Fun on a Nickel - Carolina Country

Fun on a Nickel

Five simple yet meaningful activities for grandchildren

By Cynthia Drake

Fun on a  Nickel

I was a child during the 1950s — a time when my brothers and I were mostly spared the troubles of the adult world. Our parents let us play in the mud, climb trees or read books while lying on an old quilt in the backyard. My Halloween costume was an old sheet with two holes cut out for ghost eyes. A piece of chalk and a sidewalk would be enough to keep me and my neighborhood girlfriends hopscotching all morning. After a bowl of cereal for breakfast, my mother sent us out to play with the instruction to be back for supper.

When my grandchildren began to arrive 17 years ago, those carefree memories of days gone by resurfaced, and I experienced a “second childhood” with my children’s children. I taught young children in elementary school for many years, and that prepared me for the delight of playing and learning with my grandchildren. Now that the grandchildren are older, we love remembering those early days spent cooking together, doing science experiments in the kitchen, producing simple plays in the summer, reading books using flashlights during overnight visits. That joy inspired me to write “A Grandmother’s Source-book,” filled with activities and ideas for grandparents and their grandchildren to share. Below are five entries from the book for your own “fun on a nickel.”

1. Make a concentration game.Choose a dozen or more favorite 4x6 photos of family events. At the copy shop, reduce photo size by 50%, print two of each, then glue to the “suit” side of regular playing cards. Set out all the cards with photo sides down. Play!

2. Teach the children how to offer a strong firm handshake and clearly state their name (as if they are meeting a new person). “Hi, my name is ______.” Then have them help you bake some chocolate chip cookies. Drive to the neighborhood firehouse, meet the firefighters, shake hands and thank them for their service. Finally, offer a tin of homemade cookies.

3. Help the children paint a Van Gogh-style painting. Find “The Usborne Art Treasury” by Rosie Dickens at the library. Directions are given about using forks and dabs of white paint to recreate Van Gogh’s swirly clouds!

4. A really fun science experiment is creating a crystal. Directions are provided in “Geology Lab for Kids” by Garret Romaine. Bend a pipe cleaner into a cube shape. Tie 2 feet of string to the middle of a pencil and to a corner of the pipe cleaner cube. Pour 3 cups of boiling water into a wide-mouth jar. Stir in 9 tablespoons of Borax. Lower the pipe cleaner down into the jar. In the morning there will be a crystal-covered pipe cleaner floating in the jar! If you add food coloring, you’ll create a beautifully colored crystal.

5. On a sunny day, take the children to your local cemetery. Walk through the lanes and stop to read names, dates and quotes. Talk about how these folks were loved by many people. Talk about the circle of life. Your ease will be appreciated by the children. Then read them the wonderful storybook, “City Dog, Country Frog” by Mo Willems. It is a perfect tale of friendship, loss and hope.

Learn more

Visit A Grandmother’s Sourcebook to learn more. 10 chapters covering resources and activities to get grandchildren engaged in art, story, poetry, science, service, music, cooking, plays and games.

About the Author

Cynthia Drake, author of “A Grandmother’s Sourcebook,” lives in Durham and is a member of Piedmont Electric Cooperative.

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