Working together on a craft project can be a real bonding experience for you and your grandchild. It will allow you to teach them values without being “preachy” and will create memories your grandchildren will remember all of their life.
Try to match the craft activity to one that the child is interested in. As a grandmother, I have used holidays and important family dates to participate in a craft with my granddaughters. I always help them make a Christmas gift and a Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gift for Mom and Dad. And birthdays are never forgotten. Not only do we enjoy spending the time together, but also they are so excited to be able to give a gift that they have actually created. We have great fun putting together “beautiful” cards with construction paper, glitter, buttons, feathers, ribbon, etc. Sometimes we find pictures on the Internet that can be used. Sometimes the girls know more about how to find them than Mimi does. One of the most fun crafts we did was for Mother’s Day this year. Their mother’s favorite craft is cross-stitch. Now one of her most treasured keepsakes is the plastic grid that her six year old worked on for several weeks in order to create a “beautiful” cross-stitch butterfly. It is important to keep the craft age appropriate and not to expect that the end result be perfect. The kit we used was one that is inexpensive and can be bought anywhere sewing crafts are sold. The four year old was also excited to give her Mom a “sewing” project. I used colored craft foam and cut out a large heart. Holes were punched along the edge and my granddaughter used a plastic needle to lace plastic “thread” through the holes. It is now also one of her Mom’s most valuable treasures.
One of the important concepts communicated to the child when I help them with a gift for their parents, is that I value their parents. Two of my granddaughters are now six and four years old, and they are aware that their father is my son. I use this as an opportunity to speak to them about families and how they love and care for each other. When we make a gift for their mother I make sure they know that I also value and appreciate her and consider her to be a good mother.
My husband also uses crafts and games to bond with the girls. One of the most fun activities was the time he helped them to make wooden boats with sails and then both families (along with their eighty three year old great grandmother) went down to the neighborhood pond and floated the boats. It was a great bonding experience for the whole family and the girls still talk about the memory that was created. A little different spin on the craft idea for my husband is his cache of child friendly toys. He is always finding something unusual, a lot of times something that was more popular in a bygone era. An example is a set of pick-up sticks. It was a big hit and something the children have enjoyed doing with “Pa”. He keeps the collection in a special place and when he gets it out, they are always eager to re-visit the items they’ve seen before and see what new treasures Pa has added.
I believe that even at such young ages, children know and value time spent with them over material gifts. Crafts (and games) are a wonderful way for grandparents to fill up that time with activities that will create memories that last a lifetime.