How to Box up Some Fun for a Grandchild

You can create and assemble great activity boxes that will help you have fun when your grandchildren come to visit. Check out this list of affordable, kid-friendly ideas.


Make It! An Invention Box

Grandchild's crazy creation from an invention box
Ryoko Uyama/Getty Images

If you have a junk drawer filled with crafty odds and ends, you have a head start on a make-it box for the grandchildren. Add to your stash with items from the dollar store or the mark-down bins at the craft store. 

Here are some of the items you may have or be able to buy cheaply:

  • Feathers
  • Beads
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Ribbon
  • Googly eyes
  • Craft sticks
  • Buttons
  • Colored paper
  • Yarn

Supplement these items with odds-and-ends and recyclables:

  • Boxes
  • Plastic tubs
  • Plastic bottles
  • Lids
  • Magazines
  • Greeting cards

You'll need scissors and a couple of different types of glue. A low-temp glue gun is a good choice for older children. 

Put everything in a box. When the grandchildren come over, cover a table with a protective cloth and let their imaginations run riot! 


Wear It! A Dress-up Box

Child playing dress-up with grandparent

Peter Muller/Getty Images 

Playing dress-up is a time-honored pastime, and with a little effort, you can make it a lot more fun. Traditionally, dress-up is played with a grown-up's cast-offs, and most children love dressing up in adult clothes. A few easy alterations will make adult clothing more suitable for youngsters. You can shorten long skirts so they won't be tripped over. If the fabric is of a type that won't rave use scissors to create a fringed or fluttery effect. If you don't mind putting in a little more effort, running up a few darts or taking in a seam can make cast-offs more usable, although you don't want a truly fitted effect.

Accessories such as belts, scarves, hats, and ties are great fun for dress-up. Add costume jewelry, tiaras, Mardi Gras beads, feather boas, parasols and leis for more flare. Tuck a ring of cast-off keys into a purse or a sheaf of papers into an old briefcase to enhance the play-acting.

Besides finding cast-offs in your own closet, you can shop thrift stores and garage sales. Find fanciful accessories at party shops, costume stores, and dollar stores. After-Halloween sales may allow you to add real costumes at reasonable prices.

Always supervise young children during dress-up. For maximum safety, keep them in their own footwear. 


Cherish It! A Memory Box

Sharing a memory box with grandchildren
Kidstock/Getty Images

Start with a sturdy box. Add photographs of yourself as a child and your child's parent as a child. Add candid photographs that show family members doing something interesting — washing a car, catching a fish. Be sure that these are duplicates as you want your grandchildren to able to handle them with no worries.

Add mementos such as a pretty stone from a childhood rock collection, or a small vintage toy. Have a family story for each item and be prepared to tell the stories.

Allow your grandchildren to add an item or two that they treasure, or encourage them to start their own memory boxes.


Shrink It! A Tiny World in a Box

Make a diorama with a grandchild
Jamie Grill/Getty Images

A shoebox or other sturdy box can be turned into a cunning diorama for fun and education. Add colored paper and natural objects like twigs, stones, and mosses. You can use small plastic animals or the grandchildren can draw their own. 

The grandchildren can create their own backdrop, or for greater realism, you can find an appropriate scene online and print it out.

When I was a child, we used to make peephole dioramas. We created scenes inside a shoebox, then cut a peephole at the end of the box. A square cut out of the top of the box and covered with colored cellophane allowed just enough light to create a mysterious scene.

If you have a green thumb, consider creating a fairy or elf garden instead. Find an appropriate container, add small plants and arrange tiny accessories. You can make lots of fairy garden accessories from natural materials.


Send It! A Letter-Writing Box

Child sending a letter to a grandparent
princessdlaf/Getty Images

If you are a long-distance grandparent, no doubt you would like to get letters from your grandchildren. Make that more likely by creating a letter-writing box. Find a small, attractive box and fill it with fun stationery and stickers. Add postage stamps and address labels. Some grandparents like to create fill-in-the-blank letters for younger grandchildren or grandchildren who may not know quite what to say.

Remember that getting letters is just half the fun. Learn how to make your letters to your grandchildren extra special.  

By Susan Adcox
Susan Adcox is a writer covering grandparenting and author of Stories From My Grandparent: An Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild.