15 Nov 10 After-School Activities for Kids
Successful adults know that a good morning routine can boost success for the rest of the day. Similarly, kids have a critical period that can make any day a good one. For them, that time is when they arrive home from school. Quality after-school activities can build productive habits, boost energy, and support strong development.
Here are ten activities, including some variations. Some can be done alone, while others are social activities. They are grouped by a specific dominant benefit, although many of them provide multiple benefits.
Scavenger hunts are always fun. A good challenge adds variety and even education. Divide up the kids into teams or individuals. Set a time limit and give them a list of objectives. They earn one point if they find an item on the scavenger hunt list. Allow bonus point if they exceed the competition’s solution.
Here are several objectives to get you started: find the oldest object in the house; the best example of active oxidation; three items that match a specific (or rare) color; one of every coin; a foreign coin… make the list fun and personal.
Taste and Smell
This fun experiment can also fit into the “enriching” category. Arrange a few pieces of food and have the kids try them blindfolded and with their noses plugged. Items like raw potato, onion and apple slices are difficult to tell apart without the sense of smell. Try identifying a hard-boiled egg yolk without the ability to see it. There are many foods that are hard to identify without sight and smell.
Another variation is to fake a food like the potato/apple trick. Ask them to smell the apple as they bite into the potato.
Kids typically arrive home from school with an appetite. Rather than letting them default to something unhealthful, set up an activity that lets them express themselves artistically. After-school activities can include healthful “art” supplies.
Pick a theme and your “art” materials. One day you may choose colorful fruits and, another day, vegetables. The themes can be age-appropriate, like making a picture of a favorite cartoon or story character. If your kid is more mature or precocious, you can pick a theme like the French Impressionists or mimicking clothing patterns from cultures around the world.
Set Yourself Up for Snack Success
One great lesson kids can learn is proper preparation. One day, the activity might be to prepare a snack for the following day. You could prepare Popsicle by freezing juices. You could make creative Jell-o molds. Make a large batch of homemade granola. You’ll experience a fun activity while storing a snack for the future.
Ice Cream in a Bag
This food activity is also a fun and easy experiment. Blend the mix and put it in a quart-sized Ziploc bag. Then you put that bag inside a larger gallon-sized bag filled with ice and rock salt. The kids knead and shake the bag until the mix firms up. When it reaches the consistency of ice cream, carefully remove the inner bag from the salt and ice. Then enjoy! Be careful you don’t get any salt water in the ice cream.
Cleaning one’s room is a traditional chore, and you might not think of it among after-school activities. But if you set it to music you can accomplish it quickly. Perfection is not the goal, but you will achieve a little quick maintenance.
Have your kid load up two favorite, high-energy songs in a music player. They probably already have music stored on their laptops, tablets or phones. Commit to cleaning as much as you can for the length of those two songs. When the music ends, move on to something else with the satisfaction that you made an impact.
Likes and Dislikes
Take a few note cards or cut up pieces of paper. Ask the kids to write an example of one thing they like and one thing they dislike. Take turns naming a category: music performers, flavors of foods, sounds of certain words and textures. Then have one person take a turn trying to match the answers to the people. You can track points or just keep going around until you finish.
Send the kids outdoors with a camera or a notebook. Have them catalog as many different living creatures as possible. From spiders, snakes and different kinds of bugs or birds, living creatures from pets to tadpoles, the persistent hunter will find a long list. A trowel can reveal worms and ant hills. Remind them to respect nature and put everything back as they found it.
Objects like inner tubes, pool noodles, cardboard boxes, old tires and even extension cords can be set up like a challenging obstacle course. A few pieces of furniture and a ball of yarn can simulate a laser security system that your “spy kids” have to penetrate.
This classic game can also be aligned with whatever the kids are learning. Use identical pieces of paper or poster board. Write or draw a thing on each of two cards, making a matched pair. Choose things that are easy to identify and different from one another. You could use vocabulary words, science terms or historical figures. If the kids are very young, you could stick with simple drawings or shapes.
Then shuffle them and lay them out face down. You can make a grid or a loose organic pattern. Each kid takes a turn flipping two cards. If they are lucky or remember where a match is, they get a matched set. When the cards match, the kid keeps them. The winner is the one with the most pairs when all the cards are taken. You can choose if you do the rule that a match lets you go again.
You and your children will likely discover your own after-school activities as well. Just make them engaging, fun, and either mentally or physically active. Have fun!
PHOTO: US Fish & Wildlife Service / CC0 Public Domain