Outdoor Movie/Slideshow Night:
Project a movie onto a sheet or wall using a projection TV or movie projector. Set up chairs and enjoy your makeshift drive-in (OK, sit-in) theater. If you don't have a projector, try renting an inflatable screen from Funflicks.com
. A simpler (and cheaper!) option is to lug your TV outside and lace the cord through a window.
Volunteer for a Worthy Cause:
Find an issue that your teens feel passionately about and point them in the right direction. The upcoming national elections are a great volunteering opportunity, as are international issues like Darfur or Tibet. And there are plenty of local options, too. For ideas, check out our ages-and-stages volunteering guide
Send your teens off to visit a local attraction that they know about but have never visited because, well, they live there. They can gawk at locals, consult maps, take corny pictures with their digital cameras, even pick a country they are "visiting" from. For a list of attractions in your area, visit ParentsConnect Local
, type in your zip code and click on Tourist Stops.
Wild Wild Wet:
Having fun with water doesn't have to be just for little kids. Wild wild wet involves two or more home bases, well stocked with pre-filled water balloons and water pistols (maybe even a small bucket or two for heavy-duty defense). This game works well when there's an ultimate goal, which can be as simple as stealing a flag from the other team's base.
Make a Photocomic:
Encourage your teens to come up with a story that involves several locations around the neighborhood. Have them grab costumes, props, their camera and as many friends as possible to act out the tale in digital photos. Once they download the images onto their computer, they can add captions or word balloons, and share their photocomic (or, if they want to sound really smart and fancy, fumetti
), on Flickr
or another online photo-sharing site.
Have your teens pick a one-on-one game and compete in head-to head matches. All kinds of games work: video, sports, even fun (and free!) online games like the ones you can find at Shockwave
. Or you can always suggest they use the Wii (as if they need to be reminded).
Darkness doesn't have to be dull. After the sun goes down, have your teens gather a group of friends. Everyone writes a "magic word" on a piece of paper and sticks it somewhere on their body. Turn off the lights and hand out flashlights. Whenever someone is able to illuminate and read someone else's word aloud, that person's out. Last unread man wins. Warning: You'll want to have a little light shining in order to prevent injuries to your players—and your furniture.
Got celeb obsessed teens? Bet you do. Have them gather their fellow pop-culture fans for a little entertainment. Divide into two teams. Each team writes down the names of 25 celebrities on slips of paper and tosses them into a bowl. One by one, contestants pick a name and proceed to act out the star's personality without mentioning movies, TV shows or other giveaways. If the contestant's team guesses the right celeb, they get a point! If not, the other team can move in for a steal. Trust me, watching your teens try to act like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears is fun ... as long as it's just pretend.
Go online to a site like Yahoo! Music
and print out the lyrics to a couple of favorite songs. Grab the CDs, play the tunes and sing along. An electronically-savvy teen can turn on the equalizer and lower the volume of the real singer's voice as much as possible. And if someone (Dad?) is feeling a little mic shy, he can always do his best Simon Cowell impression and judge all the budding divas.
It's Easy Being Green:
Get your budding Al Gores to help you make your family more environmentally conscious. Check out an online carbon-use calculator
to determine how your house compares to the national average. Then make some simple changes like replacing your high-watt light bulbs with eco-friendly substitutes or turning off appliances when they're not in use. Share your positive lifestyle changes with the neighborhood by having your teens launch a promotional campaign about what you've done. They can create posters, graphics, press releases, even videos and photocomics (see above) and spread the word online and in the streets.