Fun, inexpensive things to do with your grandkids

This article is courtesy of Mature Living magazine.

Your grandchildren are coming to spend the week or the weekend. How exciting! But how will you keep them entertained? How will you channel all that energy?

Amusing children does not take an exorbitant amount of time and money. Spending time with them and being creative is more important. All sorts of household items can become toys with a little imagination. Here are several suggestions.

Make old-fashioned paper dolls

Old-fashioned paper dolls are fun. Cut out the models from an old clothing catalog and glue them to cardboard. The dolls can be traced to make clothes. Don't forget to leave tags that can be folded to attach the clothes.

Catalogs can also be used to decorate dollhouses. Turn a large cardboard box so that the opening is on the side. Let your grandchild cut paper rugs, mirrors, paintings, furniture, and windows from catalogs to glue inside the house.

Make styrofoam airplanes and boats

Purchase new styrofoam meat trays or plates. Your grandchildren can make airplanes and boats with the styrofoam. Trace the body of the airplane onto the styrofoam. Cut out with sharp scissors. Cut a slot through the plane to insert the rectangular wings that also are cut from the styrofoam.

Make musical instruments

With older preschoolers and children, make musical instruments from aluminum pie pans. Put dried peas or beans between two pie pans. Glue the edges of the pans together, and you have a tambourine.

Make play dough

Both boys and girls enjoy playing with play dough, and you can make your own:

1½ C. boiling water

2 T. cooking oil

food coloring to create different shades

1 C. flour

½ C. salt

2 t. cream of tartar

Pour boiling water in a large bowl. Add oil and food coloring. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Knead until smooth. Use cookie cutters to make various shapes. Squeezing dough through a garlic press can make "hair" to decorate faces.

Make a backyard tepee

Make a backyard tepee from an old sheet draped over three poles in a triangular shape. Let the grandchildren use water-based paints or fabric paints to create authentic Indian designs on the tepee. Research on the Internet or an encyclopedia could make this an educational as well as amusing experience.

Put on a puppet show

Puppet shows are always fun. Use a large appliance box to design a stage. You can make puppets from old socks. Add felt eyes and yarn hair. Encourage your grandchildren to use the puppets to act out stories and parables from the Bible.

Turn a gardening glove into a story glove by painting each finger to represent a different character.

Memorize Bible verses

Finally, grandchildren can earn their gospel armor by memorizing Bible verses. Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Make a shield, a sword, a breast plate, and leg coverings from cardboard. Spray paint them gold. A fried chicken bucket turned upside-down with eye slits makes a good helmet. Most stores will give you an unused bucket with a purchase. Finally, a belt can be made from gold cloth. As the children learn the verses, they earn the various pieces of armor.

Educational and spiritual games and toys can be fashioned for grandchildren with little expense. Just let the creativity flow.

Kim McDermott is a school teacher in Charleston, South Carolina. Her hobbies are art and music.

Story Highlights

  • Make old-fashioned paper dolls
  • Make styrofoam airplanes and boats
  • Make musical instruments
  • Make play dough
  • Make a backyard tepee
  • Memorize Bible verses

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