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    Entertaining grandkids: 3 sure things

    As a long-distance grandma with visits being few and far between, I feel obligated to provide memorable merriment for my three grandsons each time I see them. I put careful consideration into packing my grandma bag with goodies and games and crafty ideas galore.

    Sometimes the magical makings I lug 800 miles to my grandsons' door elicit exactly the enjoyment I'd hoped. Sometimes they fail. Especially if picking a Pinterest activity to try together without trying it first myself.

    When I visited Bubby, Mac, and Jak last month, I failed at more than a few things. On the other hand, there were a few that surpassed my expectations in terms of the enjoyment factor for the boys. Three in particular were a huge success, and these will likely have a spot in my grandma bag each visit going forward.

    Following are those three sure things because if they entertain my grandkids, I'm willing to bet they'll entertain most. Consider them as go-to options for your grandma bag — or to have on hand if you're one of those fortunate grandmas whose grandkiddos live nearby.


    Now, this one didn't require me packing much in my grandma bag, just a quick trip to the grocery store upon my arrival for the fixings: apples, strawberries, chocolate chips, and peanut butter, plus anything not stocked in Megan's pantry that I needed for this recipe for the freaky eyes (which needs to be made at least 24 hours before snack assembly as the eyes need to dry).

    freaky face apple snacks

    They're pretty simple: Just quarter an apple; remove the bit of core in each quarter; slice out a horizontal triangular chunk from the side with peel; give the kids a plop of peanut butter and a toothpick or plastic knife for spreading; then let the kids construct a funky face with the peanut butter, wacky eyes and strawberry tongues. (The Pinterest pin from which I got the idea included sunflower seed teeth but my grandsons don't like sunflower seeds.)

    Note: Jak, at not yet two years old, cannot eat apples so his freaky faces were constructed with snack crackers as the base.


    We love games! The games from BlueOrange Games are some of our favorites. The master of unique, fun, and challenges games — most of which are relatively small and perfect for throwing in a grandma bag — sent me Fast Flip! just before I headed to the desert to see the boys. As Bubby's my longtime game reviewer, I packed it to get his thoughts on this new matching game for ages 7 and up.

    flip fast! game

    Fast Flip! is super simple to learn. Plus, it's fast (15-minute game), fun, and a challenge — for Bubby and Gramma alike. It's a true brain workout, we agreed. Especially after Mac asked if he could play and we altered the gameplay to allow the nearly 5-year-old to join us, then had to get back in the swing of real play (fast play) once Mac quit, saying, "You're right, Gramma, this is for big kids."

    There are three ways to play the clever game of matching fruits and numbers as quickly as possible, collecting cards or tokens faster than your opponent to win the game. Find out more about Fast Flip! (MSRP $12.99) at I'll be packing Fast Flip! each time I visit my grandsons, anticipating the time Mac then Jak are old enough to join Bubby and me. Perhaps Bubby will then have a true competitor to challenge him. (Yeah, I admit it: He won nearly every round against slow-poke grandma.)


    Yes, the old standard still serves as a standout good time, no planning required. (Though the ability to blow and blow and blow is required — unless the kiddos are old enough to blow up their own.)

    kids with balloons

    Bubby, Mac, and Jak loved balloon free-for-alls. We had two "What can we do now, Gramma?" moments while I was in charge of the boys, and balloons saved the day. Thankfully I packed plenty to cover the two sessions... and the inevitable popped balloons during each. (With an enforced limit of three pops each and you're out of a ballon because Gramma can blow up only so many balloons in one sitting.)

    Another note for young kids: Be sure to keep an eye on little ones who may bite the balloon and/or may possibly swallow pieces of popped ones. And, of course, consider latex allergies before engaging in balloon activities of any sort with kids who may be affected.

    There you have it! Three sure things for entertaining the grandkids. Relatively simple, relatively inexpensive, and guaranteed to elicit smiles.

    Today's question:

    What are your standout sure things for entertaining kids?

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    Reader Comments (9)

    I will definitely have to get that flip game. My grandson will wipe the floor with me, but the boy does love to win!

    May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterOlga

    I love this! Grammie to Grammie I come prepared too. Mostly with a gift or two. They now say, "what did you bring me Grammie." I love the balloon idea because I use that one in my classroom when we can't get outdoors during inclement weather. The students love it and now my grandkids do too. My go-to bring, SNACKS! They are always eating so I bring something usually their momma does not let them eat regularly.

    May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

    Your grandkids are adorable and as I have said before, you are a marvelous Grandma! This apple snacks are something I would like to make at my age, who know...maybe I will try it out on some unsuspecting kids of mine this summer...and they are 18, 20 and 29! ;-)

    May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterElin Stebbins Waldal

    No grandkids, but I have to say I enjoyed the little vignettes that were contained in your ideas!

    May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

    No grandkids - yet! I can't wait for them which i hear they are planning. So excited. I'll have to revisit your site for some fun recipes and games!

    May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCarolann

    These are all great! I love to cook with mine, so your funny faces are perfect. My grandkids are 2 & 7, so this is something I could do with both!

    May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Lawdanski

    I'm only on grandbaby number #1 and she's still tiny but I love reading stuff like this to keep in mind for down the track when I go to visit - we live a couple of hours away from our children. Thanks for the tips x

    May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLeanne

    I still can't believe how grown up your boys are getting. :-) When my grands were younger, all we needed was a good camping spot and nature took care of the rest. :-)

    HI Lisa, I am sorry to be so late but really hoping to get caught up. Sounds like you guys had a blast -- about the only thing I would have suggested is getting out your markers after you play with the balloons and make balloon characters/animals! So glad you got to go.

    May 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc
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