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Grandparent and Grandchildren activity ideas

1st September 2017

It is great for grandparents and grandchildren to spend time together as it gives parents a respite and allows grandparents to spend quality time with their grandchildren.

With the generation gap and especially for older people who suffer mobility problems and need walk-in baths and showers around the home, it can sometimes be difficult to find things to do together.

Below is a guide about the different activities that grandparents and grandchildren can do together that will not only be fun, but will create memories that neither will forget.

Do an activity the grandchild likes

Make the activity all about the grandchild as they will want to be kept entertained with fun activities that interest them. The best way to do this is to take part in lots of activities that the grandchildren like.

Sue Johnson, Julie Carlson, and Elizabeth Bower, who are co-authors of Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren, 5th Edition, says, "We would recommend following the child’s lead and doing things together that the child enjoys. If they are into swimming, attend their meets, if they like animals take them to the zoo, if they are into computers ask them to help you get up to speed with some of the new social media.  Whatever their passion, follow it and build on a common interest.  One on one interaction and spending time instead of money is most meaningful – take them on a trip that they’ll remember. Memories last, things don’t. You might also take on a volunteer job with older grandchildren – the opportunities are endless and bonding while helping others creates a special closeness.

“What you send a grandchild isn’t half as important as that you communicate frequently. Remember how long a week or the summer was when you were a child? Well it’s the same with your grandchildren. Though time goes quickly for us now, you have to remember it doesn’t for a child. There are so many simple fun ways to stay in touch. Tuck a love note inside a balloon, put it in an envelope with the instructions to “blow up the balloon, pop it, and read my note.”  It shows your grandchild you are thinking of him, and even if your grandchild lives down the street, they’ll still love having their mailbox turned into a treasure chest.

“The key is to stay grandchild oriented. When you’re with your grandchildren, clear your calendar and plan things that the two of you will enjoy doing together.

“If you’re visiting at your grandchild’s home, take the opportunity to get to know their world – visit their school, get to know their friends at the playground, let them take the lead and teach you what they’re doing in their spare time.  You’ll build common interests that will help keep you connected when you’re apart."

Outdoor activities

Go to a sporting event

Grand Magazine, a specialist magazine that provides information to grandparents, recommends going to a sporting event.

They say, "It doesn’t matter if it’s a professional or a local high school sporting event; this will be something entertaining and enjoyable for both you and your grandchildren.  Have the whole sport experience: Eat stadium food and cheer on the team!  Teaching your grandchild about the sport, if unfamiliar, is also a bonding and learning experience that you’ll both enjoy."

Go Walking

Going out walking is a great form of exercise and the perfect way to get some fresh air. If the grandparent or grandchild has a dog, then that gives you even more encouragement to go out for a stroll.

Teresa from Nana Hood says, "The most important thing grandparents and grandchildren can do together is to talk and communicate. It's easier to do this while doing an activity together. Walking is good and if the child has a pet, walking the dog is even better! They can discuss the benefits and joys of pets."

The Grand Magazine recommends going on a nature walk, "Nature walks and hiking are certainly memories involving my grandparents that I’ve held onto as I’ve gotten older.  It was so much fun exploring woods with my grandfather, and I felt special when he even made me a walking stick just like his.  Nature walks instil healthy habits into children, and offer a great opportunity to spend quiet quality time with each other."

Go for a Picnic

Grand Magazine, says, "Picnics are an activity in which grandparents and grandchildren have fun without fail. Ask your grandchildren to help you make your meal and pack the picnic basket. Bring books and group games for activities; and plan on doing something in your picnic area."

Those with mobility problems can go for a picnic in their garden to save walking a long distance to a park.

Visit the Zoo

With a whole host of animals in one place, visiting the zoo is another perfect outdoor activity grandparents and grandchildren can do together.

Grand Magazine, adds, "The zoo is always a fun place for kids. They get to see animals they’ve never seen, and zoos always have fun activities that adults and kids alike can engage in. A day at the zoo is something kids rarely forget, especially when they go with a loved one."

Visit the local Nature Park

Another great outdoor activity that grandchildren will love is visiting the local nature park as this combines going for an energetic walk with some wildlife spotting.

The Grand Magazine, says, "Some of my fondest childhood memories with my grandparents were when they would take me to a local park that had a lake and picnic areas.  We’d fish, collect fun things like rocks, watch wildlife, and have picnic lunches.  Then when it would get dark at night, we’d collect fireflies in jars."

Indoor activities

Decorate T-shirts

This activity might not seem the most obvious one, but it is fun and will certainly keep younger grandchildren occupied if the weather is bad and you are unable to venture outside.

Grand Magazine shares its tips for decorating T-Shirts, "Decorating T-shirts is always a fun craft idea for kids.  Go to your local craft store together and pick out your t-shirts and all of the items you’ll need to decorate them.  Here are some decorating item ideas:

- Paints

- Tie-dye kits

- Stencils

- Feathers

- Sequins

- Glitter

Practice applying make-up

If your grandchild is into beauty, then practicing applying make-up is a great activity.

Barbara, who runs Nanas Corner, talks us through how her oldest grandchild loves practicing make-up with her.

She says, "KC, our oldest grandchild, is a 16-year-old who likes to practice applying make-up, so I ask her to help me with mine, trying new products each time we do this together…to help me look younger as I get older…and we get to share stories about boys, teaching, and family heritage."

Cook and bake with grandchildren

Cooking and baking with grandchildren is a fun and important activity as not only can they learn how to cook, but will have lots of fun getting involved.

Jen Walshaw, freelance writer and blogger at The Madhouse, says, "It is wonderful for grandparents to cook and bake with children.  Share family recipes and discuss family history at the same time.  Grandparents having the time to help and teach their grandkids to cook, but also they are often much calmer and have some wonderful skills and recipes to pass on to the younger generation.  I am not sure I would have even considered being as hands-on with my children if it wasn’t for the fantastic role model my mum was and the way she interacted with my boys in the kitchen."

Play cards or a board game

Playing cards or a board game has been around for a long time, but while playing these types of games are often only brought out over the festive period, it is a really good way to keep the grandchildren happy.

Nana Hood's Teresa, says, "Playing board games are fun with your grandchildren, or cards. I have lots of memories of playing card games with my grandmother. Anything you do is a way to build a relationship and that's a wonderful legacy for your grandchildren!"

The Grand Magazine agrees, "Other memories I have with my grandparents when I was young involved card games. Card games, like Slap-Jack, Hearts (for older grandchildren), War, etc., are an activity that both you and your grandchildren will have fun playing!"

Make a Family Tree

Making a family tree is another great indoor activity to consider as not only will be interesting for the older grandchildren as they grow up, but it can be fun putting it together.

The Grand Magazine, adds, "This is something that I wish I had done when I was younger. As children get older, they’ll wonder where their ancestors came from, what they did, and what they accomplished. Spend time making a home-made family tree with your grandchildren. This will be something they’ll enjoy when they’re young, and cherish when they’re older."

Grandparents are in a unique position to provide family history and the stability of roots, so they can help build a family tree and tell grandchildren about their relatives and great grandparents.

Grandloving's Sue Johnson, Julie Carlson, and Elizabeth Bower, add, "Who better than Grandparents to pass along family history and the stories of how your son and daughter-in-law met, or what your grandchild looked like when he was born. If you build a strong bond with your young grandchild, you might be the one they turn to when they are teens and things are rocky at home!  

"Grandparents usually have shoeboxes full of photos – use them to stay in touch – mail a home-made photo puzzle of the two of you with the note, “Put this together and see who loves you.”

Draw together

Especially in the winter months when the weather is variable, grandparents need to think about activities that are great for indoors and one of the best activities to do is drawing.

Owner of Nanas Corner, Barbara, says, "EC enjoys drawing, so when we are together she gives me drawing lessons and we discuss her career interests…which now includes graphic artist and computers."

This is a great way to keep up with a grandchild’s interests and you can draw things such as their favourite Disney characters or animals.

Make Home-made Ice Cream

One type of food that the majority of grandchildren like is ice cream and it is a treat they can eat any time of the day.

Grand Magazine says making ice cream together is a great way to keep the grandchildren and grandparents interested.

The popular magazine says, "Everyone loves ice cream. Get to the grocery store with your grandchildren and let them pick out their favourite sundae ingredients. If you have the time, you could even make homemade ice cream together. There’s no need for a fancy ice cream maker; there are recipes all over the internet for do-it-yourself home-made ice cream."

The importance of grandparent and grandchildren activities

Barbara at Nanas Corner says there have been many studies and other kinds of research that highlight the importance of grandparent and grandchildren doing activities together.

She says, "One such research is by the University of Oxford has shown how grandparents play a vital role in children’s wellbeing and the results have been informing UK family policy.”

“Professor Buchanan has now re-analysed her original grandparent data, looking at the impact of grandfathers’ involvement on child wellbeing. This shows that grandfathers’ involvement, independent of grandmothers, is associated with child well-being but their involvement is different; whereas grandmothers are more involved in nurturing, grandfathers get involved in activities and mentoring.”

Doing activities together will bond grandparents and grandchildren and when the grandchildren grow older they are more likely to talk and discuss problems with grandparents, which will take away some of their fear. Grandchildren are more likely to open up to grandparents they trust and are emotionally connected to, especially if they find it tough to talk to their parents.

If you are based in or are planning to visit the South West of England, take a look at this guide to what to do with grandchildren in the area

READ ALSO: Tips and advice for grandparents

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.