Through an effective After-School Club programme, children should feel content and happy, not as though they’re trapped in school for longer than their peers. You might seek out activities that walk the line between constructive skills development and freedom of expression, for kids to have a bit of fun once school is over for the day. Craft activities offer lots of benefits in an after school club.
Not only is crafting something that children can be left alone with to exercise their creative imagination, but it’s also a good way to have them practice skills they’re learning in class, apply themes and topics they’ve discovered, and even have them working together in teams.
Here, we’ll cover 10 foolproof craft activities that are sure to keep students in the zone during after school club and looking forward to the next session.
1. Bubble Snakes
Bubble snakes are incredibly easy and will provide hours of fun. Each child needs:
- A plastic bottle, with the lid removed
- A sock or piece of cloth
- A rubber band
- A tray filled with water and washing up liquid
- Cut the bottle in half and save the top piece. You may need to help the children with this part as it could be tricky and risk them getting cut.
- Cut the sock to that you have about 4” of fabric including the toe or cut a circle of fabric with a 4” diameter.
- Wrap the sock/fabric over the cut end of the bottle and secure it with the elastic band.
- Dip the fabric end of the bottle into the soapy water so it becomes soaked.
- Blow through the bottle lid end to produce a long foamy snake.
Experiment with adding food colouring to different trays of soapy water to produce different coloured foamy snakes.
2. Edible Dinosaur Eggs
This makes an exciting after school science club activity and doubles up as a fun after school snack too. Challenge your students to make colourful dinosaur eggs. You’ll need:
- Hard-boiled eggs, one of two for each student
- Food colouring in different shades
- A bowl for each student, filled with water
- Crack the eggshell all over by gently tapping it on a surface like a clean table. The idea is to crack the shell but not break it or let it come away from the egg.
- Fill the bowl with a few drops of food colouring and put the eggs in the bowl
- Leave the eggs overnight in a fridge.
- The next day, peel the eggs to reveal a dyed crackle pattern across them.
Experiment with different types of eggs and talk to the students about how eggs vary and where they come from. You could also discuss what dinosaur eggs were really like and task each child with imagining the type of dinosaur that would have come out of their egg. Finish this craft project off by asking the children to draw or write about their dinosaur and its habitat. Providing each child with a mould like these Paper Mache Dinosaurs and some craft materials could encourage them to think about what types of textures their dinosaur’s skin would have.
3. Marble Runs
Creating a marble run offers almost unlimited possibilities. The aim of a marble run is to get a marble from one point to another using gravity. You can use any craft materials, or objects lying around the classroom or playground to create a marble run and they can be as big or small as you like.
Find ten fantastic ideas for homemade marble runs on Buggy and Buddy, including the use of toilet roll holders, pool noodles, and lego. Constructing a marble run is a simple but super educational project for young children to take on. Start off with a small marble run task and gradually challenge students to create more difficult runs or incorporate new objects to test their problem-solving skills. Creating a marble run is a great team activity, encouraging children to pool their mental skills to overcome difficult obstacles.
4. Grow Cress Creatures
You don’t need to invest in a chia pet or Mr Potato Head to grow a cress character. This activity combines artistic fun with the patience of growing and caring for a plant. You can even harvest the cress hair later and use it as a garnish for cookery creations. You’ll need:
- Packets of cress seed
- Flower pots, one for each student
- Paints and painting materials
- Collage materials
- Task each child with creating their character on their flowerpot. Remind them that out of the top of the flowerpot will grow the character’s hair so their face needs to align with this. The children can have fun painting on a face and features. You could supply pom-poms, ribbons, googly eyes, feathers, and even foam shapes for them to cut out and stick to their flowerpots.
- Hand out soil and seeds and have each child carefully fill their flowerpot and plant the seeds.
- Set up the pots in a sunny corner and monitor them for signs of growth. Cress takes no time at all to grow so soon you should be able to give the cress characters haircuts!
Cres characters will slowly grow and change appearance over time. Checking up on the changes to each flowerpot makes a good morning school activity each week so that the children can monitor their plants and have a sense of responsibility for them.
5. Masked Talent Show
Mask-making can provide children with a world of possibilities. The excitement of creating and adopting a new pretend identity helps children to think about other people and characters and how they might behave. Draw on topics or themes the children are learning about in class to help them come up with mask ideas. You might consider:
- Ancient Greek plays
- Egyptian gods and goddesses
- Mayan masks
- Chinese New Year dragon masks
- Sugar skulls
Put on an informal talent show where the children can take to the stage as their masked character. You could ask them to perform something their character would do, or perhaps they could come on stage to answer questions from the audience.
6. Set a Matchbox Challenge
This activity is extremely flexible and adaptable, with thousands of possible outcomes, only requiring imagination. The challenge is to hand out a matchbox to each child and task them with turning it into something. The activity can be suited to any age range with a little guidance. For younger children simply collecting items of a certain theme from around the classroom and playground will get little ones excited. For a more complex project, you could ask the children to create a habitat for a certain animal in their matchbox or turn their matchbox into a vehicle somehow.
Supplying children with school craft materials can make the matchbox challenge more exciting. Collage materials like sequins are a fun, small-scale type of craft to work with, helping children to practice dexterity.
7. Snow Globe Jars
Creating a snow globe from scratch is an amazing little craft project that’ll guarantee to impress students and parents too. It’s not expensive to create a snow globe and it offers children a world of choice as to what goes inside. You’ll need:
- Glass jars with lids, one per student
- The feature object to go inside the jar, more on this below
- Silicone glue
- Clear nail varnish
- Glycerine or baby oil
- Distilled water
- Create the centrepiece for your snow globe first. This can be anything from a lego creation to a plasticine model. Non-porous materials are best for this. You could hand out coloured clay for the students to make a character or ornament.
- Fix the ornament to the inside of the lid with glue and let it dry. You’ll want the object to be sitting upright on the upturned lid as this will be the bottom of the snow globe.
- Fill the jar with distilled water (normal water will go yellow over time).
- Add a few drops of glycerine or baby oil and some of the glitter.
- Apply glue around the edge of the jar and then screw the lid on tightly.
8. Stress Ball Characters
This is a great craft activity to produce a fidget toy, ideal for children with ASD to play with to ease anxiety and calm down. You only need a few items to create a stress ball but each one can be customised any way the children like. You’ll need:
- Balloons, one per stress ball
- Plastic funnel
- Craft materials
- Use the funnel to fill a balloon with flour and tie off the opening tightly.
- Encourage the children to customise the stress balls using craft materials like pom-poms, ribbons, googly eyes, feathers, and foam shapes. You could task them with creating a character or an animal, or simply let them decide what to make their stress ball into.