Last summer, we were fortunate enough to take a trip to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks with our son and his three children. We camped, hiked, and swam with our grandchildren and a good time was had by all.
Unfortunately, this summer we haven’t been able to get away. Plus, we live in the California desert where it’s super hot in the summer, so we’ve been forced to get creative. We can only swim so many hours!
If you’re in a similar situation and the grandkids are getting bored halfway through their summer vacation, what are some simple but fun things you can do with them at home?
Here are 10 fun ideas that will keep them entertained and create some special memories:
Teach the Joy of Gardening
When I finally got around to planting a garden at our new house, the grandchildren had a blast picking out seeds and plants. We made homemade signs and planted away. They are now are enjoying the fruits of their labor. My youngest granddaughter is the first one to run out to see what needs to be harvested when she gets to our house – but they all love it. (Of course, we have to do this in the evening hours here, but it stays light out until 8:00 PM right now.) If you don’t have a garden, take your grandchildren to a pick-your-own farm or your local Farmer’s Market to select some fresh produce for dinner.
Last weekend, we had an old-fashioned tea party for my granddaughters. We visited the 99 cent store and picked up a very pink table cloth, Shopkin paper plates and napkins, some tiaras and tutus for guests, and princess rings for a treasure hunt. We invited a few guests and I put on an apron and served decaffeinated tea and juice, tiny sandwiches, and small pastries. Afterwards, we had a contest seeing who could throw the most tea bags into a teapot and who could stack sugar cubes the highest in 30 seconds.
Break Out the Board Games
My 7-year-old grandson, Rowan, can’t get enough of board games. We’ve had fun introducing him to some of our childhood favorites like Sorry, Monopoly, Life, and Clue. Did you know they have a Star War edition of Operation? Think we may get Twister next. Card games like Go Fish and Old Maid work as well. For that, all you need is a basic deck of cards.
Kids love learning about things that are new to them, but were “cool” a long time ago. Share some stories along with a bit of family history. Show your grandchildren their parents’ baby books and photos – complete with tales about their first steps, first words, first foods, and all the mischief they got into as a child. Your grandkids will relish visualizing Mom or Dad as a pint sized peer instead of the person who tells them to clean up their room!
Have a Scavenger Hunt
When the kids have sleepovers or parties with their friends – this is always a hit! I make rhyming clues for them, but you can keep it simpler if you prefer. For example, turn an ordinary walk around the neighborhood into an exciting treasure hunt by giving your grandchild a list of things to find such as a red rock, a Y-shaped stick, or a bird’s feather.
Turn on the Sprinklers
We did it as kids and your grandkids will still love it! Put on your bathing suits and run through sprinklers in the backyard. Or get creative. We bought a simple octopus sprinkler and put it underneath the trampoline in the backyard for squeals of delight. Or hook up a hose to a slide and put a small inflatable pool at the bottom.
My granddaughters love this! I have cherished jewelry my husband gave me, some jewelry I’ve inherited from my Mom, as well as inexpensive trinkets I’ve collected on world travels. Each one has an interesting story behind it and my two granddaughters, ages 9 and 5, love to hear them. Then I let them try on some inexpensive baubles so they feel like royalty.
Look at the Stars
Grandpa, Daddy, and I all have stargazing apps on our phones. We hold our mobile devises toward the sky and the app identifies constellations, stars, and planets. We use StarMap 3D+, but there are many great apps – some are free – available. Some apps will tell you when the Space Shuttle is orbiting by your home or when the next lunar eclipse or meteorite shower will take place. Great stuff!
Learn a New Language Together
Once again, there are tons of apps you can use or you can check out a book from the library. Learn some words and phrases, then travel to a place or nearby community that speaks that language and practice your newfound skills. My husband and I both know how to sign and have had fun teaching our grandchildren. They learn fast! The TV program, Signing Time on Netflix, is a great place to start if you’re interested in ASL. Tween and teens will enjoy the series, Switched at Birth. We’re fortunate to be in a sign language congregation, so the kids can practice with deaf people and learn more about their culture.
We had a 60s anniversary party a while ago for my son and his wife. The grandchildren were invited and I got a hold of a Bozo, some Mad Men paper dolls complete with outfits, hula hoops, and a Lite Brite to keep them busy with theme-related toys. That was a few years ago – and they still play with those toys! All those classic toys you remember fondly like Lincoln Logs, Play Doh, Mr. Potato Head, Barbie, Spirograph, Slinky, and Etch-a-Sketch are still around. Purchase one of your favorite toys as a kid and go down Memory Lane with your grandkids. Or teach them how to fold homemade paper airplanes and have a contest to see whose flies the farthest.
There you go! Ten ideas to get you started for some summertime fun with the grandchildren. And if all else fails, introduce the kids to an old-fashioned classic movie like Marry Poppins, Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Singing in the Rain, Yellow Submarine, The Black Stallion, or the original Willy Wonda and the Chocolate Factory. Here we are watching Mrs. Doubtfire while chowing down on popcorn.
Have a great rest-of-the-summer with the grandkids!
Images courtesy of photostock, artur84, Pong, and AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.