everything you need to build and program several different robots. Be forewarned, LEGO Mindstorms gear requires an investment, of both time and money. Your kids might want to join a LEGO group or their high school’s robotics team to see if robotics is something they’re truly passionate about.
LEGO EV3 User Guide—this guide might give you a sense of what is involved with building programmable LEGO robots.
First LEGO League—this is one of the main high school robotics competitions.
For more STEM related ideas, check out our article What is Science for Kids?
Fossil Hunting 🦖
What is it?
Fossil hunting is searching for evidence of prehistoric life. Once you start looking for fossils, you’ll see them everywhere. Learning about fossils is a great way for teenagers to “zoom out” and look at their lives from a broader perspective. Slotting the day’s frustrations into the context of geologic time might help make them less frustrating.
Before we go any further, I want to remind everyone not to take fossils from public lands. Instagram them all you want, but leave them where they are so other people can enjoy them too.
Your first order of business in fossil hunting will be to find a place that has lots of fossils. A quick Google search should help you find a fossil-rich area to visit. It’s also a great idea to seek out mentors at your local fossil hunting club. A good mentor can save you a lot of time and frustration, and your teenagers will benefit from having cool grownup friends. After that, there are a few small pieces of equipment that’ll make fossil hunting more rewarding: A magnifying loupe or a microscope attachment for your smartphone will help you unlock more knowledge about your fossils. If you and your kids get deeper into the hobby, you may eventually want a rock hammer to break open fossil-bearing rocks and a proper microscope to help you examine and clean your fossils.
What is it?
Volunteering is giving your time and energy to make a positive impact on a person or a group. We nerds tell ourselves over and over and again that with great power comes great responsibility. Volunteering can help you make those words mean something. When your kids see you volunteer, it sets an example that they’ll remember. Volunteering together can help start your kids on a lifetime of service to others.
Get your kids started with volunteering by thinking with them about their values. What matters to your family? STEAM education? The environment? Your fandom community? No matter what your priorities are, there’s a volunteer opportunity out there that is a good fit. Is reading important to your kids? Reading is Fundamental’s Literacy Network can help you help others learn to read. Are your kids interested in STEAM? There might be a volunteer opportunity available through STEM-E that would help you become STEAM educators. If you’re looking for a way to volunteer and social distance, STEM-E is currently offering virtual opportunities! In the world of fandom, the 501st Legion of Star Wars cosplayers does a lot to help people and is also a place to show off your kids’ painstakingly crafted cardboard Stormtrooper costume.
Volunteermatch.org is a clearinghouse of volunteer opportunities all over the USA and in a huge variety of areas. It’s a great way to find an opportunity that fits you and your kids.