BORED 5 Year Old Playing Outside ALONE

Updated on June 06, 2012
A.K. asks from Minneapolis, MN
18 answers

we don't have any other young kids in our lame neighborhood. Sometimes when the baby is napping and I have to pick up the house my 5 year old can play outside (I can see her through our big windows). But she won't do it often, says she is BORED playing outside ALONE.

Any ideas I can give her to do to keep herself entertained? We have a swingset and a patio slab and a sandbox and a dog....

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So What Happened?

THANK YOU for your suggestions! I am going to print this page off and keep it for future ideas!

Eᴘʜɪᴇ D.'s post gave me a great idea, I gave her a sketchbook and a clipboard and told her she was an "Investigative Reporter" whose mission it was to document as many things from around our yard as possible and give me a detailed report when finished. She was off in a flash and drew pictures of things she say for WELL over an hour! She had PAGES of drawings, multiple drawings on a page. At the end she had pulled up her lawn chair in the front yard and was 'documenting' the vehicles that drove past. We went over everything together and then when dad came home he got a detailed report too.

Then we hooked up the sprinkler so that it would sprinkle on her as she was swinging!

Thanks again!

Featured Answers


answers from Detroit on

Paint or chalk?

My kids are rock hoarders, they LOVE rocks! So I let them decorate and paint rocks outside.


Ha, Denise, I think we were typing at the same time! Great minds think alike!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Sidewalk chalk!

Give her a bucket of water & a paintbrush and have her paint the swing set.

Sand toys...?

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Houston on

Maybe have her complete a 'task' in the garage. Organizing a shelf, sweeping (our 6 yr old loves to sweep). Chalk? Water hose?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Hmmm. Not sure if this would work, but I'll throw it out there anyway.

I figure, boredom is an invitation for imagination. Bored? Okay, time to get creative kiddo. Come back inside after you've made an adventure happen. Sometimes I send my kids out one at a time just so that they can interact with the outdoors by themselves. Clear their heads. Get some space. They might whine a little at first, but I just say, hey, boredom isn't going to work as an excuse.

On the other hand, it seems some of this is personality. My eldest can spend hours by herself before she'll start to complain. My daughter wants to be around people All. Day. Long. She loves companionship and is someone who just does well with it. She doesn't like playing outside by herself because she doesn't like playing by herself, yah know?

Anyway, with my little one there are some tools that can help: A magnifying glass, sketch book, pair of tweezers, binoculars, shovel, etc. Things that help her interact with the world.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Janesville-Beloit on

Can she read? If so, maybe give her a "treasure hunt" list with things like:
3 sticks
1 pretty rock
1 acorn
2 ants

Then she gets a prize when she finds it all?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Champaign on

My son is 5 and when he is outside by himself (usually when I'm cooking dinner and can see/talk with him through the window) he loves to gather rocks and color/paint them. He also loves to water my flowers, play with chalk, and a couple new sand toys every now and then - is wonderful, he will play for an hour at least in the sandbox.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I like the scavenger hunt idea!

What about chalk? She could draw all types of stuff.

When my sister was little, I would take a piece of paper and draw random lines, and shapes etc on there, and then give it to her and tell her to make a picture out of the things I started on the paper for her. She always came back with the most interesting pictures. It was a lot of fun and kept her entertained forever.
She could do this outside if it is nice. Put a little picnic table out there.

Paints, and play dough are great for out door use.

They have colored bubbles now that are fun! You have to wear play clothes though because sometimes the color could stain clothes but they are fun!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Like Abbie, I have an extrovert. He will NOT play alone. Just doesn't. Not unless he has a pseudo friend (aka an interactive game, like computer chess, video games, etc.). He would FAR rather do his most hated thing WITH me (or even an enemy) than his favorite thing by himself. At age 9 I might (maybe) get 15 minutes, and those were hard won. Extroverts ate fairly rare. Most people have a need for privacy/ alone time/ etc. for extroverts alone time is as stressful as a huge party is for introverts. Can you even imagine having to go to a frat party every day? That's what alone time is like for extroverts.

So I have a helper. He cooks, he cleans, he talks to strangers (he knows EVERYONE we interact with: bankers to baggers), he has a hazillion and 1 friends. And I shamelessly use electronic pseudo friends when introvert me needs 30 minutes to recharge.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We never had any kids in our neighborhood either. We invited friends from preschool/K to come over quite a bit (not usually the parents, just the kids) or we met up at the park, the pool, the zoo, places like that.
Is she bored inside as well? My kids liked building and making things at that age. Make sure she has lots of creative/imaginative outlets, like painting, coloring, play doh, etc. Cutting, lacing and beading is also good for this age. It keeps them busy and strengthens their fine motor (writing) skills. She can also help you around the house when she complains about being bored. Have her help you clean and pull weeds, I bet it won't take her long to find something else to do, lol!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Have her pull dandelions from the lawn.
That was our job growing up.
Not only did it keep the dandelions down but our baby sitter made dandelion wine from the flowers we picked.
She can use sidewalk chalk on the patio.
If you know she won't swallow them, you can bury colorful marbles in the sandbox so she can dig up treasure.
If she's bored, she needs more practice entertaining herself - that's when their imagination engages.
Some of the best times we had playing outside were with a few sticks and a mud puddle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

A bubble blower is always fun to play with. Maybe a hula hoop, a bike of some sort, sprinkler.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

Let her take some "inside" toys outside to play with - dolls, barbies, blocks, dishes etc. Maybe something like that will spark her interest. Will she normally play alone inside? I know some kids just won't!!!! Or go hide some stuff around outside for her to find!! Tell her it's a scavenger hunt!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I didn't read all the responses, but 5 yo is old enough to be taught proper use and care of a digital camera. My son started taking pictures outside and it was really fun to see things from a whole new perspective. He loves it and it is cheap entertainment.

Sidewalk chalk also comes to mind. Let her decorate the patio slab.



answers from New York on

Hmmm... my 4 year old plays with rocks, she loads them into a truck moves them to another spot and then stacks them. She also like sticks, she tries to stack them for a pretend fire.

If I set up the t-ball for her she will play with that on her own, or any ball actually.... I also have a kid size basketball hoop that she loves to play with.

She also will take her doll out in the stroller and take her for walks in the yard...

Good luck finding what sparks your daughter's imagination!



answers from Eugene on

That's funny, I'd forgotten how much my girls liked to sweep til I read the response by Jim at Home. When mine were little, I found a couple of child-sized brooms at the hardware store and they just about wore them out sweeping up the back patio! Oh, another thing I let them do is to paint with shaving cream. It leaves an oily residue so it's not good where that would show. My kids also liked to finger paint (over the lawn), make tents and tepees out of sticks and old fabric, and play in boxes. We had an old refrigerator box that they used as a play house for months.


answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like you have an extrovert on your hands!
You can approach it in one of two ways: Let her "help" you with your chores (i.e. give her busy work) or you can take the discipline/enforcement route i.e. tell her it's playtime for x amount of time and she needs to not bother you for that time. An egg timer can help to keep her from asking if she's done yet every 5 seconds. Have consequences for disturbing you.


answers from Chicago on

I agree with the sidwalk chalk - or a spinkler thing for kids is fun too, but to be honest ... some kids are just NOT self entertainers. I was lucky in the fact that my son IS, but he has his moments. My son typically plays in the durt/sand box if available or brings out bubbles or picks the dandilions (as suggested) or even draws with his chalk but none of these things keep him going for long (except the dirt). Does your town have a park district where you can sign her up for things during the baby's nap time? I would think drop off, go home do baby's nap and pick up when baby wakes - so a 3hr program would work. My son just started one of these and it is GREAT, I drop him off, go down the hall to work out then go home and shower and I have an hour left to myself before pick up. He gets to meet kids and do crafts and has a great time.


answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter became very interested in digging for bugs this spring. We showed her a good place to dig and gave her a bucket and a shovel. I have seen cute bug collecting kits in stores. We also like chalk, bubbles, "the rocket" (we like this one but there are others on the market), and the sand table (can be used for water too) was a big hit, although I notice my 5 year old seems to be less interested in it lately. Maybe you could plant a little garden together and she could take care of it? Or set up a tea party or picnic with some of her favorite toys? A disposable camera/kids digital camera might also be fun. Does she like to read? Sometimes I set my daughter up with a snack and a few books to look through on a blanket in the yard.

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