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for grandparents & those who love them

Posted on November 19, 2011 by Christine Crosby in School Readiness

On-The-Go Games

Playing games is a part of childhood.  Discover a new way to enjoy playing games with these no cost, anywhere, anytime games.  Forget the game board, playing pieces and timer or whether all the pieces are in the box.  Nothing to pack and you don’t have to deal with who wins and who loses.

Play these thought-provoking games with preschoolers and school-aged grandchildren at your home and on the go…stuck in traffic or standing in line at the grocery store or bank. Thinking skills are key to ‘learning how to learn’.  These on-the-go games focus on critical and creative thinking, laying the foundation for school readiness and success in school with these skills:

Literacy (reading and writing) by developing auditory memory and visual memory

Language and vocabulary development and reading comprehension by listening to sounds of letters in words, rhyming words and learning about the concept of stories

Creative thinking and problem solving by using current knowledge, experiences and imagination

Preschool (3-5 years old)

Get ready for some preschool (3, 4, 5 years old)  silliness and old fashioned fun that produces giggles galore!  For preschool grands, start with these:

“I’m thinking of…”

  1. Begin by describing just one thing about an animal or object, e.g. ‘I’m thinking of something with four legs.’
  2. When your grandchild responds “Is it a horse?”, say something like, “Well, it could be, but that’s not it.  It also has whiskers, likes milk, chases mice, etc, until he/she guesses a cat.
  3. Keep adding one more description, until he/she guesses correctly.  Be encouraging, even if the child does not guess correctly right away.
  4. Then, it’s your grandchild’s turn to start describing an animal or object, one characteristic at a time.

You may have to remind the child to give just one ‘description’ at a time.  Try describing objects, such as ‘it has four wheels’ (could be car, truck, bus, wagon), followed by ‘it’s big and yellow (a school bus!).  You can describe food, clothing or even people (e.g. wears a uniform, brings letters and packages to your house – your mailman).

Rhyme with Me

  1. Start by giving some examples of words that rhyme.  Begin with very simple words, such as cat, hat, sat, bat and kite, bite, fight, right.
  2. Then, ask the child to say a word and you respond with several words that rhyme.
  3. Now, it’s the child’s turn to rhyme a word with one you give.  It doesn’t matter, if the rhyming word the child says is an actual word.

The goal is to come up with words whose ending sounds the same.  My grandson and I have had great fun with some really silly rhyming ‘words’ he has come up with.  He once rhymed ‘crun’ with ‘sun’.  The moment we got home, he ran up the front steps and said, “Mommy, I have something really funny to tell you.  Crun!” And then dissolved into giggles all over again.

“What do you see?”

I started this game one day, while eating lunch with one of my three-year old grandsons.  We were munching away, looking at the trees outside the kitchen window.  All I said was, “I see an elephant in that tree.”  He looked at me and then jumped right in.  We’ve seen a tiger on the chair on the deck; a snake on the salt shaker; a kangaroo on the cheerios box; a hippo on my head; and even a whale on the lamp.  We’ve also had a dump truck on a Sippy cup; a bulldozer on the brownie; and a forklift on the napkins.

This game also entertains at a restaurant, the doctor’s office or anywhere you must wait with a little one who would prefer to be running around or outdoors.  Be warned: This can get downright silly!

Elementary and Middle School-Aged Children

These games can spark fun and very interesting discussions.  Pose questions such as these:

  • If you had a magic wand, what would you do?

Follow-up with comments/questions like “Interesting idea. Then what would you do?  And how do you think other people would react? How do you think that would change…?”

  • If you could invent/design the best toy ever, what would it be?

Follow-up with comments/questions such as “That sounds really different.  What would it look like?  How would that be different from toys we already have?

  • If you were President of the United States, what would you do?

Follow-up comments/questions like these: “What would happen then?  What would people say, how would they react?  What effect would that have on people or how we do things? What would people in other countries think/do then?”

Anywhere Storytelling’ (Ages 2 ½ to 11 or 12)

Engage your grandchild in storytelling.  Ask him/her for a topic for a story.  Then, begin telling the story, periodically stopping and asking the child to become a part of creating the story.  The older the child, the more he/she can help develop the story.  If your grandchild wants to take over the story, go with it.  Easy ways to involve your grandchildren:

  • And he was wearing…
  • And, then he jumped and landed in/on…
  • She went to the….
  • Next, she decided she wanted to…
  • All of a sudden…
  • Then, the sun came out, it began to rain, the snow starting falling…
  • A puppy came right up to him and…
  • A magic balloon flew into the house…
  • The cat began to talk…

Go with whatever the child suggests, no matter how silly or disconnected it may seem to the original story.  You can take the story anywhere you want or need it to go and be as silly as you like.

With these on-the-go games, both you and your grandchildren can enjoy fun times together anywhere, anytime!  Who said learning can’t be fun?

More ideas about promoting creative thinking are available on these websites:



Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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