The Best Hobbies, Pastimes, and Extracurricular Activities to Motivate Teens

According to Pew Research from 2019, American teens enjoy around 5 hours and 44 minutes of leisure time each day. As you would expect, the majority of that freetime is spent on screens — just a bit over 3 hours a day.

Would you love to get your tweens and teens off their mobile devices and into the living, breathing world with invigorating hobbies? We’ve compiled lists of possibilities, based on 19 different core motivations.

Not sure of your teen’s core motivations? Take TruSpark to uncover their top three. 

Of course, these lists are merely starting points to get your teen pointed in the right direction. For best results, look at the suggested hobbies for all top three motivations (from your TruSpark results) and see which resonate best with your teen and make the most sense for your particular situation. 

The Best Hobbies, Pastimes, and Extracurricular Activities to Motivate Teens

Because these possible hobbies rely on your teen’s core motivations, these pastimes are likely to be genuinely enjoyable and fulfill your teen’s desire to matter and to make a difference. 

Many of these will serve double duty as extracurricular activities, volunteering, or even paid jobs that can be added to college applications, too. But don’t push teens to choose hobbies solely on the basis of how they will look to outsiders or their ability to generate income. A hobby should renew our zest for life, serving as an outlet for fun and a way to develop and demonstrate competence. Making a hobby too functional can erase much of the delight.

Another caution: Be patient with your teens as they try out different hobbies. Their passions are still being formed, so it’s natural to try out an activity, discard it, and move to another option. Yes, it’s frustrating when the equipment you bought is pushed to the side as your teen shifts attention to a new obsession, but it’s totally natural adolescent behavior. 

1.  Hobbies for Achievers

Achievers are motivated to give their absolute best as they go above and beyond what’s expected. Here are ten hobbies that fuel their desire to excel:

  1. Competitive sports (for example, soccer, basketball)
  2. Academic decathlon
  3. Setting demanding personal fitness goals
  4. Learning a musical instrument extremely well in little time
  5. Chess competitions
  6. Running an exceptional small online business
  7. Advanced technologies and ambition with robotics projects
  8. Writing and publishing (for example, blog articles or podcasting) that builds a large following
  9. Volunteer leadership positions
  10. Participation in science fairs 
“Hard work done for a hobby doesn’t feel so hard!” —Amit Kalantri

2.  Hobbies for Arrangers

Arrangers are motivated to be the key person who holds things together and gives them meaning or direction. Here are ten possible leisure activities that put them at the center of the action:

  1. Event planning (for example, organizing school events)
  2. Team sports where strategy plays a key role
  3. Community service or charity event coordination
  4. School club leadership (for example, debate club or drama club)
  5. Group/family travel planning
  6. Peer mentoring programs
  7. Music bands or orchestras
  8. Overseeing group video projects
  9. Leading fundraising events
  10. Collaborative art projects 
“Having a hobby is a great way to reduce the amount of stress you feel.” —Craig W. Baird

3. Hobbies for Builders

Builders are motivated by the process of building and developing things from start to finish. Here are ten ways builders can design their creations and bring them to life:

  1. Woodworking or carpentry projects
  2. Model building (for example, model trains or planes)
  3. LEGO robotics
  4. DIY home projects
  5. Gardening or landscape design
  6. Sculpture or pottery
  7. Creating and designing video games
  8. Building computers or electronic devices
  9. Fiber crafts such as sewing, crochet, or knitting
“Designing is my hobby. If I didn’t do what I do for a living – at some point when I don’t do this for a living – I’ll probably just do design work. I love finding really special pieces of furniture.” —Ellen DeGeneres

4. Hobbies for Experts

Experts are motivated to master a skill, subject, or technique. Try one of these hobbies that give them room to perfect their abilities:

  1. Specialized workshops or online courses (for example in writing, astronomy, or coding)
  2. Museum volunteering or internships
  3. Science or math clubs and competitions
  4. Mastering a second language 
  5. History buff, for example historical reenactment groups
  6. Earning ranks in martial arts
  7. Chef, baker, or pit master 
  8. Magic tricks and mystery
  9. Growing and propagating indoor plants
“I think the best way to find out about something is to try to do it to the max. A lot of people take up a hobby or sport and then find an excuse not to carry on with it. Once I start something, I won’t stop until I’m as good at it as I’ll ever be.” — Bruce Dickinson

5. Hobbies for Explorers

Explorers are motivated to explore beyond the existing limits of their knowledge and experience to discover what is unknown. Feed the curiosity of your Explorer with these possible pastimes:

  1. Hiking and outdoor adventures
  2. Geocaching or metal detecting
  3. Travel clubs
  4. Nature photography
  5. Rock climbing or mountaineering
  6. Scuba diving or snorkeling
  7. Urban exploration or parkour
  8. Bird watching
  9. Astronomy
  10. Being a foodie 
  11. Learning about different cultures, for example with Postcrossing 
“Always reinvent yourself. Always try new things; new food, new hobbies, meet new people. That will keep your life from becoming stagnant and boring. And you will have a lot more fun!” —Lisa Bedrick

6. Hobbies for Finishers

Finishers are motivated when they can look at a finished project and know that they have accomplished a goal. Here are ten hobbies that give your finisher a powerful sense of completion:

  1. Completing puzzle challenges (for example, jigsaw puzzles or escape rooms)
  2. Model kit building
  3. Long-distance running or cycling
  4. Art projects with a clear end goal
  5. Book clubs with reading deadlines
  6. Organizing and completing a personal goal challenge
  7. Film-making from start to finish
  8. Completing video game levels or challenges
  9. Learning and mastering a musical piece
  10. Writing and finishing a story or novel
“The art of bread making can become a consuming hobby, and no matter how often and how many kinds of bread one has made, there always seems to be something new to learn.” — Julia Child

7. Hobbies for Fixers

Fixers are motivated to repair something that is broken. Consider these hobbies for your improvement-driven Fixer:

  1. Repairing electronics or gadgets
  2. Bicycle or automotive repair
  3. Coding for problem-solving (for example, creating apps)
  4. Peer counseling or mentoring
  5. Volunteering in community repair events like Habitat for Humanity
  6. DIY home repairs
  7. Computer troubleshooting or robotics club
  8. Restoring furniture
  9. Environmental cleanup activities
  10. First aid or lifeguard training
I have an expensive hobby: buying homes, redoing them, tearing them down and building them up the way they want to be built. I want to be an architect.” —Sandra Bullock

8. Hobbies for Helpers

Helpers identify and fulfill needs, requirements, and expectations. Their favorite hobbies give them a chance to meet needs and offer a supportive hand:

  1. Volunteering at local charities, shelters, or community events
  2. Peer tutoring
  3. Babysitting or pet sitting
  4. Being a stagehand in local theater
  5. Assisting in eldercare centers
  6. Organizing charity drives (for example, food, clothing)
  7. Environmental advocacy groups
  8. Working with special needs children
  9. Animal rescue and care
  10. Equipment manager for sports team
  11. Costume or stage manager for theater
“I was sad and in a dark place, and I turned to a hobby to sort of take me out of that.” —Cole Sprouse 

9. Hobbies for Impactors

Impactors seek to shape and make an impact in the world around them. Try out one of these hobbies where Impactors can be an agent of change:

  1. Student government
  2. Environmental clubs
  3. Social justice and advocacy groups
  4. Peer leadership programs
  5. Organizing community improvement projects
  6. Participating in debate clubs
  7. Youth groups at church
  8. Starting a social movement or campaign
  9. Volunteering in political campaigns
  10. Creating a blog or podcast centered on social change
“I don’t have hobbies. I have passions.” —Pablo Casals

10. Hobbies for Improvers

Improvers consistently seek to make things better and enhance them. Try these possible pastimes that provide a way to revise, rearrange, and refine:

  1. Continuous personal fitness challenges
  2. Art classes focusing on skill improvement
  3. Coding bootcamps or workshops
  4. Language learning with progressive levels
  5. Recycled or upcycled crafts
  6. Photography with a focus on technique enhancement
  7. Cooking or baking 
  8. Playing a musical instrument 
  9. Academic tutoring with a focus on improving grades
  10. Mindfulness meditation and yoga
  11. Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts
  12. Student Council
“Find a way to relax that takes you to a joyful level, a level that quits the nerves and allows thoughts to be calm. One of these relaxing moods can be instilled through a hobby and one that brings you satisfaction and one that thoroughly involves your mind in something different than that which you do for work, or is a necessity.” —Byron Pulsifer
The Best Hobbies, Pastimes, and Extracurricular Activities to Motivate Teens

11. Hobbies for Influencers

Influencers are motivated when they feel they have influenced someone’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. Here are ten possible hobbies where influencers can leverage their persuasive abilities:

  1. Social media content creation
  2. Public speaking or debate clubs
  3. Youth leadership programs
  4. Running a YouTube channel, blog, or podcast
  5. Acting in local theater
  6. Student council or school government
  7. Organizing social events in their friend group
  8. Model United Nations
  9. Songwriting and performing
  10. Debate Club
“Today is life—the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.” —Dale Carnegie

12. Hobbies for Learners

Learners are motivated to understand, define, and then communicate their knowledge. Consider one of these learning-rich activities, and make sure they have a way to demonstrate their new-found mastery:

  1. Book clubs
  2. Online courses on various subjects
  3. Museum visits and historical tours
  4. Science clubs or groups
  5. Learning new languages
  6. Art history or appreciation courses
  7. Exploring different music genres
  8. Collecting and then displaying their collections
  9. Building niche websites 
  10. Podcasting 
  11. Honors classes
“It feels important to go school; not necessarily to further my education, but more like a hobby.” —Mandy Moore

13. Hobbies for Maximizers

Maximizers are driven to identify unused ideas and bring them to life. Here are ideal leisure activities for these possibility-seeing people:

  1. Advanced sports training
  2. Participating in honors or advanced placement (AP) courses
  3. Leadership development programs
  4. Advanced musical or artistic training
  5. Joining elite clubs or teams
  6. Mentoring younger students in areas of expertise
  7. Personal branding and self-marketing
  8. Competitive debate or public speaking
  9. High-level coding or tech projects
  10. Setting and achieving high personal goals
  11. Entrepreneurs club
“In polite society, we call our obsessions hobbies.” —Stephen King

14. Hobbies for Organizers

Organizers want to set up a smooth-running operation. Consider these freetime pursuits for your detail-oriented leader:

  1. Planning and organizing school events
  2. Collecting (for example, vinyl records or memorabilia)
  3. Managing a student club or organization
  4. Coordinating volunteer efforts
  5. Event photography or videography
  6. Keeping a planner or journal
  7. Organizing charity or fundraising events
  8. Team sports with a strategic role
  9. Running a school newspaper or magazine
  10. Being a stage or production manager for youth theater
  11. Student referee
“When you meet someone, ask about what hobby they have, not what they do. People always ask me about cooking, but I prefer to talk about tennis or boxing.” —Wolfgang Puck

15. Hobbies for Overcomers

Overcomers gain a sense of achievement from looking back over the challenges they have met. Here are hobbies that give your overcomer the pressure they need to stretch themselves:

  1. Martial arts 
  2. Public speaking and debate
  3. Long distance running and other solo sports
  4. Adventure sports such as rock climbing or trekking
  5. Playing musical instruments
  6. Robotics club and competitions
  7. Volunteering with political campaigns
  8. Camping
  9. Jigsaw puzzles and board games
  10. Social justice clubs and events
“Some people like to garden, some people like motorcycle riding… My hobby is winning.” —Jack Passion

16. Hobbies for Standouts

Standouts are motivated to capture the attention and interest of others. Try one of these hobbies to give your standout the spotlight:

  1. Performing arts such as acting, singing, or dancing
  2. Fashion design and creation
  3. Stand-up comedy or improvisational theater
  4. Talent shows or competitions
  5. Magic arts
  6. Street or public art projects
  7. Leading a band or music group
  8. Competitive cooking or baking
  9. Vlogging or social media influencing
  10. Graphic design and digital art
  11. Golf
“I grew up in a really small town with not a lot of money, and I liked singing, but it was just something that was a hobby” —Justin Bieber 

17. Hobbies for Teachers

Teachers are motivated to learn something new and show that they can do it. Here are possible hobbies where your Teacher can constantly pass along new knowledge:

  1. Peer tutoring 
  2. Mentoring
  3. Leading educational workshops or clubs
  4. Creating YouTube or TikTok tutorials
  5. Assistant coach or student instructor
  6. Organizing study groups
  7. Teaching skills to younger children (for example, music, dance, or sports)
  8. Working in afterschool programs or summer camps for kids
  9. Posting book reviews online
  10. Public speaking and debate
“A hobby a day keeps the doldrums away.” — Phyllis McGinley

18. Hobbies for Team Players

Team Players enjoy working with others towards a common goal. Try on these group-centered activities where a Team Player will thrive:

  1. Team sports (for example, volleyball, basketball, or soccer)
  2. Participating in band or orchestra
  3. Community theater
  4. Group volunteering projects
  5. Robotics club
  6. Choir or ensemble singing
  7. Dance troupes or group dance classes
  8. Team-based academic competitions (for example, mathletes or science bowl)
  9. Safety patrol 
  10. Student council
“I think it’s really important for people to have a passion… a hobby… riding horses or climbing or riding motorcycles or whatever it is. It’s very good for the soul. And if you can find a soulmate with whom you can share similar experiences with… one who enjoys them as much as you do, then it’s kind of a match made in heaven really.” —Charley Boorman

19. Hobbies for Visionaries

Visionaries are motivated to live out their ideas and ideals. Here are ten possible hobbies for your practical dreamer:

  1. Starting a club or organization
  2. Creative writing and storytelling
  3. Inventing or developing new gadgets or apps
  4. Drawing, painting, or digital art with a unique style
  5. Filmmaking or video production
  6. Environmental innovation projects
  7. Future technology clubs (for example, AI, VR)
  8. Brainstorming and ideation workshops
  9. Philosophy or big ideas clubs
  10. Volunteering with political or social justice campaigns
“As a student, I had a hobby of inventing new ideas for products. For me, thinking of new businesses is like inventing new products.” —Masayoshi Son

Decode your teen’s core motivations with TruSpark. This fun, scientifically proven, online assessment is based on your teen’s own stories. Unlike normed tests that compare your child to the masses, TruSpark simply reveals your teen’s inner drives based on their own thoughts and feelings about their own achievement stories. Each test is a totally unique experience because your teen is a totally unique individual!




It takes just 15 minutes to find out what motivates your teen! Results show the top three motivations + ideal careers for each.