Fun after-school activities to keep your children engaged

Sometimes school can be taxing for kids. If your children are anything like mine, the moment they walk through the door, fling their backpacks and jackets aside, and go straight for the refrigerator.

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  • School can be taxing for kids. If your children are anything like mine, the moment they walk through the door they fling their backpacks and jackets aside, go straight for the refrigerator, grab the unhealthiest snack, then plop in front of the television to watch the latest show starring a group of obnoxious teenagers.

  • Early on, I recognized this as a problem. Since then, I’ve come up with several creative activities to continue my children’s learning at home while making it fun and different from their normal school routine. Here are a few of those ideas.

  • Treasure Hunt

  • Before your children come home, prepare a simple treasure hunt with clues hidden in your home or backyard. These clues will get your children thinking while also teaching them to work together. Eventually, these clues will lead to a special treat in an unusual place. For example, I had my treasure hunt end in the bathtub, empty of course. I had a blanket inside and a cupcake for each child on the edge. They all thought it was so cool to be eating in the bathtub.

  • Cooking Class

  • When your children come home, have a miniature cooking class prepared. If possible, have an apron for each child, possibly made from an earlier activity. My children made theirs out of scraps of material and staples.

  • Here are some easy and healthy recipes you can make with them:

  • Frozen Dipped Bananas

  • Ingredients:

  • Directions:

    1. Line a sheet pan with waxed paper. Cut 1 inch off the end of each banana. Insert a Popsicle stick into the cut end of each banana, pushing the stick halfway in, leaving the other end exposed to use as a handle. Place the bananas on the sheet pan and freeze one hour (freeze ahead of time).

    2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double-boiler or you may use a heat resistant bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally.

    3. Arrange the dipping decorations, such as crushed nuts, cookies, or coconut, on several plates. Working with one prepared banana at a time dip them in chocolate and coat completely. Roll the dipped banana in the desired decorations. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and return to the freezer.

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  • Once frozen, store the bananas in an airtight container.

  • Apple Dip

    • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened.

    • 1/2 C brown sugar.

    • 1 Tsp. vanilla extract.

  • Directions:

    1. Stir together cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is smooth.

    2. Dip slices of apples into dip, and enjoy the heavenly goodness.

  • Fruit Smorgasbord

  • Before your children come home, prepare a spread of fruits, especially some they haven’t tried. Fruits like, grapefruit, kiwi, and pomegranates are all great ideas. This gives your children an opportunity to try new foods while teaching them about the fruit's origin. You can also do this with vegetables.

  • Play Charades

  • Have your children think of five animals or people and write them on a piece of paper. Place the slips of paper into a bowl. Let each kid take a turn and act them out for the rest of the group. This challenges your children’s learning and helps them gain confidence by speaking and acting in front of groups.

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Rachel McClellan, is an experienced author. She has written several books. Her most recent book is Confessions of a Cereal Mother.

Website: http://www.rachelmcclellan.com

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