“If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I’d have had them first.”
— Lois Wyse
As a grandparent, you get to experience one of life’s greatest gifts — grandchildren. Whenever you spend time with them, you have the opportunity to pass down nuggets of wisdom and win their little hearts and minds. But in today’s techy world, it can be hard to pry them away from their smartphones and open up their eyes to the world around them. Luckily we’ve put together some electronic-free ways to make the most out of your quality time with the grandkids.
1. Cook or Bake Together
Since the dawn of time (or at least for pretty darn long) the kitchen has been a great place to gather and connect with one another. Why not bond over an easy-to-make recipe for a favorite baked good? Or maybe try making something they’ve never eaten before! Their tastes may become more adventurous if they make the dish themselves.
2. Take a Walk
As Cat Stevens once said: “Oh baby baby it’s a wild world”. So why not teach your grandkids how wild and wonderful it can be by going for a walk to the park or even around the neighborhood? It’ll give them some fresh air and get them away from electronic temptations for a while. Bring a frisbee, ball, hula hoop, jump rope or rocket ship (model size, preferably) if you’re up for an extended expedition outdoors.
3. Volunteer and Help Others
Helping hands are helping hands — even if they’re tiny and adorable. In other words, it’s never too early for your little ones to learn the joy of helping those in need. Make a trip to the food bank and volunteer, or find another worthwhile cause around town you can join. Remember that recipe you cooked together from the beginning of this article? Why not deliver that to a neighbor in need?
4. Play Card Games
Some things are classics for a reason. A standard deck of cards offers almost endless possibilities of games to play. Teach the new generation a couple old standbys to get their noodle working, or discover a new game and learn together. If all else fails, kids seem to love the ever-classic, ever-chaotic “52 card pickup.”
5. Get Artistic
Support your budding van Goghs and Kahlos through the beautiful simplicity of sidewalk chalk or watercolors. Or let your kiddos express themselves through paper snowflakes or simple origami. Even a set of crayons can help them develop their creative side — plus, you’ll be left with some priceless art to brighten up your fridge.
6. Birdwatch With Binoculars
Sure, birdwatching may not be an all-day activity. But it’s a nice way to slip a few quiet moments into your time together and dole out a few kernels of wisdom about the natural world. And who knows, maybe one day they’ll thank you when they’re a famous biologist!
7. Press Leaves and Flowers
We’re big believers that the more memories you make, the better. So while you’re out on a walk with the grandkids, have them collect a couple leaves and pick a few fresh flowers. When you go back home, you can preserve them together by pressing them in a book. It’s an easy way to capture some memories for them to look back on in years to come.
8. Create Your Own Dance Party
Energy, energy and more energy. It seems like that’s what most kids are made of. And it can be hard to find activities to do with them, all while wearing them out. Here’s a tip: Turn on their favorite music and make it a dance party. They can get all their wiggles out and you can encourage them with a couple of your own moves.
9. Start a Lemonade Stand
One great thing about being a grandparent is imparting wisdom. You could even take it on yourself to teach those little tykes the value of a dollar. Help your grandkids stir together a quality pitcher of lemonade and spend some time outdoors on the neighborhood corner. It’s also a great way to socialize them and meet some fellow youngsters on a sunny day.
10. Play Call and Response Games
You can’t go wrong with playing some childhood classics like Marco Polo, Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light. These interactive games are good ways to practice active listening skills and creative problem-solving early on. As a bonus, the more physical the activity, the more wiggles you’ll release.
11. Dress up as Characters
Childhood imagination seems to have less limitations than the universe itself. Let those kiddos fly their creative flag high and free! Open up your closet and watch them transform into zany characters based on your wardrobe. Maybe they’ll transform into someone from their favorite movie, or maybe they’ll make up their own character on the spot!
12. Establish a Storytime
Cavemen did it around a fire. The Greeks did it in their city center. Humankind has told stories forever. Designate a chunk of time to sit down and continue this tradition. Read straight from a book while the kids get cozy and listen, or make it interactive by building a story together and taking turns to tell what happens next.
13. Explore Gardening
Let your little ones explore your garden (or a community garden) and have them see that bees go buzz and trees grow up. It’s a wonderful way to teach them about nature, fresh food and patience. If you’re limited on space, get a small potted plant for them to tend. That way, they can watch it grow a little bit every time they come over. (It’s kind of like a cheap and low-maintenance pet for them.)
14. Blow Bubbles
Bubble solution is pretty easy to find, or even make yourself with a dash of dish soap and water. Then all you have to do is find a bubble wand and go to town! From small to big bubbles, kids usually get a kick out of these magic floating orbs. Plus, any nearby dogs will love to chase and snap at them too.
15. Fill Out Mad Libs
Word games like Mad Libs are a great to help develop storytelling and vocabulary skills in young minds. You can find templates online, in stores or even create your own stories to fill in the blanks. The sillier the answers, the more you’ll both be giggling. We call that a win-win!
Hopefully this helps get the ideas flowing for fun and active ways to hang out with your little ones! Have suggestions or feedback? Leave a comment telling us your favorite things to do with your grandkids.