They bound off the bus and through the door, barely finishing snack before the “I’m bored” chorus begins. What’s a parent to do? Change their tune after the last bell has rung with stimulating activities that are anything but boring. Interesting. Creative. Inspiring. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for this list. Scroll down for ideas sure to keep after-school action-packed.

kids-and-school-bus-woodley-wonder-works-flickrphoto: WoodleyWonderWorks via Flickr

1. Use Your Head
Break out some logic games for your little learner to play when he’s looking for something to do. Schylling’s balancing robots are a preschooler fave. They challenge kiddos to think while skillfully constructing designs that seem to defy gravity. Or try Master Mind for Kids. It’s an easy pick for grade schoolers who figure out the art of narrowing down choices with each thoughtful turn. We also heart Bug Trails for this age group. It’s simple to learn and easy to play over and over and yes, over again.

girl-with-wooden-robotsphoto: Allison Sutcliffe

2. Challenge Them to Seek
Set up a simple game before your sidekick bursts through the door full of the day’s exciting stories. Preemptively hide 10 stuffies around the house. Then when she comes looking for something to do, send her off on a hunt. The game’s over when she’s found all 10, or tweak the numbers to keep her looking for more or less time.

Yoga Teacherphoto:

3. Strike a Pose
Nothing whisks away the aftereffects of seat time like a little yoga. Clear their minds and get their wiggles out with sun salutations, tree poses and downward dogs. Throw on your best yoga tape or stream your go-to yogi on the monitor, then spend some mindful time stretching alongside your mini me. Namaste!

4. Cement Some Memories
Finally! A reason to print those hundreds, dare we say thousands, of pics you’ve got stored on your smart device. Let your future photo journalist assemble your faves into a family album, little by little. Make sure he embellishes each entry with stickers, original doodles and memorable anecdotes (or simple labels) to keep a running record of your family’s fabu adventures.

An A+ A-Framephoto: Cakies

5. Build a Fabulous Fort
Whether your little builder loves cardboard box construction or prefers the traditional blanket and pillow fort materials, testing engineering skills on this classic activity is never boring. Find inspiration for your next fort building adventure before breaking ground… in the family room. Build on!

Color experiment with food coloringphoto: Allison Sutcliffe

6. Blind Them with Science
Science at school is one thing, but setting up simple experiments at home with mom or dad is a whole different Oprah. Try one of these that take just five supplies or less when the after school blues take hold.

7. Cozy Up with a Good Book
The next time your kidlet needs something to do, hand him a book, blankie and his favorite stuffed cuddle partner to check off 20 minutes of reading. Like an apple a day, this healthy habit is an easy one to practice when you’re on the hunt for ways to occupy your mini me. Wanna know the best part? You can take time out of your busy day to curl up too. It’s okay, we won’t tell!

photo: Le Jardin de Juliette

8. Create a Sticky Situation
Set the kiddos loose with a roll of tape and over 13 ways to play, if they’re looking for something to occupy their minds and bodies. We love that these tape games set up just as easily inside as they do out, so your sidekick can take advantage of the sun while it’s still shining!

9. Color + Play
Sharpen the colored pencils and set out this adorable paper doll printable from 100 Directions for your aspiring artist. Color, cut, dress, repeat will help them pass the time in a most artistic way.

fairy-garden-found-artphoto: Allison Sutcliffe

10. Collect Found Art
Whether your fairy garden could use of a few new accessories or a complete makeover, found art is go-to choice for discerning fairy decorators everywhere. Take your little angels out to find shiny objects and strange doo dads others have cast off, or even some of Mother Nature’s more interesting creations. Then add them to your fairy’s humble abode. Don’t have a fairy house? Turn your found objects into upcycled art instead.

11. Lay Some Track
With all those loops, twists and turns, setting up a sick Hot Wheels track is serious business. Encourage your half pint to piece together an original speedway using clamps, connectors and even furniture to build up speed and take the lead. If hot wheels aren’t her thing, break out the wooden train track for a similar distraction. Piecing together bridges, loops and round houses is equally challenging for the tot lot.

marble-run-on-wall-tinkerlabphoto: Tinkerlab

12. Design a wall coaster
Task your future engineer with a design challenge—make her own wall-mounted marble run. All she’ll need is cardboard paper rolls, scissors, painters tape and a basic understanding of angles and gravity to get this ball on the roll. Rachelle at Tinkerlab has the low down on how it all goes together.

What’s your favorite way to cure after school boredom? Have you tried any of these? Leave your thoughts in a comment.

—Allison Sutcliffe