Whether you’re looking for a structured program or just some unscheduled free time, the D.C. area offers a variety of great after school activities. Kids stay engaged until dinnertime, while keeping their bums off the sofa (it’s a total win-win). We’ve rounded up some of the best post-homework happenings that you may have never heard of.

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Mad Science of Washington, D.C.
Science is the new cool in school and if you like hands-on, interactive programs that make it fun to learn the basic principals of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), then look no further than Mad Science. Programs are held at a variety of schools throughout the area and feature seven different eight-week STEM classes. Kids create an indoor storm with thunder and lightening, bend light to see all the colors of the rainbow, and make magic mud and soda pop in order to learn physical and chemical ways to change matter.

12065 Tech Rd. (Silver Spring, Md)
301-593-4777 or 703-536-9897
Online: dc.madscience.org

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Art Brains
Little ones spend your afterschool hours enhancing the left side of your brain with Art Brains After School Programs through Make/Believe. Classes are held at area schools and focus on inspiring kids to be as imaginative as possible within the framework of fun. Using themes such as fossils, time travel, animals, music, outer space and more, kids create imaginative new projects each day while exploring a variety of art materials and techniques, including drawing, painting, sculpting and writing. Insider tip: If you’d like to bring an Art Brains program directly to your child’s school, you can score free tuition for the first session.

202-802-0944
Online: makeslashbelieve.com

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Frisbee on the National Mall
You don’t necessarily need to open your wallet or follow a particular schedule to engage your kids in a fun and rewarding after school activities. At the National Mall, locals—young and old—love to gather for impromptu games of Frisbee and the like. Bordered by the Smithsonian Institution, the Washington Memorial, and the Capitol Building, the Mall is a space both scenic and large, and perfect for running, walking, picnicking, and playing outdoor games.

900 Ohio Dr., SW (National Mall)

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Engineering for Kids
If your young dynamo of creativity needs afterschool inspiration, or you’re simply looking for a way to replace your kid’s smartphone with some smart fun, we can’t get enough of Engineering for Kids where science, technology, engineering and math merge with entertainment and fun. Here you’ll find a haven of ways to inspire your little Einstein through hands-on learning. With multiple area locations and subjects that span the engineering field—civil, chemical, electrical, and environmental—as well as levels that range from junior to apprentice to master, the learning possibilities are endless!

Locations throughout D.C., Md and Va
540-288-1335
Online: engineeringforkids.com

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Become a Junior Park Ranger
Yes, this is probably one of the coolest ways to spend your afterschool time, and everything you need to get started is on the National Park Service’s (NPS) website. If you have a nature lover on your hands, this program is an excellent way to get them out of the house and into the woods. The NPS Junior Ranger program is an activity-based program conducted in many area parks that offers young visitors an opportunity to join the National Park Service family. Junior Rangers complete a series of activities during park visits, share their discoveries with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate.

Locations throughout D.C., Md and Va
Online: nps.gov/kids/jrRangers.cfm

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Which after school activities do you plan on signing your kid up for? Share in the comments section below. 

—Jamy Bond

Photos courtesy of MadScience via Facebook, Make/Believe via Facebook, Sharon Mollerus via Flickr, Engineering For Kids via Facebook, kaleigh via Flickr