That’s what happened to me on Easter 2007. I was at a Family Easter Party and witnessed a family tradition that intrigued me. We had just finished eating some appetizers when everyone started grabbing some colored Easter eggs (the hard-boiled kind not the plastic variety.) The next thing I knew people were pairing themselves up and challenging their partner to an “Egg War.”
Earth Day is fast approaching. What better time is there to lead an Eco-Friendly Club chockfull of learning, hands-in and STEM based activities? You have quite an opportunity here to build children’s awareness of the importance of taking care of our friend the Earth which we all call home and how vital it is that we take care of it!
Week 1: Start a Recycling Project and have a Clean up the Campus Day
Take time to explain what recycling is (re-using materials rather than throwing them away in a landfill) and what materials can and cannot be recycled (aluminum, glass, plastic, etc.) Prior to starting your project find a local recycling center that will reimburse you for any recycled materials you bring in and what items they take. Give the children gloves & bags to help clean up the campus. Sort recyclables into the recycling bins you have provided. Another special bonus is that once you have completed your recycling project your group will have earned a little extra spending $money$. You can have the children create a goal for something they would like to obtain for your center such as an outdoor toy or game or have them help choose a charity to donate the funds to. TIP: Large sturdy Rubbermaid containers or trash cans can be used/labeled as your recycling bins.
Week 2: Craft Activity ~ Grocery Bags for Earth Day
Something I have done with the children for the past several years is to have the children participate in making Grocery Bags for Earth Day. The purpose is two-fold. 1) To promote Earth Day Awareness to the local community. 2) To have to children create a usable craft with a message that makes them feel like they are contributing to taking care of the Earth. A few days before Earth Day you can ask a manager at a local grocery store to “borrow” grocery bags. After the children have completed their designs you can return them and ask that they be distributed on Earth Day. TIP: Make sure children do not include any personal information/names on their bags since they will be distributed at a local grocery store.
You can visit http://www.earthdaybags.org/ for more information about to get an Earth Day grocery bags program started at your school/program.
Week 3: Plant a Vegetable Garden
Even if you don’t have a lot of space planting a vegetable garden is still possible and can be a very rewarding experience for children. It also teaches them to appreciate nature from all stages: seed to vegetable.
Some veggies you can include in small planter boxes include: green onions, radishes, tomatoes (such as small fry or patio), and green beans.
1) Help the children create colorful labels for your veggies.
2) Use a nutrient rich soil such as Miracle Grow to plant your seeds. Make sure to provide adequate soil and space for the seeds.
3) Assign a watering schedule. It is very easy for kids to over water or under water the plants, assigning a schedule and letting the kids know the importance of sticking to it (to keep plants healthy and growing) is essential.
4) Make sure to place your planters in an area with at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Week 4: Solar Pizza Ovens and Our Incredible Earth Awards:
1) This week is all about celebrating the journey the children have made in Incredible Earth Club. You can challenge them to start thinking of ways they can conserve and take care of the Earth in their daily lives. For instance when using paper to draw, using both sides of the paper and not wasting it or placing objects in a recycling bin instead of the trash. Help them to know that even the little things they do can make a difference.
2) You can continue your celebration by warming up a yummy treat in your own homemade solar pizza oven. Cooking foods in it is not recommended but heating up pre-made cookies using the suns rays can feel like eating a freshly baked cookie from the oven!
3) As far as a giveaway or prize for the participants of Our Incredible Earth Club I am inclined to stay away from paper rewards as it doesn’t really keep in theme of the club nor do justice to it. But I have used a fun giveaway made from recycled newspapers that the children just love called ~ SMENCILS! They are scented pencils, and the children really enjoy them.
Taking care of our Earth and environment around us is so vital. If we can help explain that to our youth in a fun and exciting way I think it could do wonders! Do you have any ideas about teaching Eco-friendly ideas to our youth today? Please share, I am eager to hear your ideas.
Have you ever read a cooking article in a magazine or book where it tells you to have “everyday pantry items available?” These pantry items can include things such as: salt, pepper, butter, etc. Having a good supply of basics on hand provides the foundation for many delicious recipes. You can apply the same idea to planning after school activities. Having a properly stocked craft cabinet will provide the foundation needed for an abundance of creative & engaging craft activities after school and save you the headache of starting from scratch each time you want to lead a project.
Items to include in your Everyday Craft supply regimen include:
Markers, crayons, colored pencils, oil pastels, pencils, rulers, white glue, glue sticks, craft sticks (regular and jumbo), white 8 x 11 paper, construction paper – assorted colors, google eyes, washable tempera paint, sequins, glitter, paintbrushes, pipe cleaners, pom poms, cotton balls, balloons, feathers, hole punch, paper plates, paper lunch bags, pony beads, thread, yarn, plastic bowls, and a glue gun.
Some other recommended items I find come in handy and are always kept in my bag of tricks include:
Glue dots – Readily available at Oriental Trading Company or Amazon. For those tricky craft projects where glue and glues sticks just won’t quite cut it. Tip: Purchase glue dots that come in sheets rather than rolls as they are easier for children to use and they will waste less of them.
Vinyl table cloths – easy clean up after messy projects
Shaving cream – great for hands on manipulatives and craft projects
Fuse beads – can be used for a variety of craft projects and tied into a number of themed units. They can be purchased through S&S Worldwide or Michaels Craft Stores.
Happy Crafting everyone!
A colleague of mine recently introduced me to the Fancy Nancy series, by Jane O’Connor. The books are very well written and beautifully illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. The details on each of the pages are brilliant! They really capture the essence of what Fancy Nancy is all about. I also truly appreciate how Jane has incorporated learning and enhancing children’s vocabulary into something that is fun and exciting. Fun with Fancy Nancy Club is a club that can be fun, fulfilling, and educational all at the same time.
Week 1-Make your own Fancy Fabric Hair ribbons
Introduce the group to Fancy Nancy by reading her first book entitled, Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor
Fancy Fabric Hair ribbons
- Fun, yet sturdy fabrics
- sparkly pony beads
- hair ties
- fabric cutter
- yard stick
1) First have an adult use the fabric cutter and yard stick to cut equal sized strips (~ 1/2 in wide. and 6 in. long)
2) Next, have the children choose fabric strips and tie simple knots to create their hair ties. Every third or fourth tie they can add a bead to make it look more fancy if they so desire. The more strips they choose, the thicker and fuller their hair tie will become.
Week 2- Fancy Decoupage Trinket Boxes
Decoupage is a fancy way of saying the art of decorating with colored paper cut-outs, paint, & glitter. I think children will truly enjoy creating their own decoupage boxes
Expected Project Time: 45 minutes-1 hour
- Small boxes (1 per child)- small takeout boxes or margarine tubs would work well if you are on a $$, or you can purchases small cardboard boxes at a local craft store.
- White (or Clear) school glue & water
- Plastic bowls
- Magazines, Color Catalogs, & Newspapers
- Glitter Glue
1) Spread out magazines, catalogs, and newspapers. Encourage children to cut out shapes and objects that interest them.
2) Mix 1 part glue to 1 1/2 parts water in each plastic bowl to prepare a glue wash. Have children “paint-on” their cutouts in their desired pattern. TIP: Use only interior pages from the magazines, not covers as they will be too thick and won’t stick/lay flat against to boxes. The thinner the pages, the better ~ the more polished outcome there will be!
3) Allow the boxes to dry for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime you can check out FancyNancyBooks.com for some adorable printables the children can use while they are waiting. Use rhinestones & glitter glue to give their boxes an extra special fancy touch – Voila! Fancy Decoupage trinket boxes to hold all of their fancy objects! TIP: If boxes are still too wet after 10-15 minutes, skip this step and save it for the following day/week when the group next meets.
Week 3: Fancy Nancy Vocabulary Challenge
You can start this session by reading Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words, by Jane O’Connor. Then ,depending on the ages of children in the group you can have 2 different types of challenges or use a combination of both. Have small prizes on hand for everyone who participates in the challenge. Prize Ideas: Boa Pens, Rhinestone Rings, Glittery playdoh.
Ages 9-12: Fancy Word Spelling Bee
Gather a list of fancy words (ex. accesories, boas, parasol, etc.) and challenge children to take turns spelling the words.
Ages 5-9: Fancy Nancy Vocabulary Challenge
Using the list of fancy words you have compiled have the children guess what the definitions of each word are.
Week 4: Special Event: Fancy Nancy Tea Party & Dress Up Day
This week encourage the children to dress up for the tea party and wear pearls, fancy dresses, costume jewelry, tiaras, gloves, boas, etc. One of most festive parts of a tea party is serving dainty and delicate foods, most of them being “mini” versions of their normal selves. You can serve scones and tea sandwiches (sandwiches with filling such as egg salad, chicken salad or cucumber/cream cheese, crusts cut off, cut into 4 triangular shaped pieces), small fruits & veggies and tea of course.
You can also encourage the children to discuss their club experience ~ what did they learn? What was their favorite part of the club?
For more about information about Fancy Nancy, visit FancyNancybooks.com
Looking for more club ideas? Check the club themes page for some more exciting themed-units!
Kids of all ages really enjoy hands on experiences and adventures. What could be more adventurous than camping? Starting an After School Camping Club with your kids can be fun, easy and educational too!
Ages recommended: 5-12
Week 1: Design First Aid Kits-
Cotton balls, band aids, 1 pair of non-latex gloves per child, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, q-tips, gauze, permament markers, & washed out plastic margarine tubs.
Explain to the children the importance of carrying a first aid kit while Camping. Have each child decorate their own first aid kit and stuff them with all the first aid supplies.
Week 2: Make Trail Mix
Teach the children about what trail mix is and why it is a popular snack for camping. Trail Mix is a combination of dried fruit, grains, nuts, and sometimes 1 or two sweet items. It is often used as a healthy well-balanced snack for camping and hiking because it’s lightweight, nonperishable, & nutritious. It gives a quick energy boost of carbohydrates such as dried fruit or granola, and sustained (takes longer to burn off) energy from nuts. **Be careful with nuts here, many children have severe allergies to tree nuts or peanuts, be sure to make sure your children do not have nut allergies or that your school is a nut free zone.
Let the children have fun mixing & matching the various components of their trail mix. Have a vote, and choose the most popular from each category:
Dried fruits: pineapples, cranberries, raisins, apricots, apples, strawberries or blueberries, or bananas
Grain: Wheat, Corn or Rice Chex, Multi-grain cheerios, or Granola
Nuts: Peanuts, Macadamia Nuts, Almonds, Cashews
Sweet: chocolate chips, yogurt chips, chocolate covered raisins, M&M’s
Week 3: Make a Camping Scene Craft and Campfire Story Writing
Craft time!!! Try making this fun camping scene craft from Oriental Trading Company. Announce the “Campout!” for next week and allow kids to write campfire stories if they wish!
Week 4: Campout!
Make a pretend campfire rolled up brown construction paper logs & tissue paper flames. Ask in advance to see if any staff or parent if they have a tent they would be willing to let you borrow. If this is not possible, you can use sheets to cover tables to make a “tent.” Ideally try to find a grassy patch to host your campout, otherwise indoors is ok as well. Have the children bring flashlights, sleeping bags, and first aid kits and munch on the trail mix that they made. Invite the children to share the campfire stories they have written with the group. Play a few fun camping games such as “I Spy” or “Going on a Camping Trip” or sing a song the Bear Hunt Song.
Looking for more club ideas? Check the club themes page for some more exciting themed-units!
In the current economic climate many schools are being forced to cut out extracurricular programs from the school day such as art, music and to a lesser extent P.E. or Sports. This is devastating for our children as they are missing out on very valuable educational opportunities and access to gaining lifetime skills and appreciation for the Arts and physical fitness. Now granted, I don’t think we could ever expect to replace School Arts, Music or Physical Education programs in an after school setting. I remember going to visit the symphony with my 4th grade Music Teacher as one of my all time favorite memories from my elementary school years. I do think, however by offering after school programs, with an emphasis in Art, Music, and Physical Education that we can help to maintain that “spark” in children and open their eyes to what kinds of experiences are available to them!
Here are some ideas below about how to incorporate Art, Music & physical education in the after school setting. If you need more ideas about how to plan your club take a look at my article on planning your first after school club.
Music Club Ideas
1) Hand bell Club- You can purchase a set of hand bells for kids that are color coded for the different notes they play. I found a set at Lakeshore Learning. The set came with color coded cards to play different songs such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” You can start by teaching children about musical notes, note values, and scales and move on teaching how to play songs with the hand bells. As a special event at the end of the club event parents and friends to a Hand bell recital.
2) Karaoke Club- If you have a karaoke machine, or even just a boom box and microphone you can host a karaoke club. The children can practice, and you can hold a concert for them at the end of the club session.
3) Music Appreciation Club-Teach children to appreciate music. This can be accomplished in many ways. You can teach the kids to identify some classical music and then play a game of “Name that Tune.” They can listen to various styles of music and paint or draw about how it makes them feel. You can teach them about rhythm and have them clap or dance to different beats. Also, if you have access to a musical instrument set you can teach them to identify various instruments by sight and sound, and have children take turns playing the instruments.
Art Club Ideas
Teach children about various artists biographies and allow them to create art based on their styles. Make sure to allow for some time for children to create artwork base on their own artistic styles. At the end of the club hold an art gallery to showcase the children’s artwork.
Examples of artists you can showcase:
- Charles Schulz- kids can create their own comic strips inspired by “Peanuts”
- Georgia O’Keefe- flower paintings
- George Seurat-Kids can create pictures using pointillism or images that look completely whole but looking more closely are created with series of dots instead of connected lines.
Sports Club Ideas
Some Sports Club would benefit from having a great Coach. Talk with your parents/staff to see if anyone may be interested in coaching a sports club once a week or even once a month. If they are not available for a long term commitment perhaps you can have them come for the last (special event) session to perform a Demo or be a Guest Speaker.
1) Jogging Club- You can teach the importance of stretching and warming up. As a special event you can hold a jog-a-thon, and let the children help choose a great cause to earn funds for.
2) Basketball Club
3) Football Club
4) “Yoga for Kids” Club- Many DVD’s or cards are available that teach fun yoga moves to kids
5) Dance Club
The Harry Potter series has become very popular with my older students aged 9-12. It is great to see them get excited about reading. Here is a fun way to get kids involved in an after school club inspired by Harry Potter
Week 1- Make your own wizard wand
- 9 x 12 white, brown, tan, and grey construction paper
- Glue gun (adult use only)
- Brown and black tempera paint
- Gold and silver felt pens
- Scotch Tape
1) Have the children choose their wand color. Next have the children roll wands hot dog style, so that one end is wider than the other, and use scotch tape to hold it together.
2) Next a staff person will glue their edges shut, and children can choose to paint their wands with brown or black paint.
3) Allow wands to dry a few minutes and add hot glue “veins.” Once these are dry the children can use gold or silver felt pens to color their “veins.” Once completed encourage the children to name their wands and write a short story about the details of their wand.
Week 2- Hogwarts House Ties
Materials Needed: hole punch, yarn, markers, scissors, and template from Activity Village.
Hogwarts has four houses: Gryffindor (red and gold), Hufflepuff (yellow and black), Ravenclaw (blue and bronze), and Slytherin (green and silver). Have the children choose the house they most identify with and create their own House ties.
Week 3: Bertie Bott’s Jellybean Taste Off
Jelly Belly used to carry the Bertie Bott’s every flavor beans, as you saw in the Harry Potter movies. These have been discontinued. You can however still get a similar product called “Beanboozled” with flavors such as canned dog food, rotten eggs, pencil shavings, and skunk spray. Have a challenge to see which jelly beans kids will eat and give awards for everyone who tried the “Every Flavored Beans”
Week 4: Have a Harry Potter Read-a-thon and Pajama Day
Encourage everyone to bring their favorite Harry Potter book; if possible have a few available for kids who don’t own the books. Serve popcorn and have kids brings their pj’s, blankets, & pillows and have a read-a-thon!
Looking for more club ideas? Check the club themes page for some more exciting themed-units!