Back-to-School sales, back-to-school checklists, back-to-school lunchbox ideas, back-to-school advice… By the end of August, you’ve likely saved a few organization tips and time-saving dinner recipes to your Pinterest board. We get so caught up in “back to school” that we forget that our lazy summer routine is also disrupted in the evening: after-school snacks, homework, and enforced bedtimes leave parents on duty from day to night.
Younger children in particular are susceptible to the Post-Summer Blues. They spent the summer with days full of activities or at summer camp. Now they finish a day of school at 3 o’clock and they’re not home for fifteen minutes before you hear, “Mommy, I’m bored.”
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite after-school activities that are quick and easy to set up. Participate or let them explore the activity independently while you use the time to knock a few more items off your to-do list.
10 Simple After-School Activities for Youngsters
- Readathon. Challenge your child to read a certain number of books within a specific time frame and award prizes for milestones… and enjoy the peace and quiet!
- Create a scavenger hunt. Take 20 minutes to hide 10 small toys either around the house or in a designated area within sight (depending on their age). Keep a bag of mini candy bars on hand and award one once all the toys are found. To keep it simple, make the toys from the set so they’re easy for your kids to identify. Brightly colored Lego Duplo pieces work very well for this activity.
- Make a weekly collage. Keep old magazines and every Friday encourage your kids to make a college about their week. Include other media like paint, markers, stickers, and crayons if you’d like. At the end of the school year, they’ll have a journal of everything they did. This activity is a great way to encourage them to express their feelings and talk about school.
- Build a blanket fort. This sounds like a cliche, but when was the last time you encouraged your kids to do this? Building a fort out of couch cushions and spare quilts will encourage them to think creatively and problem solve (i.e. How do we get the roof to stay up?). Once it’s complete, they’ll be proud of their accomplishment and will be eager to play inside and amuse themselves.
- Write / Illustrate a bedtime story. Tell your kids that you’d like them to read you a bedtime story tonight. Ask them to write the story. If they’re not of writing age, have them draw pictures. You can either staple it together or put the story in a 3-ring binder so they can read it to you that night. Guaranteed fun and guaranteed cuteness.
- Choreograph a dance. Depending on their age, pick a song and have them choreograph a dance to it. If they’re too little or don’t have the attention span for an activity like this, just put on some fun music and encourage a dance party!
- Beginner’s yoga class. If you’ve been wanting to get into regular yoga practice, this activity will be great for both you and your kids. Little kids want to do everything we’re doing. Pick a beginner’s yoga video on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or YouTube and start an afternoon practice. Encourage the kids to join. You can even find kid-friendly yoga videos for exactly this purpose.
- Bird watching. Investing in a bird feeder is a great way to entertain small children. Fill it right before they’re going to get home from school, so the birds will be eager to get to it. Keep a bird book on hand and have them identify the birds that come to the feeder.
- Clay modeling. Modeling clay is inexpensive and easy to keep on hand in the event of boredom emergencies. Some kinds are non-drying, but others you can bake in the oven to create hardened figurines or “ceramics,” unlike Play-Doh.
- Rice “sandbox.” Can’t get to the park this afternoon? Keep a five pound bag of rice on hand and pour it into an empty, shallow plastic storage bin. Place your child’s toy trucks and other sand or beach toys inside and let them enjoy an indoor sandbox. The best part is that rice vacuums easily, so cleanup is a breeze and you can store the rice to keep using it for this purpose.