After a busy day at school, some middle school students stay after classes to participate in extracurricular activities (clubs, sports, community outreach). As a teacher, it is important to make after-school activities fun and as stress-free as possible. Middle school is a transformative time where kids are learning what their passions are, what they want to try and explore, and who they are. We can help them stay engaged, make good choices, and develop their skills through after-school projects, outdoor activities, online interactions, and reading/writing prompts.
Here are 30 of our most creative, teenage-friendly, after-school ideas to keep the learning going and the smiles bright all day long.
1. Creative Astronomy Prompts
This activity can be a part of academic clubs with a focus on writing or astronomy. Provide your learners with a poem about the sun or moon as an example, then ask them to write one of their own in whatever form or style that speaks to them.
Learn More: Every Star is Different
2. What is Sound?
Get your middle schoolers excited about sound and music theory with the basics of acoustics, understanding how energy and sound work together, and making their own musical instruments! You can make toy guitars with a tissue box, rubber bands, and a towel to see how sound changes based on its environment and conditions.
Learn More: Science Sparks
3. Spelling Race
This activity for kids makes after school time fun and competitive, while also introducing new words and concepts. Find easy and challenging words from different academic subjects as well as useful words your kids may not be familiar with. They can test their spelling and literacy skills with a fun spelling bee race!
Learn More: Confidence Meets Parenting
4. Colorful Cabbage Science
This colorful activity teaches kids how different substances react to one another. Since cabbage juice is a ph indicator, it will change colors based on what you add to it. Use various household items such as vinegar and baking soda to make your after school science experiment a colorful and educational mess!
Learn More: What Do We Do All Day
5. Pen Pal Fun
PenPal Schools is a safe international website created for students to find a pen pal from another country and collaborate on original projects on over 50 different topics. Your middle schoolers can find their perfect pen pal based on the subjects they are interested in and the country they are most interested in connecting with. This extracurricular activity looks great on a college application too!
Learn More: Penpal Schools
6. DIY Thaumatrope
A classic optical and tactile activity for kids to learn how vision works when combining images and motion. Homemade thaumatropes are a simple craft that can be made with basic supplies and leaves room for creativity regarding what pictures are drawn on either side of the cards.
Learn More: What Do We Do All Day
7. Recycled Smart Phone Projector
Engineering clubs will be excited to make this one, and even more excited to try it out! This DIY projector can be made with a cardboard box and a magnifying glass. Your students can improve their critical thinking skills and become STEM warriors while watching their favorite shows on their homemade projector.
Learn More: The STEM Laboratory
8. After School Reading
A favorite after school activity of mine when I was in middle school was getting lost in a good book or series. There are so many captivating and educational books out there that are appropriate for teenagers to read and learn critical life skills and lessons.
Learn More: 55 Amazing 7th Grade Books
9. Yarn Spelling
Time to test our kids’ creative skills with yarn spelling. Depending on their age and academic level you can choose how long the words should be. This yarn activity requires them to use cursive writing style since all the letters are connected, and visual and motor skills to create the word designs correctly.
Learn More: 28 Fun Yarn Activities and Crafts for Kids
10. Marshmallow Engineering
Every fun after school activity is better with sweet treats! This construction challenge requires two or more competitive teams of 3-4 kids. Each team is given 20 pieces of dry spaghetti, one marshmallow, and a yard of string and tape. They must create a structure stable and strong enough to hold their marshmallow in the quickest time to win!
Learn More: Digital Lesson
11. Anime Club Activities
Many middle schoolers spend their free time after school watching and reading anime or comics. Anime clubs have become increasingly popular in schools as they encourage creativity and artistic exploration. So why not inspire your students by inviting a local artist to teach them the tricks of the trade that designers use to flesh out manga and anime characters?
Learn More: The Hub
12. Origami Projects
Whether this is art club or after school at home, origami can be a fun and therapeutic exercise to improve concentration skills. Find a character, animal, or image you want to create and look up a design. Make sure to have a variety of colored origami paper and get folding!
Learn More: Artful Maths
13. Offline Coding Activities
Coding classes and clubs are becoming more popular amongst middle schoolers today. However, computational thinking can be done off-screen since kids spend so much time looking at phones and computers already. This link has printable scratch blocks for coding practice, and different resources you can use to improve problem-solving and circuiting skills.
Learn More: Medium
14. Popsicle Stick Piano
This extracurricular project involves art, music, and engineering to create. Teens can work on their measuring and placement skills to align the sticks so they make different sounds when you hit them. Once the DIY piano is ready, you can mess around with scales and make music!
Learn More: Deceptively Educational
15. Cooking Club Ideas
Of course one of the first things kids want to do after school is eat! Let’s make this activity a little more interactive and fun by teaching them the basics of cooking their favorite foods. Whether it’s in your home kitchen or a room at school, make sure to have the necessary cooking supplies, give each individual a task, and work together to create a delicious meal!
Learn More: S&S Blog
16. Life Skills Challenge
Now, this might sound like you are making your kids do chores after school, but really they are learning essential life skills we all need to know as we grow up. Make doing laundry, learning to sew, and cooking a meal an exciting challenge by having your kids finish a project and take a photo to present in class and talk about their experience doing each adult task.
17. Comedy Club Skit Ideas
Comedy classes are a great outlet for students to break out of their shells, express themselves, and make new friends. There are prompts you can provide for your students to choose from, with storylines and character descriptions they can use for inspiration.
Learn More: Ice Breaker Ideas
18. Video Game Club
Video games are becoming an extremely popular after-school activity for teenagers. There are ways to make video games interactive, where kids can learn team-building and problem-solving skills for the real world. Have your kids agree on a game and play together a few times a week and discuss the experience as a collective.
Learn More: Cat Talk
19. Collaborative Writing Exercises
Many students love creative writing and expressing their ideas through words. A fun after-school activity you can do with a group of kids is pass-back stories. Students write for a set amount of time (1-2 minutes) and then pass their story to the next person making a uniquely shared piece of work.
Learn More: 20 Creative Writing Activities for Students
20. Visit a Museum!
No matter where you live, there is bound to be a museum close to your school. Depending on what your teens are interested in, find a museum they will enjoy. History, art, science, technology, and creative expression are some options you may have in your area.
Learn More: Far and Wide
21. Debate Club
In middle school, students are starting to have opinions and get involved in the community locally and globally. Many students benefit from learning how to debate an issue. Debating also teaches students time management skills, critical thinking, and reasoning skills, and looks great on a college application! Here are some topic ideas for middle schoolers.
Learn More: Thought Co.
22. Student Government
You can participate in school decision-making, get involved in your community, and make choices that affect you and your peers directly by joining the student government. This after school activity is for motivated/leader types or those that like to have a say in their school time and budget.
Learn More: Deer Valley Middle School
Writing and expressing your opinions and ideas can be a great outlet for middle school students. Blogging can be done individually or collectively where students all receive the same prompt and write their take on it and share it with each other.
Learn More: Cool Tools for Schools
24. Community Service Clubs
There are so many ways you can contribute to your community through volunteering after school. Some ideas we found are taking a safety certification course, volunteering at your local nursing home, donating blood, or helping out at an animal shelter. Find something you’re passionate about and do some good!
Learn More: Kids Activities
25. Be a Tutor
Every student has at least one subject or skill they are talented at. Whether it’s math, English, basketball, guitar, or coding, there are others out there that want to learn! Make some flyers or post online that you are available to be a tutor and spend your after-school time teaching and making some extra cash!
Learn More: The Tutor Resource
26. Sports Teams and Clubs
There are a variety of different physical activity programs you can choose from at your middle school. From kickball and track to yoga and dance, there are options for every individual to get active and meet new friends!
Learn More: Flex Academies
27. Chess Club
If you like problem-solving, critical thinking, competition, and camaraderie, then chess club is for you! Most middle schools have a chess club, but if yours doesn’t then start one! From beginners to experts, you can have games for everyone that improve their skills and tickle their brains.
Learn More: Chess Site
28. Film Club
With so many inquisitive, informative, and culturally relevant movies out there, a film club is a great way to open students up to different perspectives. It also presents an opportunity to discuss what they watch and gain a deeper understanding of the world around them.
Learn More: Into Film
29. Entrepreneurial Activity
We know middle schoolers have some amazing and innovative ideas, and a business/inventor club is a great avenue to grow and polish their concepts. One way to encourage creativity is to play the Wacky Inventions game, where each student or group of students needs to think of an original product/concept and go through the process of bringing their invention to life.
Learn More: Venture Lab
30. Art Collages
After school is a great time to get creative. Art classes can be a part of school hours or an extracurricular activity. There are so many cool and imaginative projects you can try with your students, one of our favorites is the 3D shadowbox collage. You use a box and create layers and depth within your image!
Learn More: 15 Amazing And Creative 7th Grade Art Projects