After-school facilitators face the challenge of keeping children engaged after a long day of school. Though students might be tired, facilitators can create basic themes that students are likely to find interesting. In addition, including competitions and food are likely to keep students going. These themes can be modified to fit different after-school care situations.
A Dr. Suess-themed week allows students to explore Dr. Suess' books. This theme is appropriate for March, as it's also Dr. Suess' birthday month. At the beginning of the week, every student can create a red and white "Cat in the Hat" hat. Gather enough lunch paper bags for each student, and have them color red and white stripes on the bag. Adults can punch two holes at the top of the bag and thread yarn through the bag to create straps. Place the bag upside down on the child's head and tie it as tight as needed with the straps. Each day could celebrate a new book. After reading the day's selected book, the group should have an appropriate craft or activity. For instance, after reading the "ABC" book, children can divide into groups and create posters for the different letters of the alphabet and draw things that start with that letter. Suessville, a Dr. Suess activity webpage by Random House Publishing, suggests doing a Simon Says "Cat in the Hat" activity. Have one student be "it." He should be Simon; however, instead of saying "Simon says," he can say, "The cat in the hat says."
Students sometimes get stir-crazy in the winter, so have a week devoted to winter sports. If there's an Olympics during the particular winter, students can also focus on that. Start the week by having a guest speaker who plays a winter sport, such as hockey or basketball. Then, have students divide into teams and allow them to compete against each other throughout the week, Olympics-style, if space allows. Games should be fairly quick, as students are likely to be tired from the school day. The rest of the time can be devoted to Olympics or winter sports crafts. To create a basic gold medal, children can cut a cardboard or construction paper circle and paint it. They could also cover it in glue and gold glitter. Facilitators can punch a hole in the circle and thread a ribbon through it to go around the child's neck.
Spend a week teaching students about the world. Start the week by creating passports for each student. In mini blank booklets, stamp a new country's name on the book every day. Allow students to decorate the front of the book. Each day, choose a new country. Tell a story from that country and have a snack that's as close to authentic as possible. For instance, on Germany's day, students can eat pretzels dipped in mustard.
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