14 Low-Key Games to Play with Grandparents

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Spending time with the grands is often full of laughter, love, and a little too much sugar. But even a spry and creative grandparent could use a few ideas now and again. From card games to photo book exploration, here are some games that span ages and offer some mellow afternoon fun. Scroll down to let the bonding begin!

photo: iStock

1. Dealer’s choice. Your little card shark will love cleaning up at Go Fish, but she might also enjoy learning some other old-school games. Grandparents can choose from their favorites: Spoons, Crazy Eights, War, and Rummy are all winners!

2. On the record. Kids of all ages love to ask questions, so let them satisfy their curiosity by interviewing Gram and Pops. Questions might range from, “What is your favorite dinosaur?” to “Tell me about your first date.” This list is a great start!

3. Strike a chord. If either grandparent has a talent for a particular instrument, encourage them to share that skill with the kids! Whether it’s a formal piano lesson or a chance to simply explore and bang on the drums (or strum a guitar or toot a horn), they’re sure to make a joyful noise.

4. Crack open a book. A pile of picture books (or one riveting chapter book) and a comfy couch are the makings of a perfect day. Make a trip out of it by going to the library, or let the kids show off their personal collection and pick out books they think their grandparents will enjoy, too.

5. Freeze time. To memorialize special or long visits with grandparents, collect mementos of your time together to make a time capsule—think photographs, ticket stubs, drawings, and puzzle pieces. Here’s a how-to for assembling the capsule itself.

6. (Grand)mother, May I? While running around outside might be a bit too exhausting for a few grandparents, there are several classic yard games that appoint at least one participant who needs to stand relatively still. Some of our favorites include Mother May I; Red Light, Green Light; Simon Says; and all kinds of hand clap games.

7. Put the pieces together. Take over the dining room table, and clock in a few hours of peaceful silence (or happy chatter) by putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You can dust off something you have on-hand, or grandpa and the kids can go out and choose something together.

8. Get cookin’. If both your tykes and their elders like to cook, let them team up in the kitchen and whip up a favorite family recipe. They can even read Baking Day at Grandma’s together for extra fun!

photo: iStock

9. Tea for two (or three or five). Raid grandma’s closet, break out the China (or the paper plates), and cut sandwiches into triangles—voilà! Grandparents will love being served a cuppa and will likely appreciate the opportunity to reinforce gracious table manners.

10. Go for a walk. Even if there’s no summer sun callin’ your name, nature walks are fun during any season. Have the kids put on some comfortable shoes and a hat, and they can hold grandma’s hand while they explore a new trail or give her a “tour” of the neighborhood. 

11. Hunt for treasure. One part riddle, one part hide and seek, an indoor treasure or scavenger hunt will delight grandkids (and grandparents) of all ages. 

12. Plant memoriesin a terrarium! With a simple glass bowl, soil, rocks, a few plants and (our favorite part) a few of those tiny plastic dinosaurs that inhabit every corner of your home, grandparents will love helping their grandkids create a tiny habitat for their most fearsome tiny friends. This how-to is especially terrar-iffic

13. Play "Guess Who?" Bust out the photo albums and play a round of "guess who?" where the grandchildren try to guess who family members are from older pictures. This is a great way to connect kids with people they may never have met, and remind them we were all young once! 

14. Plan an imaginary trip. Research a place you would like to go, even if it's an imaginary place like Hogwarts or a faraway country like Antarctica. Use a globe or even google maps to find the country; find books about the place or look it up together; create a packing list; plan an itinerary; and write some postcards. This can be an ongoing scenario! 

15. Speaking of scenarios...This one is great because it requires nothing other than two or more imaginations. You can sit on the couch, and if a grandparent is less mobile, they can 100% participate. All you do is create a "scenario" like: We're all on a baking show, the theme is [blank] and there are three rounds: cupcake, candy, and cake. What will you make? Anything is possible with this one! Another example might be: We're all on a rocketship heading to [planet name]. Talk about your astronaut names, where you went to school, how long it takes to get there, what your jobs are on the spaceship, and what you see out the window. What happens when you land? Do you discover a species? Is it cold? 


— Katie Brown & Amber Guetebier