Where we started.
I have been eager to start playing D&D again pretty much since the moment I had to stop playing.I have eagerly waited for when I felt my kids were ready to play so I could introduce them to the game. I was sure I would have to wait years, 10 at least, till they were ready to play. With 5e and the streamlined and easier game play, I felt encouraged that maybe they could start playing now, at age four and six. They have active imaginations, love telling stories, and get a real kick out of rolling all the dice.
So I started looking really looking into how to play D&D with kids, What I found was Monster Slayers heroes-of-hesiod and the Champions of the Elements. They were two simple encounters with very simple pre-made characters, easy monsters, and if you hit zero HP you were instantly healed. All the AC’s and HP’s were small numbers for easy math and little bubbles to fill in for easy HP tracking. It was a good place to start but it wasn’t what I was looking for I didn’t want to teach them something D&D like I wanted to play the actual game with them. So I ran the two encounters and used it as a jumping off point and slowly built toward 5e adding elements a little at a time till they understood the mechanics of the game then came diving in a creating all new 5e characters and running their first actual D&D game.
After running the two games as written I used the template of the pre-made characters and made new ones giving each character different skills to give the kids a better general idea of the types of classes they would get to choose from. We made a wizard, a fighter, and an adventurer(rogue type) to help showcase the differences. The wizard could do magic and we gave him resistance to magic attacks to help introduce the idea resistances. The fighter we gave a strength bonus and the highest AC and a bonus to his attacks. For the adventurer, we gave a bonus to search, disable traps, and picking locks. I used the pre-made creatures and drew up a simple dungeon, just 6 rooms, so they would get a chance to use the new skills. We ran the encounter a few different times, moving which doors were locked and where the creatures were and giving the kids a chance to play each different character to figure out which type they preferred playing so it would make it easier when choosing classes later. During the runs of this dungeon, we also started adding disadvantage and advantage rolls as well as gold and items for them to find. With my kids, it took only a few games before the had the basic mechanics down and were remembering (for the most part) to check for traps before running in, and when to roll advantages and before long we were breaking out the 5e characters sheet and rolling our characters. Of course, my non-reader still needs plenty of help with the parts he doesn’t have memorized from regular use, but it’s a good start.