What activities does your 5-7 year old do independently? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 07-26-2011, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a 5.5 year old who's super imaginative, very verbal, and loves to draw/sew/do playdough/other artsy craftsy things. She loves to be read to more than anything on earth. We started reading the Harry Potter books a month ago and we're already halfway through the fifth one (which is 850 pages), with a few detours for a couple Ramona books. 


But she never - never - does anything on her own. Well, she'll watch movies, though even that she'd much rather have someone do it with her. And when she's drawing or doing playdough, etc., she'd really rather someone be reading out loud to her at the same time.


I can understand the personality trait, but I also have a fifteen month old. And, you know, stuff to do like cook and clean and shower. I'm looking for ideas to strew of things that a 5-7 year old (not reading independently) can do on their own. Bonus points if a 15 month old can't easily screw it up.


I'd rather it be open-ended, and rather it not cost a lot, but I'm also open to suggestions of specific craft kits (for example, she liked these, although wanted to do them together.) I'm going to pick up a typewriter at the thrift store. That's the kind of idea I'm looking for, but I'm open to anything your 5-7 year old likes to do and can and will do on their own


(So far she has NOT so much been into dollhouse/playmobil kind of play, or legos/blocks/construction. She also has NO interest in listening to audiobooks and minimal interest in computer games.)

Thanks for any ideas!



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#2 of 8 Old 07-27-2011, 06:11 AM
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Will she listen to music by herself?  Or is that out b/c it's not direct human involvement?


Is she willing to do any of those activities while you're in the same room with her but not directly involved?  (Trying to figure out if she just wants your presence, like my DS, or if she actually needs your active involvement.)


Would it work for you to start making up a story (Once upon a time, there was a bird...) and have her finish it?  Then you'd just have to listen.  (Maybe start off by taking turns every other sentence, until she was used to it, then switch to your just starting it.)


You wrote that she wouldn't listen to audiobooks, but have you tried recording your own voice reading and have her listen to that?  (I'm not saying it'll work, but it might be worth a try.)


How about crocheting or knitting?  It would require some time from you up front, as you showed her how to do it, but once she got the hang of it, it's a fairly independent activity.  She could make washcloths for her sibling (or herself, or you), which are small, quick projects (unlike a scarf, which can seem to drag on forever).  Between your library and YouTube it's fairly easy to learn how to do either (and I learned how to crochet around the age of 6 from just my mother showing me how).


Or, there are tons of needlework kits sold at Michael's/Jo-Ann Fabric & Crafts.  When I was younger I enjoyed the pre-printed longstitch ones.  When I was older I switched over to counted cross-stitch.


How about stamping?  (You can even make your own stamps out of a cut up potato if you don't want to buy the rubber kind.)


Is she willing/able to help you cook and clean?  Or would that be too much interference?

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#3 of 8 Old 07-27-2011, 09:13 AM
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I'm not very good with distraction, that's my husband's great quality.  He'll take time first thing in the morning to set up some strange and wonderful fort, rearrange the furniture etc.  That's really all it takes with my girls, at least for a while.  I might spend some time reading, then let them know I need to do X for a bit before I can give them more time.  We do regular "exchanges" like this as the need arises.  They are closer in age so they can keep each other company.  Even though your kids are further apart, your youngest is close to they age my dd2 was when the girls started playing together more.

     Some times there are big demands for my time.  Honestly, not much gets done in the house!  When I need to finish some housework (or gardening), I let them know that if they want my company, they have to do what I am doing or at least come into the room.  Or I'll do whatever needs to be done in the room they want to play in--there is never a lack of housework anywhere.  My youngest, 4.5, will bring stacks and stacks of old puzzle books and jigsaw puzzles into the kitchen to do on the floor while I do the dishes.  Or she'll decide to wash her toy dishes.  This is not the good thing you might think, because with 2 of them I'll pretty much need to abandon the sink if my oldest, 6.5, decides to play, too.  (They fight about who gets to make my coffee in the morning!)  Sometimes they will actually help me and they enjoy all kinds of things, but they usually don't hang with it very long.  In no time they will be off playing again.  Sometimes the game evolves.  Hanging out laundry is a lot of fun, and often evolves into wanting to wash rags by hand and hang them up.  

     I don't have any specific homeschoolish activities to recommend, as you have asked.  The girls just aren't self-sufficient enough in the skilled activities to want to do this by themselves.  They will do puzzle books, or read a bit according to their abilities or draw.  We watch 1/2 to 1-1/2 hrs of videos first thing in the morning.  DD1 uses our camera sometimes.  I shower in the evening when my husband is reading bedtime stories.

     They can be extraordinarily self-sufficient in their play, though, and that is what I encourage when I need to.  I laugh at "strewing things about" because EVERYTHING is strewn about and it is almost folly to try putting things away.  Their games get sooooo elaborate and they want to start up right where they left off last night.  I don't so much clean up as do "toy finding".  Having a younger sibling old enough to play with makes a huge difference, though just as often their fights break down to the point where I have to intervene, soothe, and distract as best I can.

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#4 of 8 Old 07-27-2011, 09:53 AM
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If she never does anything on her own, I think you'll be hard-pressed to make suggestions from other people who whose kids have different personalities work for your kid. She's obviously very gregarious and social, and wants to be around others all the time. My vote would be to include her in your cooking and cleaning rather than trying to find a way to distract her while you do those things by yourself. My youngest is now 8, and my memory isn't what it used to be, but I'm pretty sure that at ages 5-7 she was already doing all sorts of helpful things around the house. In the short term it sometimes took a little more time to instruct her and set her up with part of a job that she could do, but in the long term is was time well spent. She is now a housework expert and is a huge asset. I can finish jobs much more quickly with her helping -- she's pretty much as capable as an adult in most respects. 


Also, consider creating up a portable craft space so that she can do her artsy-crafty stuff while you work nearby at something else. Being read aloud to is probably a way to keep you close and involved in what she's doing which is likely why she craves it so much. If she has a stool and a folding table (we have a $15 TV table that we use this way) that she can set up in a corner of the kitchen while you're doing dishes, or in the master bedroom while you're tidying up and changing the sheets, you'll probably be able to get more done. She may also be more amenable to audiobooks if you and she listen together (rather than using them as a way to separate yourself physically from her). So if you need to fold laundry, sit her on top of the washer, turn on the audiobook in the laundry room and fold away while the two of you enjoy the story. Make eye contact with her regularly so that she feels part of your world.



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#5 of 8 Old 07-27-2011, 01:04 PM
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I have a dd like yours, and (sorry to be a downer here) but there was really nothing that I could do to her to play independently at that age.  Mostly what I did was to make sure dd  had a friend or two to play with, either at our house or someone else's.  As long as she had someone to do stuff with, together they would do all those crafty things that I envisioned her being able to do independently - knitting, fort building, collecting bugs outside, you name it. 


Now, at age 9.5, she is so much better at independent activities; getting hamsters a year and a half ago was huge, as was adopting a rabbit a few months ago.  The animals take a lot of time, care and attention and keep her busy.  She also got an iPod for her birthday with one of those little docking stations, so now she can listen to audio books in her room while she colors or plays with her hamsters. 

~ Meredith, mom to dd(Jan '02), ds1(May '04) and ds2 (June '07) ~ :
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#6 of 8 Old 07-28-2011, 11:42 PM
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My vote would be to include her in your cooking and cleaning rather than trying to find a way to distract her while you do those things by yourself.


^ I completely agree with this idea  ^


For my 4 yr old DS, it's make believe, which I am always a part of.  Even if I'm getting ready in the morning, making a meal, or folding laundry, I am always aware of his make believe "moment". By taking part in it with him, he will stay entertained for up to an hour at a time.  This morning it was a train on fire, he was dressed as the conductor.   I kept feeding his imagination, and he kept running off to save it.  The other evening, he was a ninja saving us from the "bad guys".  Again, If I play along, he runs off to play out the scene.  So simple when my task is something ordinary around the house.  


Usually these are "phases"  It may take her longer to become independent, but eventually she will. Good luck momma~


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#7 of 8 Old 07-29-2011, 06:10 AM
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I must admit to being somewhat heartened by the responses because on reading the title I thought "Nothing!". Really, it's not quite true but in practical terms (for you know, showering and the like) it's true.
However, I have good news...it WILL get better as your 15 month old gets older. DD 5 finds DS 2 entertaining enough by himself now for periods of up to 20 minutes (long enough to shower, wow!). Mostly they play hide and seek or build "boats" together out of cushions, up turned tables etc. When DS was littler "crawling races" were her favorite game to play with him, can you encourage something similar?

Grateful mama striving to respect the two precious beings entrusted to me DD '06 and DS '09
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#8 of 8 Old 07-31-2011, 01:59 AM
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Almost everything. My child is almost 11 now but back when he was 5-7 he would play independently for hours with art supplies, legos, read books, computer games, play outside, the list is almost endless.  Today at almost 11 his likes still include art, legos, books, computers, and such things.  His skill level has improved as well as his intensity.  He has gone from character legos to more complex sets.  Hes moved from coloring books to 'artist' supplies.  Things like that as well.


Would your DD respond better if you phrased things as "this is your craft set show me what you can create. I will be back in 20 mins to see what you've done?"  Or yes, we are reading HP together, we can read for 30 mins a night, you can read to yourself any other book during the day?


Keep us posted.

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