5 Indoor After School Activities We Love

The hours of 3.30pm-5.30pm are what I like to call ‘the afternoon dead time’. It’s time when the kids are tired from school and would like nothing more to come home and flop in front of an iPad, but because I’m mean mummy I’d rather not let them: we should be learning! Growing as people! Spending time as a family together! Hence our after school activities.

It’s time when I try not to arrange too many crazy energy-expelling activities as, if I do, they just end up more wound up then when they left school.

after school activities

It’s called dead time because I sometimes think “cor, I’d rather DIE than have to think up more exciting yet calm after school activities for the children to do for two hours after 3.30pm” ;)

And so I always try to have an arsenal of fun things to do up my sleeve. Useful not just for the dead time between school and dinner but ALL times you find yourself with a few hours to kill (Sunday afternoons, anyone?), prepare these activities ready to rock out and you’ll never be stuck with a six year old whining “muuuum, I’m booooored”. Promise.

I can’t craft for crap. Not on your nelly. Give me an old loo roll tube and I’ll chuck it in the recycling, not build a space rocket.

But my kids LOVE to craft – and I feel they’re constantly disappointed in my non-ability to see fluffy clouds in the cotton wool I use to remove nail varnish. Sorry guys!

My solution is the Mister Maker craft box: a fortnightly subscription box from everyone’s favourite TV crafter that arrives with everything you need to whip up the most incredible creations. It even includes the glue, which is a godsend because whenever I locate a Pritt Stick it’s invariably dried out or covered in feathers.

This craft box is also the only time you will appreciate Mister Maker rather than find him intensely annoying. Get yours here.

We kills two birds with one stone as part of this after school activities! My kids love to cook, and if we spend a couple of hours making a lasagne together on a Wednesday evening not only have we made the next couple of days’ suppers, we’ve spent time together too.

But our favourite thing to make together is bread (all that kneading!), and you can find our easiest bread recipe here.

after school activities - easy bread recipe

You can’t beat a good old-fashioned puzzle, can you? My two have always loved solving them, and I can sit back and watch and know good things are happening with their fine motor skills while they think they’re having a jolly old time playing a game. We love the online jigsaw puzzles here.

Mud kitchens
OK, so this one is maybe more part of summer after school activities, but if you send my children outside with a big plastic mixing bowl and a wooden spoon, instructing them to ‘make some potions’ they will be in the garden for HOURS.

Bear with me on this one. This is an activity we’ve started doing recently, and because we’re using numbers and writing lists I feel massively smug that I’m teaching my kids things while playing with them (yeah, I’ve never been a natural at this). I instruct Elfie to collect things from around the house and set up a ‘shop’, labelling each item with a price. Then Hux and I make a shopping list together and buy things from the shop, making Elfie add up as she goes. Then we swap roles. Education: done. Mummy’s favourite activity: done. BOOM! Supermum!

What are your favourite after school activities?

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  1. Molly wrote:

    Love all of these! Play dough is another good one in our house – it seems to calm both kids down when they’re hyper (and can’t let off steam at the park after school due to rain). It’s such a tough point in each day though, as they’re both inevitably hungry and tired – not a good mix while I’m trying to organise supper and keep the house from being trashed!

    Posted 10.19.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      I need to get over my fear of play dough – I had one situation where Hux mixed all the colours together and gave me a heart attach from the MESS and we haven’t played with it since!

      Posted 10.19.16 Reply
  2. Polly wrote:

    great ideas… not so much after school for me, but mid-afternoon when I’m trying to work – these all tend to do the job to buy me a little bit of time!

    Posted 10.19.16 Reply
  3. Nina C wrote:

    A box of popsicle sticks (1,000/box), washable markers, and a bottle of white glue will keep them busy for hours as well. I used to carry those in my “fun bag” when I took care of kids during my high school years. They can make forts, houses, cars, anything really and then paint them with the markers. I used to buy the sticks at a paper supply store.

    Posted 10.20.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Nina, you’re a genius. I’ve duly ordered 1000 of these along with some stick-on googly eyes, with our washable pens these will be a BRILLIANT half term activity!

      Posted 10.24.16 Reply
  4. Kathryn wrote:

    I have to admit that we do crash in front of the TV/ipad when we get home after school. I try to get them to do a bit of homework too after they’ve chilled for a bit and had a snack. We’re definitely going to get our craft on over the half term holidays though x

    Posted 10.20.16 Reply
  5. Laura wrote:

    These are some great, easy and doable ideas for a rainy day – I love the mister maker boxes as well and cooking is always a hit in our house, as is visiting IKEA (the saviour of rainy days)

    Laura x

    Posted 10.21.16 Reply
  6. katie albury wrote:

    Currently this time of day is what I call ‘cranky o’clock’…it’s the time when my little one has woken up from a nap/not had a nap/not had a long enough nap (you get the gist) and you have to pull out pretty much anything from circus tricks to terrible singing acts to keep her entertained until dinner time! So I’m very much looking forward to the day when we can enjoy some of the lovely suggestions here to keep her happy (and me sane) until it’s an acceptable time to open the wine…! haha! x

    Posted 10.24.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Ahh Cranky o’Clock – that’s a brilliant term for it!!

      Posted 10.24.16 Reply
  7. Babawaga wrote:

    Alice, I’m with you on the play-dough! It is pretty much BANNED in our house – it always ends up on rugs, socks, clothes, in the rabbit’s den, then takes me hours to get the stuff out…for easy crafting, have you tried any of the cut-out-and-glue activities in kid’s magazines? My 5-year old DS loves doing these – Octonauts/Andy’s Adventure BBC mag are his particular favourites and in fact quite educational as you can read all the facts about sea creatures/dinosaurs etc whilst doing the crafting. Your littles can then take their creations in to school as ‘show-and-tell’ etc.

    Posted 10.24.16 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      SO glad I’m not the only one who bans it!! I just can’t be doing with scraping it out the carpet when it goes all hard and gross. We do get those mags but haven’t tried the activities in them – that’ll be a good half term activity for us though!!

      Posted 10.24.16 Reply