Ceramics Club

ceramicsFor creative youngsters Ceramics Club is sure to be a hit! I have found that girls and boys alike tend to enjoy the hands-on aspect of this club!

Club Planning Pro-Tip: With a club like Ceramics Club, things can get pretty pricey. This is where getting creative comes in handy! If you are hosting a 4-6 week club, plan to have one to two big projects and fill in other hands-on projects that offer a similar type of sensory experiences!

Club main project:

WEEK 1: Purchase Clay and have children sculpt their own figurines, bowls, cups, etc. Allow to dry.

You can also visit a local craft store or Oriental Trading Company online and find ceramic figurines for each child to paint.

WEEK 2: Have each child paint their figurine.

WEEK 3: Host an art gallery for each child to display their work and invite family members and other club participants to check it out!

Filler week activity ideas:

Play with modeling clay, floam, or playdoh.

Make homemade play dough or salt dough.

Teach fun history facts about ancient pottery.

Lego Quest – The Ultimate Lego Club!

legosHave you heard of lego quest? If not I highly suggest you check out this blog: http://legoquestkids.blogspot.com/

Do you have access to legos in your after school program? If so, that’s all you need to host the ultimate lego club! I love the way it challenges children to be creative and really think outside the box when making their creations! I have to admit, I did hear a few moans and groans to start off (They preferred coming up with their own projects at first!) … But once they got into the challenges, it was a hit!!

I do like to offer incentives for attendance, and kept track of points for all people who attended and attempted to create the project of the week!

FREE PRINTABLE: Lego Club Points Tracker


Book Club Series: Picture Book Spotlight – 99 Monkeys on a Bus!

Did you know I like to write children’s books? My picture book, 99 Monkeys on a Bus, picture book was published by Guardian Angel Publishing last year! Even before that time, I have loved leading book clubs in the after school setting! I love sharing the joys of reading with children, while also planning fun activities around them. I have also had great success hosting a “Young Writer’s Club,” teaching children the ins and outs of writing their own picture book! (Actually – that’s how I got started myself! But, more details of that club and story in another post!)

I’m planning to share reviews of picture books, chapter books, and middle grade fiction in my book club series so as to provide activities for a K-6th program!

I always like to start off reading our inspiration book! You can find 99 Monkeys on a Bus here at Barnes and Noble online! You can also download a digital copy here!

I always like to show children the structure of the book and who wrote and illustrated it. After the reading I ask for questions, and then ask for my own to check for comprehension. I then like to provide an art, science, or writing activity that goes along with our them.

Here is one I like in particular for 99 Monkeys on a Bus. These Monkey paper bag puppets are super cute. You can also allow the children to choose a name for their monkey and pick a number for them between 1-99. The perfect story tie in!

Organizing your After School Environment

organizationEvery center is going to have a different set up, and some may be large others much smaller, but one thing ever center needs is organization. Here are my top 5 tips that should be helpful no matter the size of your group!

  1. Have a master binder for staff with page protectors, and print out a daily/weekly/monthly calendar outlining all activities including but not limited to (daily schedules, weekly activity/lesson plans, snack calendars, and clubs.) I will have FREE printables for each of these available soon. Having a master plan book that everyone can access will ensure everyone is on the same page.
  2. Evaluate your space and organize according to noise level. For instance, a book corner, art area, and Homework zone can be in close proximity while a playhouse, board game, dramatic play, toys, or game zone should be grouped further away. Also, color coding activities with stickers or bins can help children to put items away more easily.
  3. Provide a pleasant parent corner, preferably near more quiet activities for parents to grab newsletters, paperwork, and sign their child in and out.
  4. Designate a space for personal belongings and artwork. These items can easily clutter up your space or become a tripping hazard. Defining zones for them will be helpful in creating order in your environment.
  5. Have clearly defined centers with matching bulletin boards. You can keep it simple – perhaps an art board, Activities board, and rules/expectations.

Have fun creating your space! If you ever wish to, send me a photo! I’d love to see your spaces!



Fun Food Crafts that are healthy too!

Children love to manipulate and handle food. This is wonderful as it provides great sensory play and even helps build math skills. And of course they love to eat it too! Here are some fun ideas for food crafts that are healthy. Bonus: Easy clean up and prep make it easy to do these in the after school setting!

Turkey snacks

Angry Birds Bites

Butterfly Snacks

Featured Club: Thinking Skills Club

rubiksHello everyone! I’m always scouring the internet looking for innovative, new club ideas! Well this time, Mitch, from Thinking Skills Club found me.



On Thinking Skills Club:

“A teacher-led club where students play online games, develop cognitive skills and have fun.”

Participants will play games that help develop their cognitive skills. They can track their progress and earn incentives along the way including a graduation certificate and t-shirt. Incentives encourage participation and allow children to feel ownership in the program.

If you join or start a club in the summer, membership is free. They also have specials for the fall under their members area.

I tested out a problem solving game called “That Gravity Game.” It was both kid-appealing and educational. What child wouldn’t love navigating a mutant marshmallow man around a a maze? The added challenge is – how does gravity come into play. What changes must you make to navigate your marshmallow man to the end of the maze.

This was just a snippet of what Thinking Skills Club has to offer. If your looking for something new and challenging for the children in your program, I recommend checking this club out.

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