Family Friday

Tis the season to start ramping up the holiday fun – both with local grandkids and long distance grandchildren. One grandchild and I spent a delightful hour in Big Lots enjoying the Harvest and Halloween decor aisle. We left with a tiny scarecrow for the mantel, a bigger scarecrow for great-grandma’s room, and a cute metal decoration for the front door – three pumpkins and the inscription, “Bless This House.” Thanks to Big Lots’ prices it didn’t cost much and we had a terrific time picking just the right items!

Christmas and Thanksgiving decor were there as well, but we ran out of time to investigate those. We’ll have fun with them later. Picking out and displaying holiday decorations have always been some of my favorite traditions. Would you believe I have a full-sized scarecrow that is over ten years old! We used to put him in a chair right outside the front door to greet visitors to our door. Now he’s in the house as my grandkids absolutely dote on him! They dance with him, hug him, use him as a pillow to watch TV and just have the best time with him! The memories from this particular tradition are priceless and will be just as special 20 years from now! 🙂

My long distance grandkids also love Autumn and Autumn decor. They are wonderful at sending me Harvest pictures to help decorate the house! Those are always a special treat!  🙂

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some fun and free (one of my favorite ways to save money 🙂 ) craft ideas for the holiday season – from Autumn and Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Years. Keep checking back for more fun ideas and also we’d love to hear your suggestions as well!

For more Family Friday articles, be sure to visit Home Ever After, where they have a great article about lunch notes for our grandkids!

Mighty Machines teaches our grandkids how machines like jets and big trucks operate - the Sandwich Generation granny nanny loves it tooRecently, while traveling for senior home care giving purposes, I was sitting on a plane at the Atlanta airport. According to our pilot, it’s the busiest airport in the world and it has the people, lines, and delays to prove it! As I was looking out the plane’s window, I was amazed at the long parade of planes going by – big ones, little ones, and in-between. I started chuckling as I realized it looked just like a scene from one of my grandkids’ favorite educational videos, Mighty Machines. This is one of the fun and educational TV shows and videos for kids that we discovered on Netflix’ instant option – another of my favorite ways to save money! They have several episodes including:

  • Lights and Ladders
  • Tremendous Tools
  • Roadways to Runways
  • Diggers and Dozers
  • Winter Blast
  • And many more.

In fact, according to Wikipedia, we’ve only seen a small fraction of them. I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open for more! All of the videos in this series show the lead characters which are the actual “vehicles” going about their normal daily duties as they “talk” to the audience and each other. They explain what they do and discuss how they accomplish their tasks while enjoying pleasant conversations with each other. My seven year old grandson likes to watch each of them once while my five year old grand-twins enjoy watching them over and over. They’re fun and downright entertaining. I enjoyed learning more about sawmills and airports as I kept my grandkids company watching them! They make an excellent addition to social studies classes for homeschooling programs as well as Saturday morning educational entertainment in case we grandparents want to sleep an extra half hour. 🙂 These are terrific little videos that are wholesome and interesting! Perfect for younger grandkids and their grandparents. Be sure to check over at HomeEverAfter for more Family Friday ideas for you and your grandkids! 

P.S. Want to know more about Netflix and their great options for fun and educational TV shows and videos for your kids and grandkids? Click here for a special offer for all of us in the Sandwich Generation –  TV episodes & movies from Netflix – now instantly to your TV! Free trial

My young grandkids and I occasionally get to travel long distances together in the car. As I’ve already written, a DVD player is a wonderful thing for those long trips! For that matter, so are electronic games and a fun DS.  Even the younger crowd can play those. After a while, though, the littler grandkids start getting bored and that’s when I dig into my “grandma travel bag of car games” for some fun activities to keep us all too busy to notice how long the drive is.

The first games we usually play include a family favorite alphabet game with as many different sets of rules a we have people in the car. It can be as difficult as having to find items or signs outside the car that start with the next letter of the alphabet. For instance, Avenue would count for A, Blvd. for B, etc. Or we can go very simple by saying that as long as a sign has any letter that matches the alphabet letter we are on, it’s ok. In that case, Avenue would count for A, V, E, N, or U. We also have fun with Animal Alphabet, Random Rhyming, and Story-Go-Round.

Recently, I decided it was time to add some new games to my “grandma travel bag” and I had fun finding a few interesting new ones. We’re going to give them a whirl on our next long trip. If you beat us to it, we’d love to hear how you liked them:

First I discovered some cute printable car games for kids at Nick, Jr. Dora and Diego’s Car Bingo games are not only fun for the grandkids to play, it helps them (and grandma) learn some words in another language! Hmmm, after we’ve played with these a few times, we could make up our own, and even vary the languages. We could have German, which I took in high school, and French which their mom’s took in high school. Very fun!

I loved the educational games I found at About.com’s homeschooling site. They’re great for all kids, including those involved in homeschooling programs and those in brick and mortar schools. My two favorites were Odd or Even which even my youngest grandkids can probably play, along with License Plates – adding (or for that matter subtracting, multiplying and/or dividing) the numbers on the license plates. How fun!

One more, from A to Z’s Cool Homeschooling Site, included several interesting and educational travel games. My two favorites here were Semi Search (withOUT the Air Horns game 🙂 ) and Trivia. That one is similar to the alphabet game. Someone selects a letter, then everyone spends the next ten minutes looking for as many things as possible that start with that letter (or that sound).

With all these fun new car games, I’m really looking forward to our next long trip. How about you? Do you have some fun car games not mentioned here. We’d love to hear about them.  🙂

This is part of the Family Friday event sponsored by HomeEverAfter, where you can find even more fun ideas and interesting info that is great for grandparents as well as parents. 🙂

Looking for a fun new game for your grandkids? My 5 and 7 year old grandsons and I had a lot of fun with games this summer and we wanted to share our favorite with you. Pictureka is a funny sounding game name, with a funny looking board, that they absolutely LOVE! There are 9 board cards that you set side by side in three rows to make one huge board. They have a “zillion” different pictures in various directions, similar to the I Spy books and the Where’s Waldo? books. There are three sets of playing cards. Very simply, you pick a card, then look on the big board to find the picture from the little card. Sometimes everyone looks at the same time. Sometimes, only the one player looks, depending on the roll of the two different dice (one with colors and one with numbers), and the arrows on the playing cards.

The rules for this version are quite simple. BUT the game is geared for 8-15 year olds and my little grand-guys are a bit younger than that. I bought it because they LOVE the Where’s Waldo and I Spy books. Trying to play the game by the rules, I found that waiting until they were 8 for the regular game would have been better. SO we made up our own rules for a younger kids version.

SandwichINK version of Pictureka Game for Younger Grandkids:

Turning this into a cooperative team-building game, we only use the red and green cards. As each person rolls the color dice, he picks the appropriate card if it rolls red or green. If it rolls blue, he gets to choose between red and green. Then he rolls the number dice, and we ALL work together to find that many items each of whatever the picture is. It’s so much fun watching them help each other. They will often share a picture with another brother first before moving on to their own pictures.  You have to understand, this is not the norm with most of our games, so I really have appreciated the good team-work lessons they are learning.

Shopping at Target this week, I discovered there are a couple of other versions of Pictureka, including Pictureka Kubes which includes a version for younger kids. I read the directions for that, in a hurry, and had a hard time understanding them, so we will hold off on that one. It did look nice, because it takes up less room, but we are having so much fun with the primary game, we’ll stick with that for now. I am eyeing the smaller playing card version of the PICTUREKA Game, though, for our next long trip…

Family Friday is back, along with exciting happenings over at HomemakerBarbi. They have a new name, HomeEverAfter.com, along with an interesting article, Pregnancy Later in Life: Does Age Matter?