“Giving children undivided attention and not being subjected to so many demands on their time as parents allows grandparents to play more involved, longer lasting games and activities,” explains child psychology specialist and author of Play, Dr Amanda Gummer.
If you’re struggling to think of ideas, consider what you liked to play with your own children. “Basic play patterns haven’t changed that much and a game of hide-and-seek or snap will go down well,” says Amanda.
Here are some ideas to get you started…
The options are endless when it comes to arts and craft – and all ages can get involved in a creative project. “I often get out old magazines and get everyone cutting out pictures – then we use them to create our own stories by sticking them down on sheets of paper,” says grandmother of four, Anne. “Another popular activity is getting a huge sheet of paper and drawing one central thing on it, such as a castle or beach. The children can then all get involved in drawing whatever they like onto the scene.”
From pom-poms to knitting, there are loads of fun projects you can work on together. Lovecrafts.com has put together a brilliant selection of craft ideas that are ideal for ages who are stuck indoors.
If the children are older and capable of something more involved, head online for inspiration. Pinterest is an endless source of arty ideas and links to many craft blogs for further instructions.
Visit our craft and hobbies section for some fun crafty projects
Explore new environments
Children love imaginative play, and creating new environments with them is a simple way to help fuel their imagination. Use old sheets pegged onto chairs to make an indoor den, a castle or a pirate ship - think about what your grandchildren are most interested in and tailor it to that.
If the children are enjoying the make-believe, use dressing-up clothes, toys and puppets to get them more involved – and even put on a show that links to the setting.
Use technology to help inspire them to think of different environments too. There are some ingenious ways to explore the great outdoors from the comfort of your living room to check out. Start by wandering around some of the world’s most breathtaking national parks together thanks to Google Earth’s virtual tours. There are 31 tours available, including the Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountain, Yellowstone and Yosemite.
The Wildlife Trust has also developed some easy ways to observe nature without leaving your home. Their webcams give you a unique insight into the lives of peregrines, barn owls, badgers and bats, or tune into their Wildlife Watch YouTube channel, to watch wildlife videos made by children.
Fun and games
Why not introduce your grandchildren to some of the games you enjoy playing? Older children will love playing cards, Scrabble and Monopoly – and younger children find Bingo fun.
Homemade games work wonders too. Delve into the recycling and wrap up all the boxes you can find, then take it in turns to stack them into a tower without knocking it over. Or clean out six empty plastic bottles and use them as indoor skittles with a small ball. “You don’t need lots of toys and games for them, imagination is a wonderful thing. The holy grail of play is active, child led with no rules and sociable,” says Amanda.
Keeping only children entertained
For only children, being stuck indoors for long periods of time can be more of a challenge, so explore some games that work well with just one player. Teach them the basics and then encourage them to play along for a while.
Try some classics like Dominoes and pick-up sticks with younger children or if you want to splash out on some new games head over to Think Fun for a brilliant selection of education games for one. For older children, Rubik’s Cubes can never go wrong, and Bop It Extreme will give their reflexes a workout and is just as much fun with one as with a group.
Of course, technology can be a godsend to help connect people, and there are endless opportunities to help your grandchild have a virtual get together with friends. If your grandchildren are into gaming, then they can hook up remotely to play many of their favourite games – from Fortnite to Pokémon GO – with friends. But they don’t have to be console fans to enjoy some virtual fun. From quizzes, to playing board games or watching movies together, take a look at our guide to grandparenting from a distance for some great suggestions.
Cook up a feast
Cooking is a great way to keep children engaged and gives them instant rewards for their efforts.
Pick something that everyone can get help with, such as homemade pizzas, decorating cakes or making smoothies and ask them to choose which ingredients they’d like to use.
Make it extra fun and have an indoor picnic - spread a blanket on the floor and invite some teddy bears along for the little ones.
Visit our baking with children section for lots of easy baking recipes
Have a party
It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday to have a party – use your time together as an excuse to have a party. Get your grandchildren involved in planning what to eat and play and what music to listen to.
Spend the morning making party food and decorations together and then the afternoon is free to crank up the music, play party games and enjoy the party feast you’ve created!
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