After School Activities

From the book 365 After School Activities

1. Catching Rays

What you’ll need: white paper, permanent markers, yoghurt lid with clear plastic “window”, tape, gold thread

Practice drawing a simple geometric design on white paper.  Make thick, black lines around large simple areas.  Fill the areas with color.  When you create a design you like, copy the black lines onto the yoghurt lid.  Then fill in the blank areas with colored markers.  Tape a loop of gold thread to the lip of the lid.  Hang your sun catcher!

2. Decorative Painted Eggs

What you’ll need: egg, paper clip, container, modeling clay, watercolors, paintbrush, pencil

Before painting the eggshell, remove the egg inside so your painting can last for a long time.  To pierce the shell, unbend a paper clip and wash it.  Then, carefully make a small opening in the larger end of the egg by gently piercing the shell.  Break the egg yolk inside the egg, and mix the egg so the contents will come out.  Pour the egg contents out into a small container and discard.  Make a modeling clay collar for the eggshell, and set the eggshell, broken side down (and hidden!), in the clay collar.  The “egg canvass” is ready for painting.  Paint a picture on the blank shell using watercolors, or sketch your drawing on the shell with pencil first and then paint.

3. Feather Face-off

What you’ll need: feathers, cloth, cotton balls, anything extremely soft to the touch, blindfold

Two players face each other, one blindfolded, one with a variety of soft objects in front of them.  It’s up to the blindfolded player to guess when the feather is being brushed across his or her cheek, rather than another very  soft object. It’s up to the slighted player to handle the objects so carefully that the blindfolded friend can’t tell the difference.  Remember, the gentler the pressure, the harder it is to tell what’s touching you.  Working on your senses (sense of touch) can be as fun as working on your muscles!

4. Post Office

What you’ll need: paper, pens or markers, tape

Everyone loves getting mail – especially soldiers far from home or senior citizens without families of their own.  You can help cheer up these sometimes forgotten citizens by writing short, encouraging notes all your own.  Remind the folks you write to that people care about them.  Tell them to have a great day.  Fold the letter into a rectangle and seal it with a piece of tape.  Address it to “You” from “Me, but don’t include your real name or address.  Take your letters to your local senior citizens home or Red Cross office.  They’ll do the rest.

5. Jazzy Jigsaws

What you’ll need: thin poster board, pencil, photo, magazine picture or drawing, glue stick, scissors

Start small at first, to perfect your puzzle-making prowess.  Cut the poster board to your desired finished size.  Next, cut a photo or picture to the size of the poster board.  Glue the photo or picture to the board with the glue stick.  On the backside of the poster board, about 1 inch from the left edge, draw a zigzag line from top to bottom with a pencil.  Draw a similar line 1 inch away from that, and continue across the board.  Now draw zigzag lines from side to side, about 1 inch away from each other.  Cut along each line.  Turn each puzzle piece face up.  Put together your own designer jigsaw creation!

6. Two by Two

What you’ll need: paper pad, pens or pencils

Ever notice how many things come in pairs, naturally?  Think about it – 2 eyes, 2 legs, 2 feet, 2 shoes.  The list goes on and on.  How far depends on you.  Take a walk around your house, your yard, your neighborhood.  How many things can you find that seem to come in pairs?  Run out of 2s?  Look for natural 4s or dozens or hundreds.  Compare your list with a friend.  This also makes a great party game for teams.

7. Word Wonder Magnets

What you’ll need: old magazines, scissors, cardboard, glue, magnet strips (available at craft stores)

Ever seen a word or a headline that inspired you?  Hold on to that spirit with these terrific Word Wonder Magnets.  Go through a stack of old magazines or newapapers until you see a word or headline that reminds you to do your best work, try a new sport, be a friend to someone who needs one, or do some other worthy activity.  Cut out the word or words, and glue them to the cardboard.  After the glue dries, cut away the excess cardboard and attach a small piece of magnet strip to the back.  Hang up your headlines where they will remind you to always do your best!

8. Rain Gauge

What you’ll need: jar, ruler, permanent marker, chart paper, pencil

Compare your measurements to those recorded in the newspaper!  Use a cylinder-shaped jar or a square container with straight sides for your gauge.  (You can also use several containers of different sizes to test if the results will be the same in different places in your yard.)  Measure and mark inch and half-inch marks on the side of the jar or container, measuring from the bottom up.  Place the gauge outside in an open area.  Check the rainfall in each 24-hr period.  You can use separate gauges for daily, weekly and monthly recordings.  Empty the daily gauge after each recording, and set it back outside to measure the next day’s rainfall.  Chart your results.

9. Creature Feature

What you’ll need: paper bag or old mask, glue, scissors, 2 or 3 colors of felt, yarn in colors to match felt, black marker

Anything goes with this mask!  Choose your favorite animal or create a weird new one.  (If you’re making a new mask with a paper bag, remember to cut holes for the eyes and mouth.) Glue pieces of felt to the mask for the base color of the face; let dry.  Make more facial details out of different-colored felt and glue them on.  Let dry.  Make eyebrows, short eyelashes, whiskers, and other details with the various colors of yarn.  Add final details with the black marker.

10. Balancing Act

What you’ll need: book, stuffed animal, ball, paper cup

You may have seen people from other countries carrying  jugs of water from village wells on their heads.  How hard can it be?  Find out by using different objects around the house.  Set a book on your head, and keep track of how many steps you can take before the book topples.  Do the same with a stuffed animal, a ball, and a paper cup.  Compare your results.  See if you can improve your balance by taking longer or shorter steps.  Try moving your arms in different ways.  Can you keep the objects on your head as you run or skip?

11. Bird Condo

What you’ll need: plastic 1/2 gallon milk or orange juice container with handle, scissors, craft stick or small dowel, newspaper, sphagnum moss, wire coat hanger

Wash the container thoroughly with hot, soapy water.  Let dry.  On the opposite side from the handle, about halfway down, cut a circular hole about 2 inches wide.  Half an inch below the hole, poke the craft stick or small dowel about 1 1/2 inches into the container.  This is the bird’s perch.  Spread out the newspaper, and stuff the sphagnum moss into the bottle until it comes up to the entry hole.  Birds like dryer lint too!  Then untwist the coat hanger, and wire the birdhouse, through the handle, to a tree limb not too close to the trunk.  (You may need an adult’s help to do this part.) Wire it tight enough so that the house doesn’t sway too much in the wind.  Wait for your bird friends to move in!

12. Seed and Bead Necklace

What you’ll need: dried beans, seeds from fruits or vegetables, bowl, water, darning needle, thimble, paper towels, buttonhole thread or carpet thread

Gather together dried beans and seeds from fruits and vegetables (such as melons, squash, or corn).  Wash the seeds, and soak the beans and seeds in water to soften them; some beans need to soak overnight.  Then remove them from the water, and poke a hole in each using the needle and thimble.  (Have an adult help you.)  Spread then beans and seeds on a paper towel, and let them dry.  Thread the needle with thread that is long enough to slip over your head for a necklace.  String the seeds and beans in a pattern or design, and then tie the ends of the thread together.

13. Boot Hill

What you’ll need: players’ shoes, whistle

All players remove their shoes and put them in a pile at the center of the room.  Mix the pile completely.  The players form a circle around the pile, with everyone standing about 10 feet away from it.  When the whistle sounds, the players head for the pile.  The first player to find both his or her own shoes and puts them on wins.

14. Craft Stick Stick-Ins

What you’ll need: colored paper, scissors, markers or crayons, glue, craft sticks

Many hospital patients and senior citizens get plants as gifts.  These adorable stick-ins can spruce up those plants to make a real cheer-up treat.  On colored paper, draw and cut out a butterfly, a ladybug, a bird, or any other design you like.  Decorate you designs so they are really special.  Glue your paper design to the end of a craft stick (or a clean ice cream stick).  use the other end of the stick to anchor the paper design in the potting soil.  Share these cheerful stick-ins with people who might not be able to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

15. Pencil Me In

What you’ll need: 20 unsharpened pencils, flat surface

Scatter the pencils on a tabletop, with several lying across each other.  The object of the game is to remove 1 pencil at a time without making any of the other pencils move.  It can be done!  The game ends when a pencil moves.  Hint: You can use a pencil that’s already been removed to try to push or flip out a pencil that’s still in the pile.  This is great fun to play alone, but it is also lots of fun with friends!

16. Beanbag Bundles

What you’ll need: self-sealing plastic sandwich bags, uncooked beans or rice, cardboard boxes or plastic tubs, colored markers

Fill self-sealing plastic sandwich bags half-full of beans (pinto, lima, even uncooked pas or rice will do).  Double bag your beans, and squeeze out excess air – they’ll be less likely to spill or break.  Decorate cardboard boxes or plastic tubs with brightly colored numbers.  The higher the number, the farther away the tub should be from your starting mark.  Now toss your beanbags into the tubs, and keep track of how many land in each numbered container.  Add the scores for each container, then add the scores for all the containers together.  Next, have other players take a turn throwing the beanbags into the containers.  The player with the highest score wins.  You can compete against your own high score if you’re playing alone.

17. Creative Crosswords

What you’ll need: paper, pens, pencils, ruler, graph paper

Add a new twist to an old favorite by making up crossword puzzles based on your favorite hobby, books, animals, or celebrities.  Arrange your “down” and “across” words on the graph paper, writing 1 letter in each square.  After you arrange the puzzle words, write your clues to match.  Don’t forget to number the words and clues.  Hint: Don’t make your word clues too difficult.  Then copy the puzzle on a clean sheet of paper, and see hoe long it takes a friend to complete.

18. Kaleidoscopic View

What you’ll need: 3 rectangular mirrors, masking tape, cardboard, pencil, scissors, small pieces of colored paper, buttons, glitter, or other small, colorful objects

To make the kaleidoscope, tape 3 mirrors together, with the reflective sides facing in, to create the triangular shape.  Set 1 of the open ends of the triangle on a piece of cardboard and trace it.  Cut out the cardboard triangle and tape it over one open end of the mirror triangle.  Set the mirror triangle on its cardboard bottom end.  Drop pieces of small colored paper, glitter, buttons, and other small objects inside.  Then peek inside to see the colored patterns created and reflected in the mirrors.  Gently shake the kaleidoscope to make new patterns.

19. Playing With Spoons

What you’ll need: old spoon, ridged metal can, metal kitchen grater

Run a spoon up and down the ridges of a metal can.  You’ll get a nice sound.  Try sliding it across all the textures of a metal kitchen grater.  (Be careful not to slide your fingers on the grater!) Think of other kitchen objects that you could use with a spoon to make music.  Create your own song using all these instruments, and write your own lyrics.  Then perform your musical melody for your family and friends.

20. Magnetic Fridge Faces

What you’ll need:  pictures of your family and friends, glue, empty cereal box, scissors, clear adhesive vinyl, small magnet strips

Glue photos to the backside of an unfolded, empty cereal box.  Let dry.  Then cut photos or tightly trimmed images of people out of the cardboard.  Cover the fronts and backs of the photos with clear adhesive vinyl.  Glue magnet strips to the backs of the photos.  Make a whole set of your friends or family members, and arrange them in wacky ways.  You could make separate, goofy speech bubbles for everyone too.  This could make a nice gift for your grandparents.

21. Alphabet Jump Rope

What you’ll need: jump ropes (one for each player)

Pick a subject, such as animals, flowers, girls’ names, or food.  Then as you jump rope, name members of that group alphabetically every other hop.  If you miss while jumping or can’t come up with the next animal or item in the alphabetical list, start over at the beginning.  This game is great alone, but it’s also fun to do with a friend.

22. Dot Art

What you’ll need: white paper, markers, colored paper, hole punch, glue

Want a new art project sure to cheer up a neighbor and maybe make you a new friend?  Try dot art.  Draw a picture on a plain sheet of white paper.  punch tiny round dots from sheets of colored paper, using a hole punch.  When you punch, hold the colored paper over a different sheet of white paper to catch the dots as they fall.  Glue the colorful dots in place on your drawing, leaving as little white as possible without letting the dots overlap.  Your finished work will have a bright, unusual look.  Share these drawings with lonely neighbors who could use a lift.

23. What Is That?

What you’ll need: hat or stocking cap, 5-8 differently textured objects that are hard, rough, and silky,  pencil, paper

Put all objects into the hat.  In a separate room, have each player reach into the hat (without looking) and try to guess what each object is.  After everyone has had a try meet together in a room and have everyone write down the mystery objects.  The winners are those who guess correctly.  For a more gross-out version of this game, put 5 bowls in a cardboard box covered with black cloth.  Place peeled grapes; cold, cooked noodles; cut-up gelatin; slime; oatmeal mush.  Now have your friends guess what they are touching! Yucky!

24. Button, Button

What you’ll need: paper, colored markers or crayons, ruler, 24 buttons (12 of 1 color, 12 of another), scorepad

Using a blank piece of paper, make a game board with 12 same-size squares.  Randomly label each square with the numbers 1-12.  Once your game board is complete, place it on a table.  Place your 12 colored buttons next to the board, then flick each button with your fingernail onto the board.  Add up your score based on where your buttons landed.  Make a note of your score on the scorepad.  Pick up your buttons and watch your friend flick his or her buttons.  You can also play against yourself to better your own score.

25. Peanut Butter

What you’ll need: 1 cup peanuts, 1 tablespoon oil, measuring cup and spoon, blender, small jar, spatula, crackers, knife

All you need is 1 cup of peanuts and 1 tablespoon of oil.  You can buy peanuts in the shell and shell them yourself or start right off with shelled nuts.  Measure 1 cup of peanuts and pour them into the blender.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil.  Cover and blend well.  Use a spatula to scoop the peanut butter into the jar and refrigerate.  But first, spread some on crackers and enjoy!

26. What’s In a Word?

What you’ll need: dictionary, paper, pencils or pens, timer

Find a long and complicated word in your favorite dictionary.  Write it out at the top of a blank sheet of paper.  Now try to find words made up of the letters in the word you’ve selected – you can use the letters only as many times as they appear in the word.  Give yourself 1 point for each word built from rearranging letters.  Give yourself 2 points for words you find in the original word without switching the letters around.  To add more of a challenge, put a 3-minute time limit on each round of your game.

27. Water Scale

What you’ll need: large bowl, baking pan, water, assorted items (apple, rock, etc.), clear measuring cup

Place a large bowl in a baking pan, and fill the bowl to the rim with water.  Gently drop an apple, a rock, or another item inside the bowl.  The water will overflow into the baking pan to make room for the object dropped into it.  Now, carefully remove the bowl from the pan and pour the displaced water into a clear measuring cup.  Use the information to compare the volume of different objects.

28. Pantomime

What you’ll need: white mime make-up (optional), makeup, clothing in all 1 color, background music (optional)

Write a very simple story, or choose a piece of instrumental music. Then use your imagination to show the story you hear in it.  If you can get some, put on the classic white mime make-up.  If not, ask permission to use some make-up to highlight your eyes and mouth.  Also, make sure to pull your hair away from your face.  This helps the audience see your expressions better.  Choose a color and wear it from head to toe so the emphasis will be on the story you are miming, not the costume.  Now act out your story using exaggerated facial expressions and body movements.

29. Glitter Globe

What you’ll need: small baby food jar, acrylic paint and paintbrush (optional), play dough, any small metal or plastic trinket, iridescent confetti flakes, teaspoon, water

Remove label from the baby food jar.  Wash and dry the jar thoroughly.  If you wish, you may paint the outside of the lid with acrylic paints.  Let the paint dry.  Then put a dime-size amount of clay on the inside of the jar lid, and stick the bottom of the trinket into the clay.  Place 1 teaspoon of confetti in the jar; use more or less confetti depending on the size of the jar.  Slowly let water trickle into the jar until it’s full.  Screw the lid on tightly, and turn over the jar.  Watch the sparkling glitter rain down!

30. Leave It To Me

What you’ll need: fall leaves, cardboard boxes

The object of this fast-paced game is to see how many leaves each player can collect without having them stolen by other players.  Set boxes (one per player) about 15 feet apart in a leaf-covered park, yard, or playground.  One player says “go” and the game begins.  Grab handfuls of leaves and put them into your box.  But watch carefully.  You can steal leaves from other boxes to fill your own, so you’ll want to guard your box as you go.  Remember, your box can be robbed while you’re out searching or stealing!

31. Pencil Pals

What you’ll need: self-hardening (air-drying) clay, white glue, wiggle eyes, markers, pencils, wire rack

Kids with learning disabilities sometimes need a special friend to help them stay focused and eager to learn.  These cute pencil pals might  be just what the teacher ordered.  Roll the clay into 3-inch “snakes” that are 1/4 inch wide.  Glue 2 wiggle eyes to the head end of the snake, and draw on a silly smile.  Coil the snake around the eraser end of a number 2 pencil.  Use markers to decorate the snake’s skin with fun patterns and colors.  Make a few different snakes.  Lay the pencils on the wire rack and allow 2 days for the clay to harden.  Add a little white glue around the snake to guarantee that it will stay put.  Donate these pencil pals to your school’s special education or resource room teachers.

32. Turkey in the Straws

What you’ll need: large, empty magazine tub; drinking straws; plastic cup

Lay several drinking straws crosswise on the margarine tub.  Now balance a cup, turned upside down, on the straws.  Each player takes a turn removing 1 straw at a time.  Whoever pulls the straw that makes the cup fall down is the “turkey”.  He or she must gobble out loud!  Practice this game by yourself – you won’t be the turkey next time you play with friends!

33. Go Fish

What you’ll need: colored paper, scissors, paper clips, large cardboard box, magnet, string, yardstick or dowel, colored markers

Cut out 2 dozen 3-inch fish from different colors of paper (the simpler the fish, the easier the fishing).  Slip a paper clip on the end of each fish and toss them into an empty cardboard box.   Tie a magnet to an end of a 24-inch string, and dangle it from the end of a yardstick or dowel.  As you cast your line into the box, you’ll reel in colorful fish time and time again.  Assign each color or fish a point value, ex. red is 1 point, blue is 3 points, etc.  Then, as you catch fish, keep adding up your score.  For extra fun, decorate the outside of the box with a creative seascape – sunken treasure, flippered flounders, friendly mermaids, and more.

34. Banana Shake

What you’ll need:  1 cup milk, 1/2 cup yoghurt, 1/4 cup frozen berries, 1 banana, blender, measuring cups

Measure and place the milk, yoghurt, and berries into the blender.  Peel a banana, break it into chunks, and drop it into the blender.  Cover and blend well.  Pour the fruit shake into the cups, and toast to your health!  (Makes 2 servings.)

35. Animalriffic

What you’ll need: pen, paper

Have you ever thought about how often your favorite animal is mentioned in another, often unrelated word?  Take the ant, for instance.  You find it in anticipation, antiperspirant, tyrant and thousands of other words.  Now pick your favorite animal (simple animal names such as “dog”, “cat”, “bug”, etc. work best), and see what you can come up with.  Illustrate your animalriffic words for an extra dose of fun.

36. Capturing Leaf Vapor

What you’ll need: plastic sandwich bag, twist tie, small pebble, measuring spoon

Capture and measure how much water vapor a leaf releases into the air in a week’s time.  Trees drink water through their roots, and send it up to all parts of the tree. Leaves use the water they need and “breathe” out the excess in the form of water vapor.  You can catch and measure the vapor using a plastic bag. On warm, sunny day, put a pebble in a plastic bag and place the plastic bag over a tree leaf that gets a lot of sun.  Secure the bag over the leaf with a twist tie.  After a few hours, return to observe the leaf.  You will begin to see moisture collecting inside the bag.  Leave the bag on the leaf for 1 week.  After a week, take it off and carefully measure the water collected with a measuring spoon.  This will tell you how much water vapor your leaf has produced in a week’s time.  (A small leaf will produce approximately 1/4 teaspoon of water in sunny weeks.)

37. Mighty Masks

What you’ll need: several old magazines to cut up, scissors, thin paper plates, glue, pencil, yarn

Leaf through old magazines, and cut out individual facial features from pictures of faces.  Divide them into piles of ears, noses, eyebrows, chins, hair, heads, etc.  Don’t forget animal faces!  Cut eye and mouth holes out of a paper plate.  Pick out a goofy arrangement or facial features, and glue them onto the plate to make a mask.  Let glue dry.  Next, punch holes in the sides of the mask with a pencil.  Tie a piece of yarn to the hole on each side to hold the mask on your head. Admire the crazy results.

38. Treasure Box

What you’ll need: uncooked pasta (wagon wheels, cartoon characters, other shapes), cardboard school supply box, yarn, white glue, gold acrylic paint, paintbrush, glitter markers

Play with pasta shapes on the box, and come up with combinations that form interesting patterns or pictures.  Do the same with pieces of yarn.  Next, glue the yarn and pasta shapes on the box.  Let the box dry for a day.  Then paint the box gold with the acrylic paint.  Let dry for a few hours.  Finally, add surface details with glitter markers in contrasting colors.  Fill that sparkly box with treasures!

39. Hop To It!

What you’ll need: dress shoes, sneakers, socks, chalk, tape, or washable marker

Ever wondered if the sport shoe commercials are true?  Can different footwear help you jump farther? Better?  Higher?  This experiment can help you find out.  Mark a starting point with chalk, tape, or washable marker on the sidewalk.  Wearing your favorite sneakers, jump as far as you can from your starting point.  Mark where you landed, and label it “sneakers”.  Now repeat the action in dress shoes, in socks, and in bare feet.  How do the chalk marks compare?

40. Vacation Back-up

When your neighbors find the time to visit distant relatives, the Grand Canyon, or the museum of their dreams, you can help make their trip carefree.  Volunteer to gather their mail each day and keep it until they get home.  Offer to water their prize roses or even feed their pet fish while they’re gone.  You’ll be a hero in their book!  They might even send you a postcard while they’re away.  But be careful: Don’t let anyone know your neighbors are gone, not even your very best friend.  It’s important that this remain a confidential good deed, just to protect your neighbors’ privacy.

41. Pictominoes

What You’ll Need: Index cards in white or pastel shades, ink pads, 6 small rubber stamps

Count out 28 index cards. On the blank side of each card, draw a line through the middle from one long side to the other. Take one of the ink stamps and make prints on one side of the 4 of the index cards. Do the same with the rest of the ink stamps.   This should leave you with 4 random spaces that are blank.  That’s OK; these are wild spaces.  Play with your pictominoes as if they had dots, only match up the pictures instead!

42. Artful Numbers

What You’ll Need: Old magazines, scissors, construction paper, glue

To start, look through old magazines and cut out bright and colorful numbers you find in pictures and ads.  Find a variety of numbers in different colors and sizes.  Design and arrange the cutout numbers on a piece of construction paper, and glue them in place.  One collage can include a random assortment of numbers, or it could have a theme, such as multiples of 4.  You can also use the numbers as graphic elements to create figures and objects.

43. Frozen Buubbles

What You’ll Need: Measuring cup, soap powder, sugar, hot water, bowl, spoon or whisk, bubble wand

This is an activity for a cold, cold (below freezing) day when there’s no wind in the air.  Start by making a strong bubble solution.  Mix 1/2 C soap powder, 1/2 C sugar, and 3 C hot water. (This mixture will help the bubbles last longer.)  Take the bubble solution and a bubble wand outside.  Blow a bubble, and catch it on the wand.  Let the bubble sit resting on the wand in the cold air.  In the below-freezing chill, the bubble will soon freeze into a fragile crystal ball.

more to come… 🙂

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