Fun Things to Do with Grandkids

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The ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) has this fabulous initiative to help babies and children with language development called Talk, Read, Sing, Play. As I became familiar with this initiative, I started thinking that it’s a great recipe for things to do with grandkids. Let’s take a look:

The Best Things to Do with Grandkids – Talk with ThemLittle girl walking with grandfather holding hands - Adventures in NanaLand - Things to do with grandkids

  • Storytelling & Sharing Life Experiences – My grandchildren are always eager to hear stories about my childhood as well as stories about their Papa. Sharing your life’s experiences can also help pass on your legacy.
  • Be a Listening Ear – Parents are often so mired in the details of life, they may need some help with providing a listening ear to their kids. Sometimes, it’s a matter of needing to talk to someone in confidence (someone who is NOT a parent). At any rate, grandparents can even set a good example of how to be a good listener.
  • Talking to Teens – Talking to teenage grandchildren can help build lasting relationships and may even prove to be life-saving. My father saved my son’s life – literally! Teenagers often think that their parents just don’t understand them. As a grandparent, you can share your wisdom that the grandchildren are more likely to take from you than their parents did.
  • Whatever you do, look up from your phone and have a real conversation with actual eye contact. Just go for a walk and talk where there are no distractions. Sometimes just talking/listening to them are the best things to do with grandkids.


The Best Things to Do with Grandkids – Read with Them

  • Language Development – Babies especially benefit from being read to for their language development. It also helps stimulate the imagination. Of course, there’s no harm in the cuddling effect either. You should definitely hold your grandchildren when you read to them.
  • Help Improve Their Reading Skills – I think we all know by now that there are hundreds of studies that show that reading to children helps improve their reading skills.Grandparents often have more time to read to and listen to kids read than their parents do. Couple that with the fact that grandparents are often a bit more patient, and you have a successful reading buddy to fulfill the reading requirement for school. (I sure needed this when my kids were growing up! 6 kids x 20 min. each for reading = 2 hours a day??!! It didn’t always work very well at our house.)
  • Build a Stronger Relationship – Reading together helps build a relationship with your grandchildren. As they share their love of books and reading, grandparents can greatly influence their grandchildren.

Books from when we were kids

So, I’m kind of a bookworm. Always have been. So reading is definitely one of the best things to do with grandkids at my house. I 

Toddler laying on a pillow reading a book - Adventures in NanaLand - Things to do with grandkids

made a list of several of the books that I loved as a kid. I plan to share these with my Littles and hope they love these books as much as I did. Make your own list or just borrow mine.

So, reading is a great pastime that you can do with your grandkids or just help them pick out books. You can let them read to you or you can read a whole series together.

Notes:  I really tried to keep the lists at 10 each, but once I started reading as a kid, I just couldn’t put the books down!! I read soooo many, but these are probably my top favorites. The couple of books at the bottom of the chapter book list are for just slightly older children as the language is a bit more advanced. As far as the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mystery books go, I love them all! I just linked to the first one in each series.

Also, just because these are my favorites, doesn’t automatically mean that they are right or appropriate for your grandkids. some of the books may have themes that you aren’t comfortable with (i.e. Christian theme, racial theme, sci-fi, historical viewpoints, etc.). I like to expose my grandkids to all kinds of reading so that it will open up discussions about things that they may not have thought of. That may not be something that is comfortable for you and your grands. I have tried to stick with many of the classics or award winners.

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Chapter book favorites:

  1. Island of the Blue Dolphins
  2. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
  3. Little House in the Big Woods (or even the whole series)
  4. Charlotte’s Web
  5. The Secret Garden
  6. My Side of the Mountain (this one comes in a trilogy!)
  7. Where the Red Fern Grows
  8. A Wrinkle in Time (this one is a trilogy too!)
  9. Bridge to Terabithi
  10. Stuart Little
  11. The Call of the Wild
  12. The Borrowers (or the whole series of The Borrowers)
  13. Summer of the Swans
  14. How to Eat Fried Worm
  15. The Cricket in Times Square
  16. Nancy Drew Mysteries & Hardy Boy Mysteries
  17. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
  18. Summer of the Monkeys
  19. The Gift of the Magi
  20. Johnny Tremain

Early reader favorites: (I keep adding to this list!)

  1. ­The Giving Tree (I just LOVE it with the CD!)
  2. Chicken Soup with Rice (I had this cute little “Nutshell Library”)
  3. Miss Nelson is Missing (Of course, there’s a collection of these too!)
  4. Any and all Dr. Suess (There are so many, but Mulberry Street is my favorite)
  5. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
  6. Where the Wild Things Are
  7. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  8. Amelia Bedelia (There are so many – how do you choose?)
  9. The Adventures of Frog and Toad (Another series, but start at the beginning)
  10. A Bear Called Paddington (Who could forget this beloved little guy??)
  11. The Extraordinary Book that Eats Itself (Great for Earth Day activities!)
    *I couldn’t resist adding this book, because it is THE most unique book that you can get for your grandchildren AND have activities to do with them!
  12. This is a Ball: Books That Drive Kids Crazy (It’s sooooo much fun to read with the little ones!)
    *There are a couple of other books by these same authors called This Book is RED and Did You Take the B From My _ook? They are fun and the kids laugh and laugh!

Birthday Gift Tip

Using the above list, I am picking out books for my grandchildren’s birthdays. (Every one of them were on Amazon! Yay! I linked to them so you could easily find them too.) I look for a passage or two that are my favorites from the book and underline them. Then I hide money in the pages.  I write a little note in the front telling them that I hid treasures (meaning the underlined passages as well as the money) in the pages of the book. I tell them why I liked the book and record any memory I have of the first time I read it.

The Best Things to Do with Grandkids – Sing with Them

Help them Explore Their Voices – Babies explore their voices with high and low sounds. Sing little nursery rhymes and do finger play with babies and toddlers. And of course. . .don’t miss a chance to sing them to sleep.

Sing in the car & at home – Sing in the car together at the top of your lungs! Whether you are on a road trip or just a short jaunt to the store, it’s great fun! Sing your songs, their songs, silly songs, anything goes! Let your inhibitions go and have fun with the kids!

Little girl standing outside playing a small guitar - Adventures in NanaLand - Things to do with grandkids

Explore Music Together – Expose your grandchildren to a variety of music types. When our kids were growing up, we listened to everything from classical, to showtunes, to country, to. . .whatever. As a result, my kids grew up with an appreciation for all kinds of music.

We are doing the same for our grandkids. Papa and I have an actual record player that plays real vinyl records. Not only did we have a few vinyls of our own, but we inherited a ton from my father-in-law. The Littles just LOVE them! They ask for the “old-fashioned CDs” all the time. Ha ha! My mother-in-law used to sing songs to my children that were from her childhood, and they would sit completely enthralled in those silly little songs.

I suppose because we love music so much at our house, it is just one of those no-brainer things to do with grandkids at Nana and Papa’s.

The Best Things to Do with Grandkids – Play with Them

Staying Young – Definitely, the first benefit of playing with the Littles is that it keeps me young and in shape! Running around after them and playing games that are so kid-oriented can’t help but make you feel young at heart.

Self-confidence – This street runs two ways. Playing with your grandkids can help you feel confident that you are still relevant in the eyes of your family. But you can also help your grandchild feel good about himself and his developing skills.

Making Memories – Playing with our Littles is the thing that they will always remember. They will always know that we care enough to take time out of our busy schedules to be with them. One of our favorite places to play with the Littles is at Camp NanaPapa – our Grandma Camp. We have the for 3-4 days all to ourselves and we do nothing but play. Playing together, we create the very best memories that will last a lifetime for all of us!

Put the Phone Down – Whatever you do, put the phone down and give the kids your time and full attention. (Did I say that already? Yes, yes I did! It’s THAT important!) You won’t have much time to spend with these precious little ones. They will grow even faster than your own kids did and that window of time will close.

Girl playing with lots of very large bubbles - Adventures in NanaLand - Things to do with grandkids

So, how will you ever decide which of these 4 things to do with grandkids to do first??

These are not just random things to do with the kids, but the list contains activities that require you to actually interact with your grandchild – to stimulate imagination, work together, create, explore, talk and just be with each other. Of course, it is all wrapped up in play and fun!

Cookies & Milk for Everyone!

Nana Jill Signature with yellow flower




13 thoughts on “Fun Things to Do with Grandkids”

  1. Barb Randecker

    We like to bake together(youngest is now 10 & the oldest 21). It teaches them math, reading directions& has an edible product at the end. Now when they get together, (which isn’t enough to satisfy me because 7 live on the west coast& 3 on the east )they like to have a baking competition.
    Nana Barb

    1. Oh Barb, first my condolences for having those grandkids spread out so far. I know how tough it is to get them all together. Second, I agree! Baking and cooking together is great fun with the grandkids. So much of culture revolves around food and it’s a great way to continue family traditions and leave your legacy. A baking competition sounds like great fun!

  2. Mammie Rose

    This post is such great advice.
    I noticed many books on your list that my littles don’t have in their library so I’ll send a book series one at a time and a letter with gift of stationery so they can write back to me and their Pap.
    I have sent care packages and they love getting items from the mailbox from us.
    Thanks for all of your suggestions.

    1. Thanks, Mamie Rose, you are one of the best kinds of Grandma’s- the ones who send small mail! I think books make such great gifts. Reading filled my days as a child and had a hand in who I am as an adult. Reading with my grandkids had brought a new level of enjoyment from books for me. Have fun with those grandkids!

  3. Kathy Healey

    So many of my children’s and grandchildren’s favourites. Grandchildren love to see their parents names written in books since they sometimes cant imagine their parents as ever being little…so this leads to lots of memories to discuss.

    1. What a sweet thing! I never thought of that. I’m going to go back through all my old children’s books and look for my children’s names. What a fun thing to share with my grandchildren! Thank you!

  4. Great post- just keep in mind when sharing classics – there maybe racist undertones – particularly older editions. Be conscious and call out the negatives. We are helping to prepare kids for a much different and more diverse world than the one we grew up in. Hopefully a more inclusive, accepting and kind world.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Cindy. It’s good to be aware. . .and you’re right, some of the older editions talk about things that are controversial in our world today. Even those kind of books can serve a positive purpose. I have found that sometimes this can bring up great questions and healthy conversation from the kids as we discuss those things. I’m much more in favor of bringing up those controversial topics before the kids hear about negative things in the news or tainted with other’s opinions. It makes for a more in-depth conversation and a way to discuss family values on a very personal level.

      This is simply a list of my favorites from when I was a child. As you can see, I have not made any comments about the books either positive or negative. I’ll leave that up to each individual to decide as each family has different values and beliefs.

      Thank you again for reminding us of this important aspect of reading with our grandchildren.

  5. Mike Laukaitis

    Thank you, from a 73 year old first time grandpa with his now 4 year old granddaughter. Just thank you for the help!

    1. Welcome, Mike! We’re glad you’re here and hope you can find lots of awesome things to do with your granddaughter.

  6. Pingback: “These are the Only Four Things You Need to Do With Grandchildren” – Grandma

  7. Jill I absolutely loved this post! I think we are kindred spirits! Talk, read, sing, play… got it! All wonderful ideas!

    1. Thanks, Carrie! I just love to do things with my Littles and it sounds like you do too! I would love to hear about some of the things you do with your grandkids. It doesn’t matter too much about the details just as long as we spend some quality time with them, right? I’m so glad that you liked the the post. Thanks for stopping by!

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