Checklist of Activities
- you can find some make your recipes as well
Corn starch and water
- to finger paint with or on a slip and slide
- making bread by hand
Treasure hunt in sand box
Give the dog a bath
- very wet and very messy
- plant some sunflowers or pumpkins or....
Dig a hole in the dirt
- fill it with water - have fun
Wash the floor
Wash the windows with a spray bottle
"Paint" the house with a paintbrush and water
Play doh & cookie cutters
Bright colored paper to color on
- we have neon paper that my niece likes
various coloring mediums
- chalk; pencils, gel pens, markers, crayons
(they make different crayons like glitter, neon, etc,)
They make paper punches that punch out small designs
- for example a heart.
Scissors and glue
(they make glitter glue)
A hole punch
Sidewalk / driveway chalk
A huge tub of water and things like
spoons, cups, meat baster, eye dropper,
measuring cups, squirt guns / squirt bottles
Sing and dance videos or cd's of music
- my 3 yr old nephew loves to dance when
I put on the Disney Tarzan cd of music
- free would be finding a great radio station to dance to.
Shaving cream on a table top is fun to mess in
- get a can from the dollar store.
Various size balls to play with
- Koosh balls are great for indoor.
Paint with a paint brush
Water color paints
- you can color on white paper with a white crayon
and then paint over it with water color paints and
the paint does not stick where you colored.
Small sessions of activities like hopping
- hop on one foot, switch, hop with both feet;
run to the back of the yard and back,
time her (if she wants) to see how long she can do such and
such or how long it takes to do something like run to the back
of the yard, stand on one foot, stand and play catch with the
Koosh, how many hops does it take to get to this place
- count for her/with her, etc.
Throw a ball/Koosh/bean bag/folded up socks into a laundry basket.
Gather up boxes and make things.
We've made a sail boat, a race car, etc
with boxes large enough for Z to sit in when he was that age.
I remember a 12 pack soda (coke) box being an engine on
something we made. He has also made forts and buildings large
enough for his GI Joes. If you have a Sam's Club or Costco's near
by or possibly other stores might let you have their boxes for free.
How about a board and some nails and a hammer ?
We used to love to make "mud pies" as children
- all it took was something to make it in (usually our wagon),
dirt, water and available items like sticks, leaves, rocks, and
Z also loved to build with mud, sticks, rocks, etc. He would build
channels, damns, water falls, etc.
And craft dough made from white bread and glue.
VERY messy while making and ends up with a lovely texture,
nice enough to do rose petals! And it air dries. The recipe
I used years ago called for glycerin which I don't keep around.
I substituted dish liquid.
One thing I haven't tried yet is rose beads, which sound really
cool. But I've made magazine beads (where you roll a strip with
glue) and those are great.
I remember stepping on soda cans when I was little so they squish
around your shoes and you can "tap" dance. Also making "stilts" out
of cans and string.
Collect all your crayon bits and pieces, sort by general color and
then melt and make into new crayons. You can use the wilton molds to
make some really fun ones that are nice and chunky to hold.
Maybe you could lay out a bedsheet when she's going to do a craft
project to catch all the odds and ends. Then just get out the
construction paper, the colors the scissors and tape and see what
anyways, my kids 'love' painting in the bathtub! you can mix any
kind of ingredients together, even powdered sugar, water and food
coloring (so when young kids lick, no biggie;) they paint walls, we
turn water on, empty and keep doing it over and over. they love
to 'pick up their mess!:)
make a life-size sugar cook of child, frost with creme cheese/powder
sugar or whip creme frosting and put fruit (colorful) on it for
clothes, hair, etc. (was in family magazine) cute! haven't tried it
my kids love to make their own tortillas/bread
take a bath, color water a different color each time (food coloring)
glitter spray for hair. my kids love to play 'rock-star'
finger nail painting
melt down candles into separate jar, get one of those 'candle
warmers' (walmart candle aisle, furniture section) and smell the
smell! made it themselves:)
melt candles down, decorate a pine cone with it!! just pourt it
over. pretty pine cone, smells good:)
make meals fun! cut and orange, lets, say. just a slice, put it in
center of plate, then take 5 or so blueberries, then add another
colorful fruit/veggie and keep going till you have all the..(don't
know what they're called;) but the 'rays', i think going across the
plate. make little people;) for st. patricks day, color it all
green! green eggs, etc. i've tried coloring pancakes...can't seem to
make your own hats/masks, etc. go for nature walk, talk about what
you've seen (google it:) see what other 'flowers'(or whatever they
show interest in) there are:)
My boys loved a large lid filled with rice. We used this instead of a sand
box. It lived in the kitchen with funnels and all sorts of things. When
they were done, we'd have fun with the brooms and 'clean' up. Usually it
was clean enough to just put all the rice back into the box.
I used to put water in our recyclable tubs and things and then freeze them.
We'd go outside on the patio and draw or make things with the ice. This
cooled them down on the days that were hot.
We have window markers that draw on all our windows and the sliding glass
We used cardboard and golf tees as our board and nails. This was great with
shoe boxes, too!
We made tons of confetti with paper. The loved cutting things.
We played 'family ball' with the squish balls intended for the pool. This
is where you put as many balls on the floor as you have and roll them as
fast as you can back and forth.
We also play sock snowball fights. As it sounds, we get all our socks,
separate each individual sock and roll it into a ball. Then we divide them
and use the bed as the 'fort' in between us and throw them to our heart's
content. Then when it was over, we'd open a drawer in the dresser and play
'basketball' to put them all away.
At this age, I washed little 'real' clothing as the boys were always in
dress-up stuff. I converted old clothing (some mine) into costumes like
Robin Hood and capes out of old material or sheets. Hats were a hit too.
We had a sheet in the living room to make an instant cave to play in and
read in. A dining chair was used as the door to crawl under.
We spent a lot of time in the tub. They make great tub toys that hold the
color tablets, some bubbles if they wanted and they make color crayons that
can be used on the bathtub walls. Sometimes just 'washing' the walls with
the bubbles and a washcloth was enough to keep them occupied for hours!
Anything that's easy to stack then knock over was fun. We have soft blocks
that they loved to do this with. I'd build a 'structure' as fast as I could
on my right, then as they were running I would build one as fast as I could
on my left. This kept them running around for a bit!
We loved just adventuring, too. We'd get all our stuff (flashlights, a
bucket to carry our stuff in, magnifying glass, map [usually something we
drew with the necessary 'x' on it]) and headed out. We'd make up the
mission as we went along and often it changed many times during the walk.
We'd save a space on our deck that was to display all our 'treasure'.
The boys enjoyed blowing bubbles and more so - they enjoyed chasing bubbles
that were blown. This was great in the park or outside in the grass.
Also try waxed paper and aluminum foil, for art projects. A pencil
on aluminum foil can be very cool. Also the foil put on top of
something carved, or even coins. But over a patterned metal platter,
or pottery with a pattern, and press down the aluminum. Then it can
be made into a ball. Then it can be put in the recycling.
Waxed paper is also cool with a pencil or colored pencils, and there
are ways to layer leaves and flower petals between the layers and
iron them between sheets of paper (so the wax doesn't get on the iron
or ironing board).
Paper towels and food coloring. You can make kind of tie-dye designs
with little cups of food coloring, fold the towel, dip different
corners in different colors, unfold it carefully and let it dry. You
can use those for wrapping paper (or tissue inside a box when a gift
is being wrapped).
All of those take a lot of adult interaction, but that's a good
thing. Instead of looking for things she can do without you, look
for things you can do with her.
> Waxed paper is also cool with a pencil or colored pencils, and there
> are ways to layer leaves and flower petals between the layers and
> iron them between sheets of paper (so the wax doesn't get on the iron
> or ironing board).
You can shred those stubby ends of crayons with a grater, then
sprinkle them between sheets of waxed paper, heat with an iron until
the crayon melts, then staple all around with a frame of construction
paper. Hang it in a window and you have a stained glass effect. The
leaves and flower petals would work with it, too.
" gather up boxes and make things. We've made a sail boat, a race car,
etc with boxes large enough for Z to sit in when he was that age. I
remember a 12 pack soda (coke) box being an engine on something we made.
He has also made forts and buildings large enough for his GI Joes. If
you have a Sam's Club or Costco's near by or possibly other stores might
let you have their boxes for free."
Ohhh you just gave me a nice memory! When C was about 5/6 we
acquired a bunch of big boxes, big enough to sit in. She made a train
out of them and attatched them altogether and put all of her special
stuffed animal friends in it, with her biggest bear being the engineer
with a special engineer (mr. bubble) hat. That thing was played with
for months, it went inside and outside. The neighbor kids loved it! We
lived in a big house at the time, so it lived anywhere it wanted to and
lasted a good long time!
M (6) has loved loads of hands on messy stuff. Almost everything
eventually involves more than just her hands by the time it's all done.
I keep large squares of cardboard to lay out to do large scale painting
with hands and feet, or the cornstarch and water stuff, or the playdough
Things we keep as staple supplies are cotton balls, cornstarch, food
coloring, flour, salt, koolaid, large tempera paints/poster paints,
loads of paper, many things to paint with, rubber stamps and ink, yarn,
anything that seems like it might be fun and interesting, like those
water soluble packing peanuts, etc. We also have a messy art book that
has recipes that use common ingredients. Margaux pulls that out when
she is looking for physical stimulus activities.
Fort building is a fun and lasting activity to occupy a kid for many
many hours. We've even gone so far as to put the tent up in the living
room, or even the yard in the summer for outside play.
-=-Fort building is a fun and lasting activity to occupy a kid for many
She could have a cardboard house with stained-glass windows (back up
to the crayon-shavings-in-waxed-paper
doorknob! Make a hole in the door and pull through a long fan-
folded piece of foil, and then wad up the ends that stick through for
We used to dump stuff in the bathtub for the girls to play with/in.
You can buy finger paints, but we used to buy powdered tempera paint
and mix it with a little liquid soap and water. A favorite was instant
pudding. Cornstarch was good. They had a big bag full of bathtub toys
that were really mostly kitchen utensils, plastic food, fast food
toys, beach toys, etc. Egg beaters, whisks, sifters, funnels, basters
- those I remember as being especially fun.
Playdough made at home is WAY cooler than store-bought. Google for a
recipe - but be creative. Add oatmeal. Or high fiber cereal like Fiber
One or rice - for weird consistencies. Add pineapple or chocolate or
mint flavorings. Add bits of herbs and spices. You can use the
coloring that is used by cake decorators to get more vivid colors.
I asked my resident expert on 5 year old activities what she would suggest.
She says you have to make snowcones, do cannon balls onto the air matress , sugar painting ( glue on the paper then sprinkle colored sugar on ) , bicycle painting...
my 9 year was the "bicycle washer" and squirted paint on her tires and she rode her bike over a big piece of cardboard making colorful tracks.
Sandra said: Paper towels and food coloring. You can make kind of tie-dye
with little cups of food coloring, fold the towel, dip different
corners in different colors, unfold it carefully and let it dry. You
can use those for wrapping paper (or tissue inside a box when a gift
is being wrapped).
OOoo, how about putting the food coloring in little travel spray pumps
and tie-dying with that!
> > Waxed paper is also cool with a pencil or colored pencils, and there
> > are ways to layer leaves and flower petals between the layers and
> > iron them between sheets of paper (so the wax doesn't get on the iron
> > or ironing board).
> You can shred those stubby ends of crayons with a grater, then
> sprinkle them between sheets of waxed paper, heat with an iron until
> the crayon melts, then staple all around with a frame of construction
> paper. Hang it in a window and you have a stained glass effect. The
> leaves and flower petals would work with it, too.
Once finished with a colored picture, you can rub the back of the paper with
vegetable oil for an instant "stained glass window" :)
> Sandra said: Paper towels and food coloring. You can make kind of
> with little cups of food coloring, fold the towel, dip different
> corners in different colors, unfold it carefully and let it dry. You
> can use those for wrapping paper (or tissue inside a box when a gift
> is being wrapped).
[My kids] and I were dying eggs and we had lots of extra dye so
we used it on round coffee filters (fold and dip). After they are dry,
put three of them together to make flowers.
We've also dyed rocks with egg dye. Porous rocks (like sandstone)
work really well, but different rocks have different effects. Try
half submerging some.
One thing my daughter has really enjoyed is her art table. We have a
large low table covered with a wipeable table cloth and a low
bookshelf next to it with more books and art supplies. It is in the
living room/kitchen/dining room area (all open & connected) so it is
right in the center of everything.
The art table has plain paper, construction paper, scissors, glue,
glue sticks, crayons, markers, rubber stamps, pipe cleaners, popsicle
sticks, origami, tape, a stapler, lots of non-messy paints (dot-art
paints and another set that is like roll on deodorant), coloring
books, writing books for practicing letters, yarn, poofy balls for
art projects, stickers, clay, noodles, playfoam and probably a few
other things. We also have paints (water color and tempra), pastels,
glitter glue, and playdough available upon request. She LOVES it.
We had most of those things around before we had an art table, but
putting them all together for her like this made a huge difference in
how she used them and how often she used them. One of the things that
she really wanted for her birthday earlier this week was to get new
supplies for the art table. She helped me shop for new art supplies
and she was very happy when I reorganized the table and added a few
Some things I plan to add:
pine cones & other things we collect outside
colored tape (she has had this in the past and loved it - huge "spider
web" in the living room!)
tie-dyed coffee filters also make marvelous butterflies when tied in the
middle with clothespins (or with pipecleaners), then you can tie a piece of
string on them and fly them like little kites! for the flowers, we fold the
filters up into fourths or sixths and cut petal edges into them, also, stick
a pipecleaner in the center for a stem, layer a few filters, bend the stem
in the center. the most fun is experimenting with different shapes and
More From Lisa:
Blow up a balloon and "keep it in the air" great indoor activity.
Balloon volleyball is fun - set up a net (sheet or large towel works great) one person on each side of the "net" and hit the balloon back and forth. OR you could bat the balloon back and forth between you two without a "net".
Balloon punch balls - it's a thick balloon with a rubber band. You hold onto the rubber band and rhythmically punch it back and forth - those are cheap and at most stores like groceries and Wal-Mart;k-mart;target types.
Z loved making balloon "things" like animals, hats, etc. We had a book that gave picture instructions, and the skinny balloons with the little hand pump - because you really cannot blow them up with your mouth. The instruction book was great in that it was a launching off place.
Take a large straw and attach gift wrap ribbons of various widths and lengths to it with a stapler or anything else you have for a stick/wand/something to attach the ribbons to. Running with the streamers/ribbons and waving them around.
go for a "walk" and hunt for neat things to glue onto paper; make rock creatures - a pet rock perhaps.
keep a good stock of stationery items in their cupboard including glue, threads - thick/strong/thin/various color, cellotapes - diff sizes - broad, medium, small - newspapers, various shape cutting scissors, spirograph making plates, waste pieces of cloths from your local tailor, spool, cloth pegs, unused cardboard boxes like things. sand, sand toys, water tub, water toys kept in a place where it is easy to clean up later. having a junk box (in my kids words - its precious items box) is also a good idea.
let the kid slowly learn to manage their his own free time by making/experimenting things around the house. also remember that you cannot make the child happy all the times by providing things in their hands... they need to figure out things on their own to occupy themselves.
More From Sandra:
-=-water toys kept in a place where it is easy to clean up later.-=-
We had a plastic bin for water toys, and would leave it in the tub
until they were dry and then put it under the sink. That was helpful
The art table ideas are making ME want to go and play with paper and
glue and dye. I did want to remind moms whose children are new to
this and who are considering these things for the first time of this:
Don't make it your child's responsibility to keep the area clean.
You clean it up. Maybe, if you make it fun, your child will want to
help. But part of unschooling is providing space and materials for
learning to take place.
If you say "You can use these things if you clean it up," you might
as well say "You can use this, but the result will be me being angry
and you being in trouble."
Small children are capable of taking things off a shelf long before
they're able to put them back. They are able to color long before
they can manage to put crayons back in the box.
Make it your job to clean the area up, not theirs. The results down
the line will be wonderful.
Yesterday I was unloading a very full dishwasher to load it up with
two sinks' worth of dishes. I asked Holly if she would help, and
pulled out the silverware tray. She was putting that away and I was
putting away the other stuff, and I turned around and she and her
boyfriend were finishing off the whole rest of the inside.
He's from a "Clean it up yourself" family, and when I've gone in
where he is and offered to pick up his dishes, or brought him and
Holly food, he acts surprised and embarrassed and grateful--out of
proportion to what I'm doing, which is picking up dishes from where
people have eaten. He's not used to it. But my kids come and get my
dishes too, or if they pass by where I am they often ask if I need
Generosity will have a payback, a few years back.
Selfishness and control will too, but you won't like that one.
Just to mention, there is spray frosting that can be used very artistically. Tastes terrible, so after we bought some and decided not to ruin a cake with it, it became backyard spray paint. It doesn't wash off any faster than the acrylic paint they fingerpainted onto the back porch, though. It's just not so toxic. One really cool ghosty face has lasted months. We also used to spread a large (8'x6') sheet of heavy plastic in the kitchen and give them paints (tempera, usually) and paper, or paper plates, or cardboard boxes, or small unfinished wooden things, or 25-cent baskets from the Salvation Army store. Often they painted in their underwear, then ended up painting their bodies. This offers still more fun in the tinted bath which follows. Plastic comes in huge rolls available at hardware stores. We also have spread it out on the floor to play in bubble stuff and in uncooked grits, a winter 'sand.' When the fun is done, roll it up and
throw the plastic out. We have also recently built 'log cabins' out of popsicle sticks from the dollar store. One house is very planned and tidy, and one is "like the Weasley's house, all tippy." Emily asked to paint something with acrylic paints again, so they are going to paint the picnic table. This resulted a few years ago in a porch with very sweet multicolored hand prints, etc. I can't wait to see what will end up on the picnic table this summer.
More From Pam:
> We have also recently built 'log cabins' out of popsicle sticks
If you take two or three sheets of newspaper - lay them one on top of
the other and roll them together from one corner to the other - put a
little piece of tape to hold the roll together - you can build with
the newspaper "logs." You can build HUGE structures and if you're
thoughtful about how you build, they can be very very strong. Use
masking tape or scotch tape to build with.
It takes a while to roll enough logs to have a lot of fun with them -
so I suggest parents (with kid help as much as they want) sit and roll
logs for a few hours one evening - maybe while watching tv. Then the
kids can have a plentiful supply to build with.