Last updated September 9th, 2020
With lock-downs steadily ending, schools have begun opening their doors again a little at a time to welcome eager kids back into their learning atmosphere.
However, as a parent, you might be wondering what to do with them after they get sent home at the end of the day. Club activities such as sports and music haven’t yet picked up, and so your kids’ after school activities might be somewhat limited.
The good news is that it is easy enough to make your own after-school activities for young students between the ages of 3 and 8. These kids thrive on creativity and physical play.
You won’t have a hard time trying to find ways and means to keep them engaged while counting down until dinner time.
There are three main categories of activities you can choose from, depending on your child’s interests: Arts and Crafts, Imaginative Play, and Physical Play. Under these three activities, I have listed down a few examples of the things you can do as well.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts are a great way to stimulate your child’s creativity and motor skills. It is also a great way to learn about colors, lines, shapes, and sizes while having a lot of fun. Children enjoy doing art to to express themselves, especially if they are still unable to articulate their feelings well enough.
It is a great outlet for all of their pent-up emotions and I personally find that it reduces the frequency or intensity of tantrums.
Maybe it’s because kids are able to vent out their frustrations better through art than with the use of words sometimes.
Here are a couple of ideas for some arts and crafts activities that you can do with your child after school.
Almost every house with appliances have this lying around in the garage or the basement. Cardboard boxes that used to contain your old washing machine, TV, or refrigerator will do perfectly. Cardboard boxes are perfect for this type of activity because they are sturdy enough to withstand some rough handling by those little hands. At the same time, they are pliable and light enough for you to cut and fold them into the shapes you and your kids like.
If your child likes machines, one idea is to turn your cardboard box into a full-scale robot with a body, head, arms, and legs. You can also make a cardboard truck or car that your kid can ride in. It may be a bit of a challenge, but with some patience and perseverance, you and your child can have tons of fun.
Your kid can help out by painting the parts and taping them together, while you can take care of shaping and cutting them up. You don’t necessarily have to finish it all in one go, you and your kids can work on it every day and make it a daily after school activity that you can both enjoy until it is finally finished and you can start working on another “project”.
Don’t limit yourself to robots and cars though, your imagination is the limit when making something out of old cardboard boxes. You can make a house, a building, a statue, flower pots, kitchen utensils, and even a full jungle of cardboard trees if that is what your child likes.
Kids are naturally messy. It’s like they enjoy the mess more than anything else that they do. They always seem to find any means necessary to make a big old mess, and there is nothing you can do about it, unless you’d like to hover over them the whole day every day.
You can take advantage of this love for mess with finger painting. Some kids may be fine with a brush, but you can add to the fun by upping the mess factor with finger painting. Just make sure to secure the area with some protective padding to make clean-up a breeze.
Choose water-soluble paints like watercolor so that they don’t permanently stick, just in case they “accidentally” paint on furniture, or if the paint gets on their clothes. You might even want to take them outside to do this.
Additionally, don’t limit yourself to paper. you can easily finger paint on almost anything. Some great ideas for an alternative canvas are rocks, empty plastic bottles, an entire wall in your yard, or even a big old plain shirt stretched over some plywood.
Doing arts and crafts is tiring work, and the kids might want to enjoy a tasty treat afterwards. Letting your kid help out in the kitchen is a great way to have some creative fun while having something to fill their bellies after everything is done.
Decorating cakes and cookies is fun and exciting for almost any kid. If you happen to make colorful frostings and interesting shapes, your kids can assemble their own mini cakes or cookies which they could feat on after they’re done. You can do the same thing for other food types such as sandwiches and pancake stacks.
The great thing about this creative activity is that it doubles up as an opportunity for you to teach healthy eating habits, or to improve your child’s eating habits in case you have a picky eater. You can easily turn fruits into fun treats by cutting it into interesting shapes, or you can make pastries with veggies in them such as carrots, cauliflower, and zucchini.
Imaginative play is engaging in creativity while doing some active play. If your little one can’t keep still enough to sit down and do some crafts, imaginative play is one way to stimulate their creativity while keeping them active.
You can have the plainest and most boring patch of yard, but with some creativity and imagination, you can instantly turn it into a jungle safari, a theme park, or a big and busy city.
There is no limit at all to the imagination. A little bit of help from props or costumes can elevate the experience, but don’t worry about it too much. A simple table cloth can instantly transform into a superhero cape, and a toilet roll can easily turn into a telescope.
You don’t have to stop having fun just because of bad weather. There are still a full host of things you can do with your kids for fun indoors. One fun idea is to play puppet theater where you can tell stories with the help of some puppets.
You can even opt for old (but clean) socks if you don’t have proper puppets. You can your child can take turns telling stories with the use of puppets so that you can show them how it’s done and they can practice being good storytellers themselves.
Another great idea is to build forts out of things found indoors. You can limit this to pillows and blankets, but if you’d like to take it to a higher level, you can employ the aid of couches, chairs, and tables too.
If you feel like making a splash, you can even take your imaginative play in the bathroom. The bath tub is the perfect spot to play pretend if your kid loves pirates and sea creatures.
If your child spends a lot of time seated at school, they may have a lot of pent up energy left.
They need a good outlet to expel all of it, and some fun and easy exercise might just be the thing. Active play is very important for the physical, social, and emotional health of children.
With active play, children further develop their fine and gross motor skills while developing crucial social and emotional lessons like how to make friends, the value of sharing, patience, and how to get along well with others.
If you have hoops in your property, you can take advantage of it to do some free shooting with your kid. Free shooting is a fun and friendly game that does not require a lot of complicated rules that young children would find hard to understand. The only objective is to get the ball through the hoop as many times as they can.
It is a highly active game, and your kids will find themselves hungry enough to clean off their plates (and even ask for seconds) at dinner time.
It also gives them a good amount of exercise so that they ca sleep soundly at night. Just make sure not to do it too close to bedtime, cause this might be counteractive and make them feel too stimulated to sleep.
Alternatively, if you have a pool at home, swimming is a valuable life-saving skill to learn and practice everyday as an after-school activity. If you live in a hot area, swimming wold be a perfect after-school treat for your kids. It refreshes them while giving them some much-needed exercise.
At the same time, it develops their swimming skills enough so you won’t have to worry about them too much when they go out swimming with friends in the future.
If you have a ball but don’t have hoops or a basketball ring to shoot it, you don’t have to despair. There are tons of other ball games you can choose from to pass the time with your kids after school. It can be as simple as a game of catch, or as complex as a full-on game of dodge-ball will rules and scoring systems.
You can get as creative as you want with a ball. All you need is some resourcefulness an ingenuity to come up with something to keep your child engaged and happy.