Inside: Grandparents are important to teens. Studies show that because of the emotional support and unconditional love grandparents show to their teen grandkids—that lasting bonds of love develop. Here are fun activities for grandparents to do with their teenage grandkids to build those bonds of love.
Why Grandparents are Important to Teens & Tweens
The teen years are tough. It’s an enormous transition from childhood to adulthood and is fraught with fluctuating hormones, friendship ups and downs, decisions about the future, and various other turmoil.
Grandparents can help ease the pain of teens during these difficult years.
Many studies have found that the reason grandparents are important to teens is that they offer emotional support and unconditional love to their grandkids. According to Arthur Kornhaber, M.D., founder of the Foundation for Grandparenting and author of The Grandparent Solution, during the tumultuous teen years, a grandparent’s role is even more important.
To teens, the unconditional love and acceptance they receive from grandparents provide a natural sanctuary from stress at home or at school, he states.
Additionally, grandparents can offer advice and help frame their values. Dr. Karl Pillemer of Cornell University says, “Research shows that as many as 9 out of 10 adult grandchildren feel their grandparents influenced their values and behaviors.
These studies and more confirm why grandparents are important to teens.
Why Grandparents are Important to Teens & Ways to Cement Relationships
Do your grandkids live nearby? If not, there are still powerful ways to stay in touch such as:
- Phone calls
- Social media
Eight of our 13 grandchildren (tweens and teens) live on the east and west coasts so we don’t see them often. To shrink the miles, we keep in touch through all the ways listed above.
This past July everyone came for a 12-day visit. Knowing that teens have their own agendas, I planned activities each day that would take only 1 hour.
Most of the projects (below) are art-based because multiple levels of learning and problem-solving skills start with simple art projects. Plus, I love children’s art! To me, it’s an expression of their inner self, coming out in an exquisite array of colors and shapes.
Activities that Show Why Grandparents are Important to Teens
Each of these activities allows grandparents to be engaged with their teenage grandchildren; offering help and advice along the way thus experiencing firsthand why grandparents are important to teens.
#1: Cupcake Wars—Learning About Teamwork & Problem-Solving Skills
More than likely, your grandkids have seen different food shows on TV. Cupcake Wars is one. Give your grandkids a “Cupcake War” experience where they are required to create a masterpiece while exercising problem-solving skills using simple cupcakes and frosting. It’s also a great lesson in developing teamwork skills.
Here’s how it works:
- Divide your grandkids into 2 teams
- Give each team 30 undecorated cupcakes and a cardboard base to build their design on
- Make approximately 8 bags of various colors of frosting and supply different tips to decorate with
- Allow the teams 45 minutes to create something spectacular
- Parents act as judges. Give them a judging sheet with the criteria (creativity, execution, imagination, use of color, etc.)
- Award prizes
#2: Math, Spatial Awareness & Art: Welcome to Geometric Sidewalk Chalk!
These chalk designs are popular and I’m sure you’ve seen them on sidewalks and fences around your neighborhood.
While kids are creating these—spatial intelligence kicks in—the kind of intelligence needed for higher forms of math and requires solving problems in the minds-eye.
I made this activity more challenging and gave each team a sheet of paper with different geometric shapes. They had to incorporate all the straight-edge geometric shapes into their designs while creating something artistic.
Here’s how it works:
- Divide your grandkids into 2 teams
- Give each team a roll of masking tape
- Each team creates a design using geometric shapes from the sheet
- Allow 45 minutes to create and color the design
- Criteria for judging—how many of the geometric shapes did they use? How creative was the final design? Was the execution clean and neat? Did they finish on time?
#3: Process Art: Using Multiple Steps to Success: Glue & Watercolor Paintings
This project is considered process art because there are multiple steps in its creation. This is a great project to teach values to your grandkids. Process art shows grandkids that the road to success takes multiple twists and turns and various steps before reaching the desired goal. And I loved our grandkids final creations on this project–each one different, colorful and unique!
- Canvas (11×14) for each grandchild (check Michael’s)
- Liquid watercolors
- Glue bottle for each grandchild
- Grandkids create a drawing using glue as their “pencil.” They can do random designs, hearts, flowers, bugs, butterflies, buildings, etc.
- Let the glue completely dry—may take overnight
- Supply liquid watercolors for them to paint their drawing. The glue design will “pop” from the canvas
- Have each grandchild share their experience of how they feel about the process and their finished design.
This project requires both left and right-brained thinking as logic, creativity, and process come into play. (idea: The Artful Parent).
#4: Following Directions & Understanding Steps: Making fingernail polish, body sugar scrubs, lip balms, and soaps
I have 6 very girly-girl granddaughters and the 4 older ones wanted to learn how to make fingernail polish, lip balms, soaps, and body scrubs. We divided up the jobs and made all of these in 1 hour.
This activity requires step-by-step directions and each must be followed exactly to achieve the desired result. It’s a lot like life. There are no short-cuts in life—each step is necessary, teaches lessons, and takes you one step closer to achieving success. Most of the supplies I order from Majestic Mountain Sage
Check out my blogs that include recipes:
Supplies for Lip balms:
- Lip balm filling tray, lip balm tubes and caps
- Screw-top Tins
- Lip balm solution (vegan, Shea butter, or Mango Butter)
- Fragrance oil, essential oils, lip balm color. We used vanilla fragrance.
- Pop the lip balm tubes onto the lip balm filling tray
- Melt the lip balm solution in the microwave
- Mix any fragrances or essential oils into the melted lip balm solution
- Pour into the tubes or tins
- After the lip balm solution has hardened in the filling trays, carefully scrape off the excess solution from the top of the tray, and pull the tube downwards
- Put on the caps or if you are using tins, screw the lid on–we used both tins and tubes.
#5 Crazy Caricature Drawings: “Pass the Funny Face”
Occasionally acting silly and crazy is therapeutic for both grandkids and grandparents. This activity allows for both! It’s about everyone drawing caricature facial features on everyone else’s portrait (idea: Art Bar).
Here’s how it works:
- Everyone sits around a table
- Give each person a Sharpie black pen and a piece of poster paper (11×14)
- Ask each person to draw a head shape—as large as the paper
- Then they pass the paper to the person on their right
- The next person draws eyes and then passes it to the next person
- Each person draws one facial feature—nose, lips, ears, teeth, eyes, hair, before passing it to the next person.
- The last person draws one random thing on the portrait.
This is a wacky activity where crazy and comical ideas happen along with loads of laughter!
#6 Nature Scavenger Hunt: Developing Powers of Thinking, Observation, and Poetry
Take your teen grandchildren on a nature walk. Give them a challenge that tests their powers of observation, discovery, and poetry.
Begin by reading to them the children’s book, Daniel Finds a Poem. This book is about a little boy that wants to learn what poetry is so he can enter a poetry contest in the park. He goes on a nature walk and asks different animals, insects, etc., what a poem is. In the end, he not only discovers the beauty and poetry found in nature, but he learns what poetry is all about.
Children’s books include powerful lessons for kids of all ages.
After reading the book, try this:
- Go on a nature walk
- Give each teen either a camera or cellphone to take pictures
- Encourage them to take photos of things in nature that inspire them—birds, trees, leaves, flowers, weeds, bugs, insects, sky, etc.
- Have them choose one or two photographs and write a simple poem (can be as short as 2-3 lines).
- Everyone shares their poems and photos
Here are some of our examples:
“White fuzzy plants cover the ground like snow. Thriving in July heat.”
“Winding paths in the woods. Trees whispering softly as the wind rustles leaves.”
“Wild brambles growing undisturbed in nature. Feeding creatures in the wooded glen”
This project helps grandkids to think, put their thoughts together in creative ways, and observe the beauty and poetry of nature.
#7 What Does Your Imagination Look Like? Developing Creativity
Ever imagine what your imagination looks like? If you could draw it—what would it look like? What colors would it be?
Visualizing what your imagination looks and feels like—takes work. Unfortunately, imagination is not usually rewarded in school—too many rules and regulations for the imagination to take flight.
And too much tech destroys imagination.
Here’s a chance for your grandkids to draw, paint, color, and glue a drawing of what their imaginations look like!
Remind them that it’s their imaginations that make this world fascinating and life interesting! (idea: Art Bar).
Supplies & Directions:
- Take a picture of each grandchild’s head
- Print out each picture in black & white
- Make a horizontal cut of each picture from the nose down
- Paste the picture on the bottom of a piece of poster board
- Each child creates: “What Does Your Imagination Look Like?” using popsicle sticks, ribbons, pom-poms, glitter, paint, markers, stickers, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, etc.
- Each person shares the madness behind their creations
#8 Painting T-Shirts, Creating Puzzles & more
There are other activities we did with our teen and tween grandkids:
- Paint t-shirts with fabric paints
- Made puzzles using markers and dot markers
- Visit museums, water parks
- Play nightly board games eating lots of popcorn & chocolate chip cookies
- Watch scary movies, etc.
Get cheap t-shirts at Walmart and get blank puzzles on Amazon. When making puzzles–encourage your grandkids to fill the entire space.
#9 Grand Finale: Water balloons, Fireworks & Picnic in the Canyons
All good things must come to an end—and every end needs a grand finale! For our finale, we had a picnic in the canyons, a BIG water balloon fight, and fireworks—a great way to end a spectacular visit with grandkids!
If someone was to ask you—why grandparents are important—what would you say? Please comment in the section below.