Fun things with the grandkids

Winter school holidays, and with life slowly starting to return to ‘normal’, you may find yourself with an opportunity to spend some quality time with the grandkids. Come rain or shine, in the car or at home, read on for some fun ways to entertain the kids and make some precious memories.

One of the qualities I admire the most in my nephews is their boundless imagination. They can keep themselves occupied for hours turning a cardboard box into a spaceship or dreaming up a new species of animal. I tend to find the more freedom they have to do what they want, the more they enjoy the activity and the longer it keeps them occupied.

Getting crafty and creative is a great way to keep grandkids entertained and it can be great fun to get involved, too!

When it comes to kids crafting, it seems the messier and more creative, the better. But if your house isn’t cut out for the mess, choose an option you can do while wrapped up outside it’s the perfect antidote to feeling cooped up.

Need some ideas? Try some of these crafty creations for yourself.

1. A rocket made from recycling
Let little ones raid the paper and plastic recycling and build rockets that can be painted in brilliant colours. You can even make one into a rucksack by adding string or ribbon for straps.

2. Decorated stones
Painted pebbles are super easy and very pretty. Get the kids in the garden, or searching for stones on a neighbourhood walk. From ladybird pet rocks to crazy aliens, there are endless designs to be created. Once they are done, you can even leave them outside for other children to find and re-hide or get really arty by painting on beautifully intricate patterns.

3. Immerse yourself in nature
Experiment with items found in your own garden. Create a leaf rubbing, pinecone spider or a wind chime made of twigs. Or collect up leaves, stones, sticks, flowers and grass, and create a nature picture or art installation (look up work by Andy Goldsworthy for inspiration).

4. Create crafty cookies
Bake biscuits and let the kids go to town on the decoration. Use sweets, chocolate, mini marshmallows, icing, sprinkles and popcorn. Use strawberry laces for hair, gummy lips for a mouth and piping icing to make eyes!

5. Make a scrapbook
Now is the perfect time to start scrapbooking. Buy a book and let the kids stick stuff on the pages, write about their day, draw pictures and create collages. It will be a work of art and a memory to look back on.

6. Master brilliant bunting
Everyone loves a bit of bunting – it’s easy, cheap and cheerful. You can either use scraps of fabric (try upcycling old, unwanted clothes) and sew triangular shapes of colourful bunting, which can then be stitched on to a fabric string or ribbon. Or you can cut out paper or card triangles, punch holes in them, decorate with paint or pen, and string them up. It’s bound to brighten up the place.

7. Paint like Pollock
Splash out on a lovely big canvas and make a family splatter painting inspired by Jackson Pollock. Choose your paint colours, get brushes of all sizes at the ready and take it in turns to splatter the paint over the canvas. Keep going, one by one, until you’re happy with the finished result.

8. Transform into a robot
Had anything been delivered to you in a large box recently? Let the kids make a robot outfit out of it by sticking bits together, cutting holes for the head, arms and legs, and decorating it however they fancy.

9. Let someone know you’re thinking of them
Make cards or postcards to send to friends and loved ones your kids are missing. The fronts can feature hand-drawn pictures or decorations galore, while inside or on the back, children and parents can write messages of love. Tell someone you miss them and why, say something that will make them happy, then send them through the post to bring joy.

10. Build a den
Who needs an actual tent when you can build a den? Gather sheets, tarpaulin, card, newspapers, mats, twigs, cushions – anything that might be useful for taking cover beneath – and go to town building the biggest and best den you’ve ever attempted. Make signs for the ‘door’, and thread leaves on to sticks to prettify the area, then sneak tea and biscuits inside.

Need more inspiration?

Word games
If you want something a little less messy, try a word game such as ‘the alphabetical cat’. The first person starts by saying ‘my cat is an a…(angry) cat’ and then the next person has to come up with a word starting with B and so on and so on. X and Y are usually where it gets difficult but it’s a good game to play in the car and is great for extending kids vocabulary.

Teach them your signature dish
Love cooking fresh pasta? Have a go-to dessert? Share them with your grandkids, I fondly remember making fruit mince slices with my Nan and always think of her when I make a batch at Christmas time.

Read a book together
Sharing a book with a child is fun. It’s a time for closeness, laughing and can help give them a flying start in life.

Turn a treat into something extra special
Before sitting down to enjoy a warming cup of hot cocoa, play the marshmallow straw game. To play, set a mug in front of each player, then scatter marshmallows around the kitchen table. Give the grandkids straws and watch them try to draw the marshmallows from the table into their mug without using their hands!

The first one to get all their marshmallows into their mug gets the first helping of hot cocoa.

Seniors Card
And, if you’re ready to venture out and about, always ask if the venue offers discounts for Seniors Card holders (and get one if you haven’t already!) Here are some examples of venues where you can get discounted entry.

National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra the biggest interactive collection of dinosaurs in Australia. $12 entry with a Seniors Card.

Cockington Green Gardens, Nicholls a delightful display of handcrafted miniature buildings from around the world. $15.50 admission price for those with a Seniors Card.

Canberra Walk-in Aviary seniors entry $13 (saving of 15 per cent).

Sydney’s Taronga Zoo seniors price is $32.50 (down from $46) and Western Plains Zoo has a similarly great discount $33.50, down from $47.

Calmsley Hill City Farm experience rural Australia in Sydney’s backyard. $19 entry for seniors as opposed to $27.50.

Northern Territory
Alice Springs Reptile Centre home to an extensive range of reptiles including Terry the saltwater crocodile.Seniors are entitled to a $15 entry fee.

Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin Seniors Card entry is $28, usually $35.

Crocodylus Park, Berrimah $30 entry for Seniors Card holders.

Queensland Museum & Science centre, Brisbane general admission is free, and Seniors Card holders receive concession prices on exhibitions and special events.

Aspley 10 pin bowling head to the lanes for a game of bowling! One game for $5.70 two games for $11.20 upon presentation of a Seniors Card.

South Australia
Melba’s Chocolate and Confectionery Factory a ‘working’ tourism factory located in a heritage-listed complex, 40 minutes from Adelaide, at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. Entry is free.

What will your next activity be? Do you have any more suggestions to add?

With PA

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Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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