Families that play together stay together. Here’s a list of activities that can be enjoyed by multiple generations.
1. Observation Walk
Circle the neighborhood or the nearest park at the pace of the slowest family member. Encourage everyone to call attention to whatever they find pretty or interesting. Small children have amazing capacity to find wonder in the most “mundane” things.
2. Playground Romp
Most swings and some climbing equipment can accommodate adults alongside their kids, and it’s a great opportunity to let loose and get silly. If you don’t “fit” physically, be a “spotter” as your child uses the hand-over-hand bars, or a “catcher” at the bottom of the slide—but do stay close to the action, rather than being the distracted observer on the bench.
3. Board Games
Even small children can learn Checkers and move-around-the-board games. Soon they’ll be ready for chess, Scrabble, and Monopoly. (Do try to choose games everyone can play on an equal level, or else give a reasonable handicap to the less experienced—believe it or not, most kids really don’t want you to deliberately let them win.)
4. Good Clean Humor
Put on a classic slapstick video or a family comedian, and enjoy some belly laughs. Or get a children’s joke book and take turns reading it to each other.
5. Water Fun
Everyone in your family should learn to swim at the first opportunity, for safety as well as fun. You don’t need a beach or pool to enjoy getting wet, though—many playgrounds have water-feature sections, and the old standbys of running under the sprinkler and turning the hose (or water pistols) on each other are still winners.
If your kids are old enough to handle small pieces, set out a jigsaw puzzle the whole family can work on. Or make a giant printout of a maze or word-search puzzle, and take timed turns working on it with the others cheering.
7. Story Time
You don’t need a campfire to share folk tales, ghost stories, or made-up yarns: you can do it anywhere from your patio to your living room. An old-favorite approach: one person starts telling a story, then stops at a suspenseful point and lets the next person take up the thread, and so on around the circle until everyone has had a turn and the newly created tale is finished.
8. Make-Your-Own-Dinner Party
Give everyone a role in preparing a cake, a pizza, a multi-course dinner, or sandwiches for a picnic. Things taste twice as good to those who help create them!
9. Decorating Project
Take the kids shopping and let them choose flower seeds for the garden, a shade of paint for the recreation room, or decorations for the Christmas tree. Then when you get home, everyone can work on the project together.
10. Window Shopping
Not always practical if your kids (or you yourself) have a habit of turning “seeing” into “buying,” but otherwise, there’s a lot of fun in admiring window displays. Play a game of “make up a story about the person who will buy that.” Enjoy a coffee-shop snack and some people-watching afterward.