Keeping Boys Occupied in the Afternoon

For several weeks now, I have been straining my brain trying to think of something for my 5-year-old son to do in the afternoons.  My requirements for the projects are:

It is something productive that he can make with his hands

He can do it on his own with minimal input from me

It suits his interests

It develops skills that can transfer to other areas.

The K curriculum we are using suggested doing a craft project involving a pocket to correlate with the study of kangaroos.  I thought, “What about a tooth fairy pillow?”  I waivered in my decision because I did not want to be bothered with hauling out my sewing machine.  But then I thought:  “I already have the fabric and stuffing.  It won’t take long to cut out a pillow.  I can teach him how to sew it by hand with a backstitch.  He will be loosing teeth soon.  Sewing fabric can prepare him for working with leather if he becomes interested in it.  Sewing also helps with manual dexterity and writing skills.”

So, I let him choose the fabric; and we cut out the pillow together.  That afternoon he sat for three hours sewing his little pillow by hand, and he only came to me once in a while for help.  It was the quietest afternoon we have experienced in a long time.  He is so proud of his pillow, and I am glad that I chose to let him make it.

I learned that the 1/2-1 hour I invested in getting him started was well worth the 3 hours of calmness I gained.  I also learned that it is sometimes difficult to turn children loose with a project and not worry about how perfect it will be or the mess that will be made.

What projects do you let your boys do when you want an afternoon of peace?

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