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Old-Fashioned Fun and Games

No Electronics or Even Electricity Required


You don't have to have a video game console to have fun with your grandkids. Just remember the old-fashioned games and other fun activities that you did as a kid. It's almost certain your grandchildren will love these activities too, partly because they're enjoyable and partly because they will be doing them with you.

1. Fly Away

Black father and son flying paper airplanes
KidStock/Blend Images/Getty Images

There's something magical about things that fly, and flying toys will teach the grandkids about physics as well. These flying toys that you make or put together teach other skills as well. Indoors, make paper airplanes or helicopters. Outdoors, try airplanes that are powered by rubber bands, kites and parachutes. For flying adventures outside, look for areas that are free of trees, light poles and other obstructions.

2. Skip a Rope

Photo © Mel Yates / Getty

You might think you've forgotten the jump rope rhymes of your youth, but they will all come back to you as soon as you begin to read these classics. All you need for jump rope fun is one long rope with a person on each end, plus one person to jump. If you are short one person, you can tie one end to something that is about waist high.

3. Play Ball

Shortstop seems to be the perfect position for this little boy with baseball and glove.
Photo © L. Haffelfinger

Remember “Flies and Grounders”? It's just one of many games to play with just a ball. Teach one of these to the grandchildren, and they'll never again be bored on a sunny day. Some of these are best played with tennis balls, small rubber balls or softballs. Some games require the larger playground balls.

4. Run, Hop or Swing

Children and grandchildren enjoy playing chase and other outdoor games.
Photo © Skynesher / Dreamstime

Most grandparents have fond memories of classic outdoor games like tag, hopscotch and Swing the Statue. Try teaching one of these games to the grandchildren. They are cheap, easy and fun, and the kids will get their exercise. You will, too, if you choose to play with them. But there is usually some need for a coach/line judge/referee if you don't run, hop and swing quite like you used to.

5. Be a Cut-Up

Fold and cut paper to create paper snowflakes and other handcut designs.
Photo © Susan Adcox

Remember how much fun you used to have cutting pictures out of catalogs or making strings of paper dolls? Your grandchildren can have a lot of fun with paper and scissors, too. Most of these easy paper crafts require just those two things, plus some markers and a little glue.

6. Play Cards

Playing cards with grandchildren is lots of fun for all ages.
Photo © Rmarmion | Dreamstime

You don't need game boards or special decks of cards to have fun with the grands. All you need is one deck of cards to play these old-fashioned favorites like Snap, Go Boom, Authors and Go Fish. You'll be teaching logic and concentration and the conventions of card playing. What could be more fun?

7. Have a Sing-Along

Singing cowgirl shows children's love of music, especially folk songs and traditional ballads.
Photo © Thomas Northcut / Getty

I was thrilled recently to learn that my grandchildren still sing many traditional songs in school, songs like “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” and “Oh, Susanna." Have some fun singing the next time you make a road trip or sit around a campfire. If you have four or more grandchildren, singing rounds is fun. And try this: sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and leave off one more word each time you sing it. It sounds really cool.

8. Play Mind Games

Photo © Getty Images

For years the older generation has enjoyed trying to stump the younger generation. The tradition continues with this selection of brain teasers and mind games. Three classic "river crossing puzzles" begin the collection.

9. Throw Things

The popular tailgating game of ladder golf or BlongoBall is fun for all ages.
Photo © Susan Adcox

Games that involve throwing things have a built-in fun factor. If you have a sandy place in the yard, teach the grandkids to play washers, marbles or horseshoes. Bocce and ladder ball are good lawn games, and jacks is a good indoor or outdoor game. The grandchildren will be improving their physical coordination, learning some real world math as they keep score and learning good sportsmanship.

10. Read a Book

Santa Mouse is a favorite classic children's Christmas book.
Photo © S. Adcox
To make it really special for your grandchildren, make it one that their mom or dad enjoyed, or even one that you liked as a child. It's also fun to share one of these children's books with grandparent characters.
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