Here you thought that the start of the school year would crush anything that remotely sounds like, “Mommmmy, I don’t have anything to do!” But alas, it’s after-school time, and you’re suddenly needed to fill the roles of snack prep chef, art teacher and recreation director. What’s a parent to do? Change their tune after the last bell has rung with this list of stimulating activities that are anything but boring.
1. Make Multimedia Magic
Why use one art material when you could use two? Or three? Or even four? Your creative kid can explore the magic of modeling clay combined with finger paints or take temperas to a whole new level by combining them with collage. Mix and match different art processes, giving your child the chance to create abstract art that’s filled colors, textures, shapes and so much more.
2. Strike a Pose
Even though your child wasn’t exactly performing neurosurgery or arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court (at least not yet), they still had a somewhat stressful and super-busy day at school. Yoga is the perfect way to calm down and relax. And bonus, instead of starring at a screen your kiddo will get the chance to flex, stretch and move.
4. Engineer an Indoor Fort
Build a fab fort that shows off your kids’ STEM skills. Whether they pile up pillows, construct with cardboard or engineer with everything else in the house, they’ll get to explore math and more with these awesome activities!
photo: Andrew Bardwell via Flickr
5. Play Minute to Win It
Get gaming, minus the TV, screen or joystick. Play a “Minute to Win It“-style game, such as cookie face, stack attack, nut stacker, cereal scramble or penny tower. Join in on the fun and challenge your child to a mommy and me gaming duel.
6. Stack S’mores
The kids need an after-school snack. Right? Instead of presenting them with a full menu of items that you magically whip up, get them in on the action. Create a once-in-a-while treat, helping your pint-sized chef stack a s’more. Microwave the marshmallows (test them first to avoid a burn risk) and sandwich the ooey gooey goodness between graham crackers. Add regular chocolate, white chocolate or a flavored version. Finish the stack with a spritz of sparkling sprinkles.
photo: CindianaJones via Flickr
7. Make a Rainbow
Use a glass of water, a piece of paper and the magic of the sunlight to create your very own rainbow—indoors! This easy science activity is fun for kids of all ages, and super-easy too.
8. Get Slimy
Mix up this slime recipe from Mini Monets and Mommies, adding an outer space theme to what’s already a super science lesson. Your kiddo can explore through their senses, create and learn about the solar system all in one activity. You can also use the slime recipe on its own, creating an anytime, anyway stretchy, playful option.
photo: First Palette
9. Craft a Crown
Combine art with pretend play in one regal activity. This paper crown project from First Palette is perfect for an after-school make-believe/dress-up session. Your little king or queen can act out roles from favorite stories or imagine their own fairy tales.
photo: It’s Always Autumn
10. Awesome Origami
Play with paper in a completely creative, yet totally educational, way. Your kids can fold their fave patterns of paper, creating cute little animals and much, much more. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these fab frogs from It’s Always Autumn.
photo: Heather Schwartz via Unsplash
11. Walk on Eggs
Spend the after-school hours adding extra science into your child’s day. Sure, they explored and experimented at school. But did they walk on eggs? We think not! Try this egg-mazing idea from Steve Spangler instead of handing out snooze-inducing worksheets.
12. Get Glowing
With a touch of tonic water and a 1970s-style black light you can help your budding scientist make glowing ice, paint or water colors. This easy indoor activity is ideal for those short days of fall/winter when it gets dark early.
13. Create a Cool Coaster
This DIY wall marble run from Tinkerlab isn’t just fun—it’s learning in action. Think creative roller coaster that’s made mini for marbles!
photo: Le Jardin de Juliette
14. Tape Town
With a few different rolls of tape (use an array of colors), your crafty kid can design their own town—on your playroom floor. Drive toy cars around the streets, make parking lots and get in some pretend play time.
photo: Johnny McClung via Unsplash
15. Build a Book Nook
Cozy up with your little reader, sharing a story (or a few). Pile on the pillows, choose books that your child can interact with and read to each other. Don’t worry if your little learner can’t read well—yet. This is practice for school that feels more like fun than anything else. Younger kids can point to pictures, name letters and ask plenty of questions.
— Erica Loop with Allison Sutcliffe
Feature photo: pixabay