A child writing in a nature journal
A child writing in a nature journal

5 After-Activity Activities for Kids

From river rafting trips to ziplining through the forest to volunteering with your favorite outdoor organization, summer is made for family adventures. But after a new or tiring activity, it can be challenging for kids (and even adults too!) to head right into camping downtime, evening chores at home, or bedtime routines. Our secret for smooth summertime transitions? The after-activity activity.

Following the main attraction of the day, the after-activity activity is exactly what it sounds like — it's the thing you do to kick back and relax after a fun outdoor adventure before you head home. It's a time to spread out a picnic blanket, grab a book or game, and enjoy some chill time in the summer sun (safely, of course). Ready to sit back and shift into leisure mode? Here are five of our favorite after-activity activities:

1. Mellow Movement

Nothing says chill quite like some easy movement. From a yoga flow in a field of wildflowers to an hour balancing and bouncing on a slackline, sometimes a little movement is just the thing to begin winding down. Physical activity is known to have beneficial effects on anxiety, helping kids connect with their bodies and relax. Plus, a lot of kids we know (ours included) struggle with going right from an exciting outdoor activity into a more sedentary one. Just set out some yoga mats, rig up the slackline, and spend some time gently moving.

KEEN tip: You don’t have to be a yoga instructor to guide a family yoga class. Just download an easy audio class from a streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music and flow along.

A toddler stretching in a camping chair outside

2. Outdoor Drawing Club

Many artists from landscape painters to nature photographers find peace and enjoyment while working outdoors. Turns out, kids love it too. All you need to get started is a to-go art supply kit and a nice outdoor space (a public park or nature area works great). Our kit includes: pencils, crayons, oil pastels, sturdy paper, a few clipboards (in case there aren’t benches or picnic tables to work from), and some hand wipes for easy cleanup.

If your kid is hesitant to get started or doesn’t know what to draw, have them warm up by finding some nearby leaves and making some leaf rubbings. Place a leaf between the clipboard and a piece of paper, and gently rub a crayon or oil pastel over the top. Almost like magic, a leaf shape will emerge!

3. Get Writing

After a busy day trying out a new activity like stand-up paddleboarding or disc golf, encourage kids to channel those new experiences into the written word. Spread out a blanket on the grass, give everyone a journal and pen, and spend some time writing. For kids who are always crafting stories, this is a great way for them to decompress and jot down their thoughts. For those who might be more hesitant to give the whole writing thing a go, try one of these prompts:

- Look around you. What do you hear? What do you see? Use your senses to take in the world around you and start creating a list of everything you’re noticing.

- What is something you learned or something that surprises you today? Write down how that experience made you feel and what you discovered.

- What animals or bugs did you see during your time outdoors? What were they doing? Write a short story about a day in the life of a bug or animal.

A child playing Uno while camping

4. Games Galore

Playing low-key games outdoors is one of our favorite ways to decompress after a jam-packed day outside. We typically avoid games that tend to get really exciting and, instead, go for more mellow games like mancala, dominos, or nature bingo. If you forget to pack games, try playing I-Spy or games on paper like tic-tac-toe or Snowman (a word guessing game similar to the game of hangman, but way less scary).

5. Outdoor Reading or Audiobooks

An afternoon reading in the shade of a big tree? Yes, please! Some independent reading time is a fantastic way to transition from a family bike ride or hike into a calm evening. We always keep a few books in the car for just this reason. If someone in the family doesn’t have a book that will hold their interest, take turns reading aloud from a chapter book or choose an audiobook to listen to as a family.

KEEN tip: If your kiddo isn’t the reading type, try checking out some graphic novels at the library. Sure, there’s some reading involved, but we’ve learned (from experience) that even kids that “don’t like reading” love the comic book format.

When the evening breeze rolls in or dinnertime ticks around, everyone will feel more prepared for what lies ahead thanks to an after-activity activity. Plus, an excuse to spend more time outdoors? We're all for that.

A toddler playing I Spy with binoculars

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