October 2, 2013
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Sharing Hobbies with Your Grandchildren

Are you looking for a fun new way to connect with your grandchildren? Why not enjoy a hobby together?

Actively engaging in a hobby is a great way to stay sharp, make new friends, and add some fun to your free time. Pursuing a shared hobby can also help you to strengthen your bond with your grandchildren. By finding a common interest and enjoying a hobby together, you will not only spend more quality time together, but you can also help your grandkids to develop a new interest and potentially learn a new skill.

Read on for a handful of hobbies that could be fun for children of all ages – as well as their grandparents. Find the activity that appeals most to your grandchildren and you may even get them to step away from their electronic devices for a little while!

Cooking
Creating meals and making tasty treats for your grandchildren is a wonderful way to show your affection – and including your grandchildren in the cooking and baking process can take that bond to a whole new level. Whether you’re a culinary expert, or you have a handful of tried and true dishes that never fail to please, you’ll have fun handing down your knowledge (and your secret family recipes) to future generations. Let them play an active part in the process by allowing them to suggest recipes or man the mixer (even if it means making a giant mess). Your grandchildren will feel a great sense of accomplishment when they join you at the table to dig into a meal that they’ve made from scratch, with a bit of help from grandma or grandpa. For recipe ideas and to learn about age-appropriate kitchen tasks for kids, visit www.childrensrecipes.com.

Birding
If you and your grandchildren would enjoy an activity that involves being outdoors and developing a deep appreciation for nature, then birding just might fit the bill. Bird watching can be a gratifying and exciting hobby for people of any age, and you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy it. Simply pick up a pair of binoculars and a book about birds that are native to your area (available at most local book stores), and you’re ready to get started. Your grandchildren may also enjoy learning different birdcalls, which they can listen to at www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=1059.

Gardening
We all know that kids like to play in the dirt. Why not encourage them to get their hands dirty by sharing with them your passion for gardening? If you have some extra space in your back yard, you may enjoy carving out a small plot of soil that your grandchildren can consider their own personal plant space. You can tend the plot when your grandchildren are away, but always make a point of visiting the garden to harvest a handful of berries or a bowl of tomatoes together when they come for a visit. If you go a stretch of time without seeing each other, you can send them pictures to show them how their garden is growing. If you don’t have extra space for a garden in your yard, container gardening can be equally effective in teaching children valuable lessons in patience and responsibility. You may even get them excited about vegetables (in which case, their mothers will thank you).

Scrapbooking
One of the best ways to make memories with your grandchildren is to preserve memories with them in a creative way. Scrapbooking is a great way to get to know each other on another level, as the pictures that you each choose to include in your scrapbooks reflect some of the most treasured moments in your lives. What could be more valuable than pouring over these moments with your littlest loved ones? Pictures from your past also provide a platform for you to share your own life stories, which will give your grandchildren a better understanding of how you’ve become the person that you are today.

Collecting
From coins and stamps to baseball cards and baby dolls, starting a collection with your grandchild is an excellent way to make memories and leave a legacy. It’s also an activity that they can easily carry on even when you are not together. It may be best to start a new collection together rather than invite your grandchild to enjoy a collection that you have already established. After all, half the fun is the joy of the find! Discuss things that your grandchild is interested in, and choose something that you can both get excited about. This shared hobby works well for grandchildren that live far away. You can each collect items from your own neck of the woods, and when you have the opportunity to re-connect, you can admire each other’s treasures with the healthy respect of a fellow collector. Visit the Smithsonian Kids website (http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/students/smithsonian_kids_collecting/main.html) to learn more about starting a collection with children.

Model Building
Kids love the chance to create something from nothing. Building model planes, cars, boats, or trains with their grandparents can be fun and challenging for kids of all ages. Websites like www.megahobby.com offer models for every skill level – from beginner to mind-bogglingly intricate. Your grandkids will build fine motor skills, practice patience, and learn about the structure of planes, trains, and automobiles. Best of all, they’ll have something awesome to show for all of their hard work.

Sporting
Sharing your enjoyment of sports is a wonderful way to bond with kids. Whether you are following a favorite sports team or lacing up your sneakers for some friendly competition, grandparents and grandchildren can easily get on the same page when it comes to competitive activities. If you plan to turn your grandchild into a super fan for your favorite professional team, you might start by taking him or her to an actual sporting event. Nothing brings team spirit to life for kids like being in a crowded stadium, with the smell of hotdogs in the air and the sound of cheering fans all around them. If you plan to play a sport with your grandchild, you could either take on the coaching role (if you’re a life-long tennis player who wants to share your passion, for example); or you could put yourself on an equal playing field with your grandchild by learning a new sport together (perhaps pickleball or bocce).

Any of these shared hobbies can be the scaffolding from which you can build an even stronger relationship with your grandchildren. The time you spend together is the valuable treasure – the models, collections, or memorabilia you amass along the way will just help you to remember these fun bonding sessions.

What hobbies help you to connect with your grandkids? Feel free to share your favorite kid-friendly activities with your Trilogy neighbors by adding a comment below.