Developmental activities for 5 year olds

Fun learning activities for 5-6-year-olds


Your child will probably have started synthetic phonic activities at school so finding time to enjoy playing with letters and sounds in games at home will really help them with that.

Other activities can help your little ones to develop key skills such as speaking, listening and numeracy. If you’re not sure what your child’s doing in school, you can find out more about it in our school section and click on their year group to disover more.

We’ve pulled together our top five ideas here and hope you’ll have fun testing them out!


1. Rhyming games

  • Listen to and join in with rhyming stories, like Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo.
  • Play rhyming games, or sing an action rhyme.
  • Make silly rhyming jokes. For example: What do you call a smelly elephant? A smellyphant! What do you call an elephant watching TV? A tellyphant!

2. Phonic games

  • Play snap or bingo with letters and sounds. Write letters on pieces of papers or cards, to create homemade flashcards. Make two for each letter. Use them to play snap. You could also create a bingo card with eight boxes – each one containing a letter. Put the flashcards into a pile, facing down and take it in turns to be the bingo caller.
  • Play phonics fishing! Use homemade letter flashcards, add a paperclip to each, tie a magnet to some string and a stick and ask your child to ‘fish’ for a particular sound.
  • Play ‘I spy’ games (for example, ‘I spy something beginning with a…’, using the letter sound) when you are out and about. For help with letter sounds, take a look at our sound chart.

Activity: Vowel sounds

Practise phonics by matching the pictures to the vowel sounds.

Activity: Phonics guidance

Learn how to say all the phonics sounds (phonemes) and letters.

3. Memory games

  • Play ‘Kim’s game’. Put a few items on a tray (for example, a crayon, an apple, a building brick, a toy car). Then look, cover, remember and check!
  • Talk about, photograph or write out some ‘events’ from something you have done together – can your child remember the correct order?
  • Go shopping – try to remember the list together!

4. Listening games

  • Play games such as ‘Simon says’ – party games are often good ways to practice speaking, listening, and memory skills, without them even noticing!
  • Listen to music and talk about the instruments being played – find pictures on the internet together.

5. Action games

  • Make a puppet theatre with cardboard boxes or a towel over a chair and encourage your child to make up or retell a story to you (or any willing family members!).
  • Have lots of fun dressing up with clothes and props at home so that your child can dress up as a character and act out favourite stories. You can find lots of cheap props and clothes for dressing up in charity shops.
  • Play games such as ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’, but write the times down for them to read instead of saying them.

6. Tactile games

  • Use magnetic letters to spell names and simple words on the fridge or radiator.
  • Use modelling clay to make your child’s name or simple words like mum.
  • Enjoy jigsaws together and chat about finding the right pieces!

7. Screen games

  • Watch TV programmes linked to books and then read the books afterwards. Little Princess, Katie Morag, and Charlie and Lola are good places to start. Talk about what they like or don’t like about the characters.
  • Find story-telling sites like Little Kingdom, story-telling TV programmes, or story apps for your phone.

8. Car journey games

  • Play ‘The cook’s cat is an amazing cat/beautiful cat/clever cat/daft cat…‘ and so on, and then make up your own versions (for example, ‘The doctor’s dog…‘).
  • Play this noisy version of the car game, ‘Who can spot…?’. It’s great fun – but check out with the driver first before you start this one! Decide on a noise, or a word to call, when you spot the things you’re looking out for. For example, ‘Bang!’ for a yellow car, ‘Buzzz!’ for a bus, and ‘Wow!’ for a bird.
  • Listen to an audiobook.

Video: Car journey games

Get ideas for fun and educational car games for kids! Educational author and parent Isabel Thomas shares her ideas to relieve the boredom of long car journeys.

9. Out and about activities

  • Ask your child to find the things you need to buy when out shopping by reading the labels on products together.
  • Check out your local library or community centre to find out what special activities or clubs are running.
  • Try to do a few visits or find some information together to link with the topic or project work at school.

10. Reading books of all kinds together

  • Carry on reading books of all kinds to and with your child: picture, pop up, information, poetry, eBooks, print books… and the levelled books brought home from school. Video or record your child reading them for fun!
  • Why not choose a book from our free eBook library to share on-screen together?

7 Fun And Easy Learning Activities For 5-Year-Olds

It can be challenging to find the right activities for 5-year-olds. It was easier when they were younger, wasn’t it? All you needed to do was place a colorful, fluffy, or musical toy in front of them, and they would be completely fascinated by the object for a long time.

But things have changed. Over the past few years, your 5-year-old has seen so much physical, mental, emotional, and social growth and development, and simple toys don’t cut it anymore.

To help your child continue learning and developing at a healthy rate, it’s essential to find relevant activities for their age. But where do you start?

Look no further! The Homer team knows a thing or two about creative activities for kids. In this article, we’ll share some fun and engaging games your 5-year-old will fall in love with while learning.

Importance Of Learning Activities For 5-Year-Olds

Learning activities play an important role in early childhood development. However, when parents come across this information, they often assume they need to create the most elaborate games to help maximize learning. That’s not the case.

For example, simple games and activities such as painting or playing house help develop language and emotional skills, creativity, and fine motor skills, among other things.

Also, when children engage in physical activities such as running, jumping, or skipping, it contributes to their gross motor development.

In addition, if an activity is challenging (think tricky puzzles or building a tall lego tower), it helps children learn how to follow through on a project and problem-solve. Ultimately, this helps build confidence and gives children a sense of ownership and accomplishment.

Learning activities for 5-year-olds are also great to help beat boredom. A child who has nothing to do for the day can often become irritable or display disruptive behavior. That’s not ideal for them (or you!), so it’s important to have some go-to activities at the ready.

Finding the right activities for your child is one way you can foster their continued growth and development. So where do you start?

Questions To Ask Before Choosing Activities

Now that you understand the importance of activities for 5-year-olds, here are a few questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re choosing the right ones for your child.

What Will My Child Learn From This Activity?

There are many developmental milestones that are essential for your child to reach — from physical to mental, emotional, and social.

This is why it’s important to incorporate a variety of activities into your child’s play, rather than choosing similar games that help develop the same skills.

Are The Instructions Easy To Understand?

As children get older, the activities and games we introduce them to will naturally become more complex.

While it’s beneficial to keep challenging our children so they learn to think creatively and problem-solve, it’s equally important to not overwhelm them with games that are simply too complicated for their age group.

Will The Activity Engage My Child’s Senses?

From the moment they are born, our children are seeing, touching, tasting, hearing, and smelling the world around them.

Children use their senses to explore and understand things, so we encourage sensory play in early childhood because it plays a significant role in developing many essential language and cognitive development skills. It also helps children continue exploring and engaging.

7 Fun Activities For 5-year-olds

1) Letter Toss

What You’ll Need:
  • Post-its
  • Marker
  • Rolled-up sock or small beanbag
What To Do:

We love letter toss because it only requires about 10 minutes of set-up time, making it the perfect game to incorporate when you’ve had a busy day or week.

Start by writing uppercase and lowercase letters on individual Post-its (one per page). Then stick the Post-its onto the floor or playroom wall, making sure that there’s space between each one.

Next, have your child stand a few feet away and toss the rolled-up sock at the Post-it notes as you call them out.


You can also pick letters in a word and arrange them in random order. In this version, your child will need to hit the letters in their correct order to spell the word. (You can write the word on a piece of paper for them to have a reference if needed.)

This is a fun and engaging activity to help children practice their alphabet and spelling. All the aiming and throwing is also a great way to help them continue developing their gross motor skills.

2) Cupcake Tin Counting Game

What You’ll Need:
  • Cupcake tin
  • Cupcake liners
  • Marker
  • A snack with small pieces (e.g., cereal, puffs, blueberries, etc.)
What To Do:

In a nutshell, this activity involves having your child fill each numbered cupcake liner with the corresponding number of snack pieces. For more information on how to play cupcake tin counting, you can check out this link.

This simple activity is excellent for helping children develop their understanding of counting principles (and is a fun way to enjoy some delicious treats at the end!).

3) Create A Storytelling Map

What You’ll Need:
  • A huge piece of craft or butcher paper
  • Marker
  • Crayons
What To Do:

The aim of this activity is simple: Create a giant storytelling map using a marker, crayons, and craft or butcher paper. (You can even take this activity outside and use your backyard layout as a guide for the map.)

Encourage your child to use their creativity and come up with their own ideas for this invented world. The map might lead to a magic castle, a haunted house, or even a mystical forest. Let their imagination run wild!

If you have multiple children, this is an excellent game for sibling or all-family play. And if you do take the activity outside, there’s the added benefit of sunshine and fresh air.

4) Draw To Music

What You’ll Need:
  • Papers
  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolor paints, etc.
  • Classical music playing in the background
What To Do:

Music — you listen to it, of course, but have you considered making drawings to match what you hear?

This is a simple but wonderful activity for many children. All you need is drawing and painting materials and, of course, music.

As the music plays in the background, encourage your child to draw or paint anything they want. To help them get started, you can ask questions like, “How does the music make you feel? What does it remind you of?”

This is one of those activities where the journey is much more important than the destination. It really doesn’t matter if the colors they choose clash or the lines are too harsh. We’re not talking about creating a Picasso here but, rather, engaging the senses with this experience.

Treat this activity as a great sensory (auditory and visual) learning opportunity that your child can enjoy for some uninterrupted quiet time.

5) HOMER Character Cut-Outs

What You’ll Need:
  • This printable from HOMER
  • Crayons or markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Cardboard or cardstock
  • Popsicle sticks (optional)
What To Do:

Start this activity by encouraging your child to color the characters. Once they’ve colored them how they’d like, have them cut the characters’ shapes out. Next, help your child glue the characters onto cardboard or cardstock.

Voila! It’s time to play!

This is a great way to encourage imaginative play, as your child can bring the characters to life (and even create a play). This really helps encourage creativity!

For some inspiration, check out this link.

6) Create A Rainbow Suncatcher

What You’ll Need:
  • Colored gift tissue paper
  • Cotton balls
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Wax paper
  • Clear-drying school glue
What To Do:

Begin with cutting the colored tissue paper into squares. Then make the rainbow shape by drawing six lines on the wax paper with your glue.

Next, encourage your child to glue down the tissue paper onto each line in rainbow color order (you can hand your child a picture of the rainbow as a guide). Lastly, add cotton balls below the rainbow to represent clouds.

This is a great activity to teach your child the colors of the rainbow and to continue developing their fine motor skills.

7) Make An Ocean

What You’ll Need:
  • Medium bin or deep tray
  • Dried pasta for coral
  • Paint
  • Play-Doh
  • Water
  • Scoops of cups for playing in the water
  • Ocean creature toys and loose parts like pebbles, shells, and starfish
  • Blue food coloring (optional)
What To Do:

For detailed instructions on creating your very own ocean, check out this link to our Ocean Sensory Bin.

After finishing the creation with your child, encourage them to touch and feel all the interesting ocean creatures. This is a great sensory activity to help children explore and investigate some of the amazing fish found in our seas.

Have Fun At Home With Activities For 5-Year-Olds

We hope one thing’s clear from our above list of activities for 5-year-olds — your child can have so much fun learning right at home!

You also don’t have to bend over backward trying to get them the latest toys. There’s so much joy and learning that can come from using everyday household items.

For more fun, engaging, and learning activities to try out at home, check out the HOMER Learn & Grow App!


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