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After School Programs Contribute

 Resources to Brace for a Minion Rebellion

Thanks to Carolyn Stearns for this abundance of resources.

Do the walls seem a little closer? Has the family volume button been jacked to maximum? Is it impossible to find personal space? These unwelcome turn of events are all resulting from our precautions against the ravages of the global pandemic of Covid19.

Afterschool can offer a respite to children and parents in these days of spiking boredom, sibling rivalry, strained family dynamics and outright revolt of the minions. I’ve gathered some resources to arm your defenses against boredom. First and foremost to the children we serve is to be available to listen. They do have fears, worries and questions and may not want to ask at home during the crisis. As after school practitioners we have built the strong relationships based; on trust and continuity that will allow the children the comfort to ask; what if?

There are many resources for video outreach, online classrooms and video conferencing that will work to reach out to after school families. I have chosen Zoom for my program as it has an ease of use and has withstood the onslaught of use with only a few glitches. Zoom also put education first by allowing unlimited time for educational purposes instead of the free 40 minute session that is the normal unpaid program. If you haven’t been invited to Zoom here is a link

Other services might include WebEx, You Tube, Facebook Live, Google Classroom, or ClassDojo. This is the tip of the iceberg your school system may have some other option to explore.

On Zoom we can reach out with a click to enter invite to a session. Once logged in students are immediately offered the chance for chat. We find raising their hand an easy and automatic way to allow a comfortable conversation to happen and them to hear each other’s giggles and delight. They desperately miss their friends during isolation, this helps. Staff act as a moderator and call on students and offer a prompt to keep the conversation flowing. We have two staff on each call in case one is called away or setting up the next item of activity.

After the initial chat session we reach out to ask if they need any help with packets or online work left with them by their classroom teachers. We can then set up small group tutoring sessions to get past the hurdle. We can also look for online content that explains the problem well and share a link in the chat. This is where a relay of emails with the classroom teacher may be very helpful for the after school that is usually in a school building and has one team to address.

What’s up after that? Get creative! Here are some suggestions.

Share a craft or science “how to” demonstration. If you need ideas I have plenty I have been saving for a long time on my Pinterest at:  1200+ activities saved there, one might save your day.

Go on a virtual field trip. You can send questions to students ahead of time so they can do some investigative reporting when you gather. Featuring our beautiful state is a great way to inspire learning locally. Here are some to consider:

Let’s tour author Mark Twain’s Hartford home:

A whale of a good time touring Mystic Aquarium virtually:

Take flight with a tour of New England Air Museum

Ahoy Matey we’re off to Mystic Seaport:

Yikes Dinosaurs! Visit Yale Peabody (Currently the Dino bones are put away for a remodel project) see them on the video

You can also try these!!

Be scientific! See a butterfly emerge at

Learn to bake bread at

What else can you do in online after school? Read aloud to the kids every day. Tell jokes, there are lots in Take the kids on a walk outside pointing out nature. Take the kids on a car ride and show them the scenery of a favorite place. Invite special guests on your Zoom (or other format) to share a talent, skill or job) There will be plenty of days ahead but many of the things we do at our after school sites can be accommodated online. It’s not a perfect way to interact, but since we are stuck in the Covid storm together we might as well try some new things. It is great for the kids to see the adults learning at the same time too!

Zoom has breakout rooms so you can have different groups working on different projects at the same time. Imagine room 1 doing a crayon rendition of a Masterpiece. Room two is learning the lyrics to a song, Room three is listening to different music styles and learning to recognize them, today is Jazz. Room four is listening to a staff member read The Wind in the Willows. That sounds like after school to me!

Can you teach children yoga and mindfulness meditation? Yes you can. Learning how to quiet oneself in the storm of the isolation would be a valuable skill. Can you demonstrate a Tai Chi move, how to make a paper bag kite, the names of common tools, the difference between a frog and a toad, or for our middle school youth; how to sew an emergency supply of face masks!

Cosmic Kids Yoga

Kids Mindfulness video

Tai Chi


Common tools

Frog / toad


We don’t have a similar experience as a comparison to the Covid19 isolation. It helps to know we are all in this struggle together. Show a map of the world and let children know in all those places children are learning in new out of school settings. We are the professionals of after school and we are in this together! 


Carolyn Stearns is a professional storyteller and Site Coordinator for EASTCONN Community Arts Connection.


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