Monthly Archives: August 2009

Make Cardboard Ring Picture Frames with Grandchildren

Who says that we have to have rectangle or square picture frames? And who says we have to hang them in orderly rows or symmetrical patterns? My stodgy, old-fashioned inner self, that’s who!

But, if you are more artsy, edgy, and especially if you are more modern than me, making ring picture frames with a grandchild might be something that could be loads of creative fun.  And  it’s cheap!

I do like this idea.  But I don’t especially like the brown-ness of the frames.  I would probably spray paint them a different color.  That way, the cardboard ‘look’ wouldn’t be so obvious.  (Unless you like the idea of people knowing that your frame is a toilet paper tube . . .)

Here are the step-by-step directions on how to make the frames.  Grandchild that are fairly young and ones that are all the way up through the teen-age years will be able to do this activity.

Extend this idea and make a wedge from card stock paper to put on the back so that the picture frame can stand upright on a desk.  Or, put a magnet on the back so the frame could go in a school locker, on a mirror, or on the everything-gets-put-on-me fridge.

This would be a great way to display the digital pictures that you and your grandchild have taken!

Rubber Duckie with an Attitude

Here are some different -- and cool -- rubber ducks!    GrandmaIdeas.comMove over yellow duckie!  You’re about to be taken over by an odd duck.

One with an attitude!

And, I want one.  Wait. I want a whole flock of them.

The picture on the left is of Bob.  There is also Jane, Slim and Squish.

They’re hip.  They’re mod.  They’re bold.

They are not you typical little run-of-the-mill yellow variety.  No siree, Bob!

You can see them online at  They sell for $8.49 each. I know. They are a bit pricey. But they are oh, so fun!

I think that it would be fun to get several to add to our bath-time toys for when grandchildren take a bath at my house.

Heck, they are so cute I would even let Grandpa play with them in his bath . . .  maybe . . .

Or, maybe you might be interested in some other ones like the ABC duckies. Or the zombie ones. What about some Christmas ones? Or some villains? Or sweet little cupcake ones?  Or some crazy ones?

There is an employee at the bookstore at the university where I work. He has a collection of rubber ducks. I bet he has at least 100 of ’em.

They are so fun to look at. Every time I walk by, I stop and look at them. And chuckle. They bring a ray o’ sunshine into my life.

I think that your grandchildren would have fun with one of these rubber duckies — even if she were a teenager.

So, give ’em out at a family reunion. Or when you drop by for a visit on a Saturday afternoon. You might even want to give them to a grandchild as a birthday or Christmas present.  Or for Valentine’s Day, Ground Hog’s Day, and for just because on August 12.

Whatever. Just get a duckie with an attitude!

Wet ‘N Wild

I know that school is starting soon in many areas around the country.  School signals the end of the summer.  But not necessarily the end of hot weather.  I remember many days at the beginning of the school year in elementary school of being sweaty and sticking to the wooden chair at my desk .  (My kids would claim that was before air conditioning was invented.  And, you know what, they would be right!!)

However, you might want to have one last summer activity to enjoy with your grandchildren before the cold and snow sets in.  (I heard it snowed in Montana last week.  I fear snow will be here sooner that we want . . .)

So, to enjoy those last warm, golden sun rays, have a Wet ‘N Wild activity. Here are three ideas for a drippin’ fun extravaganza.

Sponge Tag
Get a bucket of water and a large sponge.  Select someone to be ‘It.’  ‘It’ soaks the sponge in the water.  When the sponge is as full as possible, ‘It’ chases after the other players trying to hit someone with the sponge.  If a person gets hit with the sponge, that person is ‘It’.  Continue playing until interests wanes.

House Painting
Get a bucket of water and a paint brush for each grandchild.  Let them ”paint’ a picture on the outside of your house.  Have a camera handy to quickly take a picture of their artwork before it dries and disappears.  Or, they could paint a picture on your driveway.

Water Balloon Toss
This is not your normal balloon toss.  (Do I ever do anything normal?  Normal.  What’s that?)  Make water balloons so that there is one less than the number of people playing.  So, if there are 6 people (including you), you would have 5 balloons.  Take one filled water balloon and poke a small hole in it.  Have everybody sit in a circle.  Pass the balloon around.  The one holding the balloon when all of the water is gone from the balloon is out of play.  Keep playing rounds until there is only one person left. That person is the winner.  (Need I say that you ought to play this outside???)

Bonus Activity for Little Ones
For younger grandchildren, gather up some of your extra kitchen utensils.  (Don’t use your best ones in the event that they get damaged somehow. You never know with kids!)  Fill a kiddie wadding pool with several inches of water.  Let your grandchildren play in the water with the kitchen gadgets.

When you’re finished playing in the water, serve putting pops that you previously made.


1 package (3.9 oz) chocolate instant pudding mix

2 cups cold milk

6 Oreo cookies

1/2 cup thawed Cool Whip

Wooden Popsicle sticks or plastic spoons

Beat pudding mix and milk in large bowl with whisk.  Place cookies in Ziploc bag and use rolling pin to crush cookies.  Add cookies and Cool Whip to the pudding.  Stir until blended.   Spoon into 9 small paper or plastic cups.   Insert wooden Popsicle stick or plastic spoon into each cup for handle.   Freeze 5 hours or overnight. (You could make these with your grandchildren before you start your water games.  Or, you could make them the night before so they would be ready to serve when you are finished playing.)  You can also try different flavors of pudding and cookies.


A Skype-ing Grandma

Skype with family members who live far away.The other day I chatted with a good friend who used to be a professor here at the university where I work.

She told me how she absolutely loves Skype — and then she shared how she uses it.

After chatting with her, I checked out my posts here on Grandma Ideas and realized that I had mentioned Skype before but I haven’t really explained it.

Shame on me.

I’ll tell you all about it. But, first let me tell you what Grandma Patsy does.

Grandma Patsy has a three-year-old granddaughter that lives in Texas.  The distance from Utah to Texas is huge.  Travel is long, arduous, and expensive.  But with Skype, grandmother and granddaughter can be a vibrant part of eachother’s lives.

Grandma Patsy told me that using Skype, she is able to read her granddaughter a story, play games, sing, and dance.  She said that recently she was ‘playing’ with her granddaughter (holding up the toys so her granddaughter could see and then ‘playing’ with them according to her granddaughter’s instructions).

Right in the middle of the play, her granddaughter suddenly dashed away from the computer screen.  When she came back, the granddaughter had a tutu on.  Then, she looked at her Grandma (on the computer screen) and said, “Grandma, where is YOUR tutu?”  Grandma Patsy hurriedly found an impromptu tutu and put it on.  They danced together even though they were over one thousand of miles apart. (Boy, I’d be hard pressed to find a tutu at MY house . . . )

“I was in the privacy of my own home so it didn’t matter how silly I looked,”  Grandma Patsy said.  “Nobody saw me except my granddaughter.”  How delightful!

How can you use Skype? Please keep in mind that young children have a short attention span and might have a hard time focusing for very long.

Let me count the ways. (Thought I’d throw a little reference to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. . .) Consider using Skype to:

  1. See Halloween costumes before your grandkids go trick or treating
  2. Read a bed time story to a grandchild
  3. Sing songs and do nursery rhymes with grandchildren
  4. Play together with a grandchild
  5. See your grandchildren dressed in their new school clothes before they leave on the first day of school
  6. Wish them Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or happy birthday/Ground Hog’s Day/Flag Day, Labor Day/Easter/or whatever!
  7. Color pictures together
  8. Play dress up together
  9. Have a virtual tea party together
  10. Have cookies and milk together
  11. Discuss how school is going
  12. Prearrange to watch a movie then discuss it (or read a book and discuss it)
  13. Send your grandchild a packet of things to make (like paper foldables) and after she makes them she can show them to you through Skype
  14. Give sewing or piano lessons or teach them how to cook

The idea is to think of things that you would normally do if your grandchildren lived close by and then see if you can do it virtually using Skype.

Now. For the technical things.  Skype is a free program that you download from the Internet.  With Skype and a microphone, you can ‘call’ computer to computer and have conversations for free.  If you have a web camera, you can have a video chat where you can see in addition to hearing the person to whom you are talking. You can find web cameras for under $100 either online or places like Staples or Office Max.

Go to to download the software.  When you start the program, you will need to set up a name and password for yourself.  Follow the rest of the set up directions.  They are easy.  Trust me.

Then, you’ll need to share your Skype user name with your granddaughter (or your son and daughter if your granddaughter is too young to know how to set it up).  Your granddaughter needs to install and set up Skype on her computer, too, and let you know her Skype name.  Once you have Skype set up, create a contact with you granddaughter’s Skype name.  And she needs to add you as a contact in her list.

Here are some good users guides that can help you get started. It’s easy. Honest. Trust me on this. Once it’s all set up, the hard part is over.

Then, designate a time when you can both log on to Skype and enjoy some time together.

With a few simple clicks of a mouse button, you can connect with your loved ones far away and be a fun part of their lives and strengthen your relationship with them.

Have any of you used Skype?  Please make a comment and let me know how you have used it.

Paper Foldables

Make paper foldable with your kids.Do these hot summer days have your grandchildren wound tight like a spring – coiled and ready for action?

If so, get their hands focused (and busy) making foldables.

And what are foldables?

I’m glad you asked.  Foldables are things you make out of paper simply by printing, cutting, and folding. has a plethora of free patterns of people, animals, pinatas, and ‘thingies’ like a jellyfish and a typewriter.  (Do today’s kids even know what a typewriter is?) Continue reading

Easiest Ever Fruit Cobbler

Easiest ever fruit cobler!On the Memorial Day Week-End, my husband and I went camping with another family in Southern Utah near Bryce Canyon.  Before we left, I warned them that when the Lewis’s go camping it rains.

True to form, it rained.

I was planning on making a Dutch Oven apple cobbler for dessert Saturday evening.  The rain changed our plans and the cobbler never got baked.

To make up for the missed dessert, I invited the family over a couple of days ago and made the cobbler.  I told them to imagine that we had just gotten back from hiking the red sandstone trails in Bryce and pretend we were sitting around the fire eating our treat.

I don’t know about them, but I really enjoyed our delayed dessert while visiting and sitting on our patio.

If you don’t have a Dutch Oven, I suggest you get one.  You can have some grand cooking adventures with your grandchildren.  Besides the usual stew or chili that most people like to make, I have made pizza, Caramel Layered Chocolate cake, rolls, breakfast hash — and more

Cooking in a Dutch Oven is easy.  Way easy.  And a fruit cobbler is one of the easiest things to make!  I suggest you start with this and move on from here.

Easiest Ever Fruit Cobbler

3 (21 ounce) cans fruit pie filling (cherry, apple, blueberry, etc.)
1 (12 ounce) can soda pop
1 dry cake mix
12 inch Dutch Oven

Line the Dutch Oven with aluminum foil for easy clean up.  Put the fruit pie filling in the oven.  Dump the dry cake mix on top of the fruit.  Pour the soda pop over the dry cake mix.  DO NOT STIR!

Put 10 hot coals under and 14 coals on top of the oven.  Cook for 30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown.  Serve with ice cream.

The most common cake mix and soda pop combination is a yellow cake mix with Sprite.  But I challenge you to get adventuresome.  Use cherry pie filling,  cherry flavored Seven-Up, and a cherry-chip cake mix.  Or (again with cherries) use a chocolate cake mix and the cherry Seven-Up for a ‘Black Forest’ cobbler.  Try strawberry flavored pop and strawberry flavored cake mix.  Spice cake and Dr. Pepper.  Lemon cake mix and Mountain Dew.

If you don’t have a Dutch Oven, you could make this in a regular oven.  You would only need two large cans of pie filling for  9 x 13 inch cake pan.