play ideas
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5 play ideas for 5 to 10 year olds

Give after-school time a playful twist with these fun play ideas for 5 to 10 year olds!

After-school play

When your children come home after a day at school, there are still plenty of hours before bedtime that can be filled with educational fun at home. Children love to help. Activities such as cooking, baking, gardening and even cleaning can be both fun and educational for your little one. Science experiments using items found in your home can provide hours of educational entertainment.

Get busy in the kitchen

Let your child put on an apron, roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to a spot of baking. Start with a simple recipe for cookies or buns. Your child will learn about measuring and mixing and the science behind combining different foods to create something new.

You can give your child the task of sifting the flour or cracking the eggs into the bowl. Allow your child to measure out portions of raisins or chocolate chips and add them to the mixture. When your cookies or buns are baked, cooled and ready for icing, allow your child to get creative in decorating the freshly baked goodies.

Mixing drops of food colouring into icing will teach your child about blending colours. If your hectic schedule doesn’t allow time to bake, why not let your child assist in making the dinner? They can have fun washing potatoes in a sink full of water, or measuring out the correct portions of pasta or rice for each member of the family.

If you’ve a fussy eater, you may find that they’re happier to eat a dinner that they’ve helped to prepare.

Cutting, gluing and scrapbooking

Motor skills can be honed with activities such as ‘cutting and gluing’. Give your child a sheet of paper, a glue stick, a safety scissors and some old magazines or comics.

Let your child create a new picture by gluing magazine cuttings onto the sheet of paper. An older child might enjoy cutting out letters or words and creating their own sentences or stories with them. Similarly, a child might enjoy scrapbooking. Let your child create a picture diary of their day, or create a scrapbook of things they like.

Colourful oil and water experiments

Fill some eggcups or small containers with water. Add a few drops of different coloured food dyes to each bowl, so that you have a selection of colourful water. Fill a larger, plain bowl with some clear oil, such as baby oil. Using a pipette or medicine dropper let your child drop some of the coloured water into the bowl of oil. They can have fun watching the drops float around the water surface and will learn that the two liquids won’t mix!

Your child can also learn about mixing colours in this experiment. By popping two different coloured water bubbles beside each other, the water blobs will mix and their colours will blend to make a new one.

Gardening

You don’t have to have a garden to plant a seed. A small bag of compost and a few little pots that can sit on a windowsill are enough to teach your child about growing things. It can be even more fun if they grow food, as they get to eat the results!

Watercress is an excellent starter plant for your enthusiastic gardener as it can be simply grown by shaking the seeds onto a plate lined with a sheet of damp cotton wool or kitchen paper. Position the plate on a sunny indoor windowsill and check the paper or cotton wool daily to ensure that it remains moist. Cress grows very quickly so your child will see progress every day.

You could even let your child to take a photograph of the cress each day and at the end of the planting project they can move onto a picture scrapbooking project, using the printed photographs.

Enjoy making those special memories!

More like this:

Why play is important
Helping your toddler learn through play
Encouraging independence

Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.