No matter how busy you are, it’s always good to give your kids something to do after school. It doesn’t just keep them occupied, it also serves as valuable bonding time for the family and gives your kids something to do that isn’t screen time. Some of these are things the kids can do on their own, while others require parental supervision or interaction.
1. Paint objects from nature
This is an easy activity that’s crafty, but not so crafty that some kids won’t enjoy it. Send the kids into the backyard to grab something they can paint. Pinecones, rocks, and even big dried leaves can all work. Whatever they want to grab is fine. Then, when they’ve gathered everything they want to paint, cover the kitchen table with old newspapers and let them go wild. There are no rules here- they can paint with any colors they like, in any combinations they like, and it will all work just fine. Once the paint has dried, let them choose where to put the objects they painted. They’ll have made totally unique decorations for the home by the time they’re done.
2. Tell A Story
Write down some simple story prompts (you can find these online if you can’t think of any) on slips of paper and put them in a jar. Everyone draws one prompt and has to tell a story to the family based on that prompt. Or, one person draws the prompt and begins the story, and then selects someone else to add to it, and so on, so that the whole family contributes to the story by the time it’s done. Either way it’s a lot of fun for everyone; you’ll be surprised at how imaginative your kids can get and they’ll have a great time telling you their story.
3. Make Ice Cream in a Bag
Ice cream in a bag is a classic activity that’s usually reserved for the classroom, but there’s no reason you can’t do it this at home. It’s a little bit of a science experiment, so there’s some learning involved, but it also creates a sweet treat in the end. Place half and half, sugar, and vanilla extract into a ziploc bag and press all the air out of it before sealing it. Place this back inside a larger ziploc bag with ice and rock salt, then shake it all until the ice cream has solidified.
4. Bake Something Together
Having homemade baked goods as a snack is always a treat, but it may not be the healthiest snack choice. However, when the kids help to bake the snack themselves it might be a little better- for one thing, you can make it a little healthier than something store bought, but they’ll also learn about baking for themselves. Baking something together, whether it’s bread, a simple cake, or cookies, will also make lots of great memories for them.
5. Cabbage Color Experiment
This is a fun and easy little science experiment. All you need is a cabbage, some glasses of water, and food coloring. Add different colors to each water glass, and then place a single cabbage leaf, cut side down, into each glass. As the cabbage leaves absorb the colored water, they’ll change color because of the food dye. It’s a simple but effective lesson on how plants absorb water.
6. Lemon Volcanoes
You may recall the classic vinegar and baking soda volcanoes from school science fairs, but there’s an even easier and faster way of recreating that explosive effect at home. Baking soda will react that way with any acid, so you don’t necessarily have to use vinegar. Lemon juice works just as well, and you don’t even have to take it out of the lemon. Cut a circle through one end of the lemon rind and scoop out a little cup inside the lemon. Pour in the baking soda and stand back.
7. Create an Obstacle Course
This is especially good for kids with lots of energy. Build an obstacle course in the back yard or, if the weather is bad, in the living room. use furniture, toys, and other household objects to build things for them to jump on, balance on, duck under, and climb over. Get creative! Try using a stopwatch to see how fast your kids can complete the course, too. That way they can set “records” and try to beat them.