My husband and I are thrilled because we are going to have our four-year-old granddaughter on Saturday. One of the things we discussed is our plans for what to do while she is with us. We still haven’t finished our schedule 100%. We’ll probably end up doing what she wants to do.
Every year, many grandparents take care of their grandchildren. It might seem easy to just tell them to go play, watch TV, or play video games, but there are plenty of ways to keep them busy while helping them maintain skills, build healthy habits, and, at the same time, to create wonderful memories. while having fun.
One day last week, I was watching “3 Plus You” on TV. One of the show’s guests was demonstrating how to make homemade modeling clay. Play dough is a great way to keep them busy. I thought it was such a great idea to make the modeling clay yourself and let your kids help out. Sidewalk chalk is another great activity for your child. You don’t have to worry about the chalk being permanent. A good rain will wash everything away.
I have lots of recipes for homemade art supplies. I thought I would share some of these recipes. I also want to tell you how important it is to keep the children occupied when they are not at school. Below you’ll find out why kids need to keep their minds busy and other ways to do it, whether you’re a grandparent, parent, or other caregiver.
On average, students lose two months’ worth of math and reading skills during the summer months.
Let’s work to change that. Parents, grandparents and guardians must give our children the best foundation for the school year ahead. You can use this downtime to help children maintain academic skills and develop healthy habits.
Children love staying with their grandparents. This is the time when they know they will receive a loved one’s undivided attention. Even though you want them to maintain their academic skills, you still want them to have fun. Children learn so much by doing activities they love. The following ideas to help you plan activities with the kids this summer should not only keep their skills intact, but also create wonderful memories for both of you.
• Take them to your local library. Look for books that you loved as a child that you can share together.
• Start a family project. Discuss the parents of the family. Write a family tree. Share with them stories about your life.
• Start a Life Lessons booklet. Each week, write down some of the lessons you learned in life and how you learned them. When the booklet is full, let them take it with them.
• Pick a day when the two of you will do random acts of kindness. Some examples: raking leaves for a neighbour, doing the dishes for mom, delivering a meal to someone. Instilling in them the importance of helping others will carry over into adulthood.
• Go on a scavenger hunt. Write clues on cards and ask the child to look for a hidden treat.
• If you have skills in a certain sport, share your skills with them. Let them show you some sports skills they have. Or they just wish they had someone to play wrestling with them. Take every opportunity to get out and exercise. You will both benefit.
• Do science activities indoors. Make fog by putting hot water, rubbing alcohol and an ice cube in a bottle. Make homemade glue with flour, water, sugar and vinegar. Use it to create decorations and family gifts. Make raisins dance by putting a few raisins in a glass in water with 2 heaping teaspoons of club soda. Add some vinegar and watch the raisins dance.
• Relive some of your childhood games. You can still buy Jacks, Pickup Sticks, Monopoly, and Slinky. Play Simon Says, Red Rover, Red Light-Green Light, Hangman and Tic-Tac-Toe. Play card games like Old Maid and Go Fish.
• Play disco music and teach them some dances from your past like the twist.
• Make a time capsule. Gather things that represent your grandchild’s interests today, like photos of a favorite pet or movie star. Items such as candy wrappers, movie listings, a baby tooth, or their own artwork. Put these items in a plastic box or jar, date the box, and find a good place to bury it. Be sure to note where he is buried for future generations.
• Organize family photos in an album. This is the perfect opportunity to share your family memories and prepare a keepsake for your grandson.
• Start a collection. Discuss with them what they would like to collect. Some good examples would be coins, stones, shells or leaves. Take a walk to pick up objects from nature.
• Organize an ice block scavenger hunt. Freeze small objects in a block of ice. Some examples include natural objects, such as acorns and seeds, coins, small toys, and other interesting objects. Ask them to help you put this outside and watch the objects appear as the ice melts.
• Prepare a smoothie. It’s a great way to disguise some nutritious vegetables.
• Create edible art with graham crackers, frosting, raisins, crackers, peanut butter, pretzel sticks, bananas or almost anything tasty.
• Make toothpicks and marshmallow sculptures.
• Prepare sundaes.
• Have a place to plant a variety of vegetable and flower seeds. Ask them to take care of the plants during the summer and choose the results. It’s a good opportunity for them to see where their food comes from.
• Watch for birds. Have a bird identification book handy.
• Decorate a T-shirt. Hobby Lobby and Walmart have a good selection of fabric paints.
• Share with them a hobby that you enjoy. It can be cooking, quilting, woodworking, crocheting, knitting, playing the piano, etc.
• Browse a garage sale. Let them buy some little trinkets for themselves. Give them a certain amount to spend and let them learn how to manage what they spend.
• Allow them to complete a variety of art projects. You have to go buy expensive art materials. Here are several recipes for art supplies you can make yourself from things you already have at home. Below are recipes for some of them.
Microwave-friendly modeling clay
Mix 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup salt, 1 tbsp oil, 2 cups water, 1 tsp cream of tartar, food coloring (gel coloring works best). Microwave for one minute. Stir. Microwave again for 30 second intervals, stirring after each. It is ready when it has the consistency of a soft dough. For variety, add spices like cinnamon. Kool-Aid may be added for color and fragrance.
Mix equal amounts of shaving cream and white school glue. Add food coloring. Mix well. It is better to make several different colors. After putting it on paper, let the artwork dry completely.
Mix 1/2 cup cornstarch, 4 tablespoons sugar, 2 cups cold water and a pinch of salt. Cook over low heat until smooth and thick. Let cool and add food coloring.
Mix even parts water, salt and flour. Funnel into squeeze bottles. Add food coloring to each bottle. Shake well. Paint as usual.
Mix equal amounts of cornstarch and water. Add food coloring.
Besides paper, there are many other things around the house that they can paint. Some of these include aluminum foil, cardboard, rocks, newspapers, paper plates, coffee filters, and sidewalks (with sidewalk paint). Find other ways to paint instead of just using brushes.
The ideas for how to spend time with your grandkids are as endless as the joy of your times together. After writing about all of these activities, I now have loads of ideas to use with our granddaughter. I think we’re going to keep her very busy. Remember to keep the activity child-centered and have fun with each other. Also let your grandchild take the lead in coming up with ideas. After all, they might have ideas on how to keep you!
We always celebrate National Milk Month. You can see on the photo one of our activities during Dairy Month. Pouch ice cream is so easy to make when you’re craving something sweet and don’t want to break out the big ice cream maker. All you do is put 1/2 cup of whole milk (or half and half) in a quart Ziplock bag along with a tablespoon of sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. In a gallon Ziplock bag, put 1/3 cup rock salt and 4 cups ice. Put the small bag in the big bag and make sure all the bags are closed. Then stir for about 10 minutes. You can add any fruit or cocoa to add flavor.
Other center activities include:
• June 24: 9 am — Games; 9:30 a.m. — Bingo with Etowah Health Care; 10:30 am — Nutrition with UT Extension Agency
• June 27: 9 am — Games; 10 a.m. — Bingo with the Chattanooga Hospice; 11 a.m.:
• June 28: 9 am — Games; 10 a.m. — Bingo with Cameron Medical Supply; 11 a.m. — Bible study
• June 29: 9 am — Games; 10 a.m. — Bingo with Joanna Fiochetta; 11 a.m. – Crown Flip-Flip Class
Sue Walker is the Executive Director of the Etowah Area Senior Center. She can be reached by dialing 423-781-7632.