12/17/2013 07:02 am ET

9 Things Every Grandparent Should Own

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Having the grandkids over can be a little daunting sometimes. What to do with them? There is always cooking or baking together, and yes, there is always television, but having these things on-hand creates instant fun and can be a lifesaver, if you just don't know what to do.

  • 1 A copy of "The Lion King"
    Who doesn't love to snuggle up with a good movie? Kids never get tired of The Lion King, no matter their age, and it’s the perfect wind-down activity when everybody just needs some quiet time. (Other family-friendly movies you might want to own: Monsters Inc. or Monsters University, any of the Toy Story movies, Cheaper by the Dozen—the remake with Steve Martin—or the remake of The Parent Trap.)
  • 2 A classic board game
    Whether it’s Hi Ho Cherry-O for younger kids, Operation for elementary age, or Monopoly for elementary age and older, a classic board game is a great way to get kids off of electronics and interacting with you.
  • 3 Shaving Cream
    No, kids don't shave, but shaving cream can provide hours of fun for them. They just love the way it feels. Keep a few cans on hand, then let them spray it onto a cookie sheet or the kitchen table to make sculptures, designs and drawings. You can also add food coloring to it or glitter for added fun.
  • 4 A craft box
    Markers, paper, stickers, and colored pencils go a long way with kids. Buy a craft box at a store like Michaels and stock it with whatever you think the kids will like: pom poms, glitter, foam shapes. Lanyard is great for older kids (they can learn the stitches here), stickers are ideal for younger kids, or try these suggestions.
  • 5 A chapter book they read only with you
    Who doesn't like a read-aloud? My Father’s Dragon, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are three great books to start with. Read a few chapters every time you're with your grandkids. And if they can't stand to leave the book without finishing it, make time to read it to them over the phone if they don't live nearby. This is also an opportunity for you to share the books you loved as a child, and for them to show you the books that are popular today.
  • 6 A soccer ball
    Or a football, baseball, basketball or Frisbee–anything that gets them outside, using their muscles, and running around.
  • 7 Baking soda and white vinegar
    All kids love experiments, and nothing is more fun for them than pretending to be a mad scientist. Keep baking soda and white vinegar on hand for them to create a safe bubbling experiment. When the two are combined they bubble up and kids love it. If you're really ambitious, keep a bottle of white glue and borax in your house, and whip up a batch of slime when kids are around. Find the recipe here.
  • 8 A fuzzy blanket
    For chilly days and sleepovers, a blanket that is soft and cuddly can help kids feel safe and secure. Keep the blanket at your house instead of letting them take it home, so they can look forward to using it only when they are with you.
  • 9 A go-to snack
    When the kids are fussy or famished, a go-to snack that's healthy is a must-have. Ask the parents for suggestions or try these kid-favorites: granola mixed with dried fruit and chocolate chips, peanut butter and sliced apples, hummus and cut up veggies, crackers with bite-size pieces of cheese.

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Carole King
Carole King