The unique relationships we have with our grandchildren give us the opportunity to influence and shape their lives. Spending time with them together or individually can help them learn lessons to last a lifetime, develop new skills and appreciate family traditions, history and values.
My five grandchildren range in age from 21 months to 19 years. Through the years I have loved the opportunities to spend quality time with each of them, both one-on-one or in groups. Our adventures have ranged from activities requiring no monetary commitment to more costly endeavors. Based on our own family fun, enjoy these recommendations for discovering meaningful metro fun with grandchildren of all ages.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, 2101 NE 50th St, provides workshops and summer and school break camps for kids of all ages. Annual zoo passes can be purchased year round (look for discounted prices during promotional events at www.okczoo.org). A yearlong pass allows for unlimited short or all-day explorations to experience exotic critters from around the world, fresh air, food and the gift shop. Our many trips to the zoo through the years have included valuable lessons, including one for me occurring while observing the reptile feeding, which is open to the public every few months. The feeding frenzy that ensued when dead rodents were introduced into the snake pit proved to be a bit much for my then 4- and 5-year-old grandsons. Yikes! Lesson learned!
At the Myriad Botanical Gardens’ Crystal Bridge Conservatory, 301 W Reno, tour fees are minimal and well worth the price to enjoy the variety of vegetation, waterfall and sky bridge. Grandparents will appreciate that seniors and veterans receive a small discount. The Gardens also features free SONIC Summer Movies, full of activities and fun. Bring a picnic or purchase food from an impressive line-up of food trucks. See times and details at www.oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com.
Hit a water park near you! Pelican Bay Aquatics Center in Edmond, 1034 S Bryant Ave, offers family fun, swim lessons and a variety of special events. Learn more at www.pelicanbayaquatics.com. White Water Bay, 3908 W Reno Ave, can be experienced through individual tickets or season passes. Slides, food and dive-in movies included in this aquatic adventure. Visit www.sixflags.com/whitewaterbay for details.
Artistic endeavors entertain the young and old alike at Unpluggits Paint & Play, 575 Enterprise Dr, Suite 110, in Edmond. A unique approach to family entertainment, the ceramic and craft painting studio also houses an indoor playground and offers snacks and drinks for purchase. Unpluggits proved a great venue for our grandson’s fifth birthday party and a fun place for me, Nana,
to spend an afternoon with the younger kiddos. Learn more at www.unpluggits.com.
Okie Kids Playground, 321 W 15th St in Edmond, provides a playful learning atmosphere for children under age 6. Custom-designed play houses, multiple play areas and a large craft room invite exploration and discovery. Snacks, pastries and coffee are available for purchase. Visit www.okiekids.com for pricing and special activities scheduled throughout the year.
No matter their age, those G-kids love to eat out, and one of our favorites is Pop’s, 660 W Hwy 66 in Arcadia. Choosing from a menu of hamburgers, hotdogs, onion rings, malts and sundaes is tough enough, but throw in unlimited soda pop flavors and the excitement escalates. The challenge is getting them to pick a pop flavor before their food arrives. Be prepared for requests to choose another pop to take home!
Free or minimal cost
Splash pads encourage family fun among all ages. Enjoy Edmond’s splash pad on Kelly Avenue just north of Edmond Road or the Myriad Botanical Gardens’ Thunder Fountain at 301 W Reno.
Bake and eat cookies. Take the grandkids shopping at your favorite grocery store to purchase ingredients and let them select their favorite add-ins, like cherry chips, chocolate or sprinkles. Or step up your baking game by making donuts together. Let them enjoy rolling the tasty goodies in powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar and, of course, sprinkles.
Break out the video games. Go to your local video store and rent games you can play together. Encourage your grandchildren to teach you how to play their favorite video games. Mine had to teach me how to hook up the machine to even get started! Sound familiar?
Visit the library. Pick up a few books they can read to you and some you can read to them. Take the younger ones to your neighborhood library’s story time. Meet the librarians and learn about available resources and programs. Visit www.metrolibrary.org for schedules of classes and events for children and adults.
Explore a nearby park. Play on the swings, slides and jungle gym. A treasure hunt can turn an ordinary day into a great adventure. Make a list of items to collect on your walk through the park. Include items like a gray pebble, an orange leaf, a snake-shaped twig and a feather. Visit www.metrofamilymagazine.com/metro-parks for park locations.
Martin Park Nature Center, 5000 W Memorial Rd, offers nature exploration, guided hikes and education for all ages. Stop by the Visitor Center for live animals, a nature learning library and restrooms. Search for Martin Park Nature Center at www.okc.gov.
Deb Stanaland was named the 2015 Oklahoma Mother of the Year and then selected as the 2015 National Mother of the Year. She serves on the Oklahoma Crime Victims Compensation Board and the National Board of Directors for American Mothers, Inc. Deb’s favorite pastime is making memories with her grandchildren.