Its popular in our neck of the woods for school PTOs to organize about 2 weeks of after school enrichment classes for the students. It is a huge undertaking by parent volunteers, but the kids love it and it makes the winter months go by just a little quicker. Kudos to any school that has a ASE program!
There are only two negatives that I see that can easily be remedied with a bit of creativity and parent help. First, the cost of these cool classes can add up and there must be a lot of families unable to attend due to the cost alone. Second, class offerings are sometimes not in line with school wellness goals. As much as my kids would love to take a ‘Decorate Your Own Cake’ class, it has to go. Parents can easily do this activity at home if they want, but PTOs should not be sponsoring these types of classes.
Below are some creative ideas for adding free classes to your ASE program. You can still offer ‘Make Your Own Fairy Garden’ for $18 by the local nursery, but having at least a few free classes each week will leave many parents’ pocketbooks smiling!
Board Games-Bring some of your favorite games from home like Blokus, Carcassone, Settlers of Catan, chess, Sorry, and Monopoly…kids use their noggins, practice sportsmanship, potentially learn a new game, and have a blast!
Card Games-Same line as the board games class…start by teaching solitaire and branch out into Uno, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, Spot It, Apples to Apples, 99 or Bust, Sleeping Queens, Monopoly Deal and more…just no poker :)
Mock Trial-If it was a freezing cold winter day, would Goldilocks have the right to go into the bears’ home to warm up and get comfy? Find out in this class! My fourth grader loved being the judge in this class led by a lawyer/parent.
Legomania-Self explanatory and always a hit!
Art – An art class I led at our ASE program was Mandala Art. A parent can teach a little about mandalas and how they can be a mind-calming relaxation tool. Kids can first practice some individual designs on paper and/or on iPads and then try a group design on a large poster board. Great for decorating the school hallways too! Coloring Castle has some great mandala print outs.
Who’s Line is it Anyway? Students from your drama club could design and lead this class with fun props and and silly scenarios. Kids could choose to be participants or just be audience members and enjoy the show!
Origami- Harder than it looks so this might just be for the older grades. Boats or hats are easy to start with. So are origami fortune tellers and don’t forget paper airplanes. Make a paper triangle football and play a game of ‘flick the football’ through some designated goal posts.
Minute to Win It Challenges-Set the clock and see if you can complete the challenge in a minute to win a fake million dollars. Set up stations throughout the gym and have individual or team challenges. Pencil bouncing, cup flipping, ping pong ball tossing, and more.
Recycling Olympics-Teach about recycling and play some fun games with recycled materials. Maybe a relay race where you also have to choose whether the item goes in the trash bin or recycling bin. A local nature center staff member came out and did a great class for us, but we could have easily done it ourselves too.
Movement Ideas- Have the local rugby club, cheer club, or tai chi club come in or see if a parent is willing to teach yoga or zumba or tumbling. There are great dvds for many of these as well. Projecting Just Dance You Tube videos up on a screen in the gym is also fabulous fun!
Of course, free is never FREE. Time and resources need to be donated by the parent volunteers leading these classes. But many parents really love this opportunity to come in and teach something they are knowledgable and passionate about. Engineers, architects, knitters, musicians, you name it. Ask for parents to step up and help, suggest some of the above as possible class ideas, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they do!
I know there are more free ideas out there so share them in the comment section below-thanks!