Source: AARP.org | 2007-01-31 14:06:28.502620-05:00
"Play with me, Grandma." "Let's play, Grandpa." What grandparent wouldn't jump at the chance to play again, after all these years? Sure, you may feel a bit out of practice. But if you follow these playful tips, you're bound to have some fun!
Follow Their Lead
The best play is pretty simple. It doesn't require much planning or equipment. Playing with a child doesn't mean going to the zoo or the movies. It's not about spending money or being an entertainer. It's about being a kid again.
The easiest way to play is to follow your grandchild's lead. Grandchildren are very good at playing. After all, it's what they do! You could learn a lot from them. Let your grandchildren teach you the game they just invented. Help them turn your backyard or living room into a fort, castle or ship. Your job is easy. All you have to do is go along for the ride.
Old-Fashioned Play Still Works
Computer games are a great way to share time with your grandchildren and to let them teach you how to play. But don't sell yourself short. You know a thing or two about games, too! Introduce your grandchildren to some of the old-fashioned games you played with your own children. They'll be a big hit!
Board games are a perfect example of old-fashioned play that still works. These games teach children how to take turns, how to count, and how to focus. Introduce your grandchildren to such classic games as Candy Land®, "Memory", and Chutes and Ladders®. These games are easy and fun to play. And they're perfect for kids and adults to play together. Every player has an equal chance of winning. That means you don't have to "let" your grandchildren win. When you win, take the opportunity to teach grandchildren how to accept defeat with grace.
Card games are another great way to have old-fashioned fun. A deck of cards is small and you can easily carry it wherever you go. Plus, there are card games for every age group. Start with "Go Fish" or "Old Maid". Then move on to UNO®. When you and your grandchild get really good, you can tackle more advanced games like "Solitaire," "Hearts," or "Canasta."
Fun on the Go
Most children stay active by playing organized sports or taking part in organized activities. These activities are a great way for kids to stay in shape. But youngsters still need some "disorganized" play in their lives. That's the kind of play that doesn't come with a clock, a rule book, or a need to win. Grandparents can show kids how to be active without the stress of competition. That's a lesson they'll keep with them for years to come.
You don't have to be a marathon runner to help your grandchildren stay active. Try taking a walk together. It's simple and easy on the body. And it's good for both of you. Walk your grandchildren around your neighborhood. Introduce them to your neighbors. Point out flowers and trees. Stop by the firehouse, police station, and bank. Ask for a similar tour the next time you are in your grandchildren's neighborhood.
There are lots of other ways to stay active while having fun. Fly a kite together. Play a game of badminton. Organize a game of hide-and-seek. Roll up the rug and dance to your favorite CD. Show your grandchild how to use a hoola hoop. Anything that involves moving your body will benefit you and delight your grandchildren.
Helping Grandchildren Play Alone
Do your grandchildren ever say, "There's nothing to do" or "I'm bored"? Do these statements make you want to rush in and organize an activity for them? Don't do it. Instead, take this opportunity to teach your grandchildren how to amuse themselves.
Always have a supply of arts and crafts materials on hand. Paper, crayons, stickers, glue, sparkles, and construction paper are easy to find and they don't cost much. These tools are a perfect way to end the "I'm bored" blues. You may have to offer a few suggestions for what grandchildren could make with your art supplies. But then you can step back and watch them play on their own. Stay close, just in case they need help. And be ready to praise their artwork.
Getting to Know You
When you play with your grandchildren, there's more going on than meets the eye. It may look like you're just flying a kite or playing cards. But you're also doing important work. You're learning about your grandchildren. And your grandchildren are learning about you. That sounds like lots of fun!
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