After-school Dreams_lowres

Young dancers pose for a picture in Lelia Haller Ballet Classique's studio.

At 3 p.m., the learning spree that is the school day is over and the afternoon stretches ahead. Kids need a break from academics, but too much TV and video games aren't good for young minds. After-school and weekend programs are ways children can have fun while learning new things. Here are a few notable off-campus activities for kids.

Audubon Nature Institute

( offers Science Sleuths — Saturday morning classes for kids ages 8 to 13 where students learn about science in everyday life. Each class costs $15, and there are discounts for students who register for multiple classes. Youth Conservation Corps operates in conjunction with the Orleans Parish 4-H youth development organization to teach kids ages 12 to 19 about community, citizenship and service. Students must attend at least two workshops monthly to be eligible for service projects with groups like the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. There is a $20 fee for the program. Registration for these and other Audubon Institute programs opens in mid-August, and forms are available online.

Electric Girls

(504-475-4682; teaches girls STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills such as circuit building, soldering and electronics repair. Session one (beginning Sept. 7) is for 5- to 8-year-olds and session two (beginning Nov. 5) is for girls ages 9 to 14. Classes are Saturdays at the NOLA Fab Lab on Delgado Community College's City Park campus (615 City Park Ave., 504-671-5000). The price is $450 and scholarships are available. Visit the website to register.

Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus

(Castillo Blanco Art Studios, 4321 St. Claude Ave., 504-603-0042; hosts Chewbacchus Kids weekly art camps, including DIY video storytelling (ages 8 to 14), Puppetry and Performance (ages 5 to 14) and winter parade camp (ages 8 to 14). The cost for each session is $175. Video Storytelling kicks off the series in October, and student films premiere at the Chewbacchus Kids Art Festival on Dec. 17. Email or call for details and to reserve a spot.

Jefferson Performing Arts Society's Theatre Kids! Program

(1118 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, 504-885-2000; invites children ages 7 to 14 to learn more about dramatic and performing arts by auditioning for all-kids productions. This fall, the program stages Seussical, Jr. Auditions are Aug. 27. There's a casting fee of $100 for kids accepted into the program. For more information, contact Lynne Bordelon at (504) 885-2000, ext. 211 or

Leila Haller Ballet Classique

(4916 Canal St., 504-482-0038; The only classical ballet studio in Mid-City and the only studio teaching the Lelia Haller method of dance begins its fall schedule Tuesday, Sept. 6. Tuition varies and there is a $20 registration fee per student.The studio offers classes for girls and boys of all skill levels, from pre-ballet for 3- to 5-year-olds to advanced lessons for older children. LH Ballet will present its 10th annual performance of The Nutcracker in December; auditions for ages 6 and older will be held at the studio on Sept. 10 and 17.

New Orleans Recreation Development Commission

(NORDC) ( After-school programming at NORDC includes sports and multidisciplinary dance classes citywide. The commission also offers weekly chess lessons, as well as free-play sessions. Chess is open to kids ages 8 and older, and registration is free. Lessons are held at the Rosenwald Recreation Center (1120 S. Broad St., 504-658-3090). Registration is ongoing. Read Mommy Read (Behrman Recreation Center, 2529 General Meyer Ave., 504-658-3170) is a literacy program to encourage reading in children of all ages. Programming and scheduling varies by age: participants may read aloud, enjoy quiet reading time or participate in book clubs, book making or poetry. For more information about NORDC programs, contact Djuana Bolds Johnson (504-658-3049;