You know how exhausted you feel after playing round seven of “doctor check-up” with your kids and a sea of stuffed animals? Even the most energetic grandparent probably feels that—and then some. Whether it’s a special visit during the holiday season or an everyday weekend afternoon, slow the pace but preserve the fun with one of these ideas for intergenerational memory-making. Scroll down to see them all. 

photo: Chris Higgins via Flickr

1. Dealer’s choice. Your little card shark will love cleaning up at Go Fish, but she might also enjoy learning some other old school games. Grandparents can choose from their favorites: Spoons, Crazy Eights, War, and Rummy are all winners!

2. On the record. Kids of all ages love to ask questions, so let them satisfy their curiosity by interviewing Gram and Pops. Questions might range from, “What is your favorite dinosaur?” to “Tell me about your first date.” This list is a great start!

3. Strike a chord. If either grandparent has a talent for a particular instrument, encourage them to share that skill with the kids! Whether it’s a formal piano lesson or a chance to simply explore and bang on the drums (or strum a guitar or toot a horn), they’re sure to make a joyful noise.

photo: Donnie Ray via Flickr

4. Crack open a book. A pile of picture books (or one riveting chapter book) and a comfy couch are the makings of a perfect day. Make a trip out of it by going to the library, or let the kids show off their personal collection and pick out books they think their grandparents will enjoy, too.

5. Freeze time. To memorialize special or long visits with grandparents, collect mementos of your time together to make a time capsule—think photographs, ticket stubs, drawings, and puzzle pieces. Here’s a how-to for assembling the capsule itself.

6. (Grand)mother, May I? While running around outside might be a bit too exhausting for a few grandparents, there are several classic yard games that appoint at least one participant who needs to stand relatively still. Some of our favorites include Mother May I; Red Light, Green Light; Simon Says; and all kinds of hand clap games.

photo: Tim Lauer via Flickr


7. Put the pieces together. Take over the dining room table, and clock in a few hours of peaceful silence (or happy chatter) by putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You can dust off something you have on-hand, or grandpa and the kids can go out and choose something together.

8. Get cookin’. If both your tykes and their elders like to cook, let them team up in the kitchen and whip up a favorite family recipe. They can even read Baking Day at Grandma’s together for extra fun!

9. Tea for two (or three or five). Raid grandma’s closet, break out the China (or the paper plates), and cut sandwiches into triangles—voilà! Grandparents will love being served a cuppa and will likely appreciate the opportunity to reinforce gracious table manners.

photo: Carolien Dekeersmaeker via Flickr

10. Go for a walk. Even if there’s no summer sun callin’ your name, nature walks are fun during any season. Have the kids put on some comfortable shoes and a hat, and they can hold grandma’s hand while they explore a new trail or give her a “tour” of the neighborhood. We love this list of 100 things to do before, during, or after a nature walk!

11. Hunt for treasure. One part riddle, one part hide and seek, an indoor treasure or scavenger hunt will delight grandkids (and grandparents) of all ages. While this link gives a how-to for organizing a hunt for the kids, children can also plan a treasure hunt for grandma and grandpa.  

12. Plant memoriesin a terrarium! With a simple glass bowl, soil, rocks, a few plants and (our favorite part) a few of those tiny plastic dinosaurs that inhabit every corner of your home, grandparents will love helping their grandkids create a tiny habitat for their most fearsome tiny friends. This how-to is especially terrar-iffic.

What’s your favorite way to play with grandparents? Do you think you’ll use some of these ideas? Tell us about it in a Comment below.

— Katie Brown