How to engage a bunch of six year olds?
July 17, 2008 8:12 AM   Subscribe

We're part of a child care co-op arrangement for a month, which means I'll have six 6-year olds to myself for three (non consecutive), six-hour days. I could use some suggestions for creative activities -- running around (we've got lots of outdoor room, wooded and open), arts and crafts, whatever. Ideas that require buying supplies are fine.
posted by Framer to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
When you're stuck inside - Perler beads. These are stupid little beads that you buy at Walmart or Michaels. They are little plastic cylinders that the kids place on a little pegboard (that comes in the kit) and then you iron them together. Seems totally boring, but my kids will play with them for at least an hour. So will any kid that comes in my house. I think kids make these at camp. My kids are 8 and 10, but have played with these since they were probably five or so. My 5 year old nephew likes them. Just make sure the iron is away from the kids and you iron both sides of the thing very well using the wax paper stuff that comes in the kit. Buy the really big bucket with 6 kids. It also helps if you put the beads in a bunch of muffin tins.

Then there are the usual ideas -
Scavenger hunt in the woods (find something prickly, something smooth...)
Cook - or make play do, make their own lunch
Hang a sheet on the fence and let the kids paint it, like a big mural (or a chalk mural on a wall outside)
Make them plan a SHOW for when their parents pick them up
Sprinkler fun
Make paper bag puppets and have a puppet show
posted by artychoke at 8:35 AM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

As a kid I LOVED the above mentioned perler beads.
I also loved the random bucket of cheap plastic beads we had. I would dig through them for hours at a time making up silly patterns and crazy necklaces. A big bag of pony beads and some yarn would be pretty cheap. Twist some tape around the end of the yarn to make it easier to string the beads.
I was also satisfied with scratch paper from the recycle and crayons, markers or a cheap set of water colors.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 9:08 AM on July 17, 2008

Paint rollers and brushes and water and a sunny outdoor area where the water dries quickly. Kids often like pretending to paint.
posted by acoutu at 9:22 AM on July 17, 2008

Sculpey Clay, you can get them in economy sizes and make all kinds of stuff - start on those Christmas ornaments early. I always do.
posted by eatdonuts at 9:35 AM on July 17, 2008

Kids have so much structured time these days. Consider having a supply of fun stuff, and letting them discover what they want to do, on their own. Pack lunches, and take them for an easy walk in a woods. Get funky, interesting clothes, and have a box of dressups. Get a couple of refrigerator boxes, washable markers & paint, and let them create. You be the knife-wielder as needed. Change the available playthings, so that even older toys have fresh appeal because they haven't been seen in months.

It would be nice to get some cubbies so that each child can have their own space for jacket, blankie, the day's artwork, etc.
posted by theora55 at 9:41 AM on July 17, 2008

Water, water everywhere is fun for hot days. Get a few sprinklers, a hose, water guns, and let them go to town.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:45 AM on July 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Scavenger hunts! Have the kiddies line up and call out something (one item at a time) they need to bring you: a leaf with 5 points, a rock, a stick like the letter "y", a flower, an acorn- just whatever you can find in your backyard. They run, find it and bring it back.

Silly little game, but kids love the searching and running around.

If you're feeling adventurous, they can make a nature collage of their findings on a piece of cardboard using glue to attach the leaves and stuff.
posted by NoraCharles at 10:26 AM on July 17, 2008

Check out Kids Craft Weekly for lots of kid-tested activities, most of which don't require much in the way of investment.
posted by dogrose at 1:59 PM on July 17, 2008

I did crafts one summer with a bunch of campers ages 5 to 13. One of their favorites was mosaics. I cut up a ream of colored construction paper into 1/2" squares with a paper cutter, got a boatload of glue sticks and had them make designs. We looked at some mosaics on line, then I had them make mosaics of their names to get them started. After that, they just took off. I literally could not get them to stop, they glued right through lunch and had to be dragged to the camp's regular activity. They wanted to do it every time after that.
posted by nax at 2:24 PM on July 17, 2008

SPUD is a classic summer game. Instead of using numbers to identify players, I remember that we used animals and colors.

There's an extensive list of Boy Scout group games here.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 4:51 PM on July 17, 2008

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