Contributed by Nora Stasio
Sometimes bridging the generation gap can be stressful. How many of us have been in this sort of scenario:
Grandpa comes to visit for Father’s Day. Your young son says hello politely, then goes straight back to the couch to play ‘Minecraft’ alone on his iPad. Grandpa doesn’t seem to mind, he just wants to watch golf on TV. Sure, they’re in the same room, but they’re in their own little worlds, not interacting. You’d love to see them bond by partaking in some sort of game together, but what might they both enjoy? You need something colorful and stimulating enough to hold your son’s attention, but relaxing and accessible enough for slower-moving Grandpa.
There are actually a lot of games that fulfill those requirements, games that young and old can enjoy together and create happy memories while playing. Here are 7 of the best games for seniors to play with children.
The Nintendo Wii and the Wii U are family-friendly video game consoles. The motion control technology in these devices is easy for children and seniors alike to get the hang of. Wii Sports is one of the best games I can recommend. You can play favorite sports like Baseball, Tennis, Bowling, and Golf in your home, with only a few flicks of the wrist, rather than having to run, jump, and sweat on an actual playing field.
I have a Wii and feel strongly enough about it to recommend it to others whenever I can. A few years ago, my family and I were staying with our Grandparents for a week on vacation. My little brother showed Pop Pop how to use the Wii and after a few hours the 76 year old man became addicted to Wii Bowling. Everyday that week, that’s all he wanted to do. Note to all: add Wii Bowling to your list of games for seniors!
Board Games like Checkers
Checkers is probably America’s favorite classic board game. Like Checkers, there are a lot of great tabletop games for seniors that children will also find engaging. Games like CandyLand, Connect Four, and Chutes and Ladders will keep younger kids entertained for hours. Older kids might prefer Scrabble or Yahtzee, maybe even Chess.
I have many memories of playing these kinds of games with Pop Pop when I was growing up. He loved Mastermind and Chinese Checkers. Most people can think of one game that never loses it’s charm for them, even after many decades of play. Chances are the little ones will be charmed by it, too.
I know a lot of seniors who love their jigsaw puzzles and children seem to like them, too. Why not play together?
Seniors tend to like puzzles with a lot of pieces, while littler kids like easy, large-piece puzzles. Maybe the older ones can help the younger ones learn the trade secrets of perfecting a puzzle. As time goes by, they can gradually introduce harder puzzles with more and more pieces. When you’re taking time to bond with family, teaching and learning can become as fun as simply playing.
Golf is a popular sport among the older crowd. And what kid doesn’t love the bright colors and creative course designs at the local Mini Golf venue? Mini Golf is also a lot easier, more light-hearted, and, in many cases, more fun than playing your standard round of golf on a professional course. Bonus: Grandpa won’t have to walk as far after hitting the ball. What’s not to like, really?
Bowling, outside from Wii living room bowling, is a great option when it comes to games for seniors to play with children. A lot of older folks grew up playing it and kids love seeing all those little pins fall over. Of course, the bowling ball may be too heavy and unwieldy for some seniors or young children to carry. At some bowling alleys they have a ramp that the ball can be pushed down, which is great for those not strong enough to hold the ball. Or, you can always set up your own bowling alley at home or in your driveway with pins of some sort and a nice, lightweight kickball.
It’s very common to see a couple of seniors enjoying a game of cards together. When I was young, I loved playing Go Fish, War, Old Maid, and Memory. Pop Pop was the one who taught me how to play each of those games.
Why not have Grandpa teach your children his favorite card game? There are literally hundreds of great card games out there and many are certainly easy enough for a child to understand. Maybe you should encourage Grandpa to shy away from Poker, though! Learning how to play a card game is like learning a lifelong skill; these games can be enjoyed at any age – and no batteries or plugs are required.
Tablet and Smartphone Games
What child doesn’t love playing with a tablet or a smart device? It doesn’t matter what age the child is or what kind of games he/she likes – there IS an app for that. Though some seniors might be intimidated by these relatively new inventions, those who are willing to give them a try can also get a lot enjoyment out of them. In this case, maybe the child can be the one to teach the adult how it works.
But let’s be honest here, most kids will play just about any game as long as it’s on a tablet. Here are some suggestions for games for seniors so both can enjoy: Bejeweled, Candy Crush Saga, Draw Something, Words with Friends, Dots, Fruit Family, Mahjong, Tetris, etc.
There are also classic card game and board game apps that seniors will already know how to play. Look for 2-player options and let the bonding begin!