15 Fun Games & Activities for When Grandma and Grandpa Take Care of the Kids
Keri Wilmot from ToyQueen.com is an occupational therapist, toy expert, Dallas blogger and parent, who shares popular toy reviews, tips and toy unboxings.
Keri is a full-time pediatric occupational therapist. With more than 18 years of clinical experience, professionally Keri specializes in working with infants, young children and their families by promoting developmental milestones in clients' homes, in the public school system and in the community.
Over time it was clear that Keri had developed a talent for finding developmental toys that promoted a child's educational skills, in fun, natural and playful ways. ToyQueen.com and its various social media channels (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) were developed to be an online resource that reviews toys, games, attractions, events, movies, experiences and baby products for their developmental qualities, with the goal to help all parents and caregivers learn practical ways to play everyday with their children through unique products and experiences.
It’s been said that a grandparent is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher and a little bit best friend. The intergenerational relationship can be one of the most important in our lives. Sometimes inter-generational activities can be a challenge as seniors and little ones may not be able to do all the same activities.
Finding the right activities is so important because it helps kids make lasting memories with their grandparents and it can help seniors get out of the house and stay active.
Visit The Genius of Play website for more tools, resources and play ideas.
As adults, many of us have fond memories of the times we spent as children with our grandparents. A simple game or play activity enjoyed today by a grandchild and their grandparent can teach a child how to take turns, and improve their ability to communicate and strategize - all skills that will help them later in life. These hands-on activities have the potential to become family traditions for your children, as these fond memories are passed on from one generation to another during special times, vacations and holiday events. Here are some fun play ideas and games for when grandma and grandpa take care of the kids.
Go Fish, Old Maid, War, Slapjack, Crazy Eights, and Rummy have been loved for generations and only need a standard deck of cards to play. Uno and Milles Bornes are some other classic card games grandchildren love to learn from their grandparents, too.
Embrace nature together, search for bugs and earthworms, plant seeds and tend to flowers in the garden. Don’t have a large space? No need to worry, design a terrarium, dish garden, window box or plant your favorite vegetable, herb or flower in a pot you paint together. Then use these opportunities to create nurturing decorative spaces for their favorite little toys to live and hide in.
Chess is an ageless, classic strategy game that many grandparents have mastered and enjoy teaching future generations about.
Messy Sensory Stuff
Many parents don’t have a lot of extra time and patience for the kids to engage in messy play at home. Grab those old t-shirts and put on those smocks and leave the messy sensory stuff like finger paints, play-doh, glitter dusting, and clay to playtime with the grandparents!
Cook and Bake Family Recipes
Is there a special family recipe for biscuits, latkes, pierogi, pie, cakes, pizza, pasta, breads, cupcakes, cobblers or cookies? Want to create a new tradition for your family? Cooking and baking family recipes is a fun way for grandchildren to play and create together with their grandparents while preserving and developing family traditions.
Sew or Knit A Stuffed Animal, Toy or Blanket
Crocheting, sewing and knitting are not lost art forms! Skilled enough to create a stuffed animal or toy, great! Want to work on smaller more achievable projects? You can start by knitting scarves, blankets and other accessories for their favorite toys and baby dolls.
Puzzles range in their time commitment from minutes to days, but they can be a fun long-term project to pass the time without relying on the television.
Have extra costume jewelry around? Your daughter’s old prom dress? You son’s old Halloween costume? Let the grandchildren play “dress up” in their parent’s old playthings.
Popular strategy activities that involve numbers include games like Dominos, SkipBo, Rummikub, and Yahtzee. Reinforcing number matching is great for all ages.
Paint Rocks to Spread Kindness
Rocks can be found on a quick walk, at a hardware store, or even in a craft kit. Decorate them with paint to include inspirational sayings and drawings, then leave them in inconspicuous places for others to find to spread joy and kindness.
Wooden Craft Projects
Kids love wooden craft projects. Some require minor assembly, but there are also dozens of wooden craft kits that children can paint using acrylics that appeal to varying skill levels. Look for wooden birdhouses, jewelry boxes, race cars, planes, trains, treasure boxes, eggs, and wooden people for dollhouses.
Teach Musical Instruments
Skilled at playing an instrument like the piano, violin, guitar, xylophone, ukulele, or harmonica? Lots of grandparents have learned how to play musical instruments and even if they aren’t proficient at an advanced level, they can still share their talents to inspire a beginning love of music with their grandchildren.
Word games are great for the mind to improve concentration, attention, and spelling for young and old alike. Boggle, Scrabble, Bananagrams, and Scattergories are popular and timeless word games that are enjoyed by all.
My grandmother had an entire bookshelf of my mother’s old chapter books that I loved to take home and read. Whether it’s reading traditional holiday books, fables, nursery rhymes, picture books, joke books, or chapter books, spending time reading together is a great way for grandparents to connect with their grandchildren.
Create a Volunteer Opportunity
Plant flowers in pots for an assisted living facility. Gather up old stuffed animals to be delivered to the police and fire department for other children who might need them. Go shopping and pick out some new toys for a shelter.