Did you think life as a grandma would involve sitting in a rocking chair and relaxing? Well, you were wrong! Grandparents have been and always will be a safety net. So, when the grandkids need a guardian at short notice, you are the number one draft pick. And, because it’s cheap labour, the odds are high that you’ll get the job on a permanent basis.
Grandparents love looking after their grandchildren because it’s one of the perks of the job. There’s no need to discipline, refuse them treats, or do any of the yucky stuff involved in parenting. However, you do have to fill the hours and that isn’t easy as kids are energetic and get bored without difficulty.
If you are running out of ideas, you have come to the right place. Here on At Grandma’s Place, we aim to please and help out take the strain of grandparenting. With that in mind, below are six fun and educational activities grandmas and grandchildren alike will love.
An old faithful but one a grandmother should stick to regardless. Why? It’s because, over the years, you have baked millions of cookies and cupcakes for your kids and grandkids. Now, it’s time to get them involved in the process. All you have to do is plant the seed and watch it take hold because children love the idea of eating junk food. “Hey, should we bake a cake?” is all it takes for kids to want to be apart of the process because they can see the sugary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Of course, baking is incredibly practical too as it involves measuring ingredients and setting timers. In their head, your grandchild will be using their mental arithmetic to make sure the bake has a warm and gooey centre. Plus, they have to read the recipe and follow the instructions.
Arts And Crafts
Baking is a no go unless a child has an apron to protect their clothes. So, rather than buy one from a store, make your own at home with the grandkids.
You don’t need much material and the cost will be as cheap as buying one. Even better, the activity will keep them occupied and they will love every minute. Start by finding the raw materials, such Burda tissue paper and one metre of nylon. A post on the John Lewis website also points out you shouldn’t forget a sewing machine or a sewing kit. The kids won’t be able to use them, but they are essential to creating an apron from scratch. Next, cut out the material in an apron shape which is long enough to cover a child’s body. Then, follow an instruction manual or a set of guidelines! Arts and crafts can encompass pretty much anything, so don’t let their creative side only focus on an apron. A simpler activity is a painting session or playing with Play-Doh.
Kids love to sit and watch TV. The problem is they watch too much and don’t get out of the house enough. As a grandparent, you want them to be happy but don’t want them to be lazy or put on weight. So, spending a day at a cinema may not seem like an excellent idea. Indeed, their mum and dad may not be thrilled when they hear about it at the end of the day!
Still, TV is incredibly educational and enjoyable at the same time. Okay, the physical benefits may not be off the charts, but it’s only one day. The trick is to buy a day-pass at the local movie theatre and immerse them in the experience. Kids love going to the cinema because it’s a grand affair with sweets and sodas.
But, theatres also show educational documentaries and kid’s films with an underlying subtext. The “March of the Penguins” is a prime example as penguins are cute yet the film focuses on relationships and hunting. At the moment, “Earth: One Amazing Day” is in cinemas and details nature’s amazing events over the course of one day.
Sticking with the animal theme, why not see them in real life instead of on a screen? Children love animals and a zoo is a perfect place to see exotic creatures like tigers and elephants. Not only do they get to watch them in real time, but they can interact too. Nowadays, lots of zoos having petting stations where attendees can touch and hold domesticated animals. SeaQuest even lets its paying customers swim with stingrays in a controlled environment.
The ultimate zoo experience, though, is a safari park where the animals roam around without cages. Seeing a giraffe eating from a tall tree is a humbling experience because most kids won’t get to replicate it ever. The same goes for walking past a herd of elephants or driving through an enclosure which is home to a pride of lions. Of course, as you go around, the kids can listen to an educational guide or read a pamphlet and learn all about the creatures they see.
Older kids hate the idea of taking part in science experiments. Grandma, it just isn’t cool! Thankfully, the younger ones aren’t as bothered about their image and just want to have fun. Science, contrary to popular belief, is full of enjoyment and may encourage the kids to study harder at school.
After all, learning is about having fun.
All you need is a basic science set with cool ingredients which make clouds of smoke and erupt over the kitchen table. Don’t worry because you don’t have to be Neil deGrasse Tyson or have a PhD to take part. A simple experiment such as putting Mentos in a bottle of coke will leave them in awe. To take it one step further, buy or make a lab coat and hand out goggles to make them feel like actual scientists.
Spending time with the grandkids is the greatest way to bond. With these tips, you also be able to teach them a trick or two.
Counting down to Christmas is always so much fun.. especially for kids. And an Advent Calendar really helps to make that lead-up time to Christmas more tangible, more comprehensible. It also means that you don't have to answer the ongoing question, "How long until Christmas? When can we unwrap all the presents?"
Why use an Advent calendar?
Sure, an advent calendar looks great as part of your festive decorations as you gradually add, day by day, to the finished calendar. It can add to the Christmas fun. It can be used to keep the focus of Christmas on the birth of the Saviour. And, depending on your choice of calendar, it can help your kids focus on the joy of giving and serving others, too.
What do I need to consider when choosing an advent calendar?
Well, there are plenty of commercially prepared advent calendars. Some would make lovely gift ideas for friends or family. Some commercially prepared advent calendars present small gifts for each day leading up to Christmas. Some are simple thin boxes with perforated windows with a hidden recess for a small chocolate for each day leading up to Christmas. Others are books with windows or flaps to reveal something of the nativity story as Christmas approaches.
Create a family tradition- your own advent calendar
An advent calendar is even more meaningful if you can make it yourself and personalise it as a family legacy. The treats and activities created for and added to your advent calendar can revolve around the interests, activities and favourite choices of your family.
And you can create variations for each year.
So, here are a number of such suggestions listed below that you might like to consider.
The Dainty Bauble Advent Calendar (find the link for this advent calendar below) is easy to print and create. Use the back of the decoration to either: a. write a Scripture verse on the reverse b.include a fun activity c. provide instructions or clues to find a hidden treat or d. include all ideas.
You might decide to just attach a small wrapped chocolate or treat to the reverse of the decoration. Or you may keep it simple and glue a second copy of the decoration to the reverse for extra strength and durability.
However you decide to personalise it, this advent calendar combines the elegance of the past with the energy and minimalism of the future. It's sure to become a family treasure.
What you'll need:
*Download and print the files for the 25 decorations. (Print onto a good quality card. You might also want to consider a good parchment or linen textured card.)
*silver cording for the hanger and perhaps paper clips.
* double-sided tape and normal tape.
*small Christmas tree that will look attractive on the table or side table.
1. Download, print and cut out each of the 25 advent calendar decorations. Use a good quality card and it looks even better if it has a light texture. Print and cut out a second copy if you intend to back each decoration with its twin. It means that it looks great even if the wind blows the decoration to reveal the back. Leave the back blank if you intend writing something on the back or attaching a small treat.
2. Cut a hole in each tab and thread a small piece of silver cord through the hole as the hanger.
3. If you prefer to have a hanger that's a big more substantial (especially if your kids will be hanging the decorations) you might like to use a paper clip for each decoration. Just tape the paper clip on the back with the loop just visible above the rim of the decoration.
Use a second copy of the decoration and attach on the back to cover the taped paper clip. I used double-sided tape. it's just a bit neater. Sometimes glue can cause the card to slightly buckle. Now slip a piece of thin cord through the loop of the paper clip as the hanger.
4. You don't have to add anything else but if you want, you can write a Scripture verse on the back or a clue to where to find the day's treat. You can also decide on a fun activity for each day: sing your favourite Christmas carol, go out for ice-cream, decorate a gingerbread cottage.. If you don't want to add that info on the back of the decoration, just use slips of paper with the activity or treat written on each piece. Pop all of the papers into a small bucket or container. Your kids can reach in and choose one each day to read and complete.
5. Set up your small tabletop Christmas tree and start adding one decoration each day leading up to Christmas Day. I found an inexpensive tree at Kmart for about $10. There was a lovely natural-looking bare tree at another store but it was expensive. I think you could make something similar with a good sized branch set into a pot of plaster of Paris.
So.. that's about it.... pretty simple... and you can check out the summary slideshow below.
Oh... and you can find a FREE pair of Christmas decorations to download and print for your own Christmas tree. Normally, these vintage-inspired decorations would cost $4.95 but they're free for you to download, print and use. See below.
Here are some more ideas that you might like to consider.
FocusontheFamily has produced a free advent calendar, O Holy Night, plus instructions for an advent wreath.
Download and print the calendar. Then highlight each day leading up to Christmas with a character from the nativity story plus a Scripture reading and devotion. Beginning December 3, your advent calendar builds a nativity scene with the daily characters from the advent calendar.
You'll also find a suggestion for creating an advent wreath to remind your family of God's never-ending faithfulness.
Find it here...
Share the love advent calendar: this resource from iMom focuses on building a legacy of giving with your family.
Each day you'll find sweet and selfless ideas to help your kids experience real Christmas joy through the spirit of giving.
Find it here..
This Christmas countdown is also a puzzle and provides a daily treat and activity idea.
Download the printable calendar. Then use the instructions to create an advent calendar that must be assembled day-by-day to reveal a beautiful Christmas decor piece. On the back of each card, you'll hide a treat and an activity.
Find it here...
This advent pack includes 5 weeks of family devotions that focus on a different carol each week.
There are 5 colouring pages that combine to tell the story of Jesus' birth and the advent calendar with fun family activities.
Instructions for creating and illustrated advent wreath with paper candles complete the fun family advent pack.
Find it here...
Help your family discover the Light of Christmas in a new way!
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...
though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Every year, Christmas seems to arrive in the stores earlier than you expect. Beautiful Christmas displays appear mid-October, Christmas gift ideas fill store catalogues, and glittering ornaments are hung in the specially created Christmas-theme areas.
And that's fine... although I never seem ready for Christmas despite the early reminders and displays. But the Christmas proclaimed in the department stores and shopping centres is not the Christmas that's important to me. And it's not the legacy of Christmas that, by and large, I want for my family. It doesn't reflect the humble stable of the Saviour's birth or the gift of that first Christmas.
The store-bought Christmas is filled with music and joy and fun and feasting and unwrapping endless gifts. I want to help my family unwrap the real joy of Christmas. And I believe that families, like mine, can hear the Christmas story in a new way using creative family-focused devotions.
So I looked at just five such devotional resources and you can check them out, too, below:
So.. first up..
1. All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar
Focus on th Family has produced a beautiful Advent colouring and devotional book. It will help you focus on the anticipation, preparation and celebration of Jesus' birth.
The ongoing enthusiasm for colouring by all ages means the your whole family can be involved.
You'll find beautifully detailed colouring pages with peel-and-stick ornaments, 28 days of faith-filled activities, Scripture readings and an Advent calendar Christmas tree. (You can find a free Advent calendar, too.)
All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar.
2. All is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Colour your Way to Christmas
Yes... this is another colouring devotional for Christmas. This publication is by Nancy Guthrie. It includes bonus activities, discussion starters, and kid-friendly colouring pages- Christmas ornaments and decorations.
All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas
3. Made by Me Nativity
This kit starts by making a great nativity keepsake set. It's included in the kit. But there's so much more...
There are gifts to make and give to friends, family and neighbours. Other faith-building activity suggestions are included: field trips, a Christmas movie makeover and other fun!
And yes, there's more...
Simple kitchen-based mission ideas (cookies, nut baskets, Christmas morning mix) will get your kids up and serving others and discovering Jesus.
Made by Me Nativity
4. Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
Host a kid-friendly Christmas family night with the Christmas Movie Night Kit.
You'll find a read aloud picture book, activities, puzzles and games. The animated Story of Christmas dvd includes sing-along videos of Christmas carols and behind-the-scenes production footage.
Celebrate the real meaning of Christmas with this creative Christmas kit.
Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
5. Advent Journey Colouring Posters
The birth of the Saviour on that first Christmas was news that was shared. This is a big part of the Advent Journey Colouring Posters, too, sharing the Christmas story with friends, family and the community through colouring.
The posters are big.. supersize. Four of the posters measure 3' x 2' and the other two are even bigger- 6' x 2'. So they are wonderful to colour together in groups. It also offers plenty of opportunities to talk and share together while colouring.
Using these posters requires some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to using them. Sure, you can use them for children's ministry groups or teen groups. You can take them to nursing homes to colour in together. Use them following your Sunday services for your church family to colour and enjoy while having morning tea. Schools may wish to use them. Your family might invite friends over for a colouring evening. There is also an accompanying Advent Journey Devotional Guide. So start thinking now... how will you use these wonderful resources for sharing the Christmas story?
Oh.. and the finished posters make beautiful display posters, perfect decorations for large walls, hallways and even stage areas.
Advent Journey Colouring Posters
Take time to explore the real meaning of Christmas with your family with these creative resources. Explore the events surrounding the first Christmas and learn how this season can bring us hope, love, joy and peace.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Family life is so unpredictable, isn't it?
My granddaughters were visiting for the week and we'd enjoyed a great day at the beach. Dinner plates were piled in the sink and I'd just finished reading the next exciting chapter of The Pet that Never Was. Koti had headed to the bathroom for the final time for the evening, I hoped, when I heard her frightened call..
I raced to the bathroom and found her crouched on the floor, a fountain of water spouting skywards from the tap. There were some frantic moments, let me tell you, as we tried to stem the flood.
When, finally, calm was restored and I settled the girls again for bed Koti was still stressed and upset.
"It was all my fault, Nannie," she sobbed.
"That's not true, honey. It could have happened to anyone."
"Yes, but it happened to me!" I talked with her for some time and told her I was very proud of her.
I reminded her of how calm and helpful she had been. But she was still upset.
So... I smiled and told her how thankful I was that she had run so fast to get Jacob, her cousin. He had arrived like a hurricane with a big armload of towels and had jumped in to help. I laughed and reminded her how the water had sprayed up to the ceiling and then splashed on his head. He had looked so surprised.... and so wet! She smiled, too. And then she mentioned something else that had happened.. something that was funny now, in retrospect. Soon she relaxed and we were laughing and talking about our wet adventure.
The importance of laughter
'Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.' - Bob Newhart
Laughter has the ability to brighten your mood, lower your blood pressure, reduce stress levels, boost your immune system and so much more. Plus, laughter causes your brain to produce more endorphins, which are neuro-transmitters that ease pain.
Certainly, one of God's most precious gifts is the gift of laughter.
'A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.'– Proverbs 17:22, NIV
Dr Caroline Leaf states, 'Having fun is one of the most powerful antidotes to stress you will ever find. And it's free.'
And you can embrace the gift of laughter with your family when you…
Watch funny videos.
Use a website like YouTube or GodTube to find funny videos. You may want to look up search phrases like ‘babies laughing’ or ‘puppies playing’.
If you like comedians, look up Ken Davis, Tim Hawkins or Bob Smiley. These are Christian comedians that keep their routines clean and family-friendly.
Put on a funny song and dance.
Don’t be afraid to do your biggest, silliest dance. Your kids will love to join you.
Some songs that will make you want to dance along include Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Happy by Pharrell Williams, Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay.
Let your inner kid out.
Do something that reminds you of being a kid. Run through a sprinkler, splash in a puddle, jump in a pile of leaves, or build a snowman. And your own kids will love doing it with you!
Create some amazing family memories. Enjoy some simple moments that matter. Include laughter in your daily life and make it a family priority.
Aside from being able to enjoy all the smiles and giggles and then hand your grandchildren back to their parents when things turn sour, the best thing about being a grandparent is being able to spoil your little ones rotten without an excuse or a worry for the consequences.
It is part of your role. Of course, there is a teeny-tiny little problem that accompanies the gift-giving ceremony and that’s knowing what to get them. You want to get something age-appropriate but also fun.
Now, we don’t have all the answers, but we do have a list of ideas that may help you out a little.
This is the time to go all homemade with your gifts and make something that could become a treasured keepsake as the years go on. What you make is up to you, but we suggest you get your sewing machine out and make your new grandchild something special, like a quilt, a blanket, a doll or a stuffed bear. Whatever your level of needlework lets you achieve.
That first year just becomes a kaleidoscope of toys, all of which can be a little overwhelming for the child (and annoying for the parents). So choose your present wisely. As a tip, try and choose something that could be considered a classic, something sturdy and delightful that can be passed down the generations.
If there is one thing toddlers love more than anything it is discovering new skills, which is exactly why you should help them to discover and grow. They are also tough little cookies too. So get them some big building blocks or their first tricycle or a Scuttlebug. Anything that will help them learn to push the boundaries.
Ah, this is that gorgeous age where they start learning something new every day. They get into sports, and board games, and the arts and they start to fine tune their skills and language and it is just amazing. So get them a little kitchen to play with, or some puzzles, or a load of outfits to play dress up in, and anything that will encourage their minds to keep ticking.
The world is your oyster at this age because kids aged between five and nine are just so excited by everything. That means you could buy a Razor scooter or a more complex board game, a science kit or a tablet. You have so much wiggle room to play around in. One thing we do recommend is getting them a gift that they can share. It is a great skill to have.
This has to be the hardest age to buy for by a country mile. That’s because trends start to kick in and what is cool this week is totally uncool next week. Your best bet is to just talk to your grandkids about what they love and loathe and get some insider knowledge from the parents. If we could give you one tip, though, it would be to keep it fun. They start getting presents that are more useful than fun at this age, so be the person to break the mould.
This updated article 'Creating a New Christmas tradition' was previously published November, 2014.
"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." -- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Christmas, for most families, is a time of family traditions.
What Christmas traditions does your family hold to and treasure?
When my children were young, our Christmas traditions involved bright Christmas carols playing while decorating the tree, setting up the nativity scene, the advent calendar activities and daily Bible readings, the train trip to the city to view the department stores' animated displays, Christmas in Story & Song at our church and more.
Yes, it was a busy time but, in many ways, it was simple and unhurried. And the emphasis was definitely on the birth of the Saviour.
But times have changed and my kids are grown.
Fun Family Christmas Traditions
Now, as a grandparent, the traditions of Christmas are just a bit quieter. Maybe you're the same. Maybe you're looking forward to celebrating Christmas with a bevy of grandchildren. Hey, there's no reason why your time with your grandkids now can't be every bit as memorable and meaningful as when life was bursting at the seams with Christmas excitement and activity.
But how? What can I do?
But I guess you're wondering how, amongst all the frenetic activity of Christmas can you, as a grandparent, create a family tradition that will emphasise the real message of Christmas?
I was asking myself the same question when I happened to watch the latest clip from the SkitGuys...You can watch it below or via the link: see here.
The Search for the Saviour
The idea is simple: hide the Baby Jesus from your nativity scene and create a set of clues to help your grandchildren find the Saviour. Tailor your clues to the age of your grandchildren. If they're quite small, draw pictures with hints of where to look. Add some simple directional signs- large cards with printed arrows or footprints. Provide more cryptic clues for older kids or use Scripture verses for added levels of difficulty.
But, don't stop there...
Read the Christmas story together
Once your grandkids have found the Saviour, read one of the many wonderful storybooks of the Christmas story. Here's a couple of suggestions with links to where you can find them.
* Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol 3. Award-winning publication for young children filled with simple stories with big illustrations.
*The Jesus Storybook Bible.... where every story whispers His name.
*Jed And Roy McCoy.. One of the Lost Sheep series. A Bible storybook that the whole family will enjoy.
* If you're Missing Baby Jesus.. A true story that will unwrap the warmth of the real meaning of
Also, check out the review of Friends with God StoryBible. I think you and your grandkids will enjoy it.
You may be wondering about other tradition-building Christmas fun
Well, how about
There are so many other fun family ideas for building Christmas traditions.
If you're looking for other ideas, download and use this Christmas activity checklist.
Begin a new tradition this year with your grandkids that is not only fun, but places the focus on the real meaning of the festive season.
If you're looking for even more ideas, download and use this Christmas activity checklist to make more moments that matter for your family.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.