After-school activities such as crafts, games, and light chores are a great way for kids to decompress after a long day of learning. Whether you have an artistic kid or one who just wants to go play outside, there are after-school activities that are suited for every child’s personality.
Below you’ll find some of the best after-school activities you can enjoy with your kids. With this list, you’ll have a ton of ideas to help you get started in making after-school activities more fun and engaging.
15 Activities to Keep Your Kids Entertained After School
1. Start a Family Garden
Gardening with kids is a great way to get kids outdoors after school. All ages will enjoy the chance to get out in the sunshine and play in the dirt. Helping children grow vegetables from seed teaches practical skills and patience since the plants will have to be tended after school every day for weeks before growing into a full-sized plant. Make growing plants more fun for kids by allowing them to decorate cups to start seeds in and get kid-sized gardening tools like watering cans and trowels. Growing vegetables is a good exercise to teach children about horticulture and science.
2. Make Friendship Bracelets
Friendship bracelets are a tradition that dates all the way back to ancient Central America, and they’ve been a favorite of school-age children ever since. Get some beads, plastic lacing, silk cording, and other bracelet-making supplies to let kids customize their own. Making crafts and jewelry isn’t just a good way to let children express their creativity. It’s also a fun way for them to work on their hand-eye coordination too. Check out this DIY friendship bracelet tutorial from Sarah Maker for inspiration.
3. Fly A Kite
Flying a kite is a perfect after-school activity during warmer months of the year on windy days. If your kids are older and crafty, you can build a DIY kite together. Otherwise, purchasing some commercial kites will do in a pinch. If you only have one kite for the group, flying kites can be good practice in how to take turns politely. When flying a kite after school, be sure to fly the kite in an open space where it won’t impede traffic or get caught in electrical lines if it goes down. A kite that goes down in a road may hit someone’s windshield or cause an accident.
4. Set Up a Finger Painting Station
Finger painting is a sensory-based activity that is fun for all ages. Put down some newspaper to protect any surfaces, then set kids up with some pots of finger paint and paper or canvas. Finger painting provides a tactile experience for younger children and can serve as a creative outlet for all ages. Tempera paint is one of the most popular types of paint used in finger painting, but there’s also non-toxic paint that’s designed for finger painting.
5. Teach Children to Crochet
Knitting and crocheting are time-honored creative hobbies that have regained popularity recently in the past few years. Crochet and other fiber arts serve as a great tactile activity that is also visually stimulating. For children, crochet hooks can be a better choice than knitting needles since they don’t have a sharp pointed end. With just a few skeins of inexpensive yarn and some metal or plastic crochet hooks, children can learn a hobby that will keep them happily entertained for hours. There are tons of crochet options for beginners that would also make a great idea for children to make homemade gifts for the holidays, such as scarves or coasters. Get some inspiration from these ten kid-friendly crochet patterns at All Free Crochet.
6. Play Dress-up
Kids of all ages and genders like to play dress-up, so invest in some dress-up clothes for a dress-up trunk whenever you see them on sale at thrift shops. You can also get a good deal on different costumes right after Halloween for imaginary play. A few ways to play dress-up with children is to put on a short play with costumes or throw a fashion show. Collections of play pretend clothes for playing dress-up can be gathered over time, so there’s always something new to try on.
7. Draw on the Sidewalk
Drawing on the sidewalk is a great after-school activity for warmer months, and a mural on the front sidewalk is a great way for children to leave positive messages or holiday greetings for their neighbors. The major advantage of letting kids draw with sidewalk chalk is that their art will wash away naturally in the rain over time. Sidewalk drawing also happens outside where it can’t cause a mess and requires minimal equipment to get started.
8. Make Sensory Jars
DIY sensory jars like these jars from Preschool Inspirations come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties, but the one thing they all have in common is that kids and adults alike enjoy them. Sensory jars are the perfect rainy day after-school activity when outdoor activities aren’t available. For children, smaller bottles are a better choice than large ones since they’re easier for children to carry around. Craft bottles can be used, but other bottles such as water bottles or sparkling drink containers are also good recycled bottles for sensory jar crafting.
9. Tell Stories
Storytelling is a time-honored tradition for people of all ages, and encouraging children to tell stories can help their imaginations to blossom in an age where their attention is usually held by electronic devices. To help children learn to tell stories, make up a jaw full of paper slips that contain simple story prompts and draw a prompt for children to launch off from with their story. Another good storytelling game is to play “Then What?” where one kid tells part of the story and then passes it to another kid until someone can’t figure out how to move the story forward.
10. Bake Something with Your Kids
Baking kid-friendly recipes like these kid baking recipes from Family App is another good after-school activity option for when it’s either too cold or rainy for kids to play outside. Baking can help children learn simple kitchen concepts such as measuring out ingredients, separating eggs, and cleaning the kitchen as you go along while cooking. To increase the motivation for kids to bake, allow the kids to decorate their baked goods individually with a sprinkle or icing bar. Once the baked goods are done, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor with a nice cold glass of milk!
11. Make Some Slime
Making homemade slime is a fun activity that has gained popularity over the past few years, with many recipes available on Pinterest and elsewhere across the Internet. Making slime usually only requires a handful of ingredients, and many kids love the sticky, oozy texture.
12. Set Up an Indoor Treasure Hunt
Setting up an indoor treasure hunt in the house is a good way to keep kids occupied when they’re stuck inside. The objective of a hunt is to choose an object for the kids to hunt and then hide it somewhere in the house. The first kid to find the object wins the game. Object hunts can also be done to coincide with light house cleaning, allowing kids to help clear away clutter as they move from room to room looking for the object of the hunt. Including a prize for the winner of the hunt, such as a special privilege, can help encourage kids to play.
13. Teach Kids to Play Cards
Playing cards is a fun after-school activity for cold weather or rain, and there are plenty of children’s card games that they can eventually be taught to play with each other to keep themselves occupied. Games such as Old Maid, Go Fish, and Crazy Eights are simple enough for kids to catch on to quickly and often come with simplified rules designed for children.
14. Play Hide and Seek
Playing hide and seek with kids can be done either inside or outside the house, depending on where the best places to hide are. One variation of this game is a sort of indoor Marco Polo where the blindfolded person who is chosen as “it” has to find the rest of the people hiding in the house by sound alone. When playing hide and seek indoors, be sure to remove any tripping hazards that children may stumble over as they try to make their way back to base. Hide and seek can even be played in the dark for added excitement.
15. Do Chores in Character
After school is a window of time when older kids are often required to do some light chores around the house, and chores are good for child development. To make chores more fun, declare a theme for chores such as “pirates” or “pioneers” and have everyone complete their chores in character. Adding imaginary play to daily chores can increase the fun associated with them and can make tasks go by more quickly with less boredom or whining. Doing chores in character is also a good way for adults to include themselves in make-believe play.
It’s easy for parents and after-school caregivers to fall into a rut when it comes to finding fun after-school activities for kids to participate in. But just a little creativity and preparation ahead of time can help you offer kids a wide variety of activities to keep themselves occupied in the afternoon. The best thing about incorporating crafts, games, and other after-school activities into your child’s daily schedule is that it allows you to teach them useful skills while they’re being entertained. For parents that are worried their kids aren’t getting exposure to certain concepts, setting up after-school crafts and activities is a good way to ensure those concepts are explored.