Now that school is finally back in session your kids may be getting plenty of mental and physical exercise with math, PE, and extra-curriculars.  However, this doesn’t mean they should just get home and instantly flip on the television or start playing video games.  Here are 3 fun activities to keep your kids exercising, learning and creating after school

keeping kids physically and mentally active

Model Building

Model building can be a great after school activity because you can invest as little or as much money in it as you want, the project can take however much time your child is willing to dedicate towards it and there is no end to the creativity it involves.  Best of all, almost any kid can get into it; the secret is just to find something they are enthusiastic about.  No matter what subject your child is interested in, you may be able to come up with a modeling activity to keep them engaged, busy, and creating all school year long.

For example, if you have a child who loves horses, they can try building a model horse stable and arena.  If your child is infatuated with space and astronauts, they can make a model rocket or moon-landing scene.  Depending on your budget, these can be made out of cardboard, paper mache, Legos, or if your child is extra crafty, even found and recycled objects.  By making the models an appropriate size, your children will be able to incorporate the toys, dolls, or action figures that they already have into it.  For example, if they build a racetrack, they may want to make it sized to fit their diecast cars.

This can be a great way to keep kids busy afterschool on days when it is raining, too cold or dark outside, or as an activity to help your kids relax at night before bed.  You can start a routine where they brush their teeth, change into their fun kids pajamas  and have time to unwind and decompress while they work on their model before bed.


Navigating Nature


If you live near a large park or nature preserve, nature walks can be a great way to teach your children how to read a map or use a compass while getting them outside and exercising at the same time.  Many larger parks and nature preserves will have maps available at the entrance or online.  Get a map for the area and with your child you can go over the key, explaining what each symbol means. The next step is to get a compass and teach your child how to use it and how to orient a map with it.  To help keep track of the cardinal directions, you can use the saying “Never Eat Soggy Waffles.”  The first letter from each word may help your kid to visualize a map that goes North, East, South, West in a clockwise order.

Once your child is comfortable with a map and compass, choose and mark a few locations that will be targets.  In a large park targets could be a certain playground or baseball diamond, or in a nature preserve, finding the bridge that crosses a brook. The two of you can walk along, enjoying some parent-child bonding time as they learn how to navigate while getting some exercise and fresh air.  As they get better at it, the two of you can do activities like navigating using only topographic maps, or even doing your own cartography.  If your child develops a passion for navigation and the outdoors, they can eventually move onto activities like orienteering or geocaching.


Starting A Vegetable Garden and Cooking


Cooking and gardening not only go together hand in hand, but they can also be great ways for kids to get some light exercise, learn about nutrition, measurement units, and general life skills.  Not only may it help keep them occupied and away from the TV, but it can also reduce your grocery bill and give them a sense of responsibility.

During the spring months, when the children come home from school they can work on setting up a vegetable garden.  There are a number of vegetables that are relatively simple to grow, including carrots, beans, and cucumbers.  All of these vegetables can be terrific and fresh ingredients for healthy homemade meal.

Once the vegetables have grown and are ready to be picked, you and your child can try to find ways to incorporate them into family meals, and then cook them together.  Finding the recipes can be a great way for younger children to build reading comprehension and research skills.  In addition to helping your kids learn how to cook, you can use this opportunity to teach your kids about measurements, ratios and converting between different units.

Now that summer is coming to an end, school will take up a lot of most kid’s days.  However, there is still plenty of time in the afternoons and evenings for them to learn, discover and create.  With activities like model building, gardening and navigating, you may be able to keep your kids mentally and physically active whether they are in or out of school.


Contributing writer,Ryan, began blogging about a year after teaching for years.  He enjoys camping, snowboarding, and mountain biking.