Grandparents are important people. They play many roles in a child’s life including teacher, confidant and friend. With so many grandparents now following Newy with Kids, we decided it was time for an article written especially for them.
Be it part-time or full-time carer or minding their grandkids casually, we’ve heard from grandparents all looking for inexpensive, engaging and rewarding activities to do with their grandkids at home as well as out-and-about.
Our guide includes at-home activities that are simple to set up and pack up and out-and-about activities including many free local activities, our favourite short walks and list of fenced playgrounds with good amenities close by. We’ve also included links to our Eating Out with Kids guides. Is there anything we’ve forgotten? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list.
Here are our favourite fun and low-cost activities that grandparents can do at home with their grandkids:
Read books or listen to an audiobook together
Reading books aloud to your grandchild is a satisfying way to create and strengthen your connection. Here are 8 of Our Favourite Books to Read to Babies and our Top 10 Books to Read to Toddlers. For kids aged 7+ here are 30 Kids Book Series They Will Love. You could also listen to an audio book together. Sign up for Audible or download audiobooks for free from your local library.
Play a board game
No matter their age, there’s bound to be a board game to interest your grandchild. Try a family classic like Monopoly, Scrabble or Jenga or pick from our list of 20 Best Boardgames for Families.
I have fond memories of playing dominoes with my grandparents. You can play the game together until the grandkids get bored and then use the dominoes to make domino falls.
Have some play-based fun at home with a baby or toddler
Check out these 5 Play-Based Activities for Babies and Toddlers That You Can Do at Home. These sensory play activities use items you already have at home and are both educational and entertaining.
Have some play-based fun at home with a preschooler
If you have a preschooler in your care, try these 10 Play-Based Activities for Preschoolers. The activities will support preschoolers in school-readiness and prepare them with the skills to be a lifelong learner.
Work together to make a chromatic composition
Make colour compositions using everyday items around you. For inspiration, check out the chromatic_collection Instagram page.
Solve a jigsaw puzzle together
Keep some jigsaw puzzles around. They’re great to play for a bit and then come back to as you feel like it. Choose simple puzzles (under 50 pieces) for young kids under 5. Older kids can handle jigsaw puzzles with more pieces like the 120, 250 and 500 piece sets.
Play cards or teach your grandchild a new card game
There are plenty of card games that require only a standard deck of cards. For younger children try Snap or Go Fish. Older grandkids might appreciate being taught how to play a card game like Crazy Eights or Rummy. Most kids also love Uno.
Record your family history
Spend some time with your grandchild sharing, compiling and recording your family history to provide family memories to kids and their future descendants. Here is a guide we’ve put together with 7 Easy Ideas to Record Your Family’s History.
Help your grandchild write and post a letter to a family friend, cousin or other relative. Add some of their drawings to the letter. A personalised letter from a child is guaranteed to add sunshine to someone’s day.
Make a time capsule
Making a family time capsule is a fun project and a way to preserve your precious family memories. Here is a guide that we put together to make a time capsule you’ll love opening in the future.
Learn magic tricks together
Teach your grandchild some magic tricks or learn a magic trick together. Local magician Joel Howlett from JD’s World of Magic has some great YouTube videos demonstrating how to do sleight of hand tricks, how to make rubber bands jump and create tricky paperclips. There are a series of tricks that are easy enough for school-aged children to learn and require only household items!
Have a Tea Party
Cut some sandwiches into cute little triangles, add some biscuits and lemonade, throw out a blanket, have the grandkids invite their favourite stuffed friends and you’re all set for an indoor, or outdoor, tea party.
Watch a movie together
The Newy with Kids team has brainstormed and have come up with 100 best family movies that you can watch with your grandkids no matter how old they are. These movies are available to stream on Netflix, Stan, Disney+ and Paramount as well as often being available in your local library.
Pass down a favourite family recipe
Keep your family traditions going and make a family recipe. It’s lovely to teach your kids or have them watch you make a dish or recipe that means something to you and your family.
Do an online meditation
Meditation is a beneficial activity for the young and the old. There are lots of guided meditations created especially for children on YouTube, do one together when some quiet time is required.
Write a story together
Start with a story prompt, like these ones from ThinkWritten and then encourage your grandchild to tell their story while you write it down for them. If they’re a bit older you can help them write their own book and illustrate it with drawings and photos.
Teach your grandchild a new skill
Every grandparent has a special skill, something they are good at or proud of. Be it sewing, drawing, puzzles, gardening, fishing or even a different language, kids will appreciate and enjoy learning a new skill from their grandparent.
Simple Art & Craft Activities
Here are our favourite minimal-mess art and craft activities that are easy to set up and pack away.
- Colouring-in and activity books (there are some great mindful colouring-in books you could colour together).
- Decorating empty cardboard boxes with markers and stickers.
- Cutting pictures from old magazines and sticking them in scrapbooks.
- Bookmarks made using cardboard cut into long rectangles and decorated using markers and stickers.
- Have the kids lie on a piece of butcher’s paper or old roll of wallpaper. Trace around them, cut out and decorate.
- Draw on the path or a cement floor with sidewalk chalk.
- Picture frames made by decorating a cardboard frame that has been cut out to fit a favourite photo.
- Chatterboxes. If you need a refresher, here are the instructions from Cleverpatch.
- Make paper airplanes. Double Helix by CSIRO has some great designs.
- Make some origami (Google the instructions).
- For older kids: Give them a needle, thread, a scrap of material and access to your button jar and teach them how to sew a button. Let them decorate the scrap material with buttons.
- Draw portraits of each other.
Looking for somewhere different to take your grandchild or grandchildren? The following activities are local, accessible and low cost:
Complete a Newy with Kids Scavenger Hunt
Download and print a Newy with Kids Scavenger Hunt and have fun whilst exploring the region. There are 8 locations to choose from.
Enjoy a Cheap Harbour Cruise
Catch the Newcastle ferry over to Stockton and back. The Stockton Active Hub has a great playground for all ages and a skate park. There’s also a cafe, Whispers on the Wharf, where you can grab a coffee, snack or lunch.
Visit a Museum or Art Gallery
Visit a Museum or Gallery. The Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region is full of educational and entertaining museums and galleries. Enjoy a day out with your grandkids to learn more about Hunter history, art, science, transportation and more.
Go Koala Spotting
Visit Tilligerry Habitat. It’s a wonderful spot for grandparents to take their grandchildren as the walks are short, flat and well-maintained.
Play a round of Mini Golf
Mini golf courses are just the right size for little ones who don’t want to walk too far or have short attention spans. If you have older grandkids they’ll have fun playing the putt putt course and trying to sink the ball. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy whacking a ball with a stick? We’ve done the research and here are some places around Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & the Hunter to play mini golf. There are both indoor and outdoor options.
Watch Fighter Jets Take Off
Watch fighter jets take off from Williamtown RAAF base. There’s a section at the end of the runway where you can park and watch the jets from your car.
Enjoy Newcastle’s Very Own Fairy Garden
Visit the Fairy Garden, Broadmeadow. If you haven’t been to visit this whimsical fairy garden, located at Australia Street, Broadmeadow, put it on your list. Grandparents and grandchildren will delight in walking the winding paths and spotting all the hidden treasures. The little tables there are perfect for a picnic or a tea party.
Join in on Baby or Toddler Storytime at a Local Library
Grandparents are always welcome at storytime sessions at one of the many local libraries. There’s Ten Minute’s a Day sessions for very little ones up to 12 months of age, Rock N Rhyme Time for little ones 1-3 years, Storytime for 3-5 years and more. Check out our guide to baby and kids programs as local libraries.
Visit the Macadamia Farm, Medowie
The Macadamia Farm at Medowie is free to visit. Their cafe has outdoor tables overlooking a great kids playground where you can sit and relax with a drink while the kids play and burn some energy.
Visit an Indoor Play Centre
Great for rainy days or when kids need to burn some energy, there’s a great selection of local indoor play centres in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter and something suitable for all ages from babies to teens and adults. Most have a cafe, so grandparents can relax with a hot or cold drink while the kids wear themselves out.
Our Favourite Fenced Playgrounds:
Here’s our big list of playgrounds in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & the Hunter which offer shade, nearby toilet amenities, a variety of play equipment and are fenced (perfect if you have small grandkids who love to run).
- Maitland Park All-Abilities Playground. There’s something for kids of all ages, and all abilities, at this large fully-fenced and well-shaded playground. There’s also accessible amenities.
- Fern Bay Reserve Playground. Located just 5 minutes from the northern side of Stockton Bridge, you’ll be able to relax while the little ones play as this playground is fully fenced. The amenities located here are accessible and clean.
- Lake Macquarie Variety Playground. With close, clean amenities and a cafe on-site Lake Macquarie Variety playground is a popular spot for grandparents and grandkids. Just keep in mind that, while this playground is fully-fenced, it is also quite large which, when it’s busy, can make it hard to keep track of where the kids are.
- Whitebridge Park. Whitebridge park is a great choice if you want to get your grandkids out and about to burn some energy. It is fully-fenced, has nearby amenities and cafes and there’s lots of equipment for kids to explore.
- Toronto Foreshore Playground. With amenities and a cafe close by, this fenced playground also has beautiful Lake Views. Just keep in mind that it can be a bit of a challenge to find parking right by the playground. You may need to park across the street off Brighton Avenue.
- Pelican Foreshore Park. This fully-fenced playground has play equipment catering to a range of ages. There’s also shaded picnic benches and nearby amenities.
- Warner Park Playground. Located on the corner of the The Esplanade and Lake Street in Warners Bay, this fully-fenced playground has accessible amenities and plenty of shaded tables.
- Raworth Park. If you live in the Maitland area or don’t mind a drive, Raworth Park is a top spot to take grandkids as it’s fully-fenced with accessible amenities. There’s also a fenced off-leash dog park located next to the playground.
- Rose Point Park. For those in the Singleton area, Rose Point Park is the pick of the parks, being fully-fenced with great parking, clean amenities and lots of shaded tables to sit and rest.
Our Favourite Short Walks
Stockton Foreshore Walk
If you’re coming from the Stockton ferry terminal, wander along the Stockton Foreshore Walk and enjoy the views back to Newcastle. It’s a flat walk 15 minute to the start of the breakwater. To keep kids occupied, you can do the Newy with Kids Stockton Foreshore Scavenger Hunt.
Throsby Creek Walking Loop
Hidden in the heart of Carrington is this very special and unique little treasure. What was once treated as a stormwater drain, Throsby Creek Walking Loop is now a thriving place filled with natural wildlife and people. Listen to the birds chirping and soak up the sun as you weave your way along the path and boardwalk. To keep kids occupied, you can do the Newy with Kids Throsby Creek Scavenger Hunt.
For a pleasant suburban walk, do a loop or two of Lambton Park. There are paved paths all around the perimeter of the park. Along the walk, you’ll pass Lambton Pool, playing fields, a Street Library, Lambton Library, rotunda and popular Lambton Park Playground. The walking paths along Howe Street are especially pleasant as they are flanked by large shady trees. The wide paths make it easy to push a stroller or accompany kids on scooters and bikes. To keep kids occupied, you can do the Newy with Kids Lambton Park Scavenger Hunt.
Wallsend Brickworks Park
This is a great spot to visit for a short walk. It features a playground, nature trails and a peaceful pond area with an observation area and abundant birdlife. It’s hard to believe that the park is in the middle of a suburb as it’s quiet and tranquil. The walk around the park isn’t long. Take a left at the brick sculpture and head down the paved trail towards the bird observation. The trail then becomes dirt so wear gumboots after it rains. To keep kids occupied, you can do the Newy with Kids Brickworks Park Wallsend Scavenger Hunt.
Head to Jesmond Park for a walk. You can walk around the park and do a circuit around the two playgrounds and the rose garden. You can also go on bushwalks by strolling along the signposted walking tracks. If you’re feeling energetic, bring some frisbees and play some disc golf at the free disc golf course. Toilets are located near the front playground.
Go for a stroll around Maitland Park, it’s an approximately 1.8km loop. Follow the walking path that winds around Maitland Park grounds, a wide path also perfect for riding or scootering, You can follow this path to the War Memorial and back through the gardens. There is ample car parking and amenities near the car park.
Ken & Audrey Owens Walk
Near Redhead Beach is the Ken & Audrey Owens Walk. It’s an easy walk down a series of pathways and boardwalks through coastal bush leading to lookouts. It’s a top spot to take kids before or after a visit to Webb Park playground in Redhead. You don’t need to do the full 4 kilometre walk. There’s exits along the way to make the walk shorter. The walk is also suitable for prams and stroller.
Eating Out with Grandkids
If you want to take the grandkids out for a bite to eat, you might find our following articles helpful:
Kids Eat Free in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & The Hunter: This guide includes local pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes where kids can eat free, organised by day of the week.
40+ Family Friendly Spots with Playgrounds and Kids Areas: This guide includes family-friendly cafes and restaurants in Newcastle, Maitland and Lake Macquarie that offer playgrounds or a kids area. Most offer high chairs, a kids menu and baby-changing facilities.
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Meg is a born and raised Novocastrian whose interests include gardening, reading and writing poetry. In between writing for Newy With Kids and working as a School Learning Support Officer, Meg enjoys camping and travelling with her family and exploring Newcastle and all it has to offer. Meg has two energetic kids and is passionate about kids having the opportunity to be outdoors as often as possible.