In this fast-paced world made up of people old and young, it’s more important than ever to bridge the generational divide. Intergenerational activities bring multiple generations of families closer together, easing loneliness and promoting open-mindedness and understanding in people of all ages.
However, different generations tend to have varying preferences. Kids often enjoy the latest games and gadgets, preferring active tasks, while many older adults simply enjoy talking or reminiscing when together with family. So, to get the most out of intergenerational family time, it’s essential to select activities that appeal to family members of all ages.
Keep reading to learn about six of the greatest activities to try with multiple generations of your family. These projects are sure to be enjoyable whether you’re together in-person or communicating through a video call.
Build a Family Tree
Learning about family history is an excellent way to intrigue kids, adults, and seniors alike. There are few things as fascinating as learning about the adventures of distant ancestors, finding connections to famous relatives, or discovering your family’s origin.
A family tree project can also be tailored to fit a variety of interests and attention spans. For example, while a basic family tree can be completed in just a few days, genealogy enthusiasts can continue working on the projects for months, or even years!
Whether you plan to spend days, weeks, or months on your family tree project, you can get started with these eight steps:
- See if someone in your family has already completed a family tree. If they have, it can be a lot of fun to trace different family branches and learn about selected ancestors.
- Determine how many generations you want to include in your family tree. This will help you understand the amount of time and effort you’ll need to complete the project.
- Select a medium for your family tree. Popular choices include Ancestry, SmartDraw, LucidChat, Excel, and pen on paper.
- Focus your research on one branch of the family at a time.
- Figure out how you’ll look up older records – and be prepared! The older the documents, the more effort it will be to locate and understand them. There are plenty of internet resources available for researching ancestral records.
- Talk to living relatives to gather more detailed information.
- Keep good records. As you research, you might discover conflicts between specific recorded dates and locations. Your records will help resolve those conflicts.
- Have fun! If younger family members are working together with you, it’s especially important that building a family tree doesn’t feel like another dry school project. Put on some music, enjoy a snack or two, and engage the kids in every step.
Interview the Grandparents
One of the best strategies for bridging the generational divide is communication. Younger family members may have a hard time relating to seniors because they don’t understand the culture, background, or history of older ones. But, don’t underestimate their curiosity! You never know what questions children have until they’re encouraged to ask.
Here are a few questions for older family members to help young ones learn more about their lives:
- When and where were you born?
- What’s the most vivid memory you have from high school?
- How many different places have you lived?
- Who was your most significant influence, and why?
- What was your biggest fear as you came into adulthood?
- How did you meet your husband/wife?
- What did you think about him/her when you first met?
- Is there anything you regret missing out on in life?
- What is the dumbest thing you ever did?
- What has been the most exciting time of your life?
- Is there a talent you wish you had that has eluded you?
- What gives you the most joy?
Interview the Grandchildren
While it’s valuable for children to learn about older family members, it can be equally enlightening for seniors to educate themselves on a younger generation’s interests. Asking to interview your grandchildren will likely make them feel valued and show that you’re interested in their lives — even if they appear shy or reluctant at first. Besides, if a young one declines to answer a particular question, you can always try again with a different one.
Need some interview inspiration? Try asking your grandchildren a few of these questions:
- Do you enjoy learning? Why or why not?
- Who is your best friend, and why?
- What do you think makes a good friend?
- Is there a book, television show, or movie that you often quote? Which one?
- Who’s your favorite fictional character, and why?
- Do you believe that you can make a difference in the world? Why or why not?
- What’s your favorite hobby, and why?
- Name one thing you wish you knew how to do.
- What do you worry about the most?
- What’s your favorite game?
- Tell me about your happiest memory.
- When you get older, what do you want to be remembered for?
- Is there anything you wish the adults in your life understood more fully about you?
Write a Family Cookbook
Who’s the best cook in the family? Do they have a special recipe everyone craves?
Don’t let family recipes get lost in the stream of time! Take the time to create a special family cookbook full of stories, anecdotes, and delicious dishes. Just follow these simple steps:
- Gather your favorite family recipes and photos.
- Decide on a theme for your cookbook: Dishes from specific trips, vacations, or experiences? Recipes by the decade? A celebration of one amazing family chef?
- Select the recipes and photos to match your theme.
- Choose a medium. Many people use binders, scrapbooks, or online photo book software to publish their creations!
Play a Game
Games are a great way to unwind and spend time together as a family. Make sure to choose a game suited to the age and ability of even the youngest and oldest family members so everyone can participate! Whether you’re spending time with a grandkid one-on-one, or you’ve got the whole clan together, there’s a game for every person and place:
- Candy Land
- The Game of Life
- Card games like Hand and Foot, Canasta, Rummy, Poker, or Backalley
- Relaxed strategy games like Catan, Ticket to Ride, or Bohnanza
Create a Family Book Club
Stories are a unique part of the human experience, and people of all ages can enjoy them. You might be surprised at how much you can learn about your family members when discussing a book. For example, maybe you’ll find out something new about your granddaughter when she tells you which character she loves the most.
Either way, if you’re a family of bookworms, a family book club could be the perfect bonding opportunity. When choosing your next family book club project, take a look at this list of classic reads for inspiration:
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (or anything else by Roald Dahl)
- The Giving Tree
- A Wrinkle in Time
- Bridge to Terabithia
- Anne of Green Gables
- Moby Dick
- Charlotte’s Web
- The Chronicles of Narnia
Age is just a number. People are people, no matter how old or young. So, with a little creativity and a lot of time, we’re confident that you’ll discover a variety of intergenerational activities that your whole family can enjoy together.
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