We grandmas love spending time with our grandchildren, especially in the summer when the pace is slower. But sometimes we need a few new ideas to inspire us when we’re wondering how to fill the time.
I’ve put together a list of some favorite activities I’ve enjoyed doing with my three granddaughters who are now 16, 12 and 5 years old.
Be Fully Present
Before we talk about activities, there’s one important thing to keep in mind: be fully present with your grandchild when you’re together. It’s easy to become distracted when we’ve got lots on our minds. Give him your full attention and ask him to do the same.
In other words, put away all smart phones and electronic devices. Make eye contact and smile. This may sound obvious but it’s important to be in the moment and not be thinking about what you’re going to do later or tomorrow. Children can sense when we’re fully engaged and when we’re not.
If you have difficulty hearing, tell your grandchild. Ask him to speak a little louder so you’re sure to hear him or have him sit on the side where you hear better.
If you can’t get down on the floor, ask your grandchild to sit so that you both are at the same eye level if possible.
Now that you’re face-to-face and ready to engage, what kinds of activities can you do?
These activities can be used with a wide range of ages by adapting the skill level of your grandchild.
- Put together puzzles.
- Color and put stickers in an activity book.
- Play a board game – examples, matching pairs, Candyland, checkers, chess, HiHo Cherry-O, Parchese, Rummikub — The Original Rummy Tile Game (Our family favorite is Rummikub for ages 8+)
- Scribble a doodle and then make a picture from the doodle.
- Look at a family photo album and tell some stories about the people in the photos.
- Make a collage from magazines, old calendars, and posters.
- Draw portraits of each other.
- Take turns reading a book and talk about the pictures or ask: What do you think happens next?
- Make up a story together using some cards that have words on them and take turns adding to the story.
- Play “I Spy with My Little Eye” — pick an object in the room and name its color. Then ask your grandchild to guess what the object is.
- Sing some of your favorite songs and ask your grandchild to teach you one of her favorite songs. A wonderful songbook is Rise Up Singing: The Group Singing Songbook with oldies, gospels, camp songs and classics.
- Pantomime an activity and ask your grandchild to guess what you’re doing. Then switch and you guess.
- Teach your grandchild a hobby you love.
- Make paper airplanes.
- Play a memory game called: “I’m going on a picnic.” To begin, one person starts by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing …” followed by a food that begins with the letter A. The second player repeats what the first person said and adds a food that begins with the letter B, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing …” (the item that begins with the letter A and then add an item that begins with the letter B.) Continue with the next player repeating the line with the first two items and adding something that begins with C. Go through the alphabet and keep adding and reciting the whole list.
- Put on a puppet show with finger puppets or hand puppets.
- Do a craft together from a Klutz Activity Book. There are hundreds of different kits on Amazon. My granddaughters and I enjoyed making Klutz Mini Pom-Pom Pets.
- Make a mobile from magazine photos.
- Get out a map or globe and talk about the places you’ve traveled and ask your grandchild where he’d like to travel.
- Play “20 Questions” – is it an animal, mineral or vegetable?
- Play card games: Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Uno, Old Maid
- Get riddle books, MadLibs, Brain Teasers and take turns guessing the answers.
- Start a journal of your visits and write down what you do then ask your grandchild to draw a picture to go with what you write.
- Hide a small treasure in your house and let your grandchild try to find it with clues.
- Make a favorite recipe in the kitchen and let your grandchild do the measuring and mixing.
- Make fluffy slime. Here’s a link to the recipe I recently used with my 12 year old and 5 year old granddaughters.
- Create a scavenger hunt — write clues on pieces of paper and hide them around your house or outside. Or make a list of items to find and give your grandchild the list and a bag.
- Build a fort using sticks and branches and a blanket you can hang over a table or outdoor furniture.
- Create a fairy garden.
- Hunt for a treasure that you hide.
- Look at interesting bugs, butterflies and flowers.
- Plant some seeds in the garden or a pot.
- Play catch, shoot hoops, toss a football, string up a rope and play volleyball or badminton.
- Do some stargazing at night. Use the free Star Chart app to identify the constellations. Check the dates for meteor showers, too.
- Take advantage of local activities like berry picking, the zoo or local carnivals and fairs.
For a list of many more outdoor activities, check out my favorite resource: Be Outside and Grow by Rebecca Cohen.
What’s your favorite go-to activity to do with your grandchildren? Let us know by sharing yours in the “Speak Your Mind” box below.