101 After-School Activities for Kids - Care.com Resources

101 After-School Activities for Kids

Nip post-school boredom in the bud with these fun things to do with children.

It’s no secret that after-school activities do wonders for a child’s development. They are linked to improving social skills, grades, overall coordination, sense-of-self and relationships with adults other than mom and dad.

After-school programmes and activities also give kids a chance to be themselves, free of the structure they face at school. “Since kids spend their day primarily sitting down and following a schedule at school, when they get home it is important for them to have time to be creative, get moving and do something they enjoy,” says Kristin Fitch, CEO and co-founder of ZiggityZoom.

Need inspiration for things to do with your kids or the kids you nanny/babysit for? Fitch, Beverly Stewart, M.Ed., president and director of Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, and Angela Todd MA, PhD (ABD), head of a Pennsylvania-based parent coaching programme brainstormed 101 ideas to get you started:

  1. Search sites like Meetup.com for kids’ afterschool playgroups in your area or groups that focus on activities for kids.
  2. Join an after-school reading group at the library.
  3. Make some back-to-school crafts, like a gumball pencil or bottle cap locker magnets.
  4. Schedule a weekly get-together with kids in the neighbourhood. Have them over for crafts or games. Rotate houses each week to split up hosting responsibilities.
  5. On the way home from school, ask your child to tell you the two best parts and two least favourite parts of their day. When you get to the negatives, try to help your child find a silver lining or a bright side to the bad parts of their day. 
  6. Creating a reading challenge — see if your child can read a certain amount of books within a specific time frame and award prizes for milestones.
  7. Act out a book your child is reading in school.
  8. Hike and explore nearby trails.
  9. Join a local Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts troop.
  10. Turn baby food jars into snow globes.
  11. Visit the zoo.
  12. Explore the nearest public or botanical gardens.
  13. Take a trip to a free museum.
  14. Have a scavenger hunt that incorporates subjects your child is learning about in school.
  15. Write a letter to a relative.
  16. Make a time capsule. Choose special things from this year, month or even just today and put them away in a shoebox to open at a future date. Include a note in the box explaining why you chose each item. 
  17. Volunteer.
  18. Visit an animal shelter.
  19. Play cards — gin rummy never goes out of style and will help your child learn numbers.
  20. Take walks every Monday to make plans for the week ahead.
  21. Do kid-friendly yoga together.
  22. Build a blanket fort.
  23. Research your family tree and relate it to what your child is learning in history class.
  24. Knit.
  25. Head to the batting cages.
  26. Become an expert at minigolf.
  27. Go rock climbing together, which helps develop endurance, balance and flexibility.
  28. Take photos of things in the park and create a collage. Do a new one every month, so you can keep track of how the seasons change.
  29. Watch a YouTube video on how to make sushi — then create the rolls for dinner.
  30. Make a list of your child’s accomplishments in the past year, and brainstorm new goals for the upcoming one.
  31. Host a school supplies fundraiser, which will help teach kids about the importance of time management, planning and giving back.
  32. Put on a neighbourhood bake sale.
  33. Make a quilt. Feeling generous? Donate it to a local charity. You can make this a monthly activity, adding themes to your blankets.
  34. Sort through old clothes and toys and donate them, so you can make room for new ones.
  35. Finger paint — fun at any age!
  36. Take a tour of the neighbourhood and research local historic spots.
  37. Complete a 3-D puzzle, if you can.
  38. Make a birdfeeder and keep a log of what types of birds pay it a visit.
  39. Go on a hayride during autumn.
  40. Research yummy and healthy after-school snacks that both you and your child like — then schedule when you’re going to make them.
  41. Design and make jewelry, like a friendship bracelet.
  42. Walk the dog. Don’t have one? Take the neighbour’s dog for a stroll.
  43. Play hide-n-seek. An oldie, but goodie.
  44. Help organise a block party with classmates.
  45. Attend a local college or high school sporting event.
  46. Create homemade ice cream.
  47. Build a treehouse.
  48. Tutor someone younger.
  49. Learn Sign language.
  50. Offer local services to neighbors and friends, including car washing and lawn mowing. Encourage your kids to provide these services for free, as it’s a way to give back to the community.
  51. Sew a homemade kite. Next, make it fly!
  52. Write a short story.
  53. Illustrate a story.
  54. Write a poem.
  55. Listen to a song and choreograph a dance to go with it.
  56. Go on a bike ride — follow a new path every time.
  57. Draw a sidewalk mural. Take a photo of every new one, so you can keep track of the masterpieces.
  58. Pick a “food of the week” every Sunday. During the rest of the week, incorporate that food into at least one meal every day. Be sure it’s a healthy option. Use this as an opportunity to expand your child’s palette and find new recipes for the family.
  59. Stroll through nature. In autumn, collect leaves. In the spring, forage for special flowers to make a spring bouquet.
  60. Walk along a beach that’s open during the non-summer months.
  61. Perform random acts of kindness. Leave it up to your kids to decide what this means to them: maybe it’s dropping off a home-baked treat at an elderly neighbour’s house or leaving an uplifting note or picture on a stranger’s car or doorstep. The options are endless.
  62. Go geocaching, which promotes teamwork and time in nature.
  63. Practice amateur photography. Kick it old school and equip your budding photog with a disposable camera and an “assignment” for the afternoon. The excitement continues when you get the roll developed and see what they came up with. (Bonus: This can parlay into another afternoon activity: a photo collage-making activity.)
  64. Mold crayons into cool shapes.
  65. Set up an obstacle course in your backyard or living room.
  66. Hammer colour from leaves into paper.
  67. Make “daisy chains” with weeds in the summer time.
  68. Order a rocks and mineral set, which is great for kids who like hands-on learning. You may discover that you have a budding geologist at home.
  69. Play an imaginative or “make believe” game in the backyard.
  70. Make dinner together — teach your kids about measuring ingredients and choosing foods that go together to make a meal. It’s like a science lesson!
  71. Choose a theme (like pirates or cowgirls) and do your around-the-house chores in character. Get imaginative — pirates doing laundry would probably check the pockets for treasure!
  72. Pick a song your child knows well and re-write all of the lyrics together to make it funny.
  73. Pick a movie or story and write an alternate ending.
  74. Make fairy houses for the backyard.
  75. Take something apart, like an old appliance or electronic device (clock, remote control, etc.), and figure out how it works. Bonus: try to put it back together afterwards!
  76. Make up quizzes for each other to take. You could ask questions to see how well you know each other (ex: what’s my favourite colour?), or fun trivia about geography, history, science, etc.
  77. Print out a blank map of the UK and see if you can name all of the cities correctly. 
  78. Bake cookie bowls with an upside-down cupcake pan — and then serve ice cream in them!
  79. Choose an old item around the house that’s no longer useful, paint it and turn it into a decorative piece (like an old guitar or other instrument that doesn’t work, an old broken clock, an old water pitcher, etc.).
  80. Get a blank picture frame (or one you’ve repainted) and glue pieces of fun all over it — buttons, miniature toys, pebbles, bottle caps, anything! Then find a nice photo to put in it.
  81. Play charades.
  82. Play dress up and make up a story to go with your costumes.
  83. Make a fun countdown calendar with coloured countdowns to holidays and other exciting events (the next family vacation, an upcoming birthday party, etc.).
  84. Print photos, get coloured paper, glitter, markers, glue and start a scrapbook — or even just make one scrapbook page.
  85. Play the headband game: each person gets a card attached to their forehead with a headband (don’t peek at your card) and they ask yes-or-no questions to figure out what the card on their head says (ex: Am I an animal? Do I live in the jungle?).
  86. Pick a random item in the house and challenge each other to create a funny TV-style infomercial to convince you to buy it. Pretend this object is new on the market, and no one has heard of it before! It’s fun to try to “sell” a sticky note, a pair of headphones or a toaster.
  87. Play a trivia game.
  88. Play checkers or chess.
  89. Go outside and count how many different types of trees/plants you can see in your area. Try to name them all, and look up the ones you don’t know.
  90. Buy clay at your local craft store and mold fun toys and objects.
  91. Go for a walk in the park and count how many dogs you see. Keep a tally and try to guess the breed of each dog. If you’re feeling friendly, ask the owner the breed to see if you’re right.
  92. Use painter’s tape to create “roads” on the floor of the living room, then grab blocks to build houses and make a whole town!
  93. Play with rainbow soap foam.
  94. Make sand art in a bottle with coloured sand.
  95. Go roller skating or ice skating.
  96. Take out the baby photos, share with your kids and tell them stories about when they were born.
  97. Take out your baby photos and show your kids what you were like when you were young.
  98. Put on a puppet show — if you don’t own puppets, make some.
  99. Pick different cultures from around the world to learn about — maybe focus on one each week, and try foods from that culture, learn about their holidays, etc.
  100. Draw a map and create your own treasure hunt, either in the house or outside.
  101. Do kid-friendly Zumba at home. Play fun music, and do exercise-dance moves. Let your kids make up some of their own moves that they can teach you.

Kayla Mossien is a writer for prominent blogs and websites and is the former editor-in-chief of PARENTGUIDE News.