There are so many cool STEM activities you can organize by yourself to stay mentally stimulated no matter the time of day! With that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of fun things to do after school by yourself and fun after-school activities.
Discover fun after-school activities you can do by yourself for kids and teens
Enrichment activities help children learn and grow outside of the structure of classes and homework. These pastimes give students the chance to make, build, and learn without the pressure of exams and grades. Examples of amazing after-school hobbies include casual and organized sports, AI clubs, coding lessons, museum visits, music lessons, and book clubs.
1. DIY engineering
Designed by the Gelfand Center, the Bridge Building Challenge challenges students with engineering a functional, load-bearing bridge. Use a range of materials – spaghetti noodles, popsicle sticks, twigs, LEGO, toothpicks, gumdrops, etc. and challenge kids to discover which materials and designs bear the most weight. Remember to document and photograph your build before testing, since they might fall apart as you increase the load. Remember also that if you use marshmallows or gumdrops, try not to eat your building materials!
2. Game building club
Let's create fun games together! Make a new project each week from a spinning dart game to a soccer pong game and much more. Join along in this live video club series as an expert guides a small group of students through a different project from start to finish in a 50-minute session each week. There's always an expert on hand to answer any questions live over video, so your student can figure things out without getting stuck.
3. Cloud in a jar
The Gift of Curiosity website teaches about water cycles using this super simple project to study condensation, evaporation, and states of matter. Fill a glass jar with hot water. Swirl it around to heat the glass. Then cover the top of the jar and place several ice cubes on top of the lid, and let it alone for about twenty seconds. Then take off the cover and spray hairspray into the jar. When you replace the lid, watch the clouds form!
4. Fibonacci numbers
Fibonacci numbers, otherwise known as fractals, are mathematical patterns of self-similarity found often in natural phenomena like the branching of leaves, veins, flowers, and rivers, as well as in swirling patterns such as hurricanes and cyclones. They are fascinating to observe! While not normally taught in lower grades, even elementary school-aged children can understand them through observation. Counting the number of spirals in the yellow center of a daisy, for example, or the spirals in a pinecone are good ways to explain them. Mensa for Kids has more ideas.
5. Oil spill cleanup
This activity teaches how oil spills impact the environment and how chemical and environmental engineers play a role. Use trays filled with a few inches of water, feathers, straws, cotton balls and sponges. Add some oil. Students can devise strategies to get oil off a feather and other “wildlife” in their “ocean.” Read more in this post by the Coalition for Science After School.
6. Start a garden
Gardening is a great way to learn about food, nutrition, soil, and weather. Children can easily learn about planting times, watering schedules, and saving seeds, while also gaining greater autonomy and outdoor time, as well as contributing to the family with meaningful work, something that gives confidence and a sense of accomplishment. The patience required for gardening is a skill in itself that teaches delaying gratification. There’s something for everyone: grow flowers, herbs, or vegetables. There’s nothing like fresh strawberries or tomatoes straight from the summer garden! If you have the space, consider making a small plot in the yard and start with something simple like marigolds, radishes, and tomatoes. Even kids living in high-rise apartments or a low-light area can grow certain plants in containers on a balcony.
7. Beginner-friendly coding class
Scratch Ninja teaches children the fundamentals of coding such as loops, conditionals, functions, and variables. Using inquiry-based learning, instructors guide students through the creation, design, and testing programs in this beginner friendly class. Children can design their own games and animations, while mastering problem solving skills in this exciting program designed by pros from Google and Stanford. You can even take the first session for free!
8. NASA STEM Club
Discover the wonder of deep space with fun weekly projects. From Mars and the moon, to black holes and aliens, space enraptures kids and adults alike. Stargazing is a source of powerful dreams. In this series of live online sessions, your kids will learn a wide range of topics related to astrophysics, NASA, and engineering. In each session, they will learn new facts about outer space, build small projects, and play games to reinforce the lessons.
9. Canva for kids
Does your child love art, painting, and drawing? This project allows students to create beautiful digital cards, posters, slides or videos for their school projects using Canva - a powerful graphic design platform with a user-friendly interface. Did we mention the Canva is free? This exciting online live course explores examples of great graphic design and visual storytelling.
10. Book club for kids
This podcast is aimed at kids that love reading. Through a variety of activities and interesting people within the podcast, kids can learn about the elements of storytelling while developing critical reading and analytical skills. With more than 100 free episodes there’s something for all book-loving children and families to enjoy!
11. Digital art club
In this online art club, kids learn how to create a different art project in each session. For example, they might learn the architectural design of medieval castles and design their own, or even create their own character and comic. In each of these hands-on activities, students are guided through understanding artistic elements in life such as patterns and symmetry, exploring emotions and feelings, and learning about art basics such as color palettes.
12. Kids do ecology
All children can understand the importance of ecology and environmental protection. By learning about biomes, marine mammals, reptiles, and data science, kids can even create their own classroom experiments on this interactive website. It is also available in Español.
From imaginary rainforests to electricity experiments, Kids.gov has plenty of resources for a rainy day. Watch an animation on thunderstorms or take a virtual field trip to the National Zoo.
14. The Kids’ Science Challenge
This website is chock full of cool after-school activities. KSC hosts a free, nationwide science competition for students in grades three to six as well as informal activities like hands-on science experiments, games, cool videos, and scavenger hunts. Or check out more fun STEM competitions.
15. NASA Kids’ Club and Space Place
NASA Kids’ Club is the perfect place for kids to have fun while learning about outer space. You can use your science and math skills to explore Mars, construct a fleet of rockets or search for NASA spinoffs in your garage. At NASA Space Place, kids build their own spacecraft, play space volcanoes or browse through a gallery of sun images to explore the galaxy and the limits of the universe.
16. National Geographic Kids
At National Geographic Kids you can vote in polls, (which is cuter: the pufferfish or the clown fish?), take part in egg-speriments, watch geographic videos, play puzzles and learn amazing facts about the cultures and customs of people around the world.
17. Python for AI
Python is a high-level coding language with many applications. Netflix and Google use this coding language extensively in their products and it has become an industry standard for data-science and AI projects around the world. Throughout the course, students learn the basics of Python and how it can be applied to AI. You can even get started with a free Python class session.
18. PBS Kids
This online platform has a huge range of activities for kids after school. As a leader of informal childhood education for more than half a century, PBS has some of the most engaging and fun content around for kids of all ages. In Cyberchase, Jackie, Matt and Inez use math to protect the digital universe from evil. Don’t worry: Cyberchase has lots of math games, videos and activities to aid you in your quest. For Dr. Seuss lovers, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! offers great Pre-K STEM games, activities and videos galore. Explore the biological world in Lifeboat to Mars with this free online game. In one simulation (Microland) you control hungry microbes. In another (Ecoland), you have to balance out the space station’s ecosystem.
19. Junior Hackers
Learn all about computer security and how to use the internet safely. This will be the most exciting cybersecurity class for kids with real-world applications, delivered through a combination of project and inquiry-based learning. You'll enjoy fun videos, games, and security tools, as well as build projects of your own.
20. Tech Expert Events
These free events offer an exciting window into the lives of tech experts from all over the world! Topics cover everything from filmmaking, Minecraft, and AI. See what free events are upcoming, and register anytime. If you can't attend the live event, you’ll receive a link to download the recording to watch at your convenience.
21. AI Explorers
This free AI course shows kids how to use fun, innovative AI applications in a virtual classroom setting. Students learn about self-driving cars and the purpose of AI in the real world, while getting involved in hands-on activities and immersive discussions.
22. Weather Wiz Kids
At Weather Wiz Kids you will get to know meteorologist Crystal Wicker, who has designed a website explaining everything about the weather. Find fun facts, games, flashcards and photos, plus get answers to your meteorological questions.
23. Junior Robotics
In Junior Robotics, introduce your students to the fascinating world of robotics! In this live virtual class, your student will program a robot to move, draw, turn, and more, all guided by an experienced teacher. Don't worry, no physical robot is needed.
24. Minecraft Modding Quest
Chances are your child loves playing Minecraft! It’s the best selling video game ever, and it’s super fun. But aside from that, it is an amazing learning tool, showcased in Create & Learn’s Minecraft Modding Quest. In this online class, students can actually code their own Minecraft games. Students learn the basics of coding through solving puzzles. Once they have mastered the coding concepts, children start designing their own games.
25. Roblox Coding
Aside from Minecraft, Roblox is one of the most popular online activities with kids today! Through a combination of design and coding, this Roblox course will teach your child to create their own games using a 3D design tool and coding the interactions with the world. Coding is done via Lua, a programming language that is intuitive and easy to use. There's also a free Roblox class if you want to give it a try.
Try after-school activities you can do by yourself
As you can see, there are tons of options out there for fun after school activities that kids can do by themselves. Whether or not they have tried coding before, many kids will be surprised and excited to design and execute their own programs while experimenting with important STEM concepts. These activities can be done alone or with a friend, and they are sure to make your summer time both fun and educational. If you would like to read more, check out some creative STEM spring activities and indoor activities for kids.
Written by Bryan Gordon, a Create & Learn instructor. After ten years of working as an English teacher, Bryan began studying Math and Computer Science over the past few years. Aside from writing and teaching, he likes cooking, gardening, playing guitar, and hanging out with his cats, Baguette and Wally.