Sep 19, 2012

45 Minutes a Day: Ideas to Occupy a Six Year Old

My grandson, Mr. B., is now SIX (gasp!). I've noticed over the past few months that he seems overly interested in mildly violent things - video games, YouTube videos, TV shows. Anything that has fight scenes and blood, and he's on it. His mom monitors what he's watching and playing, but if people are playing video games in the room he is in... he's watching. If they are watching movies or TV shows that may not be age appropriate for a 6 year old while he's around... he's watching and/or listening. Grandma's opinion is that if he is introduced to other things, his interest can be swayed in other directions. So that's what I'm working on.

I babysit Mr. B. after school each day, but only for about 45 minutes. (We've come a long way from the 10 hour days of babysitting!). So I've looked for activities we can do after school each day to try and find new things to interest him.

On Monday, we built a kit called a Dinosaur Dome. I just happened to see this kit in the CVS Discount aisle for 75% off a few weeks ago, and thought I'd get it and put it away for a day we needed something to do. It was fun! You re-hydrate what looks like peat moss, then put a "dinosaur plant" in a "rehydration chamber" (plastic cup), then arrange lava rocks and red pebbles for your scenery, then plant palm and pine tree seeds in the spot you think they'd look best. The kit includes a dinosaur figure and a dinosaur skull to place where you want. I supervised and read the instructions out loud, but let Mr. B. do every bit of the work, and he really enjoyed it. Every day after school he checks it to see if we need to add water. We're looking forward to the seeds sprouting and growing our own palm tree! LOL

We also practiced his "sight words" for first grade. His "prize" for spelling 20 of the words correctly was (shout this as loud as you can:) THE WORLD'S BIGGEST HUG! YAY! OK, so he thought at first that wasn't a great prize... but once he spelled his words right and his grandmother chased him around the house a few times to give him his "prize"... he was good :)

On Tuesday, I told Mr. B. I had a BIG job for him to help me with. Cleaning out the kitchen junk drawer! Now this may not sound like fun to you, but to a six year old, a well-filled junk drawer is nothing short of a treasure trove. His job was to empty the drawer, and sort "like with like" -- pens in the pen holder, toys in a pile, tools in a pile to go to the garage, etc. He had a ball. He discovered several magnifying glasses, and played with those for awhile. He found a Lego guy he'd been missing, along with a Flash figure and some plastic animals. He played with all those for quite awhile (though sadly, it got violent). There were bunches of rubber bands, so I got to show him how to shoot those (wait, is that considered violent?? LOL ). He got to stick thumbtacks in a piece of cardboard for me, and use the tiny screwdriver on a tiny screw in a tiny thingamabob we found in the drawer. Again, it took the entire 45 minutes to get the drawer cleaned out, items put away in other rooms, and appropriate items returned to the drawer in an organized fashion. He got to discover new things (magnifying glasses, rubber band shooting) and learned a lesson on organizing (sort like with like).

A success! This was a fun painting project.
Today, Wednesday, I have a craft activity planned. We found some marbles in the junk drawer, so I will lay some art paper in a flat, low-sided box, and let him dip the marbles in (washable) paint and roll them around on the paper in the box to make some beautiful art. We haven't had paint out in awhile, so I do think he'll enjoy this. We can learn about how colors mix to make new colors while we're doing it.

For the rest of the week, I plan to do some baking with him on Thursday. He loves to make bread with me, so I think we'll do that -- but this time without the bread machine. Get those kneading muscles working! I probably ought to look up information on yeast and how it makes bread raise, because I'm pretty sure that will be one of his hundred million questions! I also found several cookie recipes that do not have eggs (he's highly allergic), so I hope we have time to make cookies too. If not, that will move to Friday's activities.

On Friday, he is spending the night with us. Jeff and I both need some Mr. B. time! I will go to the library ahead of time and get some books on dinosaurs that we can read together at bed time. And I'll look for a fun, not-too-babyish!, movie to watch. Perhaps The Lorax, though we saw it in the movies. We'll also play horseshoes and have a campfire outside, which he absolutely loves. He'll roast the marshmallows, but won't eat them. (I told you - he is the world's fussiest eater!) I don't care for them, so it looks like Umpa will eat his share and everyone else's.

On Saturday, Umpa is taking him up to the Air Force Museum in Dayton for the day. This is Umpa and Mr. B's favorite day trip, and they will be gone for most of the day. For anyone who lives in the Dayton/Cincinnati area and hasn't been to this (free) museum -- you are seriously missing a great educational, family-oriented museum.

As Mr. B's grandmother, I need to work at introducing him to new things and help him create a variety of interests. Whether it's a household chore or a leaf rubbing, a game of rubber band target practice or how to do laundry -- it's all fun to a six year old. At this age, I don't think he should be on the computer, playing video games, or watching TV for long periods of time, so for my 45 minutes, I've decided to do my best to get him focused on other, more fun and age-appropriate things!

If anyone has ideas or web links for age-appropriate crafts or activities, I'd love to start a reference list on here, so please share!

Life is good -- and it's even better when you get to give THE WORLD'S BIGGEST HUG - YAY! to your grandchild!

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.
Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.
 -- Alex Haley


Unknown said...

Hmmm. Well, I doubt I'm more creative than you are in coming up with 45-minute activities! I was starting to like art projects a lot at that age. Papier mache is messy and fun!

Any interest in sports yet? They aren't competitive yet at this age and more for just learning about the sport and getting some energy out. Or karate! Wonder if he would like? (I'm sure my husband would say ;))

Joan J said...

His Uncle Jeff will be happy to know that in October Mr. B. will be enrolled in Kids Club Wrestling! Umpa very much wants to get him into karate or some type of self-defense program, so that will be lined up in the near future as well. His mom is keeping up with any sports the school offers after hours, but some won't work (baseball, anything with a lot of running) because of his asthma.

Karen said...

I VERY highly commend you for what you're doing. Those afternoons doing interesting things with him will be long remembered....much longer than time zoning out in front of violent TV.