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Fun Activities for Grandparents and Grandchildren

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Want to keep the grandkids happy? Keep ’em busy. Here’s how.

Posted June 25, 2012

Babysitting grandchildren is one of my strong skills.

That’s fortunate, as I babysit my local grandkids quite a bit and do overnighters for my long-distance grandkids each time I visit, giving their parents some precious time alone.

Being a firm believer that busy grandchildren are happy and well-behaved grandchildren (making me a happy grandmother), I usually have lots of activities planned whenever I babysit. And you’ll often find me out there, actively involved. It’s a great way to get good exercise, have fun with the grandkids, and keep all the activities flowing well with no problems.

Here are some of my more active ideas:


With the weather pretty warm in most areas, we are all spending a lot of time getting wet. The public pool or YMCA are great places to head with the grandkids for free swim or swimming lessons.

Often, we prefer to stay at home. My own grandkids have a fairly large plastic pool set up in their back yard and love to go swim around while grandma sits and watches. At my house, I generally head for Walmart to get one of their fairly large toddler wading pools. My local grandkids have all technically outgrown those but when it’s hot and I only have one or two kids over, they still enjoy filling it up and hopping in with some floating toys. It’s definitely a great way to cool down. In fact, if it’s hot enough, I’ll even stick my own toes in to cool down a bit.

Sprinklers are another great idea and we have a couple of different ones I pop onto a hose. Then they enjoy running in and out, screaming with delight.


I recommend having a variety of balls on hand. My personal favorites are those big and medium-sized plastic play balls that most grocery stores carry. We use those to play dodge ball, kick ball, four square, and ball tag.

What is ball tag, you ask? We run around the yard playing tag. The person who is “IT” throws the ball to “tag” the others, rather than having to touch them. It’s much easier than traditional tag, making it great for all of us boomers and seniors because we don’t have to run as hard. And it’s good exercise as well as being a lot of fun for all of us.

Another fun game is for the grandkids to hop in their swings. You, or another grandchild, stand a bit in front of them and toss the plastic ball at their feet for them to kick. They get a thrill at kicking the ball high and far. We’ve even set up a points system. For each successful kick uncaught, the swinger gets 10 points. If the pitcher catches the ball, he gets 50 points. Simple though it may be, we do have a lot of fun playing it.

Fort Fun

I have one of those great couches that are soft and comfy and have huge removable pillows. My grandkids get the biggest kick out of coming over and making a fort with all the pillows propped against the couch. It’s amazing how many different ways they can arrange them around the room. When they’re done, they usually put them all back unless they’re coming the next day. Then I often let them leave it all up as a fun “decor.”

You can also get boxes for them to make forts. We were thrilled to discover two big appliance boxes set out for the trash recently. They’ve been in the grandkids’ play room (my living room) ever since and they have had the best time. Sometimes the grandkids will arrange them to be forts. At other times, they turn them into a “man cave” full of pillows where they can watch their favorite educational TV show, The Wild Kratts.

Even smaller boxes can work. Just ask around at grocery stores for excess boxes. The grandkids can then stack them like bricks to make circle-around or square forts they can hide behind.

Whether the grandkids are getting wet or staying dry, keeping active is excellent for their bodies and their brains. It’s great for us as well. And oh, you will treasure the sweet family memories you’ll have from these various activities.

Kaye Swain is the Sandwich Generation “granny nanny,” busy dealing with the multigenerational issues of caring for elderly parents and babysitting grandchildren and having fun writing all about it at SandwichINK. She also blogs at SandwichINK.Blogspot.com, and publishes real estate advice at SandwichINKRealEstate.

Kaye Swain is the Sandwich Generation "granny nanny," busy dealing with the multigenerational issues of caring for elderly parents, babysitting grandchildren, and having fun writing all about it at SandwichINK, where she shares resources, information and encouragement for caregivers and grandparents. She also blogs at SandwichINK Real Estate Info, where she shares information and ideas regarding helping aging parents with their various real estate needs, including aging in place options, helping senior parents downsize, retirement home options, etc.


Comments (2)

Jul 7, 2012 5:44 pm


I am new. This is my first time on I read Kaye Swain's grandparent ideas. I will be going to visit my grandchildren soon in another state. There is a boy age 5 and a girl age 8. There is no swimming pool. I will be staying at a hotel, not their house. I plan to take along toys, books and games. Any suggestions?

Jul 14, 2012 10:42 pm


Hi Grandma Fran, I do the same as you. I would also include craft projects that pack easily such as wooden plaques and washable markers; Crayola wonder products that only color on the book, not on anything else; stickers to make stationery and pictures, etc. I've found it's easier and saves money if I shop at home at my convenience than if I'm rushing to do it once I get there.

On my last trip, one suitcase held my clothes and the other held projects, books, and goodies for the grandkids. :) It was definitely much lighter traveling home.

I do stop at the grocery store to pick up one or two of the lightweight plastic play balls that are $2-3. They are so much fun for the grandkids and me to play with.

I also have an old iPhone and a new one and both are loaded with the best iPhone apps for kids that I can track down. Many are free, thanks to a couple of great resources that help you find free apps. With these, you could have one grandchild playing on the iPhone while you work with the other one on a project. I also have the Words With Friends game apps on both iPhones and several of my grandkids and I have a terrific time playing word games together when I'm there, and even after I've left.

Have a wonderful time with those grandchildren!


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