Monday, October 3, 2011

33 Ways for Fun with Grandchildren

This post was written for Simple Marriage by Home and Family columnist Beth LaMie.

Spending time with grandchildren is among the best things in life. In fact, it is priceless.

Although it’s always a pleasure to visit my son and his family, I thoroughly enjoy having the two grandkids all to myself. It seems the dynamics of how we relate to each other is totally different when their parents are elsewhere. That’s why I encourage them to go out on a date, or run some errands, or just go off by themselves for several hours.

That gives me a chance to spoil the six- and seven-year-old grandchildren just a bit while we have some fun. Of course, I keep them safe and secure the entire time, but a few of the minor rules may happen to fall by the wayside. Nothing serious, though.

By the way, one rule I try to enforce is that we play nothing that requires batteries. It seems to me that children have much more energy that grownups do, so it makes sense to let them use up some of that vigor while they play.

Regardless of a child’s age, there are endless ways to have fun with them. Every age offers its own challenge as well as opportunity. Keep an open mind and look for various resources for suggested activities to accommodate your young ones.

The trick is to figure out several options to offer them and to have any necessary items prepared in advance. For example, on my last visit with them, I brought along pages to color, a craft project, new books to read, a few snacks, some word games and puzzles, and the expectation that we’d have a wonderful time together.

In addition, my fallback plan was to investigate their roomful of toys, games, books, balls, etcetera, that they love to share. At least usually.

Here are some ideas on things to do with your grandchildren. Use it as a thought-generator to come up with your own activities. Some of these will appeal more than others, so don’t be afraid to experiment, either.

1. Pancakes with mouse ears or rolled up with cinnamon and butter
2. Cookies from scratch or prepared mixes
3. Cupcakes frosted in fun ways
4. Make-your-own pizza
5. Dip pretzel sticks in chocolate or icing, then sprinkles
6. Build a gingerbread house (Hint: Use graham crackers for easy structures) XXX

1. Dress-up or make-believe
2. Modeling clay, crayons, pipe cleaners
3. Scrapbook album or a single page
4. Art projects
5. Make hand or sock puppets

1. Card games, word games, dominoes
2. Tic-tac-toe, connect-the-dots
3. Board games – checkers, Candyland, Sorry, Bingo
4. Hide-and-seek, blind man’s bluff, follow-the-leader
5. Simon says, Mother may I?

1. Walk, bike, go to a playground
2. Pick apples, pears, or other seasonal fruit
3. Draw with chalk on the driveway or sidewalk
4. Play tag, hop-scotch, or statue
5. Toss a ball, balloon (water?), or frisbee
6. Explore your yard – flowers, trees, birds, animals
7. Build a snowman

1. Play 20 questions
2. Talk about what you remember from your childhood
3. Ask about the child’s friends, toys, dreams, and share your own
4. Interview – Getting to Know You: A How-To Story for Kids on How to Interview Family Members (pdf) The Mini Page, Dec. 25-31, 2010) (c) 2010 Universal Uclick (2.0MB)

1. Instructions on how to play simple games
2. Great newsletter
3. Activities by age group, including seasonal pages to color
4. Easy recipes that kids enjoy
5. Suggestions on books, games, toys
6. Groups to join, such as “Grandparenting From Afar”

What are your favorite pastimes with your grandchildren? What activities can you plan for the upcoming holidays?

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