The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 2, 2010

Allison Riddle: Summer activities all ages can enjoy


— Summer is here and hopefully you’re planning on spending more time with your family over the next few months. Whether you’re getting ready for some time on the road or they’re visiting you at home, there are plenty of activities you can do with your grandkids to share time and make memories. Plus, it keeps them busy and makes for many fun days.

Many activities don’t require a lot of time or money but can still be a lot of fun and very meaningful for the children in your life. No matter what you choose, activities should be pleasant and interesting for both the grandchild and grandparent.

When you’re at home, trying playing dress up (especially good for girls), do a puzzle, read a book, make portraits of each other (be sure to display your grandchild’s artwork at home), or work in your garden with them.

If you have a special hobby that you enjoy, such as knitting, coin collecting, fishing or playing cards, etc., get your kids involved. Doing these activities together are a wonderful way for you to bond with them.

If you’re able to get out and about, think about taking a class together with your grandchildren, such as a music or art class. Try taking them to a play at your local community theater or college theater department. Or go see the latest kid-friendly movie and fill up on soda pop and popcorn.

Another great idea is to take your grandkids to the park and let them go crazy on the playground or just take a leisurely nature walk.

Heading out to the local museum is another good choice. One that specifically focuses on kids would be great, but not necessary.

Children of all ages will enjoy a trip to an art or historical museum. Many facilities have special activities for kids, especially during the summer, so it might help to call ahead.

Love fresh produce? Spend the day at your local farmer’s market. Kids will love to pick out their own veggies and fruits and learn about different types of homegrown items. Then, head home and cook up a tasty meal together using the items you have purchased.

If you don’t live near your grandchildren, current technology makes it pretty easy to stay close to the ones you love: Set up a video chat on your computer. Get help installing a webcam so you can have live conversations with your grandkids over the Internet. It’s a great way to connect instead of using the phone, and you actually get to see your grandkids’ face on the computer screen. 

You could also create and send a DVD bedtime story or a tape of yourself reading their favorite book. They can watch it at home and read along with it before bed. What a keepsake for them.

Take advantage of the time the children in you life have this summer. Spending time with your grandchildren gives them the opportunity to learn more about your experiences and benefit from the wisdom you have to offer. Plus, hanging out with a younger crowd can help you stay active and engaged, and make you feel younger in the process.

Allison Riddle is community services director for the Area Agency on Aging.