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Spending quality time with your grandkids (and kids) adds joy and laughter to any given day. Just basking in a child’s boundless energy and carefree silliness can boost your mood and make you smile. But joining in the fun also keeps you physically and mentally active – and research shows that multigenerational interaction is good for older adults and kids.
If you’re looking for new things to try, here are some easy, engaging activities to do with your family!
Play Outdoor Games
Playing outdoors is a terrific way to get some fresh air and physical exercise. Playing catch or frisbee is fun. LadderBall, Yard Yahtzee, and bean bag toss are also popular backyard games – along with good old-fashioned tag. You can also enjoy swings or the slide at a nearby park or playground. Or, go on a walk through the neighborhood and play “I Spy,” noting people, places, and things you pass along your route.
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Go On a Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt
Kids have curious minds and love adventures. To tap into this enthusiasm, lead them on a scavenger hunt to find a list of items in nature. The list can be as long or short as you want – and you can tailor it to suit your grandchild’s age.
For little ones, draw pictures or use stickers, or give verbal instructions for the items they must find. For older kids, write a list and even add more details. For example, you can write “leaf,” “flower,” and “rock” or “a red leaf with three points,” “a smooth, grey rock,” or “three different kinds of bugs.”
Set a time limit, search together, and then celebrate and talk about your finds when time is up. “Prizes” are optional and can be simple things like a coloring book and crayons or a scoop of ice cream.
Doing arts and crafts spurs imagination and creativity. Some simple ideas include:
Host a Board Game Night
Board games bring families of all sizes around the table – and the classics never get old. Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders are preschool favorites. Monopoly, Clue, and Scrabble require more skill and complex thinking – though some “junior” editions exist. To engage your mind, share some laughs, and enjoy friendly competition, host a family game night, have the kids bring their favorite games, and share some of your own.
Build Legos or Do Jigsaw Puzzles
Legos have been entertaining kids of all ages for decades! Building Lego sets together exercises hand coordination and fine motor skills, engages focus and concentration. From Harry Potter to a model plane – there’s a project size and scheme to please everyone.
Jigsaw puzzles are another timeless pastime that engages memory and reasoning skills. Putting a puzzle together requires concentration and problem-solving skills. Working together makes the project more fun and gives you a chance to share high-fives and “aha” moments when the pieces finally lock into place.
Bake or Cook
Teaching your grandchild or child how to bake melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies or passing down and making “secret family recipes” help create unforgettable memories and life lessons kids can take with them to college, their first homes, and their own families.
From measuring ingredients and whisking them together to learning how to set an oven timer and checking if a cake is “done,” kids will learn valuable kitchen skills, and you can both enjoy the yummy fruits of your labor when you’re done.
Perform a Song or Skit
You can encourage creativity and help foster a love of the arts by singing or performing skits with a child. Put on a Disney soundtrack, like “Frozen,” and belt “Let It Go.” Or sing classic childhood tunes with hand motions like “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Play Mate,” or “Hokey Pokey.”
Read Aloud Together
Reading books out loud sweeps both the reader and listener away to the story world and introduces children to all kinds of fascinating fictional characters - some of the classic children’s novels including The Rainbow Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, or The Three Little Pigs, are great choices. Using different voices for different characters engages and entertains kids. It also helps spark their imagination! Reading to children from a young age can help foster a lifelong love of reading. As they grow, ask the kids to read to you.
Overall, any time and activities you share with your grandkids or kids will create lasting memories for all!