A child’s day doesn’t end when the final school bell rings. In fact for many children it’s just beginning. Where to go for ideas? Oddly, pull from what your kids love most about school — and think outside the sandbox. From the physical, to the brain-challenging to the just plain fun, here are five after school activities that are sure to round out your child’s day.

  • 1

    Sports and Physical Activity

    After being cooped up all day, most kids need the opportunity to expel some of that pent-up physical energy. Whether it’s traditional team sports, non-competitive sports, or disciplines like martial arts or yoga, children of all interests can find a physical activity that suits them. Your local YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs (and similar organizations) will point you in the right direction. TIP: Ask about the opportunity to sample activities. Many organizations will allow your child to have one free class/session.

    Flickr, StevenDePolo
  • 2


    Paint is great but your child doesn’t need expensive art supplies to begin his or her life as an artist. Collage, found object art (look in your recycling bin) and crafting are just a few of the art styles your child can try out with little more than some glue and scrap paper. EnchantedLearning.com, while it may look like it's from 1997, is an incredibly robust website that shows about 1000 things to do with a single piece of paper.

    Flickr, Avilasal
  • 3


    It’s never too early to teach your children how good it can feel to give of themselves. From animal shelters, to community gardens, to homes for the elderly, volunteering opportunities abound for children of all ages. Check with a school administrator for opportunities in your area, or just walk right in and say, “How can we help?”

    Woodstock Animal Sanctuary
  • 4


    Is there a Bieber-to-be in your household? Well, slow down there. The key to getting your child interested in music is simplicity. Don't go out and buy a guitar. Instead, start with a ukulele. Mahalo makes an inexpensive version of the guitar-alternative, and it's relatively easy to learn! In fact, get a few — and the whole family can learn together.

  • 5


    Your first reaction to enlisting the help of the kids to make dinner might be “Are you kidding? They'll burn the house down!” but your little ones might just take to certain tasks. Stick to the basics that are easy to complete: peeling vegetables with a safety peeler, washing lettuce with a salad spinner, stirring together ingredients. It's very possible that the vegetables they've shunned might become a possibility if they are involved in the prep work. Check out sites like Kids in the Kitchen and All Recipes for recipes that are both easy to make, and kids will like.

    Flickr, WoodleyWonderWorks