Senior Musings April 2011

Posted 04.15.11

When Grandchildren Come to Visit

BobbiGone are the days when grandparents lived in big houses with backyards, attics, and basements where children could discover forgotten treasures and play for hours.

Today we're more likely to reside in a small apartment or a snug bungalow with no wasted space.

So what do you do when grandchildren come to visit, either for a day or for extended periods?

If either the weather or your physical stamina are not up to spending time outdoors, you may wonder how to keep them entertained inside.

Toddlers still enjoy imitating adults, and imaginative variations on "office," or "store," can occupy them for hours. Instead of toys, a box of colored paper clips, used envelopes, junk mail, and stickers (often provided in magazine and prize solicitations) offer lots of play value.

In an "office" scenario, the toddler can "write" letters, enclose "illustrations," stuff into used envelopes, and "stamp" with stickers, leaving this important mail for you to "deliver."

Colored paper clips can be used as play money in a "store" where you are the customer and the toddler tells you how many clips of each color are required for each purchase. A younger toddler, who is not yet able to count, can play "dump truck," using a fridge magnet to transfer groups of paper clips from one small container to another.

Youngsters this age also love to play Old Maid, and matching the cards improve the child's visual memory and attention to detail.

The six-to-nine age group enjoy playing "restaurant." He or she can "interview" you to hire you as the cook, make name tags for "staff," decide on the table setting, discuss menu choices, and help prepare a meal.

Many also like to play "school," and will reveal problems in a role-playing situation that they might not discuss otherwise.

With older children, consider what traditional skills and crafts you might pass on. An easy project is a hand puppet made from a simple knitted square.

A good way to teach a youngster to use the sewing machine might be to use remnants to create gift bags. As he or she becomes more proficient, a simple envelope with handles can become a book bag or tote to take home.

Gifts for family members are not only a good way to teach a craft, but an opportunity to encourage giving to others. Plastic canvas and leftover yarn can produce simple needlepoint coasters in original designs, while fabric remnants can be hemmed into napkins, placemats, or scarves in various shapes.

Arranging photographs in albums is much more fun when you have company and an eager grandchild who wants to know how Mummy looked in a bathing suit at the cottage when she was 15! And you may uncover a budding philatelist if you suggest that he or she help you sort your prized stamp collection.

Both fun and laughs come from teaching youngsters the camp songs and sing-alongs of your youth. If you don't remember all the words, try making up new ones, the sillier the better!

E-mail Bobbi at BFG@SimonTeakettle.com, and don't forget to read Simon Teakettle's blog, at www.SimonTeakettle.com/terzoblog11.htm

Copyright © 2011 Barbara Florio Graham/Log Cabin Chronicles/03.11