The after-school lull can mean it’s easy to get into a routine of sitting in front of the TV until it’s time for dinner. But there is still plenty of opportunity for physical and mental exercise when school’s done for the day – and that doesn’t mean it has to be dull either!
Homework still has to be done, of course. Some children get along better sitting down straight after school and getting homework out of the way, whereas other benefit from having a couple of hours of fun before setting back to work. Care.com’s fun suggestions for after-school activities, however, work either way – so prioritise when is best for homework then fit in the fun and games!
And if you hired an after-school sitter, share them with her so she can enjoy them with your children too.
1. Play Improv Games
Try the “I am a tree” game: someone stands in the middle of the circle and says ‘I am a tree,’ then a second person jumps in and adds to the scene and says ‘I am the picnic lunch under the tree’ then a third person joins in and builds on the scene with ‘I am a hornet on the lunch.’ The first person leaves the circle and picks either the picnic or the hornet to take out of the circle, then the cycle repeats. Or have your child pick up a hula hoop and figure out how many things she can act out with it.
2. Get Recycling
Take something from the recycling bin and make it into something else. This activity is also great for understanding the world in which we live, how things are made and environmental awareness.
3. Create a Comic Strip
This is a great indoor activity for children of all ages, and is sure to get the creative juices flowing! Artistic drawing skills can be honed by colouring characters and scenes, whilst measuring the strip boxes can add an educational element to the activity. Writing a story alongside the drawings encourages literacy and imagination.
4. Pick up Sidewalk Chalk
Grab some chalk and get drawing outside. Add an educational slant to this popular activity by doing homework, such as maths problems, in chalk on the driveway.
5. Become a Scientist
Grab a notepad and pencil and head outside. Whether in your garden, a park or a playground, spot a squirrel, chipmunk, bird or other animal and pretend you’re a scientist by noting how they behave.
6. Basket Weaving
A great activity for older kids that can be done indoors or outdoors, making a basket can help with dexterity and provides an active creative process, as kids gather the materials. Once the basket is made, send the kids outside to pick berries or collect rocks, autumn leaves or other natural treasures in the basket.
7. Create Sheet Art
Got an old sheet lying around – why not paint on it? The children can create murals or make a flag using non-toxic fabric paint.
8. Play Board Games
Williams finds board games are a great way to allow children to have fun, learn and get in some family time. Games with dice are also great for allowing children to work on their maths skills.
9. Stage a Scavenger Hunt
Have children search for all sorts of items, indoors or out. If you have a large group, break them into smaller teams. Make the clues easier for the younger kids and vaguer for the older ones.
10. Do Something Nice
Are your neighbours celebrating or have they been sick or out of town? No reason is really necessary to have your kids do something nice for someone else. Bake cookies, make a card, plant some flowers in a pot — the possibilities are endless.
When coming up with activities for your child think outside the box. Use these ideas, or use them as inspiration to get your creative juices flowing and fill your children’s afternoons with fun activities that sneak in a few extra lessons.