The best after school activities for children

best after school activities

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

You've probably spent a lot of time thinking about all the back to school essentials that your child needs for school, but have you thought about after school activities to help keep them entertained when they get home from a school day?

When your child comes bouncing through the door with their school uniform covered in pen or mud from playing outside, you know they're going to be too excited to sit still while you prepare their tea. With after-school activities however, you can keep your child entertained and meet some sensory needs.

Our favourite after school activities shortlist 2023:

Best balancing board after-school activities: Size M Balance and Motor Skills Board - Buy here at Decathlon.
Best screen-free after-school activities: Yoto Player: Buy here at Yoto.
Best tilt and spin: Kids Mini Top: Buy here at The Range.
Best multisensory: Number BubbleBrix: Buy here at Learning Resource Centre.

You can break up after school hours between watching their favourite show on TV with some educational games, puzzles and sensory input activities. So when you're shopping for all your back-to-school supplies, remember to shop for some of our back-to-school activities.

Best after-school activities 3D challenge

A fun yet challenging way to stimulate your child's concentration, problem solving skills and cognitive skills, the Plug and Play Ball provides a lot of fun. With seven puzzle pieces, your child has to put the ball back together by simply plugging the pieces together. It's a great 3D challenge toy that also doubles as a fidget toy.

Pros

  • Stimulates cognitive skills, concentration and problem solving skills
  • Doubles as a fidget toy

Cons

  • Not suitable for young children due to small parts
Suitable for:6+ years
  • Ball-shaped frame
  • Seven puzzle pieces

Best after-school activities balance board

While this can't be left outside, it's a great toy to let your child play with in the garden! They can use it as a bridge, a mini slide and can even practise their balancing skills. They can even relax on it with their teddies. The Size M Balance and Motor Skills Board is such a simple toy, but the play possibilities are endless.

Our writer said: "My 6-year-old loves the balance board. He uses it to stand and rock on, as a bridge for his cars and even to sit on to play games. He sits and rocks himself, and I've noticed that it really helps him release some of his energy as he likes to move around, so for him to sit and rock it's a really great support."

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Help psychomotor development

Cons

  • Can't be left outside
Dimensions:93 x 30 x 19cm
Suitable for:1 to 6 years
  • Easy to use
  • Help psychomotor development

Best after school activities LEGO

Best after school activities LEGO Moana
Price: $44.52
Alternative retailers
Walmart$28.00View offer
Target$28.49View offer
Kohl's$34.99View offer
Best Buy$34.99View offer

This LEGO Moana's Wayfinding Boat set will not only look great on display in your child's room once built, but it's great to play with and provides so much entertainment when building. It has 321 pieces and even comes with two mini figures and a dolphin.

Our writer said: "my children love LEGO and I find it helps to keep them entertained and their mind and hands busy. This LEGO Moana was simple to build, but it provided a good hours worth of concentration which was a great way to unwind after a busy day and helped to pass time between getting home and having tea."

Pros

  • Helps concentration and fine motor skills
  • Great to build and play with

Cons

  • Keep out of reach of small children
Dimensions
Suitable for:6+ years
  • 321 pieces

Best after-school activities

Best after school activities Sensory Swing
Price: £23.87 (was £28.80)

www.fruugo.co.uk

A sensory swing is a great way for children of any age to have sensory input after a long day at school or nursery. They can swing, twist or even lay reading in this hammock-like swing. You can have it indoors or outdoors, and it will last years as it's suitable for weights up to 900kg.

Pros

  • Durable and fun
  • Enhances balance and spatial orientation

Cons

  • No onsite reviews
Dimensions:150 x 280cm / 59 x 110cm
Suitable for:Up to 900kg
  • Made with nylon material
  • Hooks to install

Best screen-free after-school activities

The Yoto Player is designed for all ages and can be used by parents through the app for babies and toddlers or by toddlers and older kids themselves. The cards play stories, games and even music, and you can even create a night time routine with the nightlight, and have an alarm for the morning.

Our writer said: "The Yoto Player was really easy to set up, and I love that I can create a routine for my son on it, which will be really handy for when going back to school. It's easy to use the cards and it's handy to download them onto the app too. He's enjoyed sitting and listening to the stories and educational cards through the headphones when he's wanted 5 minutes peace."

Read our full Yoto Player review.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Educational and fun

Cons

  • Cards and accessories sold separately
Dimensions:11cm
Suitable for:3 to 12 years
  • Ok-to-wake and night light
  • Room thermometer
  • 24 hours of play per charge
  • Independent and ad-free listening

Best spatial awareness after school activities

A game that can be played independently or with an adult, Finding Your Bearings In Space - The Garden game is an educational game that helps children to understand spatial awareness. Recreate the scenes from the card and learn the vocabulary as they play, with three difficulty levels.

Pros

  • Three difficulty levels
  • Promotes spatial awareness
  • Helps with vocabulary

Cons

  • No onsite reviews
Dimensions:22 x 7.7 x 1.2cm
Suitable for:3+ years
  • 12 x double sided model cards
  • 8 x wooden creatures and natural elements

Best tilt and spin after-school activities

The Kids Mini Top lets children tilt, spin and rock with the help of an adult or on their own. It can have a calming and soothing effect and even helps with children's balance. It's a great outlet for them to have after school, and they can even sit in it with their teddies watching a show.

Pros

  • Helps to soothe and calm
  • Helps to develop balance skills too

Cons

  • No onsite reviews
Dimensions:68 x 68 x 26.5cm
Suitable for:1 - 4 years
  • Helps to calm
  • Rocks, tilts and spins

Best climbing frame after school activities

Best after school activities Plum Discovery Play Centre
Price: £457.99 (was £569.99)

www.very.co.uk

Children always ask to go to the park, so rather than having to take a walk, why not have one in your garden to enjoy after school? The Plum Discovery Play Centre provides hours of fun, with a pail and pulling rope for water, easy clean painting screen, climbing ladder and slide.

One review said: "I bought this product a month ago and me and the kids are made up with it. Really easy to follow instructions and very sturdy structure, can't get the kids off it come bedtime"

Pros

  • Hours of fun
  • Lots of features to help keep engagement

Cons

  • Might be too big for some gardens
Dimensions:240 x 270 x 193cm
Suitable for:3+ years
  • Wave slide
  • Ladder
  • Climbing ramp
  • Platform
  • Bamboo wind chime

Best multisensory after school activities

The Number BubbleBrix doubles up as a bubble popper fidget toy and a way to help children build maths skills. They can press the bricks until it pops and repeat the number. The blocks interlink too so that you can create maths equations for them to solve. It also comes with a handy storage bucket.

Pros

  • Multisensory toy
  • Helps build early maths skills

Cons

  • No onsite reviews
Suitable for:3+ years
  • 42 x number bricks
  • 1 x storage bucket

Best after-school activities affirmation cards

It's important to always check in with your child, and if they don't like answering too many questions about their day at school, these Tales of Me Affirmation Cards are a great way to connect with your child after school, while also encouraging them to have a positive relationship with themselves, friends and their attitude to learning. Use them on a daily basis to help them become a part of their subconscious belief system as they navigate school life.

One review said: "Thank you so much for creating beautiful and positive cards! In the time that we are living I think it is imperative to teach our children about love, compassion, joy, happiness and hope. I think they have had a tough time the past 2 years and now, we as parents, need to work harder to help them to see a brighter future"

Pros

  • Helps children build a positive relationship with themselves
  • Great way to connect

Cons

  • You might have to simplify some for young children
Dimensions14.8 x 10.5cm
  • 24 x double sided cards

Best maths after-school activities

Making maths fun, the Sum Swamp board game helps children to practise their addition and subtraction skills in order to win the game. Suitable for two to four players, simply roll the dice and solve the problem to move the marker forward.

Pros

  • Helps with math fluency
  • Suitable for two to four players

Cons

  • Younger children might need some support with the game
Dimensions:72 x 24cm
Suitable for:5+ years
  • Suitable for 2 to 4 players
  • 1 x game board
  • 4 x game markers
  • 2 x number dice

Best after-school activities

With two ways to play, the Janod - Algorithms Frog Game helps to teach your child about different colours and how to identify a logical sequence. There are two fun ways to play, with independent learning following card sequences or with an adult.

Pros

  • Encourages logical thinking
  • Two ways to play

Cons

  • No onsite reviews
Dimensions:21 x 5 x 14cm
Suitable for:3+ years
  • 1 x wooden frog
  • Interlocking frog tongue pieces
  • 36 x wooden fly discs
  • 12 x template cards

Best after-school activities tablet

Designed with children in mind, thanks to the bump-proof case, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet is very easy for young children to use. It offers a range of free apps and helps to prevent any potential (and often unwanted) in-app purchases without parents' permission. It also has a 2-year guarantee. It's great for keeping little ones entertained after school, through education apps or watching their favourite shows.

Our mum tester, Paige, said: " I would recommend this product for a mother’s sanity. That five minutes knowing your child is safe, happy and entertained puts so much ease on a parents mind, all while you're having a break. They have some amazing learning apps and lots of entertainment for the children. The children absolutely love it."

Read our full Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet review.

Pros

  • Comes with sturdy case
  • Adjustable age filters
  • Three colours to choose from
  • Suitable for ages 3–7

Cons

  • Sometimes a little slow
Display:8"HD
Screen resolution:1280 x 800
Storage:32 GB
Battery life:Up to 13 hours
Guarantee:2-years
  • Kid-proof case
  • Easy-to-use parent dashboard
  • Free 1-year Amazon kids subscription

Best after school activities Tonies figure

If you haven't got a Tonies Box already, you really need one! They're easy to use and with your childs favourite character such as the Tonies Frozen Elsa Figure, they can listen to the story when they get home from school to help reduce screen-time, and they can even enjoy singing along to their favourite songs.

Our writer said: "The Tonies figure is easy to use and it plays all the favourite Disney songs from the Frozen movie. My kids love singing and dancing along, and have even enjoyed listening to the film while playing with their toys, rather than sitting and watching a screen."

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Can play with the character figure

Cons

  • Can't play the story first without skipping the songs
Dimensions:19.8 x 10.9 x 2.27cm
Suitable:3+ years

What are the different kinds of after-school activities?

There are plenty of different after-school activities for your child to do and they all meet different physical and sensory needs.

Physical activities: these are activities that involve using energy. Your child has spent their day learning, following rules and concentrating. They have had a break and lunchtime, but it's not usually enough physical activity to release built-up energy. This can involve testing their balance skills or motor needs and spacial awareness.

Educational activities: these can also be fun, your child can continue to use their brain with games to help concentration and problem-solving.

Mindful and connecting activities: practise mindfulness with your child through reading books, practising yoga or even colouring together.

Does my child really need them?

If your child comes directly home after school, there can be an awkward limbo period between arriving home and having tea and even just waiting for bedtime. While TV or playing games on a tablet can be easy, activities can be a lot more stimulating for their brain and actually help meet different sensory needs after a full day of school.

Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.

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