First, my grandkids are age 7 (he’s in second grade) and age 11 (she’s in sixth grade). They like doing different things and this is to be expected. My suggestion based on experience, is to do what they want to do, on an individual basis. Here are seven suggestions we have found they love to do.
First, both love to go out to breakfast or lunch with Poppy, but it works better if it’s just two of us at a time. Here in Columbia we have an old fashioned drug store named Hinkles that still has a lunch counter. If you want to know what is going on in town, come to Hinkles. The kids love it too! Amazingly, if given the choice, Hinkles wins over McDonald’s. It may have something to do with the toy aisle or candy counter right by the cash register. On occasion McDonald’s is the popular choice, especially when a new toy is advertised on TV that is now in the famous McDonald’s, “Happy Meal” box.
My grandson likes John Deere tractors, bulldozers, farm machinery and the like. I took him out of school for a day to attend the Pennsylvania Farm Show. This was an unofficial educational field trip and was an excused absence. After several hours walking through rooms filled with chickens, rabbits, cows, and tractors we finally arrived back at the food court. He decided he was not hungry so we left for home. Along the way we passed a McDonald’s, suddenly he now has an appetite, so we stopped for lunch. I have found Construction shows, Farm Auctions and even a John Deere store are high on the “love to do” list for him.
My granddaughter did not want to get out of school for the day to go to the Farm Show. So, our day together was gallery hopping in Lancaster on a Saturday. She is a budding artist and we both enjoyed walking thru the Prince St galleries, Farmers Market (my idea) and a few art resale combination flea market type stores on North Duke Street. Lunch with her is always a challenge, I suggested the Waffle House on our way home as a last resort. My granddaughter, who is very picky on what goes into her stomach, loves the Waffle House waffles and she cleans her entire plate of every morsel.
Movies are always a good choice, however they both have difference ideas on what to see. Occasionally we hit on something they both enjoy, the animated or cartoon stories seem to be a hit for both. Watch for kid’s rates and senior discounts. Feed them first as movie snacks are outrageously expensive!
Whitaker Center is usually a hit with both kids, I still try to take each to a movie that will be special to their interest. The last time there my grandson and I saw a 3D IMAX movie on whales. The whole place with the 3 floors of kid’s activities, high touch educational stations and of course the 3D movie is a great experience. This was one of our best days and one of the most expensive. If you have not been there, I suggest checking on line for the movies playing, come into Harrisburg and coming up Market Street from 2nd Street, go past the Whitaker Center, left on 4th street, left on Locust, park in the parking garage on your left down in the 200 block. From here you just take the elevator in the garage to the floor for the Whitaker Center. Starbucks is right there and the food court for lunch after the movie is right down the hall. You never hit the streets. Parking here is expensive but you miss all the street traffic and it’s much safer.
One of the things our grandkids enjoy doing on a Saturday morning is yard sales. Start with giving them a spending allowance for the day. That way every stop is not a challenge to get through without hearing, I want this or I must have that. They have their own money, they shop and have a great time and they learn how to be selective and spend wisely. We usually check Craigslist and the Merchandiser for the most current garage or yard sales in our community.
Fishing is something my grandson loves to do, occasionally my granddaughter will join us, as long as she does not have to touch the worms. The first time I took him fishing, down at Long Level along the Susquehanna, he pulled in a crayfish. I will never forget the look on his face when he turned to me with this creature on his line and said, “Poppy, what is that”? We have found Pinchot Park at the lake, down from the Park Office along the fishing Peninsula to be a consistent place to catch fish. Our last time there, he caught more than me, nothing big, nothing we kept, but he had a great time.
One thing I have learned is getting each one out alone is better. It’s far more productive when the time is one-on-one. Give them a chance to talk without interruptions and listen! Ask questions about what’s going on at school, about God, about their life in general. It’s a great time to make memories. They will never forget about time spent with Poppy and we don’t always have to spend a lot of money to have fun. We can even have fun without our iPods, iPads, and our iPhones…..yes!