We’ve had readers ask us for more elderly activities that can be done with kids, including when visiting a family member — whether at their homes, assisted living, or a nursing home. Kids of all ages tend to get bored and restless fast; and since the purpose of a visit is to visit, it’s a good idea to have them unplug from cell phones and mobile devices. At least for much of the visit.
Children sometimes feel nervous or even afraid to visit older people, especially if they don’t know them well. They might even think it will be boring. But there needn’t be any concerns.
The Busy Bag
When my kids were young, I always had them pack a “busy bag” when we visited grandparents. They were quilted cloth bags that were just larger than a student’s 3-ring binder, and had a handle and an outer pocket. In fact, they were made by one of their grandmothers.
Inside we always included some things that could also be done with the grandparent…
A children’s book they could read to the grandparent (or be read to), an activities or coloring book (or both), crayons, a pad of plain drawing paper, pencil, eraser, a small game (we had travel-sized board games), perhaps a small puzzle, a snack, sometimes materials for a craft, perhaps homework, etc. Depending on who we were visiting, we might also bring a larger board game.
It’s always a good idea to have in mind a nice supply of more elderly activities to do too. And this will, of course, depend on the person you’re visiting with, how long the visit, and the age of the children.
We’re going to pull ideas together here from all over our web site that you can do with kids (teens too), and some can even be continued over more than one visit. Others may involve specific materials and items, so these will need to be planned – but you’re sure to have fun!
You may already know if your elderly loved one or friend has a hobby or is interested in learning something new (see our page on finding a hobby). Many of these will be suitable to do with children… and you may be surprised at what even younger kids can do. Some are open to more elderly activities with different experiences, at any age.
Here are the categories this page contains:
Fun With Food
We have quite a few crafts around our web site for more elderly activities to do with kids, so will pull a few together here. Younger kids may need help on some, but can participate. But anyone over age 12 will be able to do most of the other crafts as well. Keep in mind, that depending on the elderly person you’re doing activities with, he/she may also need some assistance.
You can take a look at our main easy craft ideas page (a.k.a. “craft central”) and get links to lots of specific categories; i.e., for holidays and seasons. And see how you might modify them for your needs. But we’re including a few direct links here to fun crafts to get you started.
Fleece Blankets — Children really enjoy doing this no-sew activity. They’re so easy and are especially fun to do with someone. The process is relaxing and simple, so lots of visiting can take place too. See just what to do on our page about making fleece blankets.
Scrapbooking – Or even looking through photo albums are more elderly activities that help memory too. Activities with photos are very appealing to seniors. Just as appealing is the conversation that goes along with them; the sharing of family history and stories with youngsters. Plus, it’s a very important way for them to keep their memories sharp.
Picture Frame Crafts– More elderly activities to go along with the photo theme might includecreating a unique picture frame craft to put a special photo in. We haveseveral ideas, all of them easy, on our page all about making picture frame crafts.You’ll see many can be decorated for various holidays and occasions (thinkValentine’s Day, patriotic days, St. Patrick’s Day, winter holidays, etc.).
Decorate A Birdhouse– You can get small wooden birdhouses at craft stores and easily paint themwith acrylics, add some beads, buttons, artificial foliage, wooden craftshapes, etc., and make something quite spectacular. I’ve even found them for $1each at the dollar store, and also at thrift stores.
Use them as a decorativeitem indoors, or out. Apply a couple coats of water-based polyurethane varnish,and it will be very sturdy. However, I suggest you put it in a covered area ifyou use it outdoors. More elderly activities with birdhouses include covering them ingraham crackers, cookies and candy, gingerbreadhouse style; or all candy. Use frosting (including squirt tube frosting) as “glue.”
Crazy Creature Gourds – Kids just love coming up with wild and crazy creatures using those wonderfully lumpy, bumpy gourds. (And so do seniors – we’ve even done this with dementia patients).
You can find them in the fall, of course, but sometimes at other times of the year too. Some type of squash or gourd can be found almost year around in grocery stores. See more elderly activities with gourds at gourd craft ideas.
Feather Angels – Anyone can make these fluffy floating angels. (We also show them in a mobile). Think of ways you can use and give them, on our feather angel craft page.
Mouse Bookmark – Both kids and seniors enjoy mouse crafts, and one of our most popular is an easy mouse bookmark craft. We show basic beads, but you can certainly get creative (or very fancy) and use any kind of bead you can think of, including sparkly and vintage, as from old jewelry. (There will also be a link on that page that will lead you to more elderly activities using an amusing mouse theme).
Rug Hooking – I’ve mentioned before on another page that my kids’ great-grandfather (when he was in his 90s) spent the cold winter months hooking rugs with an easy kit. The photo on the right is one of them. Now each of my grown children have a memoir. But had we not lived too far away, they also would have loved to have helped great-grandad, as an activity together. Rug hooking is a really easy process both for kids and older people, and along with a little music and memorable conversation, it makes a great activity for everyone.
Make An Easy Centerpiece – If you want lots more elderly activities that can be done all year long, simple centerpieces are perfect. You can do them together for just about any occasion. Maybe you’re having or attending an event or party. Or perhaps you’d like to make a special item for a raffle, silent auction, or give-away. Get some ideas for making very affordable centerpieces. And again, many can be changed out to fit different purposes and seasons.
Seasons and Holidays – Can you think of how to turn this easy Ghostmallow into another character or food decoration for different holidays, like for winter or Valentine’s Day? Many of our crafts are all about using imagination and seeing how you can change them out.
We have more elderly activities for specific times of the year. You can find the different categories on our main page about easy craft ideas — such as Valentine’s Day, leprechauns, craft angels for many times of the year, 4th of July and other patriotic holidays, Halloween, Fall, Christmas, and other winter holidays. Just pick what interests you!
Fun With Food
We have lots more elderly activities with fun food themes – treats are just about everyone’s favorites. Especially with chocolate! Here are a few of our popular pages.
Creative S’mores – Kids and adults alike love making s’mores. But we go way beyond basics and have many creative concoctions – some invented by my son. You can also find marshmallows in various flavors and colors. Or add a dash of food coloring (as for Halloween) and see what happen. If you’re not able to make your s’more around a fire, no problem. Most of ours were created in the microwave! So learn how to make smores the gourmet way….
Chocolate Strawberries – These are also extremely simple, and extremely delicious. There are many more elderly activities to do when decorating these. And elegant enough for a party or giving for gifts (my kids always make me a batch for Mother’s Day). See different ways to decorate them and make them into characters, all on our page on how to make chocolate covered strawberries.
Chocolate Covered Worms – Can you guess what these are? We made them as kids and of course convinced our friends they were the real thing. (Worthy of being on a TV reality show). See how to make this – and more elderly activities for eating – on our page all about food activities.
Hershey’s Kiss Mouse – Did you even make these when you were young? My kids learned from an older relative and started making them for me at Christmas to hang on our tree. They’re so easy! And with all the colors of Hershey Kiss wrappings these days, you can make them any time of the year. (They’re cute for Valentine’s Day too). See our Hershey Mouse Chocolate Crafts page.
Dipping Chocolate Magic Wands – (And other things). We have more elderly activities with chocolate… and dipping chocolate lends itself to great variety. Whether using jumbo pretzels, apricots, nuts, cookies (for starters), there’s something for everyone. Plus we’ve got some really cute ways to decorate them and use them for holidays. Visit Creative, Easy Dipping Chocolate.
Homemade Ice Cream, The Easy Way – Making homemade ice cream is one of Dad’s favorite activities. He’s been doing it with us since we were children, back when ice cream makers were waaaay more manual and time-intensive. And you can get recipes for fabulous flavors. We personally prefer using honey or maple syrup as sweeteners, instead of sugar… it’s more natural. See our ideas at How To Make Ice Cream – The Easy Way.
Making Marzipan – Are you familiar with marzipan? It’s like playing with clay! A tradition from Europe, marzipan is often used at holiday time, and you can frequently see it in candy stores in the shape of fruit. But kids love making marzipan into little animals, people, and creatures. Characters and props for gingerbread houses are usually made of marzipan too. It’s a great activity to do with seniors. See just how on our marzipan recipe page. And speaking of gingerbread houses – that opens up an array of many more elderly activities to do together.
Microwave Cake In A Mug – This little cake for one always astounds me. Every time I make it I wonder if it’s really going to work. And yes, it really does! It’s almost like magic. Kids and seniors alike will find it delightful. If you’ve never made one of these, you’ve got to give it a try! This idea was actually submitted to our Share forum by one of our readers. Go to Microwave Cake.
Fruit Salad Characters – Both kids and adults like things with a little humor and fun, such as whimsical fruit salad characters. These are perfect to make for parties and special occasions, and can even be used as part of a centerpiece. From mice to bunnies, to birds, even a string cheese octopus, you’re sure to find many more elderly activities and have a good time together with our simple fruit salad concoctions.
Helping Others – You may be involved in an event to help others, whether veterans, someone who is ill, the needy during holidays, or even another elderly person. Or perhaps you’re working on a fund raiser, craft fair, silent auction, etc. Children and elderly can definitely assist in these efforts too, and often on projects they do together. Why not make a gift basket together, for instance.
Handiwork – Whether boy or girl, handiwork can be a very satisfying project, and can goes along with making a difference. These favorites are more elderly activities that you can do with kids involving handiwork — and anyone can learn the basics. Try woodworking or leather tooling; along with these, knitting, quilting, crocheting, and embroidery projects are ideal for gift baskets, and these are easily taught to children too. Our grandmother taught us embroidery, knitting and crocheting when young (my brother too for awhile), and we donated some of our items to raffles and church rummage sales. And we felt very proud of ourselves that we had accomplished something that would be appreciated by others.
Sharing Electronic Fun – Many older folks now have some knowledge of computers and electronics, but certainly not to the extent that kids do. Yet they’d like to be shown all the latest cool things that, to many of them, may seem a bit unbelievable – all the latest phone/mobile device bells and whistles, for instance. And how they can interface with a TV to see it all on a big screen. (So there are many more elderly activities that can be centered around demonstrating what’s new in the electronic world). Kids are also the perfect ones to teach basic computer skills to their grandparents. This can include playing easy computer games.
Grandparent-Themed Children’s Books – We have some more elderly activities that involve reading. Many seniors (like my Dad) have vision problems and may find it difficult to read. At any rate, reading aloud is a favorite pastime for most families. Kids can show (or practice) their reading skills and read to someone, or have the elderly read to them. On our page about senior reading activities, I mention several great books with grandparent themes.
Older kids might like to bring along something they’re currently interested in to read, and then discuss with the older family member(s). This also helps the elderly stay up to date with family interests, and the world.
Sharing Music – More elderly activities can showcase the child’s hobbies and interests. Depending on where you’re visiting, a child may be able to bring a musical instrument and play a few pieces for elderly family members who may not otherwise be able to participate. Or, if you have a mobile device such as a tablet, make a short video while at home of the child playing, to show when visiting. Likewise, if the elderly person plays an instrument, such as the piano, the child can make a video of him/her playing, and then show it to them right afterwards.
The elderly, also might like to talk about music when they were young, and can help the younger generation develop music appreciation from other decades. Some may still have their old records (and even something to play it on). Children can also play one of their favorite tunes and tell why they like it. And yes, older folks may not fully understand, but some interesting conversation can happen.
Share A ScienceProject – Whether it’s a topic of familiarity or something brand new, mostelderly enjoy seeing what kids are doing with science. If the project cannot betransported when visiting, certainly photos or even a video can be taken and thenshown. Or various pieces or samples may be brought along.
Science projects areespecially interesting if they involve sharing something new or cutting edge.Many older people find what is being invented, what is new or unusual to beintriguing, but for various reasons may find it difficult to keep up to datethemselves. Whether very young or in college, almost any kid can have somethingto discuss and even show.
Looking at things from nature under a small microscope ormagnifying glass is also a fascinating activity.
Share A Collection– Collections provide many more elderly activities that kids can learn fromtoo. Some seniors have already been collecting for years. Or used to becollectors but now are unable to continue. Kids can participate in thecollecting activity, or at least encourage the elderly to share what they’velearned, why they are or have been collecting, etc.
Or if a child is interestedin a particular collection him or herself, why not begin something new, alongwith an elderly family member or friend helping. Rocks, stamps, music, andcoins are well known; but also vintage items, shells, marbles, glassware,buttons, beads, even bugs for some, are other ideas. (Of course, you need aplace to put your collection).
We had a rock collection with our grandparents when young.And then because my grandfather was interested in bird calls and bird watching,we started collecting feathers too! He knew what type of feather belonged toevery bird around, and what part of their body it came from! Whenever we wenton outings with him, each trip also had that added dimension of searching forbirds and feathers.
Make A Model –Both boys and girls enjoy making models, and it can also bring back nice memoriesfor seniors, from their days as parents or children. This is also a good timefor kids to learn about how it was back in the day. Hobby and crafts storeshave many to choose from, such as dinosaurs and animals of various kinds, cars,boats, ships, airplanes, even dolls. Making a gingerbread house may also beconsidered a model of sorts! There’s sure to be something suitable that anyonecan enjoy. And many models are projects that can be worked on over severalvisits.
Coloring – Older peoplelike to color too! In fact, there are more complex coloring pages or booksdesigned just for adults (or teens), and they’d be fine for older kids as well. Wefound many themes in books stores and art supply stores. There were also kindsprinted on fabric, including a velvet texture, for which you use markers orcolored pencils.
My daughter loved one about old-fashioned costumes and alsomandala designs. But seniors are also usually happy to color with children intheir own coloring books. (I think there’s just something about all the colors inthose beautiful boxes with 64 crayons). There are lots of free coloring pages that canbe printed from online.
Outdoors – There are many more elderly activities to do outside — metal detecting; flying (and making) kites, planting tall and very fun sunflowers — which you can later roast and eat. See our page on top outdoor elderly activities.
Recording Memoirs – When Dad came to live with me, my son immediately launched him in a project of recording memoirs of his life into a digital recorder. He could do it at his own pace, stopping whenever he wanted. The grandkids would sit with him and ask him questions they were curious about, and this led to quite amazing discussions with their grandfather.
It was excellent for Dad’s memory too. This project occupied him for many interesting weeks. When done, the kids transferred the information to the computer, made a master file, and then put it on CDs to give to everyone in the family. It is truly a treasure.
Writing Memoirs – Instead of recording, some families or friends prefer the written word. Your elderly loved one may begin by recording or being interviewed, but then someone is designated to type it out. This can be short or longer. We have a cousin who did this quite a few years ago with several older family members in the process of gleaning information for ancestry purposes. It soon developed into other fascinating discussions about the “olden days” – including back in the late 1800s! One older relative had been a child at that time and had some amazing memories. Our cousin simply typed it up on regular paper for us.
But you may be familiar with online companies such as Shutterfly, where you can make and “publish” your own book. Photos can also be put in, including old black and whites. Once made, you can order several copies to give out. I know people who have made charming memoirs this way.
Windowsill Garden – Dad was never much of a gardener – until he got to the point when he was looking for something to do inside. So the grandkids helped him create a windowsill garden to enjoy. It actually became an entire corner. Because he’d come from Arizona, they included a variety of blooming cactus. But also planted seeds to watch grow into flowers, even a little cherry tomato plant, and strawberries (which you can get in kits). And then a few pots of herbs, which we used. Although Dad’s vision was very poor by then, he could see well enough to enjoy this.
Grow An Amaryllis – During the winter holiday season you can get an amaryllis kit at many stores. They are truly amazing to watch, as they can grow an inch a day. This is perfect to do with children, who are eager and curious. The growing process lasts for several weeks, until it bursts forth into gigantic, tall blooms. Anything to do with gardening will provide many more elderly activities to do with kids.
Special Parties – Even without a particular occasion or holiday in mind, you can have a fun themed party just for the heck of it. Planning and having parties include many possibilities for more elderly activities. Kids might like to help with decorations and planning, even cooking and making treats. We have quite a few on our page all about Perfect Party Theme Ideas.
Playing games offers hours of many more elderly activities, but they will depend on the age of the kids and also the attention span, memory, and ability of seniors involved. Many older people are no longer able (or interested in) longer games; or those that are more complex, such as Monopoly and Clue. And games like Bingo and crossword puzzles may already be one of their regular activities.
You can have a mix of traditional games that older people are familiar and comfortable with, along with newer games that would be more easy to learn. The following are just a few suggestions of popular games.
Chutes and Ladders
Apples To Apples
Adlibs (kids love anything corny)
Tic Tac Toe
Wii Games – golf and bowling are especially popular with seniors
Card Games – Rummy, Royal Rummy (a.k.a. Rummy Royal), Old Maid, Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Poker (for pennies)
Puzzles – not really a game, but great to have one set up somewhere
Outdoor Games – again, we have some favorites at outdoor elderly activities
These are just a few ideas to get started.
We used to have Family Night every Friday night when I was growing up, and our grandparents always came. Family Night always involved a board game that the kids could choose. Once we learned Royal Rummy, we were hooked and played it every week for years. (I got really good at the poker aspect of it). We learned when we were about 9 years old.
Family Night also included popcorn and home-made malted milks. Both were made from scratch the old-fashioned way, taught to us by Dad (when you had to put oil in the bottom of a pressure cooker, heat the oil, dump in the popcorn, and be sure to shake the living daylights out of it so it wouldn’t burn). If you’re interested in Dad’s chocolate milkshake recipe, just follow the link. Even when in our early teens, we still loved Family Night with our grandparents.
Our Kindle Books – for on the go
If you want an easy reference for more elderly activities to keep on your Kindle or tablet, we have several that are also great to do with kids, so you can quickly access ideas on the go…
Check out our Kindle books for:
If you have more elderly activities you’d like to share, please do visit
Share Your Elderly Activities Forum – and our readers about it!