Generations of Fun

By Sara Vigneri

In the good old days, parents were able to raise “free-range” children over summer vacation – they opened the door in the morning and their kids roamed the neighborhood from sun-up to sundown. However, today’s parents are saddled with demanding work schedules and, in some cases, unsafe neighborhoods and are turning to grandparents to care for their children.” Many families find two incomes necessary to maintain their homes and the cost of good sitters has continued to rise,” says Sue Johnson, co-author of Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren. “Grandparents can be relied upon to have the best interest of the child at heart.” According to, 81 percent care for their grandchildren for part or all of their summer vacation.

Spending time with your grandchildren this summer can provide more than just quality day care, it also helps build the bond between you and your grandchildren. “It’s rejuvenating to allow yourself to be a kid again when you are with your grandchild – it’ll keep you vital and young at heart,” says Johnson. “Grandparents can also embrace the moment without feeling pressured by the daily duties of parenting.”

To help get those summer memories started, we’ve created an activity guide that you can start at anytime, and visit as many places as you like. The ultimate goal of the activity is to create memories with your grandchild. “Be ready to listen, to talk, and to share in their explorations and discoveries,” says Johnson. “Being a good grandparent means just being fully there, where the child is, at that precious moment in time.”

Materials needed:
Notebook, camera (you might want to get a cheap, disposable camera for the child to use), markers, crayons, tape, scissors

Your mission: Visit any of the places listed below. Have your grandchild keep track of which places you have visited, and what you’ve seen. Take pictures and keep tickets stubs or brochures to create a scrapbook page of each locale. The idea of each mission is to create a goal for the child to achieve, but the real goal is to have fun and enjoy your time together. The “Time it right” sections list an interesting event with which you may want to time your visit if you can.

Lehigh Valley Zoo

Trexler Game Preserve, Schnecksville

This small zoo makes for an easy activity for children of any age. Visit more than 250 animals and chill out while the kids play in the playground. If you get tired of walking around, take a wagon ride through the zoo’s hidden pathways.

Your mission: Find out how many carnivores live in the zoo

Time it right: On August 13, try the Zoomazing Scavenger Hunt.

Lil-Le-Hi Trout Nursery

2901 Fish Hatchery Road, Allentown
(For info, contact Allentown Parks Department: 610-437-7757.)

Bring quarters to buy fish food and watch the trout jump in anticipation. Take a nice stroll along the creek, cross the old covered bridge, and picnic near the water.

Your mission: Count how many different colors of trout are in the hatchery.

Time it right: August 20-21 is the Roasting Ears of Corn Festival at the Museum of Indian Culture, next to the hatchery. The festival features American Indian drumming, singing, fire dancing and tacos prepared with Kiowa fry bread.

Great Allentown Fair

302 N 17th Street, Allentown

Rides, animals, circus puppets, fair food, there’s so much to do at the Allentown Fair your biggest challenge will be to last as long as the kids.

Your mission: See how many fair rides take you up into the air.

Time it right: Plan your visit for preview day, August 30, and admission is free.

Strawberry Acres

1767 Clearview Road, Coplay

Take a bumpy ride in a wacky schoolbus through the farm to pick your own fruits. Kids love the giant tube slides and feeding the farm animals. While you’re there, pick up some farm fresh fruits and veggies in the market and make a garden dinner with the kids.

Your mission: Answer the question: Who is Johnny Appleseed?

Time it right: If you find yourself there on a weekend, the kids can ride ponies.

Free Family Film Festival-Rave

Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley

A perfect rainy day activity, there are free G- or PG-rated movies at the Rave every Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

Your mission: Find out how many of the movies playing in the Festival are based on a book.

Time it right: If the sun is out once you emerge from the movie, head over to the Town Square of the Promenade Shops to frolic in the pop jet fountain.

Playdrome Rose Bowl

801 N. 15th Street, Allentown

Town ‘N Country Lanes

1770 Stefko Boulevard, Bethlehem

Register your grandchild on and coupons will be emailed to you to bowl for free at either of these locations. Bowling is an all age activity that you can both enjoy together.

Your mission: Find out how much the heaviest and lightest bowling balls weigh.

Time it right: If you end up on babysitting duty on a Friday night, both bowling alleys bring on the glow lights and music for a more exciting bowling experience.

Forks Township Community Park

Zucksville Road, Easton

The park boasts a nature trail and preserve, an arboretum in addition to playgrounds. Visit the restored log and picnic in the pavilion.

Your mission: Find out who built the log cabin.

Time it right: If you like something with more structure, sign up for one of the many classes at Forks Community Center taught by Little Star Studio.

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