Intergerational activities benefit both the older and younger generation.

Intergenerational Activities for the Elderly & Children

by Lucie Westminster

Not only did the older generation walk uphill, both ways, through snow to school each day, they lived a life full of unique experiences. Their perspective is something to be shared with your preschooler that neither you nor a classroom can teach him. Whether you enlist the help of your child's grandparents, visit a local retirement home or knock on the door of your elderly neighbor's house, there are a variety of activities that bridge the gap between your youngster and the older generation.

Making Music

While it may seem like big band and pop are about as similar as peanut butter and pickles, the common element of music exists in each. Let your child pick her favorite song and play it for her elderly friend and vice versa. Have them talk about why it's their favorite or share a story about why that particular song is important to them. After sharing, it's time to make some of their own music and break out a variety of instruments like a saxophone, piano or guitar. Your youngster may not be as talented as Mozart at her young age, but she can play a simple instrument like piano or harmonica as the older person plays an instrument he used to play as a younger person. If one or neither person knows how to play an instrument, one's voice also serves as an alternative method of making music.

Show and Tell

What little one doesn't love show and tell? This intergenerational activity of sharing new and old items gives your child the chance to learn about history in a way that won't leave him asking you for a nap. Ask the older person to share a favorite item from her past, like a photo, family heirloom or piece of jewelry and tell your child about the history behind the item. Have your youngster also bring his favorite meaningful item to the show and tell session and tell the older person about it. Your child might bring a nifty electronic device and show her how to use it, leaving your little one feeling like he is a technological genius because he knows how to use something an adult does not.

Craft Projects

Craft projects let everyone express creativity, no matter their age. Bring a variety of non-toxic art supplies like markers, paints, chalk, stamps and glitter to the craft-making event. For each crafting session between the older person and your child, select a specific activity like making a scrapbook showcasing one's lifetime, painting a picture of a favorite activity or making holiday cards to send out for Christmas. No matter the project, the act of crafting together is something both people can enjoy and complete together.


Do the older people in your family always want to share their great grandparent's recipe for chocolate chip cookies? Instead of listening to how amazing those cookies are, invite the older generation to cook with your little one and bake them in your kitchen. Keep your youngster safe and don't allow her to use sharp objects like knives in the process, but encourage her to help in steps that are age-appropriate, like stirring the batter or licking out the bowl. If they happen to bake enough cookies to share, maybe there will be enough left so you get to try the famous recipe yourself.


About the Author

Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.

Photo Credits

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