Build Memories and Spend Less on Your Grandchildren this Summer

Senior man reading map with grandson on country walkToday’s grandparents are notorious for spoiling their beloved grand-kids. Today’s grand-kids are notorious for being glued to a screen. Spend less, and pry the kids away from those screens by doing some of these activities to build face time with yours. These are the times they will remember, long after they have forgotten who gave them that video game they love to play!

Hold a grandparent camp.

Traveling with a grandchild can be very rewarding – and very costly. I’m taking my 9 year old grandson to Colonial Williamsburg this summer – a trip I have been planning since he was born – but it isn’t cheap. To get comparable face time without the cost and the travel complaints, shorten up the time frame to an overnight camping experience, a week long day only camp or a weekend camp.

Invite the grand-kids for an overnight camping adventure in your own backyard. Set up the tents, grab the sleeping bags and bug spray. Build a campfire and tell stories, roast marshmallows and more.

Not into outdoor camping? Invite the kids over for a week of day camp or even just a weekend. Set a theme ahead of time – plan it together. Will it be a crafts camp with several different projects, a cooking camp – with the grand-kids planning, shopping, chopping and cooking a meal (with your supervision and suggestions of course), a music camp – with each of you playing your instrument or all of you learning new songs together? The sky is the limit on themes.

My Grandma Rie’s Money Camp is a week long day camp with a focus on finances at age appropriate levels. I hold it each year – but yours can be different themes for different camps if you want.

Find and visit as many playgrounds/parks in your area together as you can.

For the younger crew, playgrounds are always fun (unless it is too hot of course). Let the kids help you find area parks and playgrounds and then plan a route that lets you visit one or two per day – pack a picnic and some cold drinks and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Take some books or activities along for yourself, and don’t be afraid to play with the kids. Just remember that they can do things with ease that would land most grandparents in an emergency room! Don’t go to the emergency room.

Plan and execute a production.

Help the kids write a play and let everyone take part – front and center or behind the scenes. Make a video documentary on a topic that interests the grand-kids. Get some free video editing software, use a cell phone or camera to record and see what happens! Make puppets and stage a show for the parents – letting the kids come up with the story line, the kind of puppets they want to make, the puppet stage (it can be as simple as an ironing board with a tablecloth over it!). These are just a few of many other types of productions you could do together. The complexity, length, composition and technical difficulty of the production will be a function of the child’s age and interest levels.

Hold a garage sale together.

Clean out the unwanted clutter from your home and let the grand-kids help you set up for the sale, making signs; putting price stickers on the merchandise; composing printing and distributing flyers; running the lemonade and soda stand during the sale; practicing their sales pitches and negotiation skills (which will be sharpened if you agree to split profits with them); and giving them practice making change.

Hit the beach at a local lake.

Most areas now have a lake with a public swimming beach these days and they are usually pretty inexpensive. Make it an all day event by bringing lunch and planning a few non-swimming activities (such as a hike or a campfire with story telling or beach volleyball, etc).

Plan your own carnival.

Set the yard up with booths and events and invite the neighbors over for a fun old fashioned carnival. Buy some inexpensive prizes for the winners, or just hold a winner’s ceremony for the carnival’s conclusion.  Decorate the yard with balloons, streamers and signs.

Here are a few ideas on things you could include.

Booths might include:


Events could include:

  • Hold a pillow case sack race or a three legged race, or any kind of race.
  • Have a hula hoop contest. See who can hula the longest.
  • A cake walk. Bake a cake together and use it as the prize for the winner of this event. Lay out a circle with paper place mats – each with a number on it. Let folks walk the circle to the music. When the music stops, someone draws one of the numbers (which have been put on slips of paper and into a bucket) and whoever is standing on that numbered mat wins the cake.


We did a little carnival like this when I ran a Mother’s Day Out program for the church. The kids had fun, and we made a bit of money for the program!

Play old time outdoor backyard games.

Think back to the outdoor games you played as a kid in your own backyard and teach them to your grand-kids. Red Rover, King of the Hill, croquet, back yard ball, tag, hunt the lightening bugs, marbles, hopscotch, jump rope (along with those wonderful chants we did). crack the whip, and red light green light are some of the ones I remember. If you don’t remember the rules, just do an internet search on ‘old time backyard games’ and you will find them! Be the referee if you can’t physically participate.

What inexpensive things do you do with your kids or grand-kids over the summer to build memories?


Build Memories and Spend Less on Your Grandchildren this Summer — 4 Comments

  1. My grandson is only 7 months old and of course, I love spending time with him and am fortunate that we live in the same city so I can do so. But I’ve been thinking about this topic as he ages. Great ideas! I’m pinning it!

  2. I think that my favorite tip here is to plan a production. That would’ve been absolutely awesome when I was a kid, thanks for sharing the idea! I’m sure I’ll use that one when it’s my time to be a daddy!

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