There are always fun things to do to help you connect with your grandkids, whether it's virtually or in-person, including planning activities based on their interests.
If you're having to practice social distancing, another way might be to play a game together during your next video call.
But one of the most important: Find moments to tell your grandkids that you are proud of their hard work.
One of the most special family relationships is often between grandparents and their grandkids. And yet, it can sometimes be hard for grandparents to connect with grandkids, especially if they live in a different area, have been staying home during the pandemic or due to time between visits. It might seem like your grandkids love to look at screens, but they secretly (or not so secretly!) also love spending time with you.
As a mom of two young boys, I’ve seen grandparents come up with some interesting ways to connect, and others who struggle to engage. Below are some fun ideas for grandparents who might be looking for new ways to relate with their grandkids of all ages.
Fun ideas for a visit with your grandkids
- Go for a walk around the neighborhood
- Visit a park or zoo
- Have a scavenger hunt, especially around holiday times ('let’s see how many flags we can spot")
- Bring a magnifying glass and take a closer look at nature
- Plan a trip together – either to a local destination or somewhere around the world. Talk about the local culture, where you would love to stay, what you would eat and the places you would explore. For little kids, this is a great make-believe game. For older kids, check out the destination on the internet, maybe they will have the opportunity to go in the future!
- Breakout the crayons / markers / paper, and draw together
- Make a card for a family member, neighbor, classmate
- Construct a castle / car / dragon from age-appropriate blocks
- Bake a delicious treat or try a new recipe
- Tie-dye a shirt / socks / pillowcase together in their favorite colors
- Start a collection: rocks, stamps, postcards, whatever they might be into
- Volunteer to clean up the park or help a local charity
- Be the audience if they love to tell stories or act
- Find a boardgame that works for their age or teach them to play chess / checkers / cards
- Try a word puzzle such as sodoku or wordsearch – for older kids, make it a race against you or the clock
- Blow bubbles – great for little kids, there are lots of new ways to make bubbles these days such as an extra-large wand or bubble machine
- Read together – get a new book in a series that they love or read an old favorite from grandma’s / grandpa’s house
Virtual ideas for a video call with grandkids
- Tell them a story – little kids love story time even virtually. Older kids love hearing real stories from your childhood such as tales of a time before computers, phones that were plugged into the wall, that time it snowed 6 feet...
- Don’t have time for a video call? Send caregivers a video of you reading a book or telling a story that they can replay for many years to come.
- Find a game that you can play together, on-screen.
- Get two matching bingo sets, mail one to each person who will be on the phone or video call. Take turns calling numbers and see who wins!
- For older kids, charades / pictionary or even trivia-style games can be played virtually
- For younger kids, i-spy and simon says are fun virtual games
- Have a scavenger hunt around the house: Create a list of 10 items that they have to find and bring to the computer screen, such as: something blue, something squishy, picture of an animal, something you wear on your head etc. Make it a race, first one to come back to the screen with the items wins.
- Be a penpal – write notes / postcards / draw a picture and send them via USPS. Have caregivers help if they are not old enough to write back.
- Get the wiggles out – do yoga together, have a dance party, or do some silly jumping
- Have a virtual tea party – invite their favorite dolls / stuffed animals. For older kids, make a fancy hot chocolate together during a video call.
Looking for things to talk about with grandkids?
- Ask their caregivers what they are interested in or ask grandkids directly. Ask about their favorite activity, show, book, a new class they are taking, their best friend.
- Find moments to tell them that you are proud of their hard work whether it’s coloring, schoolwork, sharing with a sibling, volunteering in the community or submitting their college applications.
- Getting lots of yes / no answers? Try rephrasing the questions - ask them to tell you about an experience / their day / that field trip last week / a recent soccer game.
Do a safety check with caregivers
- Depending on age, ask their caregivers if it’s ok before heading out on an adventure
- Ask caregivers to provide games / supplies that are age appropriate
- If grandkids are visiting your home, consider putting away valuables and locking away chemicals / alcohol / prescriptions to keep everyone safe
- Consider allergies before providing snacks for grandkids