When my children were little, they always referred to my mother as “the fun Grandma.” Grandma could make anything fun, especially sleepovers at her house. She had plenty of games and activities to keep them busy and happily occupied. Their favorite memories of sleepovers are of Grandma making breakfast in the morning and magically turning her kitchen into a restaurant where she was the waitress.
When I became a grandmother 13 years ago, I wanted to be “the fun grandma.” I wanted our sleepovers to be fun and engaging. Over the years, I have planned quite a few and wanted to share a few tips, tricks and ideas with you on slaying the sleepover at grandma’s house.
Nani Kathy Kohlstedt
Pick a theme
The main ingredients for a successful sleepover are food, activities and, of course, sleep. I like to plan my sleepovers around a theme and choose food, activities and books that coordinate with the theme.
Glow in the Dark Night
Most dollar stores sell glow bracelets, necklaces, glow sticks, stars and small glow animals. Now that you have the materials, try out some of these activities.
- Glow in the dark playdough
- Glow in the dark bubbles
- Ring toss- Toss glow bracelets and necklaces over inverted plastic cups (use glow cups for even more fun)
- Glow animal hunt- Hide glow in the dark animals around the house or yard and the kids search for them with blacklight flashlights
- Paint masterpieces using glow paints
- Glow bowling- Place glow sticks in a few empty 2 liter bottles and bowl
- If you have a backyard pool, you can do a night swim wearing glow necklaces. Most pool stores sell glow beach balls, glow dive toys and floating glow balls.
Glow in the Dark Playdough Recipe
3 cups flour
1.5 cup salt
6 tablespoons cream of tartar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups water
Glow in the dark paint
Mix the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat until a ball forms. When the dough is cool to the touch, mix in the paint. You can divide the dough into smaller balls and make different colors
Glow in the Dark Bubble Recipe
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Dawn dishwashing liquid
1 squirt glow in the dark paint
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Try serving glow in the dark snacks. Vanilla ice cream, yogurt, milk and bananas are all good choices for foods that will glow. You can find glow in the dark plastic cups at party stores and on Amazon.
When it’s time for bed, some reading suggestions include Fireflies Light the Night, Lights Out Nights Out, and The Monster That Glowed in the Dark.
Most children (and adults) are fascinated by dinosaurs making them the perfect subject for a sleepover. With just a few inexpensive items, you can host a sleepover that’s DINOmite!
Pick up a few packages of small, plastic dinosaurs , some plastic Easter eggs and a box of Plaster of Paris and try out some of these activities.
- Dinosaur discovery- The day before your sleepover, place a few dinosaurs in a plastic container and cover completely with water. Add a few drops of blue food coloring to the water to make it more interesting. Freeze solid. When ready to play, remove the ice from the container and give the kids play hammers or wooden meat mallets and have them chip away the ice to “discover” the dinosaurs.
- Put a few dinosaurs into the plastic eggs and hide them around the house or yard. Go on a dinosaur egg hunt.
- Fossils- Mix some Plaster of Paris (enough for about a half cup for each child). Pour the mixture into a plastic cup. When the plaster is just beginning to harden, have the kids push a plastic dinosaur into it. Let dry. Kids can remove the dinosaur creating a fossil.
- Hide dinosaurs in sand or kinetic sand and use plastic shovels to discover them. Then use paint brushes to dust them off like archeologists do.
Serve dinosaur shaped nuggets and broccoli “trees” for a snack. There are many dinosaur shaped snacks on the market you can serve as well.
As snow is a rarity here in the East Valley, having a snow themed sleepover is always a hit.
Shaving cream. table salt, large cotton balls, white glue, blue construction paper and baking soda are all you need for a snowy good time.
- Indoor snowball fight- Use the cotton balls to have an indoor snowball fight
- Squirt some shaving cream on cookie sheets and let children paint and play with the “snow”. They can push toy cars and trucks around in it or play with small figurines or animals.
- Faux snow- Place a box (2 1/4 cups) of baking soda in the freezer overnight. Remove from freezer and dump into a plastic dish pan or other large container. SLOWLY pour ice water into the pan using only a tablespoon at a time. Stir with a metal spoon after each addition of water until you get a snow-like consistency. The kids can then play with the snow, make snowmen, bury things etc.
- Let the children draw snowflakes on blue construction paper with white glue. Sprinkle with salt. Let dry.
Suggested snacks are snow-cones, popcorn, mini marshmallows, vanilla ice cream and hot cocoa.
Now comes one of my favorite parts… breakfast.
Turn your kitchen or dining room into a Breakfast Cafe. Type up an easy menu with pictures with a few breakfast choices. Seat the kids at a table and take their orders on a notepad.
Serve breakfast and thank them for coming to your restaurant. I created a fictitious waitress character named Marge (complete with a Southern accent and a lot of attitude) that my grandkids just love.
I hope you and your grandkids enjoy your time together and that these ideas can help you feel like you’re slaying the sleepover at grandma’s!