By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
It’s winter. You know the drill: hunker down and try to not go stir-crazy when the mercury dips ridiculously low. But when you’re watching young grandchildren, you need a game plan so you don’t all bounce off the walls with cabin fever. Try these ideas for inside fun when it’s frigid out.
1. Dress retro. Dig out old clothes and accessories you have from years back and put on a fashion show, including the children. Your grandchildren will get a kick out of seeing what was popular decades ago. Try some retro hairstyles on them, too, and crank up your favorite tunes.
2. Picture this. Pour over the photo albums and play home movies from when their mom or dad was small. Tell stories about funny things their parents said and did at their ages.
3. Get crafty. Offer them an array of craft tools and supplies — age appropriate, of course — and items from the recycling bin. In an age of craft kits and directions, freewheeling with supplies can be refreshingly fun for children. Keep them safe and try to curtail the mess, but let them make whatever they want. Or teach them a “forgotten” art that you’ve mastered.
4. Cook up fun. From baking cookies to making alphabet soup, children love mixing it up in the kitchen, especially if you let them select the recipe. Keep in mind that long and complicated recipes may frustrate younger children, so guide them towards tried-and-true favorites. For the very small, a box cake mix may suffice, but let them do as much as they’re able, such as stirring, pouring in the pre-measured oil, and decorating the cooled cake.
5. Read them stories. Even older children enjoy hearing stories, but let them pick out the book.
6. Plan a vacation. Clip photos out of magazines and brochures and print ones from the internet to plan an imaginary trip to an exotic locale (somewhere warm, perhaps?). Younger children may want to pretend the trip; older ones may want to make a poster about it, with a list of things they’d like to do at their dream destination.
7. Play along. Even if you don’t understand or enjoy their video games, play it with them. Children will relish the chance to teach you their games and insider tips for winning. Maybe you’ll find you like it, too.
8. Get board. Board games, that is. Since you likely own different games than they have at home, the games may prove novel enough to hold their interest a while.
9. Play outside games inside. Play hopscotch with a beanbag and masking tape on the floor. Inflate a small wading pool and fill it with plastic ball pit-style balls so they can “swim” inside. Blow bubbles in the kitchen while wearing rubber boots for traction. With just a few tweaks, outside “summer” activities can provide diversion indoors.
10. Put on a show. Write and perform a play, puppet show, musical or whatever. Or copy one of your favorite stories. When their parents come to pick them up, it’s show time!