7 Ways for Grandparents and Grandchildren to Play Together

Senior couple in the park with grand daughter blowing bubbles
Written by Risa Schulman
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6 minutes

Time spent with your grandchildren is a great opportunity to play a positive role in their lives. While there are many ways to spend that special time together, engaging in play with your grandchildren brings cognitive, physical, and emotional benefits to both of you! All while making memories you’ll both treasure, of course.

As grandchildren grow up, it seems that time flies faster by the day. This is especially true if your grandchildren live far away and you don’t see them often. Planning activities you know you’ll be able to enjoy together is a great way to make the most of the special time you have with them. We’ve put together a list of 7 activities to enjoy together, whether you’ll be in-person or connecting remotely online

Watch: How to Connect with your Grandkids

In-Person Activities


If you have a garden in your yard, tending to it with your grandchildren is a great way to get outside while teaching them valuable lessons. Even for just a day, caring for and working in a garden teaches children about empathy, responsibility, biology, and environmental awareness while helping them to develop important motor skills. For grandchildren of all ages, getting their hands in the soil can decrease anxiety while helping to strengthen their immune systems. You’ll benefit from the physical activity of gardening, too, while having some help and company to share the work with.

Don’t have a garden? Learn how to grow an herb garden together! Or, search the web to find your local community gardens and see if they are accepting volunteers to help in their maintenance. Volunteering is a great way to bond and connect with each other, with a myriad of health benefits.

Build a Fort

While parents may be hesitant to let their children take the cushions off of the family sofa and pull all the blankets out of the linen closet, grandparents don't have to follow the same rules! Let your grandchildren lead the way as you help them build the ultimate living room fort. Once it’s built, climb inside and spend the day reading them their favorite stories or bring in their toys and play together.

For shy grandchildren, the fort may become a safe and sacred place for them to open up and tell you about their dreams and ideas, creating a strong and trusting bond with you. If they are spending the night at your home, make it extra cozy and allow them to sleep in their new fort. They’ll remember it forever and will probably ask you if they can do it again next time!

Cook Family Recipes

Food is an essential part of family, culture, and tradition. If you have a family recipe that has been passed down for generations, it’s never too early or too late to hand it down to your grandchildren. From shopping for the ingredients, to prepping and cooking, have your grandchildren help you prepare the dish from start to finish so they can learn the whole process.

Along the way, don’t hesitate to share family stories and anecdotes, teaching your grandchildren about where they come from and who they are. When the dish is ready, it’ll taste even better knowing you created it together and that your family traditions will be carried into the next generation.

Play Dress Up

An easy and fun method of imaginative play, dress-up encourages the act of self-expression and exploration. Open up your closet or costume box and let your grandchildren create outfits out of whatever they choose! By using common household items as props or costume items, like using a colander for a helmet or bed sheets as capes, you’ll encourage creativity and resourcefulness. And for younger grandchildren, using snaps, buttons, and zippers challenges and develops important motor skills.

Don’t hesitate to play alongside them! Take it to the next level by creating characters out of your new costumes and putting on a play. The act of talking about your characters and working together to make a script is not only great for your bond but helps build conversational and problem-solving skills.

Make a Time Capsule

Time is a sacred and special thing and it tends to pass way too fast. Document the moment by filling a container of your choice with simple items from your time together. Polaroid photos, a ticket stub from a movie or museum you went to together, dirt from the garden, handmade artwork, a handwritten recipe note of a favorite dish you ate together, and other items will help freeze the moment in time.

To make it extra special, you can write letters to each other and drop them in the capsule without reading them! Seal the capsule and agree on a future date that you will open it together, at least 5 years away. When you open it, you’ll each enjoy remembering younger days and appreciating how much life has changed.

Virtual Activities

Classic Board Games Online

Many classic board games have launched online or have app versions of the game, creating an opportunity for the whole family to play their favorite games together without needing to be in the same area code. Family-favorites like Uno Online, Snakes & Ladders (iOS, Android), Guess Who! are highly interactive and easy to play online. Plus, if you’re already familiar with these classic games, there’ll be less time spent learning how to play and more time spent having fun together!

Interactive Games

Instead of a board game, hop onto Facetime, Zoom, or another video conferencing app and try one of these interactive games. These games tend to spark important brain functions like memory, creative thinking, problem-solving, and deductive reasoning for both grandparents and grandchildren.

  • Try a Treasure Hunt, sending your grandkid running through their house on the search for items you list for them to find.
  • Spark problem-solving skills with a game of 20 Questions, where one person is allowed to ask 20 yes-or-no questions to figure out what item the other person is thinking about.
  • Charades, the classic game consisting of acting out a word or phrase for your partner to guess, takes on a new form when played virtually. You can use an online random word generator to get assigned your acting topics.
  • Share your creativity while using Zoom’s whiteboard feature. This interactive tool allows participants to draw freely together on a blank screen. You can play your own versions of classic drawing games like Pictionary, a simple game of Hangman or Tic-Tac-Toe, spend time together drawing freely and admiring each other’s artwork, or make up your own fun drawing game.

Every Day is an Opportunity to Play

Children remind us that play is an important part of being human. By playing with your grandchildren, you’ll not only strengthen your special bond, you’ll also enjoy the benefits of playing for yourself. With children growing up quickly, it’s important to play with them as much as you can while they’re young. Not only does this help build a strong connection that will last well into their adulthood, you’ll help them develop into the smart, strong, compassionate, and creative individuals they are destined to become.

Written by:

Risa Schulman


Risa Schulman, Ph.D. took her lifelong love of science, people and the fulfillment of potential to create a multifaceted career in R&D, business, health and wellness, and empowering individuals. 

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