You love your grandchildren but sometimes it can pose a challenge to keep them entertained when they’re visiting your home. In this article, we give you some tips on how to keep the kids happy with indoor and outdoor activities.
Younger children: One- to five-year-olds
Younger children need more supervision and more attention from you. However, you can use different strategies to keep them amused.
Toys don’t need to be high tech, although anything that plays music and flashes lights will attract their interest for longer. However, most young children have vivid imaginations and can be left with a few key toys for half an hour or more. If your grandchild has an activity that appeals, then try to accommodate that. One young girl we know loved washing up. A few plastic containers in some sudsy water, a chair at the sink and she was away.
Keep a selection of age-appropriate books on hand and offer to read them a story. Depending on the age of the child, you might end up reading the same story over and over again. In our experience, those stories don’t necessarily need to be picture books, although these are certainly popular with young ones. As long as the story is good enough, young children will happily sit by your side as you read to them.
The video loop
Anyone who’s tried to keep a four-year-old amused for any length of time will eventually resort to parking them in front of their favourite video. Yes, it isn’t ideal but if you need some quiet time, a video will give you a welcome break. Remember that young children will happily watch the same video many times over before they tire of it.
Older children: Six- to ten-year-olds
Older children have a little more discrimination when it comes to what keeps them amused.
With children who are slightly older (and especially if they’re able to read themselves), a few books will keep them entertained. Girls tend to be more voracious readers than do boys but if you can provide books with fart jokes or that are a bit ‘rude’, boys will read.
Toys, card games and board games
Some of these might need to be age- and gender appropriate but most young kids will happily play with Lego® or blocks. Children also enjoy simple card games like Snap or Go Fish, or Battleships, that you can set up with a few bits of paper and a ruler. Even young children can manage old time board games like Snakes and Ladders, and let’s not forget the perennial favourite, Noughts and Crosses.
Thank you letter writing
This is probably a dying art in our age of email and social media. However, it’s still fun for kids to learn what’s expected of them. Most younger children are intimidated by the prospect of writing a letter so reassure them that all the recipient needs to hear from them is ‘Dear [name], Thanks for my present. On Saturday our team played soccer and won the game. Love, [name].
Some activities are appropriate for children of any age.
If the weather is fine, you can take the children for a walk, even if it’s just around the back yard. Look for insects, show them the different-shaped leaves in your garden, get them to help you plant herbs or food crops. (Radishes are great as they come up in a matter of days so everyone has almost instant gratification.)
When I say ‘cooking’, I mean ‘baking’ as most children prefer to make sweet treats rather than sort out the evening meal. Anzac biscuits are simple and easy for kids to make, as are some of the old favourites like coconut slice. Scones are quick, and there are many basic cake recipes that are ideal for children.
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