Grandparents love participating in their grandchildren's life and are involved in a special relationship with their grandchildren. Every grandparent loves to share family history, tell stories and pass on family traditions. With this, as well as many other activities, a deep bond forms between you and your grandchild. It doesn't matter what the distance is between you and your grandchildren, their age or how much time you spend together because every family is different. You can build a great relationship with them simply by finding meaningful activities for your grandchildren and you to do together. These are some great activities to play with your grandchild.
Scrap booking Making a scrapbook together will let you both treasure the memories. Buy an inexpensive scrapbook—maybe from the dollar store—and design each page with pictures of things you do or places you go together. For example, you might decide to devote a page to photographs of an outing to the zoo or possibly a special restaurant you went to. Use glitter, stickers or whatever your grandchild would like to decorate the page and then insert it into the scrapbook. This scrapbook could start when they’re at a young age and grow with them right into adulthood—just continue taking pictures of events or times you spend together and put the pages into the scrapbook.
Family Tree No doubt you have a great deal of knowledge about your family’s history, most grandparents do. So why not put together a family tree using some brown and green construction paper? On the brown construction paper, draw and cut out a tree with branches and cut out the leaves using the green construction paper. If you’re not very artistic, you can always find a family tree on the internet that can be downloaded—many for free—and then printed; one good site to go to is Family Tree Templates. Write the names and dates of births and deaths of family members on each leaf and glue it onto its respective branch. For example, the child’s name and birth date should go on the tree trunk itself and their father and mother on the first tree branches and so on. Your family tree can be as big or as small as you want it to be, depending on how much information you have. While you’re putting it together share some stories of your childhood or your family memories with your grandchild. What child doesn’t love to hear stories? Be sure to talk to the child’s other grandparents and get information from them so you can fill in both sides of the family tree.
Photo Frame Go to your nearby hobby store and obtain some colorful foam. Cut a shape, like an oval, out of the foam and then cut out the middle section. Voila—a frame! But you’ll want to cut out two of these frames and decorate them so that each of you can have a picture to look at when you’re not together. Now, just pick out a beloved photo of you and your grandchild and put it in the frame. You can either set the frame on a bookcase or desk or perhaps glue a magnet onto the back of the photo frame and stick it onto your refrigerator.
Mind Games These games are always fun, no matter what generation plays them. Most likely you have happy memories of playing these games with your own kids. As kids grow and learn, they want to play games that let them show what it is that they’ve learned like numbers, colors, rhyming or the alphabet. Playing hide and seek, doing a jigsaw puzzle or going on a treasure hunt are all great games. Let’s not forget the “feely bag” game! Pick out a secret object in your home, place it in a paper bag and ask your grandchildren to guess what’s inside the bag; they have to use their four other senses to guess: taste, hearing, smell and touch. “I Spy” is another good game and you and your grandchildren will have hours of fun playing it.
Cooking Teaching a child how to cook is a time-honored tradition of Grandmothers and builds a close relationship with the child. Older children can learn how to use the convenient mixes that are available today or prepare food from scratch. Let your grandchildren help with mixing, measuring and adding the secret ingredients that make your dishes so delicious. The younger children can help decorate cookies and cupcakes, mix ingredients in bowls and be your official taste tester—which, by the way, is the best part! Each of you can take turns and pick different recipes from the internet or a magazine to try; they can be a way to spruce up an old recipe or a brand new recipe all together. Use these recipe cards as a reminder of which cookies you made together! Each recipe you make together can be put in a recipe book that you make with the kids. It’ll be something they can keep with them as a great memory as well as being useful later on in their life.
Arts and Crafts Kids love to make things and you can always set aside those little pieces of material from whatever you’ve made instead of throwing them away—but then, who throws stuff like that away when it could come in handy someday? Create a list of craft ideas that you and your grandchildren can do together and save some recycled items from around your home such as egg cartons, empty cardboard toilet paper or paper towel rolls and empty cereal boxes. On “arts and crafts” day, set out craft materials and watch them use their imaginations and help them make something interesting. Making robots from those toilet paper rolls and cereal boxes is always fun. Or you can help them make caterpillars out of empty egg cartons and glue on wiggly eyes and pipe cleaners. For the older kids, get out some old socks and buttons and sew some dolls or puppets; for hair you can use lint from your dryer or cotton balls. Kids of any age love to learn. Why not teach them how to make something from when you were a kid? Perhaps you used to decorate your own treasure box or braid your own jump ropes. If you don’t happen to have any craft items around the house, you could always buy craft kits to complete together. You could even teach them something that will benefit them later on in their lives like how to sew on buttons or hem pants.
Card Games Card games are another thing that’s loved by any generation. Play the “Memory” game by putting all 52 cards face down and then each of you turn over two cards at a time to try to get a match. If there’s a match, the cards are removed; if the cards don’t match, the cards are turned back over and the next person takes their turn. The person with the most matched cards wins the game. This game helps not only your grandkids to have sharp memories, but you too! “Go Fish” and “Old Maid” are two other popular card games to play. “Go Fish” helps kids learn their numbers and counting while “Old Maid” teaches them about pairing cards that look alike.
Go On an Outing A day out and about is always a treat for the grandkids but also for Grandpa and Grandma! Let the kids run off some of that energy at a playground or park and make a day of it by packing a picnic lunch. Every once in a while, take the grandkids to a restaurant—one that fits the age of the child, of course. For the older children, drinks and appetizers would be fun at a fine dining restaurant. No one is ever too young or too old for the zoo or science center and your older grandchildren might enjoy a historic museum. Visiting an antique store is a great learning experience as you can show them things you had as a child, items you used or things your grandparents used. Miniature golf is always a blast and full of laughs. Talk to your grandchildren to see what they’d be interested in doing and, together, you can come up with some wonderful ideas!
Tea Parties for Granddaughters Purchase cups, saucers, plates, teapots and other sets at Target or a dollar store. As your granddaughter grows, you can expand on this by adding an easy bake oven. Instruct her on setting the correct oven temperature, measuring the correct ingredients for the recipe and how to time things so it all comes out right. This is also a great time to develop good etiquette and manners which will, hopefully, stay with her all her life. Tea parties are always a hit with young girls.
Activities for Long Distance For those grandparents who are many miles away from their grandchildren, there are several long distance things you can do together. Set up a certain day each week to talk on the phone. If you’re a grandparent that keeps up with technology and you have a computer, you could talk via a webcam or through e-mail or send pictures to each other. Write riddles, jokes, or share a funny story of something that happened to you. If you go on a trip, send your grandchildren little keepsakes via postal mail—kids always love receiving mail, especially from Grandma and Grandpa! Amy Adele has a great selection of stationery for all ages. Having their own stationery would be a great motivation for your grandchild to write to you!
Building a Fort Gather a few chairs and place them in the middle of the living room and put a blanket over them to make your “fort”. For an even bigger adventure, set up a real tent and camp out in the backyard. Of course, a campout wouldn’t be perfect without hot dogs, marshmallows and a thermos full of lemonade! If your grandchild is young, you’ll want to roast hot dogs and marshmallows using you grill; but if they're older, why not teach them the proper way to start a campfire? Naturally, you can’t roast marshmallows without having graham crackers and chocolate to make S'mores—why, that would be a sacrilege! While you’re camping in your yard, take the opportunity to teach them about astronomy and use binoculars or, if you have one, a telescope to gaze at the planets and stars.
Reading Reading is very important and, if you start reading to them early, kids can learn to love reading; so be sure to keep a good supply of books on hand at your home. For your young grandchildren, read to them stories of “Pokey Little Puppy”, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, “Thomas the Tank” or other age appropriate books. For the older set, let them take turns reading to you and you could even read a chapter or two. Your grandkids would also like activity books or magazines that give them a chance to do puzzles and write as well as read. Think about finding a book series—like “Harry Potter”—that your grandkids would want to read every time they are spending the day or weekend with you. There are lots of other games and activities that you can do with your grandkids. Talk to them and inquire as to what they’d like to do. They might want to play dress-up, play marbles, play a smaller version of baseball and make up and act out scenes with their toys. They might also want to play board games like “Trouble”, “Candy Land”, “Guess Who”, “Chutes and Ladders” or “Monopoly Jr.”. If you have a vegetable or flower garden, you could teach them how to take care of it and weed it; but keep an eye on them and always make sure that they know the difference between weeds and flowers or veggies before letting them help you—wouldn’t want them pulling up a carrot before it’s ready to be pulled! No matter what you both decide to do, you and your grandchildren will love the time that’s spent together and you’ll develop a strong bond that will last for many years to come.