5 Easy Ways to Keep Them Sharp After School (& On Weekends!)

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For curious kids, the end of the school day doesn’t mean learning is over. Feed those hungry minds with a few simple after-school games and activities that help enhance hand-eye coordination, concentration and creative problem-solving. They take just minutes to set up and have the added bonus of being totally fun. Scroll down for a few ideas.

photo credit: amanda timpton via flickr

1. Pinecone Weather Experiment

This one has the added bonus of getting them outside for materials walk! It’s pretty simple, too. Just gather a few pinecones and set them out in the evening. Have the kids observe the pinecones, and guess if they will look the same or different in the morning. Do they think cool air will affect them? What about humidity? Then check them in the morning. What’s happening? Pinecones open and close based on the humidity of the air. When the air is drier, they open more so the seeds can travel away on the wind. Check out this pinecone weather experiment on Science-Sparks. For even more, super-easy scientific fun, check out our 15 sidewalk science ideas you can do today.

photo: No Time for Flashcards

2. Shoot & Add Nerf Gun Math

Did someone say nerf guns and water play? This idea from No Time for Flashcards is the perfect combo of kinesthetic activity and learning, and you can tailor it to your kid’s skill levels. Get all the info here. And for even more active math games, check out our favorite dozen here.

photo: newkidscenter.com 

3. Memory Games: What’s Missing?

DIY a little memory by adding objects to a tray and giving kids a few seconds to study the objects, like the one pictured here fromnewkidscenter.com. Have them go in the other room or close their eyes while you remove one object, then give them 10 seconds to figure out what object is missing. You can add as many items as the drawer holds or keep it simple with 5 or 6. If memory is your game, be sure to peruse our collection of memory-themed ideas to keep those sparks flying.

 photo: Peter Roberts via flickr

4. Build a House of Cards

This one works on fine motor skills, patience and can be a great use for that deck of cards where a few are “somehow” missing. You’ll want to start on flat surface like a table or hardwood floors. If you need a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it, find one here. You gently place and lean cards against each other until the tower is complete. For more instant-entertainment with 3 props or less, visit this link.

5. Create a Color Wheel

Sharpen their right brains, too, by teaching kiddos about the color wheel, spectrum and primary colors. It won’t take long for them to be mixing up their own shades of green or purple when they memorize the formula. A color wheel helps kids to learn about contrasting colors and opposites, too. Color theory at your kitchen table! Get the complete how-to here.

How do you keep those little minds active? Tell us your favorite easy activity in a comment below! 

—Amber Guetebier