Archive for the ‘play date’ Category

Let’s Go Outside to Play

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

When my grandchildren come to visit during the summer, it is always fun to go outside to play.  Those indoor toys and games will still be there on rainy days or when the snow is falling.

When the cousins have a play date at my house during the summer, we frequently walk over to the nearby school to play.  Sometimes we play hide and go seek in my yard.

I decided that this year we needed some new games to play in the yard so I headed off to the library for help.  I came home with two books that gave me several suggestions that I think will be lots of fun.


Tag, Toss and Run is a recently published book of lawn games.  It was written by Paul Tukey and Victoria Rowell.

The cover states that there are 40 classic lawn games – with variations.

I think that Crab Soccer looks like fun.  The basic idea is to score goals while moving like a crab.  It is for ages 5 and up and at least three players are required.  (I find that the information about Ages and Players is very helpful in weeding out games that won’t work for my group.)  The players scuttle around on feet and hands with bellies up, in a “crab walk” fashion.  I think if I tried this position, a call to 911 would be required.  The participants cannot touch the ball with their hands, except for the goalie.  A large ball, the bigger the better, is kicked toward the goal.

Wheelbarrow Races – I had forgotten all about trying these back when I was young.  Ages 4 and up.  Players 4 and more.   The person being the wheelbarrow walks on his hands while a partner holds his or her legs.  It is a race to the finish line.

Another book I found at the library is Mom’s Handy Book of Backyard Games by Pete Cava.  The book was published in 2000, but these 101 games don’t go out of style.

Multiple indices are an interesting feature of this book.  One index lists the games by age level.  Another lists games that require no special equipment.  The final index lists games requiring equipment by the equipment required.  These allow you to navigate the book more quickly.

Sardines is a game I know we will try.  It is for ages 5 and up.  This is Hide and Seek in reverse.  One person is It.  The other players count to 20 while IT finds a  place and hides.  When a player find It, he doesn’t say anything, but hides with It.  The rest of the players do likewise until the hiding place becomes packed – like a can of sardines.  The game continues until the last player finds the hiding place.

Marbles Baseball for ages 7 and up.  Two players are required.  The game requires a flat surface like a driveway or sidewalk.  The players  mark off a large square and then a smaller square in each corner.  The square in the lower left-hand and right-hand corners are marked “single.”  The upper right-hand corner is marked “double” and the upper left-hand corner is marked “triple.”  A circle between the two upper squares is marked “home run.”

Players take turns “batting.”  Kneeling about 3 feet from the playing surface, the batter rolls a marble or a small ball onto one of the squares or the circle.  Anything that lands outside the square or circle is an out.  Whoever scores the most runs is the winner.

Walk the Plank is for ages 3 and up.  Two players are  required.  The equipment needed is a rope or tape and children’s binoculars.  To play,  the players lay the 20-foot rope or tape in a straight line.  One at a time, the players take the binoculars and, looking through them the wrong way, try to walk the length of the rope.

Someone trying to walk while gauging distance through the wrong end of binoculars can be a hilarious spectacle for other players.

There are many other games in these books that might be just right for your grandchildren to play.

I’m all set for the upcoming play date with these and other games tucked in the pages of these helpful books.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Soon it will be time to celebrate the birthday of the United States.  I have some 4th of July postcards that will be traveling to my grandchildren’s mailboxes.  I hope you stop back to look at the postcards.




Spring Break Fun

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

The grandchildren recently had their Spring Breaks.  The ones near and the ones far away had the same week of vacation so we were able to have lots of fun.

Another grandma and I picked up the grandchildren who live 3 hours away to bring them back to our houses for a visit.

When I was young, I really enjoyed the stories about Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox, Babe.  I asked my grandchildren if they knew about Paul Bunyan.  My 9 year old granddaughter said that she had “heard” of him.  Her 6 year old brother just shook his head no.  I tried to sketch out the story for them because we were going to visit Paul on our way to my house.

For a couple of years I have wanted to drive to Atlanta, IL, to see the BIG Paul Bunyan eating a hot dog.  I know, I know, Paul usually eats stacks and stacks of pancakes, but it appears that he liked the occasional hot dog.  Atlanta, IL is located on old Rt. 66.  Like other cities and villages along Rt. 66 Atlanta wanted a “carrot” to attract visitors to the village.  As I read about Atlanta, IL, on the internet, I saw that they had the big Paul who stands 19 feet tall and also an old-timey restaurant serving among other things luscious pies and a transportation museum.

It was just a little jog on the map to stop in Atlanta so we did that on a Saturday afternoon at 4:00PM.  Unfortunately the Palms Grill Cafe,  the restaurant with the slices of pie that had us salivating, was closed. Alas, no cherry or pecan or peach pie that I had read about.  Add to that another unfortunately because the transportation museum was also closed.  We were able to look in the window at the motorized bicycle and the old, old tricycle.

Paul – Paul was still there.  His head was not through the clouds, but he was really tall.

We stood on his feet to have our photo taken.  No complaints from Paul about standing on his toes.

Cousin play dates always mean two things – craft time and dress up time.  I still had the tree that had been a Valentine tree.  Its branches were bare so the children gathered at the craft table and colored rabbits and chicks and eggs to turn the tree into an Easter tree.


“May we get out the dress up clothes now?”  Of course, so the big tub of clothes came up from the basement.  The girls went into my bedroom and shut the door telling their brothers not to disturb them because they not only had to find their outfits, but they also had to “do their makeup.”

The boys always dress quickly.  There is a stash of baseball shirts and Illini- wear from when the daddies were young.

Here we are breaking all the rules about playing wiffle ball in the house.  But you have to find some way to pass the time waiting for your sister.

The girls appeared wearing the first of several outfits that they modeled for us.  They enjoyed posing and then ran giggling back to the bedroom to change and to touch up their make up.

Then it was time for hide and go seek outside with Grandma being “it.”  There were a couple of super hiding places that caused me to wander around the yard looking and looking.

We ended the cousin play date our favorite way – making ice cream sundaes.  Ice cream and toppings, but oh, oh, Grandma forgot to buy whipped cream.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week I’ll finish the Spring Break visit talking about the eruptions of Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. Etna and  about some beautiful hyacinth creations the children made.

I hope you stop by again for another visit.


New Year’s Resolutions

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Happy New Year.  2012  – a time for new beginnings.

Janus was the Roman god of doors, gates, beginnings, and endings.  (Yes, the old Latin teacher speaks.)  He was pictured with two faces – one looking forward and the other looking back.  The month of January was, of course, named for Janus.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  Each January we hear on the news about the number of folks who have resolved to lose weight or get into shape.  Health club enrollments increase; however, by February often those resolutions are just distant memories.

We are told that New Year’s resolutions should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  It is suggested that when you have decided upon your resolutions, tell people about your resolutions.  This makes you accountable and gives you a support system.

I have tried writing New Year’s resolutions, but they were not SMART ones.  Usually I wrote them down, and then I could not find the list of resolutions – until sometime in February or March when I cleaned off the top of my desk.

Perhaps this year I’ll resolve to make some resolutions – SMART ones.

I did make a resolution 9+ years ago.  This resolution was not made in January, but rather in August.  I have been very steadfast in keeping that resolution.

9+ years ago my granddaughter who lives 3 hours away was born.  When I was introduced to her, I knew that I wanted to see her sit up, stand up, take her first steps, and say her first words.  I wanted to get down on the floor and play with her.  That day I resolved that once a month I would see this sweetie – either by driving over  the river to her house or having her and her family visit my house.  Now 9 years later we still do this.  There have been few  months that we did not get together.  Weather and illness were the only acceptable excuses for missing a visit.

I was a “boy mom.”  I played wiffle ball and tossed the football around in the back yard with my sons.  As a child, dolls were not a favorite toy of mine so I needed help.  There were no Barbies or Polly Pockets when I was young.

This granddaughter gave me monthly lessons on how to play with girls.  My granddaughter was my mentor.  She showed me how to pick out dresses for her Barbies and how to dress Polly Pockets.  (I really didn’t like to dress Polly Pockets.  Their clothes were so tiny, and my hands were so big and clumsy.)

While her family was sleeping in on a Sunday morning,  she would get up early and we would get out her dolls and dress them for the ball – all of them.  Then there would be the parade of “girls” going to the ball.

After the ball it was time to take all the dolls back to their homes and get them ready to go to the beach. Change the clothes.  After fun at the beach, often another ball followed.  She was tireless playing with the dolls.  I hung in there and followed her lead.

My granddaughter had a wardrobe of princess frocks.  A visit to her house meant that we would play Cinderella at the ball.  She would dress up and pretend she was dancing with Prince Charming.  I would make the clock strike midnight with 12 dong, dong, dongs.


She would run from the room losing her glass slipper.  I was then cast  as  Prince Charming.  With the lost slipper in hand I would try it on all the real and pretend people in the house until I found the foot that fit the glass slipper.  Cinderella always smiled knowing she would now be a princess.

And then we would do it all over again.

This was good training.  I was prepared to play with my grandaughter who lives 20 minutes away and was born 2 years later.  Dressing the dolls and trying on Cinderella’s slipper were second nature to me then.

That resolution, although not a New Year’s resolution, was SMART, in more ways than one.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope that you stop back again to visit.

Time Capsule

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Last summer when all my grandchildren were at my house for a cousin play date, during snack time I asked if they knew what a time capsule was.  The two granddaughters did since new buildings had been constructed in their home towns, and time capsules were buried on those occasions.  I explained to the boys what a time capsule was.

Then I suggested that we make a time capsule.   They could each contribute a drawing or a book and some information about themselves.  My plan was for us to dig up the capsule each summer at a play date so we could add new items and could see what changes had taken place since the last summer play date.

I made a questionnaire for each child to complete.  It asked for their favorites – color, food, animal, movie, book, subject in school.  I asked what they want to be when they grow up, what they wanted for their birthday, and what they wished their name was.  The girls were able to complete this alone.  I helped the grandsons who were 4 at the time.  It was fun and interesting to hear and read the answers – especially what they wished their name was.

I asked each grandchild to draw a picture or write a little book to include in the time capsule.  We didn’t do it that day because this was a play date so they wanted to play.  Within a few weeks I had a contribution from each grandchild for the time capsule.

Originally I had planned to actually bury our time capsule, but finding an appropriate water proof container and finding a space in my garden were not easy problems to solve.  Instead I put everything into an accordian file folder and took it to the basement.  I don’t know about your basement, but taking something to my basement can be equal to “burying” it.

A few weeks ago again all the grandchildren were at my house for a summer cousin play date.  I brought out the time capsule.  I gave each child the same questionnaire they had completed the previous year. 

After they completed the questions, I passed out what they had said the previous year.  They were amazed.  There was much laughing and comments like “why did I say that?” and “weird.”

A grandson who last year wanted to be a Hiawatha driver (a particular type of train engine) now wants to be a tee ball instructor.  A granddaughter last year wanted to be a school teacher; now a farmer with a goat.  Last year a granddaughter wished her name were Zinnia; this year, Lauren.  The grandson who chose Batman as his favorite name last year chose Nick this year.

Each child will soon give me a picture or a story to include in the time capsule.

Later in the day when I saw the parents, I showed them the last year and this year answers for their children.  I wonder how they will change next summer.  So much fun.

I have mentioned that when the grandchildren get together, they get out the box of Melissa and Doug musical instruments and parade through my house as a band.  One of my grandsons suggested that we should name the band “The Time Capsule.”

Presenting “The Time Capsule” in a recent concert in grandma’s living room.

Thanks for stopping by.  It doesn’t seem possible, but soon school will be starting.  It will be time to send back-to-school postcards to the mailboxes of my grandchildren.  Off I go to search for riddles.

A Grandma/Granddaughter Sleepover

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

My granddaughter asked if she could have a sleepover with me – without her little brother.  I agreed so we made a date.

By the way my oldest granddaughter told me that they are called “overs,” not “sleepovers” because no one sleeps.  This grandma needs her sleep.

My granddaughter arrived for the sleepover, but not alone.

She was accompanied by Lanie, Hannah, Bitty Baby, Joseph and Mary, her American Girl family.

The sleepover checklist included:  food, a movie, crafts and fun.

My granddaughter said that she wanted to cook dinner with me instead of going out or picking something up.  Knowing what this young lass likes, I knew that mac ‘n cheese was  going to be on the menu.  It is a good thing that the American Girl dolls don’t eat because this tiny granddaughter can really put away the mac ’n cheese.  For dessert we had fresh strawberries with whipped cream.  Lesson for grandma:  watch out when a 6 year old wants to squirt whipped cream on her strawberries.  We had to pause before we ate to clean the whipped cream off the table, off the floor, off her face, and out of her bangs – laughing as we did.

The movie she selected was Tinkerbell.  I requested it from the library and we were all set.

My granddaughter loves to draw and paint.  She always requests more craft time when she visits my house.

We started off with paint pens, glitter glue and pasta. 

Using wagon wheel pasta and elbow macaroni, she made this picture with flowers, a cat, a tree, rainbow, and clouds.

A pastoral scene with a lady bug.  She battled the glitter glue with this picture.  Memo to Grandma:  Buy fresh glitter glue before the next craft session.

The next craft project came from  Using scraps of fabric and ribbon and trim, we made clothes for dolls.  The September 17 2010 post at this website provided doll patterns that could be downloaded onto card stock.  I put together a tub of scraps of fabric, ribbons, and trims.  My granddaughter designed outfits for the dolls by cutting the fabric and using photo sticker squares to dress the dolls.  When she was finished, she had a family –  father, daughter, and mother.

Like all little girls I know,  my granddaughter likes to play school.  I have a magnetic chalkboard in the playroom that all the grandchildren have fun drawing on and putting magnetic letters, numbers, and animals upon.

Today it was the school room and my granddaughter was the teacher.  The students were all of the American Girl dolls, a bag of stuffed animals that she had arranged in rows on the floor, and me.  We practiced counting and the teacher asked us some addition problems.  Then there was the unexpected – never happened in my playroom school before, the teacher said that we were having a fire drill.  She made a whooping alarm sound and we had to gather all the dolls and stuffed animals and exit the room and the school and go to the church next door.  In this case the church next door was my hallway. 

Soon the all-clear was sounded and we went back into the classroom only to hear the footsteps of mommy, daddy, and little brother coming in to end our sleepover.

What a fun time!

Thanks for stopping by.  Groundhog Day is coming and I am getting a mailing ready to go into the mailbox for each grandchild.  Stop by soon to check this out.

Play date with the Snow Village

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

In 1978 my mother gave me a Department 56 Snow Village house for Christmas. It was the Nantucket.  I loved it.  Each year at Christmas someone in the family would add a house or a shop to my village.  And then the ceramic figures were added – Children in the Band, Angels in the Snow, Christmas Visit to the Florist and many more.  I enjoyed displaying the village each year at Christmas. 

When the grandchildren arrived, they were intrigued by the houses and the little ceramic people.   I hovered as they touched and picked  up the figurines.  I could envision the fragile items falling onto the hardwood floor and into dozens of pieces and the tears that would result. (The grandchildren’s tears, not mine.) 

The children wanted to play pretend with the people.  You can’t play pretend if you can’t move the Coca Cola truck or the newspaper boy. 

A light bulb came on.  An idea.  I put away the ceramic figurines.  I purchased PlayMobile add-on people.  These little people are unbreakable and just the right size.  We have Christmas figures of Santa and a snowman.  For the un-Christmas season I added a bird feeder, a school band,  a crossing guard and many more assorted people.  A small Thomas the Tank Engine layout runs in front of the train station in the shopping area (not pictured).  Hot Wheels cars run up and down the streets that the children design in the village.

The children like to “assign” various houses to their family and their cousins and grandparents.  For some unknown reason my house is usually the Snowy Hills Hospital.  They even designate a house for their friend Noah to live in.

A Snow Village evokes nostalgic memories, but when you hear your grandchildren talking about going over to Noah’s house or to Starbucks for a scone as they play with the Play Mobile characters, it becomes a dynamic, living playscape.

Now the Snow Village goes up on November 1 and stays up until February 1.  At Christmas my grandson reminded me not to take the village down until he could play with it one more time.  We had a Snow Village play date last weekend. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Check out Grandma in the Mailbox next week for the crafts and food and fun from a grandma/granddaughter sleepover.