Whether in a formal after school program or simply a gathering of neighborhood kids, activities and games provide structure during the time between school and dinner. These games get kids active and keep them out of trouble. When choosing activities, keep in mind the age and abilities of the kids. Plan a variety of activities to keep the group interested.
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This activity works either indoors or outside, but you'll want to do it inside if it's windy. Each child builds a tower out of boxes, cans and other recyclable materials. Draw a circle about 5 feet in diameter around each tower with sidewalk chalk if you are outdoors. For indoor play, use a jump rope or other flexible object to create a circle around each tower. Each player has five foam balls and stands within the circle near her tower. At the whistle, players toss their balls at the other towers to knock them over. Players may also block incoming balls to prevent them from knocking over their own towers. The goal is to have the tallest standing tower at the end of a designated time period.
This game works best outdoors, but it can be played in a gym if necessary. Divide the kids into at least two groups. You can make more groups depending on how many kids are playing. Each group draws a map of the playground, gym or other area you're using. They create a specific path for another team to follow. The kids must write out directions to get the other team to the selected spot. For example, the directions might say to start at the slide, take 10 large steps west, take three baby steps southwest and walk 20 steps south. Another option is to indicate landmarks or give clues to direct the other players to the selected spot. The teams switch maps and directions. They must then follow the other team's directions.
The materials needed for this game are pennies and cups or other containers. Divide the kids into teams with at least five kids on each team. The players take turns placing a penny between their knees and walking to the cup without dropping the penny. They must then release the penny and make it land inside the cup without tipping it over. If successful, the player returns to the team, tags the next player and sits down. If not successful, he returns to the team and passes on the penny but must get back in line to try again. The goal is to be the first team to have everyone sitting.
Larger groups are ideal for this after school game. The leader calls out a number. The players get into groups with that number of players. For example, if the leader calls "4," the kids group together with only four players in each group. Any players who don't end up in a group sit out for the rest of the round. Continue calling out numbers until you are down to the last players.