Friday, 7 June 2013

122 things every child should do before they're 5

With Oona soon to start school and only one summer left before she begins I've been thinking about the rites of passage a child goes through in their early years.  I've put together a list of things I'd still like to do while she's still (very) young and things we've enjoyed doing or rather things I've encouraged her to do as part of growing up.
There are lots of things a child does that seem to be experienced at particular ages, some things that they do for the first time are acknowledgements of their growing up, or mark a particular curiosity at that age, though some things are very small they often mark a huge milestone in their lives as they make the transition to being very much a child making their own choices, and stepping towards a little more independence.
Milestones in a child's life often conjure up the transition into adult hood: learning to drive a car, beginning university,  but I believe that its the fibs and mud pies, the den building and belief in fairies that begin our journey. It's these things that should be celebrated, and encouraged as a child grows up, its their rite of passage, and rituals of growing up. We only do it once, let's make sure we do it properly.

Here's our list of what we believe are the true milestones, the measure of the first 5 years of childhood:

1. Believe in something that can't be seen. I believe in fairies!

2. blow bubbles

3. have a treasure box

4. have a hero

5. put on a puppet show

6. roll down a grassy hill

7. finger paint

8. build a den

9. make a mud pie

10. have a teddy bears picnic

11. feed an animal

12. ride on daddy's shoulders

13. answer the phone

14. own one piece of fabulous fun clothing

15. choose a favourite story (you know the one thats read several times every night!)

16. have a secret place

17. play with play dough

18. grow a vegetable

19. go to a museum

20. build a sand castle

21. make a master piece and have it framed

22. tell a lie

23. eat homemade ice-cream on a hot summers day

24. go to a fair

25. plant  a seed

26. catch snowflakes with your tongue

27. play dress up

28. write a thank you letter to family member , a teacher or a friend

29. bake a cake

30. go to a farm

31. have a hobby

32. learn a joke

33. fly a kite

34. watch a magic trick

35. scribble somewhere they shouldn't

36. laugh so hard milk comes out their nose

37. enjoy a bonfire

38. jump in a puddle so hard the water goes into mummy's shoes!

39. go to the theatre

40. go on a moonlit walk

41. visit where mum and dad and grew up

42. run a lemonade stand / book shop

43. make a homemade gift

44. go on a scavenger hunt

45. play in the rain

46. build gingerbread house and eat it

47. camp in the garden or at least camp in the sitting room

48. play in the mud

49. climb a tree

50. hunt for bugs

51. create a self portrait

52. receive an award

53. own a library card

54. sing loudly in public

55. ride the top deck on a double decker bus

56. clean their own teeth

57. buy something in a shop

58. discover their shadow

59. play in the bath til their skin wrinkles

60. have a collection

61. make their own pizza

62. go crab hunting

63. race sticks in a stream.

64. break something valuable

65. eat wild fruit picked by hand

66. feed the ducks

67. let a bug crawl up their arm

68. play with food

69. own a cuddly toy that they never want to part with

70. eat out

71. see a classic on a big screen

72. grow cress in the shape of their name

73. go out at dusk, watch the sunset and see the stars come out

74. take interest in an instrument and play a tune (of sorts)

75. make and fly a paper aeroplane

76. set up a snail race

77. make a scrapbook of memories ; a holiday book is a great first

78. see a parade

79. be given freedom to make choices, decisions and mistakes

80. have some quality alone time with a parent

81. have one really big special birthday party

82. go to the beach

83. lick the whisk / lick the bowl

84. cut their own hair

85. have a special first love

86. learnt to live without tv

87. feel like you're flying in the wind

88. have a really really good friend

89. wear pants on their head - pirates in pants is a favourite game!

90. begin to learn how to swim

91. spend lots of time naked

92. receive praise for who he / she is; perhaps a 'just because' note

93. make up a silly nickname for someone or themselves

94. ride the tea cups at the fair

95. do something to make a mark on the world, plant a tree

96. take a trip; a train ride, car trip, plane journey or a boat trip

97. receive a letter; perhaps a note of love or appreciation, thanks or well done

98. express creativity without boundaries

99. dance until you're exhausted.

100. ride on a carousel

101. swing on a rope swing

102. go on a hike or follow a long trail

103. climb a steep hill

104. do a belly flop

105. see the ocean

106. pretend. as much as they can.

107. lay the table

108. learn to say sorry.

109. plant it. grow it. eat it.

110. plan a day of fun

111. be told 'i love you' and make sure they feel it every day.

112. lose something.

113. learn to say 'please' and 'thank you'

114. have a favourite special place.

115. pick wild flowers and press them

116. choose their own clothes

117. make up a story

118. dare to fail

119. get covered in paint

120. run in the sprinklers

121. experience disappointment and learn that it's ok.

122. have a dream and have an adult believe in it

It's never too late to do the things we all ought to be free to do. If you've got things you've never done; do them together. If you've got more things you'd like to add; tell us.

What would you add to the list?


  1. This is quite an amazing list. So much living to do in the first 5 years. I think I may want to re-visit some of those things as an adult! Wonderful photos to go along with this wonderful post! Thanks for reminding me what I love about children and ----well-----just about life! I believe in play!

  2. Go walking in the woods
    Pick up things to keep as treasure on every walk you go on
    Pretend to cry as dramatically as possible when not getting own way
    Put mums make up on
    Have hair blow dryed
    Paint your own nails