Simple activites for a five year old

11 July 2009
I received this comment the other day that I want to throw out to all of you for your suggestions.

I was wondering if you (or anyone else) had some good ideas for simple activities/entertainment for children? My nephew is staying with us for the summer (his dad is in Iraq) and we're a little lost about what to do with a 5yo boy who's far away from home and has no idea about our lifestyle. We're planning to teach him to ride a bike (I got him one for his birthday) and swim but other than that we can't think of many things that don't involve a television.

Thank you for any advice!


Lauren, when my boys were 5 I taught them simple cooking - scrambled eggs, toast, making breakfast cereal, sandwiches etc. You could also give him a strong flashlight for spotlighting in the backyard at night. If you're out of the city, he'll see all sorts of interesting things in the trees and bushes when it's dark.

But my main suggeston is if you have a digital camera, teach him to use it on the automatic setting. Get a small note book and let him document his summer, in photos, for his Dad. Maybe one day he could take a photo of his surroundings or his family and write a short caption; the next day you could take a photo of him playing, reading, eating, sleeping or smiling. I'm sure his Dad would love that and he would probably get a kick out of it knowing it was a gift for Dad far away in Iraq.

So now it's over to you, dear readers, what are your suggestions for Lauren and this little boy?


  1. What fabulous ideas Rhonda!

    I have no idea really, but when I was small, I loved hunting for insects in the garden :) And once me and my sister made a dinosaur collage out of sugar paper that took us days and stretched the entire length of the living room wall...

    The torch in the garden idea is a great one, is it going dark relatively early where you are at the minute? Not til about 10.30pm here, so maybe that's a bit late! :)

    What about planting a few seeds? What will grow at this time of year?

    Good luck, and good on you for looking after your nephew for the summer.

    Best wishes,


  2. I second the garden idea. some dirt and a shovel entertains my kids (one 5) for hours.

    I just posted an idea for a DIY puppet theater that my 5 yo loves.
    I hope you don't mind me linking

  3. My boys (ages 5 and 7) love "painting" the colored comics with a paintbrush and water. Sidewalk chalk is also fun. They play all kinds of ball games, hide and seek, feed the chickens, help us in the garden (they love helping the water to funnel down the rows like "real farmers") and help us prep the shed for painting next week. We have a daily quiet time in the afternoon where they get to choose two or three books (usually ones with lots of pictures!) and some basic drawing supplies. After quiet time, they enjoy their outside activities all over again.

  4. Our children loved bubbles. You know the kind you can make with dish liquid and a bread tie or purchased premade. It is fun to guess how many bubbles you can make in each puff or how high you can make them go. See how big a bubble can get with one breath of air. Fun stuff!

    You can make homemade play-doh together. It is fun to make and fun to play with. All natural so no worries. Cookie cutters are your friend with the dough.

    Or I have had my younger classes make a village out of home made dough and let it dry and paint it.

    Just some thoughts.!

    Becky K.
    Hospitality Lane

  5. Five is a great age! I had 3 sons and each of them enjoyed playing outside in dirt piles and using small Matchbox brand cars and trucks, building roads to drive their little cars around.

    Story-telling is fun anytime. We did progressive stories where one person starts out and begins, then passes the story to the next person. Everyone needs to listen and be actively involved to continue the story along. It's an excellent way to reinforce the imagination and listening skills.

    Kids (including mine) love making collages. A small bit of glue or glue stick is used with papers, photos from magazines, or collected items from any treasure-hunt can be turned into a collage. For the back-board, try a piece of cardboard from a box.

    Since I had lots of fabric scraps, I have gotten kids to make small fabric collages. Even my 2 year old granddaughter enjoys that (with help).

    And try having a collection be filled while visiting. Whatever is found that is interesting to the child can even go home at the end of his visit.

    Have fun.

  6. Rhonda I'll get back with you this evening.
    I have some things that might help.

  7. My children loved making camps and dens of alsorts. A few old sheets over an airer or even a pop up tent. They even used to sleep out, well only until it got dark and then they usually came in for supper.
    We made a wormery out of an old sweet jar.
    A few blocks and planks of wood made a great roadway with some toy cars. Add some sand/compost and a truck or two for a building site.
    Dressing up clothes.
    Painting outside with buckets of water and big brushes.
    Growing things children love watering.
    If it rained we cooked, chocolate crispie cakes, fairy cakes well just about anything. Washing up was always their favourite. We made playdough from flour,salt and water.
    Junk modeling, collage, painting, making our own books (wished we'd had a digital camera then).
    Large cardboard boxes were always prized as they could be houses, punch and judy, shops, cars, etc.
    We would go on 'holiday' making planes, boats, trains out of chairs and our own tickets etc.
    Just some of the few things we did but as we live very near the beach we spent alot of time there or at the parks, woods, lakes anywhere we could run and hide and collect things. It doesn't need to cost much to keep children amused just your time and energy.
    Sorry to go on a bit.


  8. My 2 kids (who are 4 & 6) love card games (old maid, Uno, memory etc). They spend hours playing out in the yard with basic shovels, sticks, rocks etc. A nature journal could enhance that. We garden together, cook and bake together, clean together etc.
    They love baking especially - I suspect it is the EATING that is their favorite part ;)
    We have big plans to visit libraries, wading pools (which are free here), local parks and beaches, and the zoo. We will also be camping.
    We spend time daily with basic craft supplies - usually plain paper, crayons, glue and scissors just doing whatever - some kids like to have more instruction or 'colouring books' instead of freehanding. You could also learn some origami together, or work on drawing skills (all of which can be found online or at the library).
    We read constantly - usually me reading out loud to the kids, but also they read to me. That would depend if he's an independant reader or not. But going through some good chapter books together is GREAT.
    We did a big summer calendar together for the wall - the kids LOVE being able to check out the activities we have planned and talk about 'when' things are happening.
    Hope something there helps!
    :) Erin

  9. Puzzles, good books, How-to-draw books from the library (they have boy ones--cars, trucks, monsters-kid monsters not scary monsters), mazes
    wooden blocks, a sand box

    Those run the gamut from free to some financial investment, but none are terribly burdensome costwise.

  10. A sketch book so that he can draw his own pictures...puzzles...simple card games like Old Maid and Go Fish (these are usually available at the $ store)...trips to the library to pick out books and audio books if you have a way of playing them for him...a ball to kick around...trips to the playground...take advantage of free days at museums/zoos if you have any near you...a flashlight to play with outside...let him dig in the dirt and find rocks...homemade playdough (search the net for recipes). You'll be amazed at how much he will find to do with just a few simple items you probably already have! Enjoy!

  11. Simple leather crafting is not too difficult for a 5yo. What about simple (well-supervised) woodworking...A coping saw, plywood scraps to cut into shapes (animals?), and a sanding block.

    He might be coordinated enough to learn to tie simple knots. Flying kites is fun. I agree that planting a garden is a blast with kids. Get the Dangerous Book for Boys and look there for activities.

    Read to him, if he enjoys it. Get inexpensive art supplies and check out kids' art blogs like Crafty Crow for ideas. Make play doh. My kids have spent hours coloring lately, in $1 coloring books from Dollar Tree/Family Dollar. My kids are easily entertained, but they also love to put on music and dance.

    Have other families over who have nice kids his age. What about nature walks? You might get a sketchbook for both of you and incorporate nature journaling as well. Go camping if that's something you enjoy. If nothing else, build a bonfire and cook hotdogs over the fire. Make s'mores! Make memories!

  12. Grab the opportunity to make links with other families in your area. When you take him to your local park look out for other families and chat to them. Maybe quickly, maybe it will take longer, but you will meet people you would like to invite back to your home and provide a playmate for your nephew and new adult company and ideas for you.

  13. I have a 3 year old and I use the digital camera idea already! It is amazing to see what they take pictures of and quite impressive. I also like to do bug identification if you have a bug identification book and an old magnifying glass. Looking through old pictures of his/her parents and/or grandparents is fun - and discussing what it was like when they were little is something my son loves to do. Arts and crafts using outdoor materials that you find is another fun thing (rocks, pine cones, leaves). The possibilities are endless with an active imagination!

  14. Five is such a wonderful age. While I don't have my own yet, I used to do a lot of babysitting and nanny-ing, and I found that a roll of paper and box of crayons can absorb hours. Trips to a local library for books are always a hit and occupy not only the time of the trip, but reading time back home. Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and homemade clay-dough are always fun too.

    Depending on where you live, if your nephew likes trucks or trains or airplanes or construction vehicles - things like that, you can always visit a train station or airport or even set up on a bench outside of a construction site to watch for a while. (I had one little guy who would sit at the airport for hours watching the planes take off and land and the various trucks and people working.)

    Oh, and never underestimate the fun power of a garden hose attached to a sprinkler and a beach ball.

    Just don't worry too much. Kids can do a great deal of amusing themselves. Hope you have a great summer.


  15. I think sewing cards would be a good idea for a five year old. The cute stiff picture ones that use yarn to lace up around the design. My daughters and sons loved these ... good for coordination.

  16. I made all the blocks for a scrappy looking quilt called a "Yellow Brick Road" On Monday when I have the two little girls that I babysit (10 and 6 ys old) I will have them lay out the quilt blocks on my design wall. It will keep them busy for HOURS! We are also going to the library and having story time.

  17. I have a 5 year old and i can tell you that this is a fun time. A nice hidey hole like a cubby house and teddies that he can employ as family members will give him hours of entertainment. Simple bubble mixture and very large bubble wands kept my Ellie entertained for a few hours (i was right there beside her) Teaching him to ride a bike is great. Make sure you take plenty of pics as it will be a great memory for him.
    Check out my blog and i will do a post in a few hours to help. I have 5 kids under 11 and we have so much fun.

  18. 5 Year olds just want to learn about what is immediately in front of them - picking vegetables, growing vegetables, going for a walk to look at things, car rides with loads of singing and chatting. Colouring books, toys (borrowed from your local library lego is great you may even pick some up from a second hand shop), a jar with holes in the lid for catching bugs in, a butterfly net, tadpoles, five blankets and free rein to build a cubby in the yard (this may involve the sacrifice of some plants), teach him to play go fish (or gin my five year old LOVES gin)or solitaire. By the time dinner rolls around he can help with that have a bath and be asleep before the twilight ends!!!

    You are going to have a GREAT summer what a joy.


  19. My number one suggestion would be to go to your library together and stock up on books. There are some lovely kids' books around, and I haven't met a kid yet who doesn't like to snuggle up on the couch and be read to. Audio books are wonderful, and can usually be found at the library as well.

    Another suggestion would be to see if there is a toy library near you. They usually do cater for people who have kids come to stay, and I'm sure a constuction set of some sort would go down well.

    Otherwise, exploring nature through walks in the bush, on the beach or visting a local park (preferable with playground) used to be (and still is) a favourite with our kids. I hope you have a lovely time together :o)

  20. I think it won't take long to get an idea of what this little one likes to do, apart from tv, and as you do, you could gather things that give him a variety of activities to do.

    I've looked after a friend's boy since he was tiny, he's 6 now, and loves to be heled to make things....we made a castle out of cardboard and tubes from paper towels, alfoil etc. He painted and decorated it, this hapened over a few days, he always came in from school eager to get to work on it. Then I bought some knights and horses from the $2 shop, and he has great fun.

    Boys like to learn crafts too...finger knitting, knitting, making things from felt...he might think it's a bit sissy to start with, but if you convert the end product to a "boyish" thing, he'll enjoy it. My boy and I threaded ainted macaroni and beads one day, and they ended up being power bracelets for his collection of super hero dolls.

    Nature weaving's good too...find some sturdy sticks, help him tie them together in a square, tie strings vertically, then weave things across....grasses, feathers, coloured wool. Maybe he could collect things when you go on a walk.

    Make sure he has things he can use his imagination to play with on his own too...simple toys, a box with all he'd need to create...pencils, paper, a glue stick, scissors. He can draw pictures for his dad. Card games with you outdoors could be fun too...'Go fish' is good for littlies.

    Lengths of play cloth are good, they can be sheets from the thrift store, or pieces of fabric you have around, they can become cloaks and capes,a tent, anything he can imagine. If he's not used to this kind of play, you might have to help a bit to get him started.

    Do you have nature parks near you, my daughter lives in Ohio where these seem to be everywhere, and they have activities for kids during the holidays, what about the museum or art gallery, your local library?...they might all have summer activities for kids, usually low or no cost.

    You and your nephew are going to have a great summer. I'd love to hear how you get on.


  21. Homemade play-doh, washable markers with LOTS of paper, crayons, chalk for the driveway, paintbrush with a bucket of water to "paint", gardening, go out to "you-pick" for berries, apples, peaches..., bake cookies, small hammer , nails and wood for creating, perhaps a bird house?, tent made from a blanket strung over a clothes line, star gazing, fishing, catch fireflies, library, games of old maid, go fish, homemade pizza on the grill with him fixin' his own, make homemade p-nut butter or almond butter...hope this helps!

  22. Hi There...

    I used to love trips to the beach, and a game of "snap" with my grandpa. Hiking and fishing was also very popular I also made a scrapbook with different leaves and their names. Spool knitting is great for quiet times... and any board game.


  23. It All depends on the Kind of kid he is.My Son when asked made these ideas ....
    Collect leaves and do Leaf rubbings!
    Board games and Puzzles....We jst spent large amounts of time these Holidays Playing 4 up.
    A trip to the Library to choose his Very own choices of dvds and/or books.
    Make Popcorn and Have a movie night.
    Sidwalk chalk for drawing ooutside on cement or the Side of the house.
    Make a tyre swing from old Tyre and Hang from a sturdy tree.
    Cooking! My Boy is a Budding Jamie Oliver!
    He likes to make simple things...
    Truffles/rum balls,Sausage rolls,biscuits.

  24. how about a fort with a big box?

    catch bugs. put them in a jar.

    play catch. kick ball. read then draw a pic of a differant animal or flower each day..
    count things.. anything..... stick them on paper..... park them in a row on the table. on the sidewalk, still life 5 yr old style,,,

    make a tent with a blanket. take nap in it. have lunch in it. share it with the dog/cat

    draw a parking lot/streets/ roads. on a large sheeet of posterboard or card board or even in the sand.. drive matchbox cars on it.

    cut up magazine pictures in large shapes.. stick it back together

    cut 2 of anything in a magazine. then play flip the cards match it up, memory game.

  25. I don't have time to read all the comments, so sorry if this is a repeat, but how about bugs? I loved bugs when I was little. Put some cheesecloth over a peanut-butter jar and let him raise caterpillars, or catch grasshoppers and feed them grass, or on and on... a good book that tells about who each bug is and where they live and what they eat is also cool.

  26. If you have an appliance store near you you can ask them for large boxes. With an old sheet and a stick you can turn one of the large boxes into a pirate ship he can decorate. You can also make a "car" out of a box. It needs to be large enough to fit around him. You can make strapes that go from his shoulders to the box. He can then decorate it and run around. You can have him lay on a large sheet of butcher paper and draw around his body and then he can color it in.

    Campfires and cooking outside are also a hit with kids that age. Also sleeping outside.

    Build a large sandbox (make sure to buy sandbox sand) can keep a child entertained for hours.

    Fill mason jars with different color food color and let him mix different colors together.

    Check your local paper for free things going on in your area. There is a free visit to the firestation near me tomorrow.


  27. You have wonderful ideas Rhonda.
    I was an only child, but I loved hunting down bugs outside. Playing fort with blankets and chairs inside and tree limbs outside. I love and my oldest daughter loves to color & paint whether it is $1 coloring books or just the back side of recycled paper. My 4 year old also loves to make and fly paper airplanes, garden, help feed our cats and help to cook/bake. I also try to throw in a trip to the nearby state park when I can and we always go to the library for books and to play on their playground. In all honesty it all depends on the child, but I'm sure there are many things he will love.

  28. Small musical instruments, or just pots and pans.

    scavenger hunts- color the cups in an egg carton, then find small items that match the cups, and fill it up!

    Play-clay with small baking pans, cookie cutters, etc.

    Finger paints

    LOTS of stories and play acting

    Have fun!!

  29. I love your ideas Rhonda and would like to add a few of my own. My grandchildren love to make things. So I save bits of things which I think would be useful. Card, paper small boxes, buttons, glue, scraps of fabric, wool, paint, crayons etc. As a keen crafter I have loads of these things anyway. Most children get pleasure from making things (especially if a bit of mess is involved).

    Are you a member of the library ? My local library sells off old childrens books very cheap. I also get them from charity shops.

    When my children were little I had a big atlas we would pick a country and find out things about it including national costume, flag, and food, then make our evening meal based on that. It was a good way of introducing them to new food and different cultures.

    We always made a holiday scrapbook too but that was in pre-digital camera days so it would contain tickets, postcards and leaflets.

    As you are only having your Nephew for the summer hols, growing things in the garden may not be an option but cress will grow on wet tissue in the kitchen very quickly also sprouting seeds in a jar. There is loads of info on this on the internet.

    Hope this helps.
    Cheers, Eileen in England.

  30. Boxes that he can cut doors and windows into and color, paint, etc. can keep them busy for hours. Mine once made a Pilgrim's boat out of a box.

    Take all your measuring cups and let him have at it with rice or lentils or pop-corn in a huge bowl. Lots of sound along with the learning.

    Shaving cream or whipped cream on a table can be a slate of sorts that he can practice drawing all sorts of things into with his fingers. One hand swipe and he has a clean slate.

    Food coloring in the bath-tub. Yes, he may be green for a short while, but it will wear off quickly. The smile will stay for a long time.

    A quiet time every day, if only just to read. Mandatory, unless you want a cranky child come late afternoon. "I am NOT TIRED" will often turn into a nap... LOL ...still works with my 10 & 13 year-olds!

    Legos or simple cut up slices of wood to stack.

    Face paint and finger paint.

    Let him made an indian's hat with feathers. Play dress-up.

    Make puppets with lunch bags. Bottom of bag becomes "face" and bag will be the "neck".

    Drawing. Finger-print animals, creations. Make a fingerprint and add antenna, eyes, etc. with crayons or markers.

    Have him make an ABC-book. He has to find a magazine picture of something starting with "A", "B", etc.

    You could use felts.

    Have him dictate a sentence or two for a journal for his dad. He can draw a picture of what he did each day so that dad can know what his visit was like.

    Tear up colored paper to create irregular leaves to glue onto a page with a brown trunk cut out. Make one for each season.

    Place a paper over a leaf. Use a crayon to rub the color onto the paper and preserve the shape of the leaves. Keep a collection.

    Let him run in a sprinkler if its hot or let him slip around on a long sheet of heavy plastic with water running down it...... a slip n slide.

    Make a birdhouse.

    Quiet music.

    Let him help sweep the floors and feed your chooks. Let him find the eggs.

    Let him visit the neighbors with you by bringing them a flower.


    Let him have a excavation-dig. Teach him about how scientists dig out a site. (Hide small items or toys in a dirt site and water it down over and over before he arrives so the dirt packs down hard around the finds.) Give him a wide, stiff and narrower paintbrush to ever so carefully excavate the site and discover his "findings".
    The paintbrush will slow him down to preserve and not damage his findings.


    A shallow mud pit. Don't worry, I have it on good authority that boys wash clean.... LOL

    Nancy (mother of two sons who haven't died yet from getting dirty! Haha)

  31. making a cubby in the woods (a kind of den)

    a teddy bears picnic

    painting, painting and more painting

    dressing up - raid your own clothes and the charity shop. Dont be stuck on gender based clothing i love that when my class play dress ups the boys love to be the princesses as much as the girls do

    a nature hunt try to find
    smooth stones,
    yellow flowers,
    can be done with the digital camera or to collect them

    make a garden for him - use something fast growing to write his name in the ground and then plant around it edibles or not just get your hands dirty!

    buy or reuse a few inexpensive photo frames paint them and decorate with things collected eg shells, small stones etc

    start collecting cereal boxes, toothpaste boxes, and any others and then create a robot, a car or anything else he wants

    our library has a story time session for an hour once a week that is free and we go to. they do different activities and stories for different age children so worth checking out as it also gives you an hour to sit with him while someone else does the entertaining!

    give him access to your scap material box and let him create!!!

    As Rhonda suggested baking is fun, rice crispie cakes, cookies, fruit kebabs, snadwiches - how nice to make a picnic and then take it out for the teddy bears to enjoy!

    As an ex primary school teacher I find that often children love to have the time to 'do' no constraints just create something that they want.

  32. Find a low tree he can climb safely, add a safe wooden platform - just a wedged in plank will often be enough, teach him how to climb up, set some simple rules (no higher than this branch) and when he is competent, let him do it on his own. He will love the "independence" and spend hours up there looking down on the world.
    Borrow a xylophone or tin whistle - he will pick out tunes he knows.
    A thick rope with a big knot on the end tied securely to a tree to swing on.
    Borrow a trampoline - but stay close and set rules. Kids LOVE them.
    Garden treasure hunts - make a list of 20 things in the garden to find - a feather, a shell, a piece of green glass, a blue flower etc. and give him a small bucket to put them in. Talk about what he finds.
    Stretch a piece of fishing net across his bedroom ceiling and use plastic "s" hooks and pegs to hang paintings etc - it looks fantastic, and he can see them all as he goes to sleep.

  33. Paper windmills - use coloured paper, or colour white paper, and stick them on the end of a chopstick with a drawing pin.
    Those folded paper things you put on your thumbs and index fingers and open and shut, with funny messages under the flaps inside - I don't know what they are called. Endlessly amusing.
    Make pompoms from scrap wool. Fun to practice throwing and catching safely inside.
    Thread popcorn on strings with a thick darning needle to eat off the string at leisure.

  34. A small wading pool with assorted cups & funnels & a paintbrush or tow. Do you have county fairs in your area? Have him spend time working on entrees - there are many different areas and the reward of a ribbon & prize money is nice too.

  35. Our son, who is almost five, is fascinated with water. We go to the river close to our house regularly and he collects the beach glass, smooth rocks, bottle caps, and shells. He is so intrigued with the idea of fishing we hear about taking him to try it most every week. He could spend most all day just playing in the water with our dog, writing in the sand with sticks, building sand castles, etc.

    I'd recommend any kind of lake, river, pond, stream, and just letting him explore.

  36. Wow, lots of great ideas that I'll be borrowing. I have two 5 year old twins myself!

    Their favorite activity is digging. Give them a shovel, tell them a place you might someday want a hole for a plant, even a whole tree, and set them to work.

    I'm a big believer in having them work with you on chores, and you CAN actually make it fun. My boys cook a lot with me. They can measure, stir, even cut up some veggies with a butter knife. If you prepare ahead of time, you an write out a recipe so that they can "read" it- a picture of two eggs, a cup of flour, etc. I can't tell you how much fun it is to them that they are directing me as to what goes into the bowl.

    And I second the play-doh, drawing, and library ideas. My five year olds currently have about 12 books checked out on dinosaurs, spiders, and bugs- I think it's pretty safe he'd be into one of these. Something universal about 5 year old boys.

  37. hammer, nails and an old board... My girls love doing that.

  38. My kids at 5 loved taking care of the chickens. We taught them how to feed and water them. They also loved digging in the dirt for worms to feed to them too. Kids love digging in dirt.

    TV...We don't watch much now but when the kids do watch they love the old shows. The Waltons, Andy Griffith, some of the classical movies and I don't have to worry about them watching those shows.

    Museums, zoos. They love those too.

    Other kids to play with at the park.
    Every child is different too...find out what his interest is.

  39. Hello,
    If you have a Lowe's or Home Depot near you they have projects for kids on saturday,usually simple woodworking projects.
    Libraries often have movies and crafts besides story hours.
    A local playground will give lots of space for playing and opportunites for making local friends.
    Bake cupcakes in ice cream cones (the flat bottom ones) and let him decorate them.
    Let him draw a race course with colored chalk and follow it with his bike.
    A local zoo, museum with a children's day or planitarium (my grandson loves stars!) would be a fun local trip.
    A pb&j picnic in the back yard.Kids always think food tastes better outdoors.
    A trip to local yard sales with a bit of pocket money to buy "treasures" of his very own is always fun too.
    God bless,

  40. My son is seven now, but recently we've had great fun catching little frogs and keeping them for a few hours or overnight in a little fishtank or insect environment.

    Another thing we like to do is get old magazines and chose a theme (such as african animals, fruit, australia, cars) and made a collage on a big bit of cardboars, sticking cutouts from magazines on. Its a fun way to teach kids about new things too, as you can talk about the topic while you are cutting and sticking.

    any type of gluing activity seems to always be a hit! try collecting sticks and leaves and things from outside and making a pattern by glueing them on well with anything- buttons, felt, fabric scraps..

  41. I have a 6yr old and 2 yr old and recently gave them their own small patches of yard and kids tools (with gloves) to make their own garden with few small plants etc, fenced it off and they have their own hideaway. Homemade playdough is also a winner and their are countless websites which have colouring in pages you can print out from the Wiggles to excavators etc depending on what his interests are, just google what you want. Typing stories on the computer (then send them to Dad) are easy to do, cooking pikelets and biscuits and a park if it's nearby is a great "need to get out of the house" idea.

    Good luck.


  42. Lauren, you've got so many brilliant suggestions already, I'm not going to add more (except to see your local newspaper and local library for free/low cost events). I'm sure he'll be glad to see his dad again, but I reckon he'll be a little sad too when this summer has ended!
    Keeping a calendar for him might be nice, so you can plan together what he might like to do and see how many days till his dad's back.

  43. Here I am in the midwest of USA, something after 3:00 A.M., a little bit ill. I happened upon your blog, and your question (about things to do for/with a 5-year old boy) is a very fun topic to ponder. I am remembering the days when our son was about that age. Do you have any "chapter books" in your home? or is there a library or book shop close enough to visit? "Chapter books" is the term we use for child-friendly books which have very few, if any, pictures. They need to be read aloud to the child, and they are made up of "chapters" - so there are reasonable pausing/stopping points. They usually have a lot of adventure, and the children in them tend to be very capable and innovative. Chapter books are enjoyed by children who are too young to read them for themselves, and yet they remain interesting even when the child can begin to read them himself. Two authors' names which come to mind are: Gertrude Chandler Warner and Arthur Ransome.

    Here's one that's fun for you and for your five year old: Ask him to give you two words - any 2 words. And then you undertake to tell him a story that works those two words in - eventually. If he seems to enjoy it, ask him to take a turn doing the same. If you both enjoy it, increase to 3 words. The stories may never make it to the bestseller lists, but it is so much fun to lay the opportunity for those words to arise in your story, and surprise the child with the occurrence of the words he chose.

    Ooo. I just glanced a bit at the other comments. Sounds like you're "on a roll" as we say here.

    Thank you for allowing me to pop in! Have a wonderful time together. God bless you and your young fellow.

  44. This may have already been mentioned, but my girls (ages 2-6) can spend hours playing with homemade playdough, I have posted recipe and link on my blog.

  45. This holidays my children including a five year old have made pinatas (balloon, water, flour and recycled magazines)Decorated cupcakes, made cubbies and camped. Spotlighting is a super favourite and super hero re-enactments. When all else fails paper, pencils and scissors always hits the spot. Good brother is serving in Iraq (we plan on making him a care package as part of this weeks activities).

  46. What a great idea for the camera!!! I am sure he will be proud when he shows his Dad at the end of the summer exactly what he did.

    If you live in a safe place, pitch a tent in the backyard. Spend the night outside with him, tell stories, watch for fireflies, stare at the stars.

    There are so many wonderful ideas on here, I am sure you can keep him busy for the whole summer without any problems! :)

  47. Cover a table with a roll of craft paper and give him finger paints. Hose him off after he is done with his masterpiece. Take a picture of him painting and send it to Dad.

    Try Amanda Soule's Book the Creative Family...loads of great ideas in there.

    Chalk to draw on the pavement is also fun.


    AM of the bread

  48. great ideas, i'm gonna bookmark these! i remember my brothers knitting at that age.

  49. Take advantage of all the *free* stuff happening this time of year. Our town and the surrounding towns all host "Concerts On The Common" once a week. You can catch a Jazz, Swing, Classical performance. The library's here also sponsor loads of free classes, exhibits this time of year. What about a living history museum on a reduced admission date? The zoo, water slides, hikes at local mountains or trails with a backpack full of binoculaurs for birdwatching, a camera, notebook, sketch materials. Visit a farm, flower nursery or different churches have all their Vacation Bible School weeks at this time of year. Hope this helps!

  50. My kiddos spend hours outside digging in our garden, and running their cars and trucks through the "roads" that they make. I designated one part of one flowerbed as their digging area because I don't have a sandbox.

    Also check out your local library. Most have a summer reading program, or story times, or possibly even a weekly art time. At least, they will have lots and lots of books. My son, who's nearly five, just chose about eight books about big trucks and machines. We're having fun reading them, and next week we can get new ones. The best things about libraries is, they're free!

  51. There are so many fantastic ideas here, including the one I was going to say, which is: read to him.
    So now I want to say, don't feel you have to "entertain" him all the time. Make sure he has time when he has to occupy himself, or join in with what you need to be doing.
    That boy is going to have a great summer!

  52. I thought of another one...

    teaching him to tie his shoe laces

    His Daddy and teachers will love you for this one!

  53. Plenty of wonderful ideas here! You can't beat activities for small boys where they can get dirty,wet and experience a bit of well supervised 'safe' danger and have some adventures.Also things that give them a bit of responsibility like the digital camera idea which is a great one!
    You've got chooks haven't you? Beingresponsible for looking after the egg collecting and helping with the clear out might appeal.Sounds as if he'll needd to have pelnty of mucking about clothes so he can get dirty and not worry.And don't forget plenty of day-dreaming time when he can ramble,look and imagine.Kids are often so overorganised these days it's exhausting and so bad for the development of their imaginations.Good luck, hope you enjoy it as much as he will.

  54. My 5 year old son would rather be outside than doing anything else! He occupies his days with playing in the sand, catching frogs and bugs, collecting rocks and sticks, playing with suirtguns in the backyard - squirt guns are definitely a favorite.

    I agree with the flashlight idea, my son has never met a flashlight he didn't love! His favorite is the kind you wear around your head :)

    We catch all manner of insects and learn about them on the internet or in books. Make a bug journal about all the insects you come across. We have several birdfeeders and are also into looking up birds and learning about what birds come to our feeders... you could build a simple bird feeder with recycled materials, fill it and see what takes advantage of the free food!

    Take advantage of your local library... ours has a fun summer reading program and story hour each week.

    We also have a large garden and he loves to dig holes in the dirt on the edges of the garden. Building forts is also a favorite...find old blankets/sheets and make a tent in the yard or have him help build something out of old wood. My son loves tools and has learned to use a hammer pretty well.

    We have caught several monarch caterpillars and watched them morph into butterflies...
    Have him keep a "journal" of his summer. He can dictate to you and draw pictures of his favorite activities.
    If he is used to television it make take a little time for him to turn his creative brain "on" again, but be patient and soon he will forget all about that television. He will be having too much fun in the "real" world!

    5 is such a fun age... I am truly enjoying my son and his many creative ideas - enjoy your summer with your 5 year old blessing!

  55. You have so many great ideas here I'm sure you'll have a great summer. I agree with every one else, and only want to add that it would be a good idea to organise different "boxes" of things to do. One box with art supplies, one with playdough, one for wood blocks and lego, one for cars, one with books, one for outside play (bubbles, water guns etc)and keep one special box of things to do for when he is feeling homesick and missing everyone. This way, you can pull out a box of stuff, get him started and leave him to it. You'll find that kids do best when they aren't over organised...a bit of help and a few props and they'll be away without too much help on your part, then you can get on with dinner etc while knowing you have plenty of stuff prepared for when you need it. I hope that helps.

  56. A tent to make or een hut. Fisching or fly kites.

  57. How about a picnic or two in the local park - my 4 year old loves doing this.

    Star-gazing...I'm not sure where you're based - we're Northern Hemisphere - so are planning to watch the perseid meteor shower which takes place from mid-July...

    Drawing, painting and cooking are also very popular. Our local library are running a reading club this summer, so we're signing up for that.

    Don't underestimate the occasional use of the TV, you can sometimes find informative children's programmes which can lead to further activity or discussion.

    That's all I can think of at the moment, but hope it helps.

  58. Paper mache with old newspaper and flour and water paste. and Salt Dough. Use cookie cutters or free hand a design/plaque. After the dough is baked, use paint or cheap markers to decorate then seal with clear varnish, shelac or if small enough, clear nail polish! Long as boys have some sort of ball to kick or play catch with, they'll be occupied for hours. Marbles! Usually cheap. Dinosaurs. cars. Read him a story at bedtime and have a little chat. Freecycle or borrow toys. Make 'binoculars' out of toliet paper tubes. make birdseed balls or similar and hang in garden to watch for birds.

  59. I don't know if anybody mentioned this already, but when my children were between five and around 8 years old, they were enthralled by nature so we helped them to learn to identify insects, birds and trees (they were not interested in plants for some reason). No need to get formal about it, but photos or drawings in a nature journal are a good idea, as is capturing and releasing insects for a closer look (do it kindly please). Lots of books on the subject for that age group.

  60. for some wonderful ideas go to
    Its a site called the crafty crow and has new ideas on a daily basis.

  61. With 60 comments so far, forigve me for not reading over them to see if this suggestion has already popped up...
    Buy a packet of straight drinking straws(not the ones with the bend or flexi neck) and a roll of sticky tape. Challenge him to build things out of them ie a tall structure, a house etc.
    Good luck and have fun.

  62. Thank you all so much! As a mid-20's couple we don't really know much about small children so all of your comments were really helpful.

    We're going to look for a library with a children's section and story hour and give him our older digital camera to play with and take pictures. They'll probably have boy-scout project manuals and things as well to help us out. Hopefully we can work together to send his dad lots of pictures and nice long letters about his "discoveries" (his favorite word).

    We also discovered that our local farming supply store has some workshops for small children. They have one that teaches you to build wooden trucks and one for a small pull-along waggon. We don't have chickens, yet, but he can probably help feed the other animals (we have kids, horses, and a calf). We'll also find a patch of land to give him, whether he wants to plant things or dig and play trucks. He'll be with us until October, maybe longer if his dad can't get back so we should have time to grow some small things if he wants.

    We do have a tv and computer (just don't use them much) so he's allowed to watch tv or play computer games for an hour if he wants, right now he watches my old Winnie the Pooh shows after his bathtime to wind down.

    Thanks again, I'm bookmarking this page so I can easily find everyone's great ideas. Best wishes to you all.


  63. There have been some awesome ideas in here!

    I just wanted to add, it's okay for children to be ... 'bored'... the best gift you can give a child is safe surroundings (with unintrusive supervision & access to suitable 'stuff' to do things with) within which to use their imagination...

    Kids don't always need to be prescribed a project, or have things organised for them to do, not all the time anyway. Too much of this means they come to need it, and can't think to entertain themselves...

    Cubby houses with sheets, tunnels in the mud, games of knights and dragons and whatever else their imagination can conjure... freedoms in the garden... the world is open...


  64. I have a six year old boy and here are some of the things he enjoys:
    Gardening, bug hunting, painting, coloring with sidewalk chalk, bike riding, reading books together, playing games on the computer, cooking, doing science experiments (baking soda vinegar is his favorite), finger crocheting, sewing (fleece does not fray so no need to turn or anything), playing legos, going to the park, imagination games with his siblings, playing with the chickens, making nature collections, hiking, drawing. If you need any good experiment websites or craft sites we homeschool so I have tons in my favorites I am more than willing to share. :)

  65. Science Experiments - search "kitchen science"
    Park - go to the local park for fun on the swings and playing with other kids.
    Play Group - see if your local place of worship has a play group where he can play sports and other games with other kids.
    Dress up box - you can usually get pieces of clothing inexpensively from the charity shop to make costumes for police officers or firemen. my favorite game!

  66. I haven't commented in a long while, but this one begged attention. When our son was five we:
    took a flashlight out at night on frog hunts counting and comparing sizes. We even had friendly competitions for who could find the most. For some reason, this is more fun in your pajamas!(look for whatever is abundant in the night in your area)

    looked for animal tracks in the sand, made plaster casts of them and then looked them up in our trusty guide book


    took nature hikes-being sure to touch and smell and use as many of our senses as safely possible, and singing as we went (might explain why we never saw any animals)

    made up nonsense stories, each taking turns with the plot

    made nature art collages on sturdy paper or cardstock using the neat stuff we collected on our walks

    cooking-what boy doesn't like to eat hot cookies or buns? and it is much more rewarding if you helped!

    pretend play (I have been a dragon, a damsel in distress, a pirate...and my son was always the hero)

    Quiet time activities included reading to him, coloring with him, snack time with "serious" talk (the things your discover!)or just handing out in our sheet tent under the dining room table.

    Let loose, enjoy and he'll never give tv a second thought. Oh, and you'll both sleep amazingly well, LOL!

    My "baby" is 18 now. I do wish I could come play with you guys!

  67. Not sure if anyone has shared this yet but I recently found a great link: 100 Fun Frugal Things To Do With Kids

    Mostly I'd just let their interests and curiosities lead the way. I'm sure he'll have plenty of ideas of his own!


  68. My kiddos are soon to be 7 and 9 yrs old. Water is the all time favorite thing in the summer. Then add a little dirt and mud is the next favorite thing. They spent hours doing both. They also like doing their own gardens.

    Library is a definite must. We also use for lapbooks and unit study ideas to go with the books. My girls absolutely love books being read to them and it is even more fun if they have a finished product to show others about the book that they just loved!

    We also recycled a old tire into a tire swing and my youngest spends hours on it. Nature journals are also great for being outdoors. There is a blog called Handbook of Nature Study. The Outdoor Hour challenges are fun to do with the kids and I also learn lots. Handbook of Nature is an actual book and you can see it online for free. Oh yea...and don't forget the stars, moon, planets, etc. at night. One good astronomy book and hours can be spent outside looking at the beautiful night sky.

    Well that's about it off the top of my head. Have loads of fun with all the suggestions from everyone!



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