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30 after-school activities and games for every type of kid

Whether kids need to chill out or burn off steam, there's something for everyone in this list of after-school activities.

30 after-school activities and games for every type of kid

School may be out for the day, but the kids probably still have a lot of energy left to burn, making the hours between school and dinnertime challenging — unless you have a few fun ideas in your back pocket. After school, some children are raring to go and looking for high-energy activities, while others need something more calming that will help them unwind after a busy day.

While many kids will be happy to zone out on a screen, that doesn’t allow for physical or mental exercise. Public school teacher and blogger Chelly Wood believes that “it’s important for kids to get at least one hour of playtime after school, regardless of age. That’s ‘real’ playtime, not computer play, video game time or TV time.”

Whether kids are looking to explore their creative side or expend some energy with a more physical game, after-school activities can be the perfect way to end the afternoon. And, yes, you just might want to join in on the fun, too!

Here are 30 fun and unique after-school activities for kids.

Art-based after-school activities for kids

If you have a budding Picasso on your hands, these after-school activities for kids will keep them entertained and stimulate their creative side at the same time.

1. Paint objects from nature

These painted pine cones make a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Manda Panda Projects

Have kids go outside and gather different objects to paint and create with. The more often they do this, the more creative they will get with their choices, as they learn how different objects create different effects.

Who is it good for? This painted pine cone flower activity from Manda Panda Projects is great for preschool- to middle school-aged kids.

2. Use shaving cream to create a marbled masterpiece

This marbled shaving cream project makes a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Meaningful Mama

Kids can create beautiful works of art just by mixing some food coloring into shaving cream. Using a toothpick and paintbrushes, have them swirl the shaving cream until they create a pattern they love.

Who is it good for? This DIY art project from Meaningful Mama will be a winner with little ones, who will love the tactile fun of it, and older kids, who will take pride in their beautiful creations.

3. Make and get your hands in some rainbow foam

Making rainbow foam is a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Fun at Home With Kids

All you need is a little soap, water, a mixer and some food coloring to create this tactile activity from Fun at Home With Kids. Change it up by picking up some unusual food coloring hues at a local craft store.

Who is it good for? This rainbow soap foam activity is tons of fun for the preschool to elementary school set, but you should keep an eye on younger children who might accidentally get soap in their eyes.

4. Make sensory containers

This DIY pom pom sensory container makes a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Casale Fenoglio/Instagram

Relaxation jars, calm-down jars, sensory containers — call them what you want, but these creations are as useful as they are lovely. Easy and fun to put together, sensory containers are a unique way to teach children how to self-regulate their emotions by looking at their jar when they feel overwhelmed.

Who is it good for? Depending on how elaborate you want to get, sensory activities can work from ages preschool on up. In fact, you may even want one for yourself!

5. Try the 3 Marker Challenge

Most kids are familiar with the many art challenges found on YouTube, and this one is great for kids of all ages. You’ll just need some markers and a few coloring sheets. Have kids close their eyes and then choose three markers at random from a pile. No matter which ones they picked, they now have to color one of the sheets in completely. Children will have fun doing it on their own, but it’s more fun as a competition with a sibling, friend or you.

Who is it good for? The 3 Marker Challenge is best for elementary- to high school-aged kids, but really, kids of any age can do it.

6. Make vision boards

after school activities
Image via Raising Creative Girls/Instagram

Grab some old magazines, markers and poster board and make a vision board of your child’s accomplishments in the past year, and brainstorm new goals for the upcoming one.

Who is it good for? This activity is best for kids in elementary school and up.

7. Upcycle something

after school activities

Choose an old item around the house that’s no longer useful, paint it and turn it into a decorative piece. (i.e, an old guitar that doesn’t work, a broken clock, an old water pitcher, old tires, etc.). Kids will get to flex their creative muscles and they’ll be delighted to see how something old can become something new.

Who is it good for? Depending on the project, anyone!

Writing and theater after-school activities for kids

These activities will thrill any kid who loves to entertain others and express themselves through the arts.

8. Dress up and put on a short play

Give kids a theme, such as a summertime picnic or a winter kingdom, and ask them to put together a short play to present to you later. It should have a beginning, a middle and an ending, but the rest is up to them. Encourage them to get into it by using whatever they can find to dress up as characters.

Who is it good for? This imaginative activity is best for elementary school-aged kids, who are already able to dress themselves and work together to come up with a basic story structure.

9. Create your own movie

Yes, older kids can create their own movie! Kids are more adept at using phones and tablets than most adults, and free editing software is the perfect way to put together their own short movies. Depending on the software, they can create a movie using pictures, their own footage or cartoons. Try the Vimeo or iMovie.

Who is it good for? Movie-making is great for older children, ages 10 and up, who are proficient with tablets, computers or phones.

10. Tell me a story

This tell me a story jar activity makes a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Kitchen Counter Chronicles/Instagram

Put together a collection of storytelling prompts in a jar and have kids choose one to work with in creating their story. Encourage them to use as much detail as possible and maybe even create a picture to go along with it as the story’s cover.

Who is it good for? This storytelling activity from Kitchen Counter Chronicles works for younger and school-aged children. While the older children may enjoy writing out their tales and eventually creating a book of their own short stories, younger children can simply tell you the story aloud.

11. Make a rainbow poem

Making a rainbow poem is a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Small World at Home

This activity uses the colors of a rainbow to help teach kids how to create a poem. Have kids choose the colors of their rainbow, and then come up with descriptions of each color. After all the descriptions are completed, they can line them up in a rainbow to create their own poem.

Who is it good for? This colorful activity from Small World at Home is ideal for elementary-aged children, but it can work for younger children with a parent or caregiver’s help.

12. Make your own puppets and put on a show

This DIY unicorn puppet project makes a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via I Heart Crafty Things

Help children put together simple puppets using paper bags, and then encourage them to come up with their own puppet show for you to watch.

Who is it good for? Best for elementary school-aged children, this puppet activity from I Heart Crafty Things would also work with some older siblings who can help them out.

Cooking and food after-school activities for kids

These tasty, fun after-school activities are sure to be a hit with the kid who loves to bake, cook or just get messy with food.

13. Make ice cream in a bag

Making ice cream in a bag is a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via More Momma/Instagram

Have kids make their own ice cream in a bag in only five minutes. Using ice cubes, half and half, sugar and the flavorings of their choice, this one is as delicious as it is fun. The best part? Eating their ice cream straight out of the bag!

Who is it good for? This foodie activity from More Momma requires some supervision in the beginning for younger children, but it’s a winner with any kid of any age who likes ice cream. (That includes you!)

14. Make bread in a bag

Continuing with the bag theme, this activity is a good one for the colder months when you’re stuck inside. Kids can make their own mini-loaf of bread by tossing the ingredients into a plastic bag and kneading it before baking. It’s yummy fun that is also a great tactile activity for kids.

Who is it good for? Bread-making is a good activity for toddlers up through high school-aged kids, but all younger children should be working with a parent on this one.

15. Bake something together

Children love baking with grownups, and they certainly love eating the final product. If you have the time to spend, come up with a treat the kids can help you bake for everyone. Cookies can be an easy and interactive baking project.

Who is it good for? Children of all ages love baking with an adult, and older kids may be able to take on the bulk of the work themselves.

16. Create snack art

kids snack art made from vegetables and cheese

When it’s snack time, put out some ingredients that the kids can use to make their own art creation. Using tortillas, toast or whole-grain crackers as a base, kids can use fruits, vegetables, cheese and more to create funny faces.

Who is it good for? This activity is best for younger children, toddlers through elementary school.

17. Make rainbow toast

Making rainbow toast is a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Crimson Stella/Instagram

Let kids play with their food to express their artistic sides by painting their own toast. All you need for this activity is bread, sweetened condensed milk and food coloring.

Who is it good for? Rainbow toast is a sweet activity for kids of all ages, though younger children should be supervised by an adult.

18. Make sushi

There’s no need to order out every time you have sushi. Here, check out little Ava making sushi (on her own!), then gather the ingredients and give it a go at home.

Who is it good for? Generally, sushi-making is best for kids in elementary school or older.

Science and STEM after-school activities for kids

Let kiddos explore their analytical side with these unique and brain-building activities.

19. Try the cabbage color experiment

This cabbage color experiment is a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Paging Fun Mums

Perfect for the little scientist, this activity is a fun way for kids to learn about how plants absorb water. All you need is some cabbage leaves, water, food coloring and a few jars.

Who is it good for? The cabbage color experiment from Paging Fun Mums is ideal for elementary-aged children who are likely also beginning to learn about plants in school.

20. Make cloud dough

Using only three ingredients, creating cloud dough is a sensory activity that kids will absolutely love. Change up the colors or use glitter to make this activity one you can return to over and over.

Who is it good for? Kids up through middle school will love to create cloud dough, but it’s especially fun for toddlers, preschool and elementary school kids.

21. Create a toothpick tower earthquake

This toothpick tower earthquake project makes a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Teachers Are Terrific/Instagram

This minimal-ingredient activity encourages problem-solving, as children try to keep their structures from collapsing. When the structures fail to hold, the real learning begins.

Who is it good for? This building activity from Teachers Are Terrific would likely be too frustrating for very young children so it is best suited for kids in elementary or middle school.

22. Make sequin slime

This DIY sequin slime makes a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via I Can Teach My Child

Is there a child alive who does not love making slime? There are a million slime recipes to be found on the internet, ranging from the super simple to the somewhat complicated, but creating slime is fun and educational for kids, as they learn the basics of chemistry while combining ingredients to create a new substance.

Who is it good for? This slime-making activity from I Can Teach My Child is good for preschoolers (with supervision) on up.

23. Create lemon volcanoes

This DIY lemon volcano project is a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via Babble Dabble Do/Instagram

This activity is full of frothy fun, and it smells good, too! Children will learn how the chemical reaction created by mixing citric acid and baking soda results in a bubbly volcano that they create on their own.

Who is it good for? This science experiment from Babble Dabble Do is a ton of fun for elementary aged-kids, but early middle school-aged kids would love it, too.

Physical games and after-school activities

When children needs to burn off some steam after school, these high-energy activities will do the trick.

24. Play the Movement Chain game

You’ll need at least two players for this game. The first person begins by performing a movement (jumping in place, doing a TikTok dance move or anything else they come up with). The next person has to perform that movement and add on one of their own, forming the movement chain. The next person must do the two original movements and add on one of their own. You continue this until the movement chain is broken (someone forgets a move) and that person is out. The last person standing wins!

Who is it good for? This energetic activity is best for elementary- through middle school-aged children.

25. Go on a Lego hunt

You’ll need four pieces of paper and an assortment of Lego blocks that match in color for this activity. Start by laying out the four pieces of paper and hiding the Lego blocks somewhere in the home. Kids must then go find the Lego pieces and place them on the matching colored paper until all of the pieces have been found. Keep track of how long it takes them and then challenge them to beat their score.

Who is it good for? Going on a Lego hunt is a great energy-burning activity for preschool- to elementary school-aged children.

26. Have a dance party

What better way to get rid of excess energy than by having a dance party? Simply turn on some music for the kids and let them dance it out. Have them show off their new moves or switch it up by playing a game where everyone must freeze when the music stops. Bonus points if you join in, as well!

Who is it good for? Dancing is a solid activity for kids of all ages.

27. Go on a scavenger hunt

Kids have been going on scavenger hunts forever, and with good reason — they’re fun! Give kids a list of objects that they must find to complete the hunt, and let them know which areas are OK to search in. To kick it up a notch, use a pirate map to create an outdoor scavenger hunt where they can search for their own treasure.

Who is it good for? Scavenger hunts are a ton of fun for kids of all ages. Simply adjust the objects and hunting areas based on what they can handle. High school-aged kids can also create their own hunts for younger siblings.

28. Create an obstacle course

Create an obstacle course in the backyard for a fun after-school activity for kids
Image via orioutnumbered/Instagram

Another oldie but goody, obstacle courses are challenges that kids love conquering. You can make this as simple or as complicated as you like, and some kids even enjoy creating their own. Use pillows, baskets and furniture for an indoor course, or go all-out and put together an American Ninja Warrior-style course for the kids outside.

Who is it good for? Kids of all ages love running through an obstacle course, but you should adjust the course to be age-appropriate.

29. Do kid-friendly yoga

No sun? No problem! For kids who need to get out their wiggles — or for kids who need to find stillness — try a kids yoga video on YouTube.

Who is it good for? Kids of any age are a great fit for yoga!

30. Walk the dog

after-school activities for kids

Take the pup for a much-needed after-school stroll. And if you don’t have one, see if you can walk a neighbor’s dog — maybe older kids can even get paid for it, too!

Who is it good for? Kids of any age, so long as a parent is present.