Mention the words tickle, wrestle, and chase to children, and they’re likely to think of dear old Dad. Fathers often connect with their kids through playful activities. What kind of fun did you have with your grandfather, father, or a father figure? Most of us have a few special memories to share. Fathers will be in the spotlight on June 21, as we celebrate Father’s Day. Here are a few activities to honor their special role in a family.

  • Define playfulness. Ask the men: Did you enjoy playing with your children? Tell us about some of your playful activities. How did you encourage fun and laughter in your family? Were you more fun-loving with your grandchildren?
  • Encourage the men to share any baby photos they have of their children or grandchildren. Ask: How did you feel about becoming a first-time father or grandfather? Tell a funny new-parent story about life with a newborn. (Example: Putting a diaper on backwards!)
  • Display some vintage childhood toys that have been enjoyed by grandfathers, fathers, and sons alike. Some generational classics to show and discuss: Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, jacks, kites, marbles, spinning tops, pogo sticks, yo-yos, toy soldiers. Ask some staff to demonstrate the hula hoop.
  • Listen to some amusing tales from Bill Cosby’s 1986 bestseller Fatherhood.
  • Watch the 1951 comedy movie Father of the Bride, starring Spencer Tracy as Stanley Banks. Reminisce about the special bond between fathers and daughters.
  • Display a picture of a young child licking an ice cream cone, and encourage participants to name favorite places to buy ice cream treats with their children (neighborhood Good Humor Ice Cream truck, Baskin-Robbins ice cream store, or Dairy Queen walk-up window). Listen to the old song “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream.”
  • Share memories of Father’s Day gifts, including the popular necktie! Display a collection of vintage neckties – bow tie, clip-on, skinny, fat. Wear a funny necktie. Ask for a volunteer to demonstrate how to tie a necktie.
  • Gather around a table and teach some children how to play the classic family card game, Rook (or another favorite). Snack on Toll House cookies.
  • Hang a “Gone Fishin'” sign and display an old fishing rod. Share some memories of fishing with kids at a favorite hole or pond. Name fishing terms, like hook, fly, lure, reel, rod, bait, net. Tell a funny fish story about a big “catch.”
  • Display a baseball glove and ball. Ask the men about playing catch with their kids in the backyard. Ask: Did you ever add a pet dog to the mix? Tell us how to teach a dog to fetch.
  • Reminisce about special father-son activities, like Cub Scouts. Ask: What kinds of fun-filled Scout activities did you enjoy – dinners/picnics, field trips, fishing? Did you ever participate in a Pinewood Derby? Give the Cub Salute – 2 fingers only!
  • Make a simple woodworking project, like a napkin holder. Ask the men if they ever built a tree house, clubhouse, playhouse, fort, swing set, or sandbox for their children. Listen to handyman sound scenes and sing some work songs.
  • Listen to travel songs like “On the Road Again” or “King of the Road.” Share memories of summer vacations/day trips in the family station wagon. Ask: What was it like to travel in a station wagon with kids? How did you keep them amused? Give us your best response to the question: Are we there yet?
  • Watch some episodes of TV sitcoms from the 1950s: Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Donna Reed Show. Ask: Can you identify with any of the fathers in the sitcoms? How are you alike or different?
  • Reminisce about fun on the farm during the Great Depression. Name favorite activities, such as ice skating, riding on the back of a wagon, going fishing in a farm pond, riding a bike, or playing on bales of cotton. Ask group members to talk about some of their handmade toys (EX: sock monkeys and wooden toy trucks).



Quiz your group on some famous fathers and father figures.

  1. Who is known as the “Father of Our Country”? George Washington
  2. In the Bible, who is called the “father of many nations”? Abraham
  3. Which actor played the famous TV father, Dr. Cliff Huxtable? Bill Cosby (The Cosby Show)
  4. Which acting family includes Henry, Jane, Peter, and Bridget? Fonda
  5. Which father and son became the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States, respectively? George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush
  6. Jack LaLanne was known as the “Godfather of …” what? Fitness
  7. In which sport did father and son duo Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. participate? NASCAR
  8. Who is called the “father of medicine”? Hippocrates
  9. What was the name of Sheriff Andy Taylor’s son on The Andy Griffith ShowOpie
  10. In which 1950s TV sitcom did Robert Young play the role of Jim Anderson? Father Knows Best

“FATHER’S DAY” written by Sue Hansen. © 2009 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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