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Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Family - March 2010

Crafty Ways to Unite Generations
Think Outside the Crayon Box to Engage the Young Ones

Young people today have many different people and things competing for their time and attention. Do skateboards and bicycles take precedence over crayons and glue sticks? Does playing the latest video game rank higher than drawing a picture with Gramps? Would your grandkids rather send text messages to their friends than help you decorate cupcakes? What can you do to stay connected with your children or grandchildren in a way that will engage and interest them, yet still will be meaningful to you?

It may be difficult to get an older child to embrace more involved crafts and hobbies such as sewing or carpentry if they don't see a value in them.Really young children enjoy simple arts and crafts activities such as drawing and painting. As they grow older, however, their interest in the more elementary arts may wane. It may be difficult to get an older child to embrace more involved crafts and hobbies such as sewing or carpentry if they don't see a value in them. The key is to take things that you are good at and combine them with things your kids and grandkids find interesting. Go with your strengths and use "together time" not only to impart some useful knowledge, but also to put it to immediate use in a way that appeals to them.

Maybe you're a pretty good cook, but just can't get the kids interested in helping in the kitchen. One way to engage them might be to appeal to their interest in video and social media and create multimedia crafts. Suggest that you can create a cooking show together. They could be on-camera with you running through the recipe, or they could be behind the camera getting the shots. You can share your finished video on the Internet, make DVDs or have a viewing party with friends and family.

Are you pretty good at carpentry? Instead of having them build a birdhouse, which they will just hang up somewhere and forget about, build wooden racecars, which you can immediately put to the test in a driveway derby. Maybe photography is more your thing, so go on a photo shoot together, then work with them to create a photo album, scrapbook or electronic slide show of the pictures they took. Don't have a camera they can use? See what you can do with the pictures they have taken with their cell phones.

Other practical arts and crafts ideas:

  • "Cater" a dinner for parents or friends.
  • Build kites, then go fly them.
  • Design and sew doll clothes, then put on a fashion show.
  • Make homemade modeling dough, then have a sculpture contest.
  • Make sock puppets, then script and put on a show.
  • Finally, video games can be part of the modern arts and crafts menu. Most kids love video games and, believe it or not, would love to play them with you. Manufacturers have begun to cater to a new, multigenerational audience with game systems that are easy to use and games that appeal to people on multiple levels. Look for games that have the players work together to solve puzzles or complete adventures. There even are creative games that allow players to design clothes, compose songs and much more. Now, that's crafty!