Fun and Free Memory Makers

Whether babysitting or visiting the grandkids this summer, here are a few simple and interactive ways to make your time together light and easy and memorable too!

  1. Recycled fun. When my grandson was 10 months, his favorite toy was a half-empty water bottle. It rattled, squished, and entertained him. Make a simple dollhouse or a barn out of shoeboxes; use milk jugs to make birdfeeders and paper towel rolls to make anything from a glitter bracelet to giraffes. Check out Pinterest for ideas. Simply type in an idea such as “paper towel roll crafts for kids.”
  2. Play some old-fashioned card games with the kids. Start with Old Maid and War and graduate to Rummy and Poker. If nothing else, they’ll think of you when they are old enough for a casino. Show them how to have fun without a screen.
  3. Over the years I have collected teapots and coffee sets that I have never used. I look forward to having a tea party with my grandchildren, sipping tea and eating biscuits and inviting all the stuffed bears and dolls to join us.
  4. Start a special collection to share. Rocks, coins, shells from the beach. Decorate a special box to store everything.
  5. With older kids, try Geocaching, a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Click here to find geocache locations in Staten Island. If you are not comfortable with that level of technology, go on a simple nature walk, pointing out bugs, trees, birds, and butterflies. Bring binoculars.
  6. Print photos from the phone or computer and organize family photos in an album to give them or to keep at your home. This is also the perfect opportunity to share your own family recollections.
  7. Introduce the children to our music through Karaoke and YouTube videos. How else will they learn about The Who and The Beatles?
  8. Borrow some mysteries or classics from the library and take turns reading to each other. With younger children, borrow stacks of picture books and go through them all until you find some favorites. Then they can be borrowed again.
  9. Go to a museum exhibit you’ve never seen. The more unknown to both of you, the better. Staten Island is home to Tibetan, Photography, Italian American, Early American, and African American Museums among others.
  10. Find volunteer opportunities and use this time to introduce kids to the value of helping others less fortunate. Lead by example.

Ideas for how spend time with your grandchildren are as never-ending as the pleasure of your shared moments together. Just remember to keep the activity focused on the child—and having fun with each other. Sometimes grandchildren could take the lead on coming up with ideas. After all, you are never too old to learn new things!

By Staten Islander Marianna Randazzo, author, educator, and a newly minted grandmother.