Whether you are a grandparent-in-waiting, a first-time grandparent, a seasoned pro, or even a great-grandparent, each and every one of you brings your own unique approach to the role of a grandparent. Whether you see yourself as a role model, a mentor, a nurturer, historian, chauffeur, or buddy, never underestimate the influence you have in the lives of your grandchildren. With today’s longer life expectancy, we often have time to provide countless hours of support and encouragement in the optimal learning and development of our grandchildren. Experiences we engage in together will create memories that last a lifetime. The following experiences will help you generate those memories and I hope you will have fun while you are doing it!
Ideas for Creating Memories
- Be A Photographer: There is no question that a picture is worth a thousand words and this is never more apparent than when young children are involved. We live in a visual world. Cameras are everywhere — in all sizes and shapes, on smart phones and even underwater! The camera allows your grandchild an opportunity to make ideas visible and to help your grandchild explore and really examine the world around them. You may be setting the stage for a lifelong passion for taking photographs. Visit the library and look at books of famous photographers such as Ansel Adams, Paul Weston, Alfred Stieglitz and Annie Liebowitz.
- Photo Memories: How about taking your grandchildren to the same spot in a park and take a photo every month? This would be a wonderful keepsake as your grandchildren age.
- A Memory Quilt: This quilt can be a reflection of a child’s life by integrating clothing your grandchild no longer wears but were favorites. Or you might ask your grandchild to decorate a square with fabric crayons every year on her birthday. You could save the squares and create a new quilt at an important time in the child’s life – her 18th birthday or as a wedding gift.
- Memories of My Grandchild: Create your own journal or book about the things you remember most about your grandchild. You might write in this journal several times a year or even just once on his birthday. Talk about his interests, funny anecdotes that you can remember and other memorable moments. You might share this on a special occasion such as leaving home for college or university when he will miss his family the most.
- In Your Name: You might find plants that have the same name as your grandchild and plant them in a special name garden – Jack-In-The-Pulpit, Johnny Jump Up, Sweet William, Rowan, Basil, Sage, Heather, Hyacinth, Iris, Lily, Rose, Dahlia, Rosemary, Daisy, Violet.
- Wishing Tree: Having your grandchildren record their wishes on a Wish Tree provides an opportunity to talk about how we may make the world a better place. They can record their wishes on a piece of tag board with a hole punched in the top and laminated. Wishes can be hung with string or ribbon and hung from the tree. Perhaps this might be a tree that you planted together.
- Hand Prints: When finger painting, don’t let those gooey hand prints go to waste, create greeting cards or wrapping paper by placing their hands on some interesting paper.
- Personalized Puzzles: Spread tongue depressors out on the table side by side and cover them with glue. Lay a picture of your grandchild on top of the tongue depressors, press in place and let dry. With an Exacto knife, slice between the tongue depressors, scramble them up and now you have a personalized puzzle.
- A Picnic to Remember: Make a winter picnic table out of snow and cover it with a plastic table cloth. Pack up some delicious treats in a picnic basket and enjoy a winter lunch! Eat lots of things to keep you warm – stew, soup, chili, hot chocolate.
- Plant A Fairy Garden: There are several wonderful books about Fairies. Read these stories to your grandchildren and then plan and plant a fairy garden. Draw a big circle and create a trench around the outside of your fairy garden. Plant large grasses in the trench or perhaps sunflowers. They will grow and provide a private space for your grandchildren. Don’t forget to leave a doorway. Plant away in the middle and include items for the fairies such as leaves, wood chips, rocks, pine cones, sticks, little bells or chimes and anything that is safe that could be used for fairy dust – sequins, sparkles! It’s also a good time to talk about fairies they may know – Tinkerbell, The Sugar Plum Fairy, The Fairy Godmother!
- Special Plate: Go shopping to a store that sells place settings or perhaps an antique or thrift shop and have your child pick out her favorite plate. This plate can be used for all special occasions at your house and it will be just for her. Let all your grandchildren chose their own special plate.
- Tea Party: Plan a tea party with your finest china tea cups and interesting teapots. Serve party sandwiches and dress up in fancy hats and gloves. You may want to make your own party hats with paper plates, ribbons, artificial flowers and other goodies from your craft supplies. What else are you saving your good china for?
These are only a few of the more than 700 activities included in A Handbook for Grandparents by Lynn Wilson.