Originally envisioned by housewife, Marian McQuade, Grandparents Day was meant to honor the eldest family members for the many ways they have influenced today's children. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter announced National Grandparents Day would be celebrated each year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Even President Obama proclaimed his support for Grandparents Day last year by speaking about the importance of cherishing grandparents and thanking them for the roles they have played in all our lives. Start the school year off by taking the time to challenge your class to get to know each member of their family. Here are some great ways to celebrate Grandparents Day this year.
Ask families to research the names of their kinfolk and create a family tree. Websites such as ancestery.com can help locate long lost family members. This is a great way to teach vocabulary terminology and create a visual map to see how everyone is related. This would definitely make a great family project and is sure to last for many generations.
Interview with a Grandparent
With today’s technology, interviewing anyone is easier than ever. More than just a phone call or letter, children can Facetime or Skype their family members, no matter how far away they may be. Take the time to teach the importance of asking open ended, meaningful questions that will help make for an interesting story. Students can take their interviews and turn them into a newspaper article or biography to share with the class!
Take a Trip to the Local Nursing Home
Sadly, there are many lonely grandparents in nursing homes who would love to be recognized on a day such as this. Contact a nursing home near you to see if you could arrange a class visit or set up a penpal with an older person and have your class write letters.
I wonder what the world be like when today’s kindergarteners are grandparents themselves. Many things can change in 50 years and it would make for a cute writing or art lesson to challenge even the youngest kids to think about how life was so different when their grandparents were children. As adults, we fully grasp the concept of change, but kindergarteners do not understand how people become different through time. Use this holiday to help ground this abstract topic.
Why not dress up like a grandparent? Children can take the time to research the time period of an important event in their grandparents’ lives and come to school dressed as that person during the time (examples include War vet or 1960’s hippie). There are many variations to this “wax museum” activity including having to prepare a short speech in conjunction with the outfit or acting out a short skit. You may have all children stand still for 10 minutes while other classes and parents walk around or each child is in his or her own spotlight for a shorter amount of time.
Take your Grandparent to School Day
Obviously with approval, celebrate this holiday by inviting grandparents to come to school with their grandchildren. The kids can write their own invitations and spend the day interacting and learning from their family members. This would also be a great opportunity to invite elderly people from around the community in case not all grandparents are able to attend. Another suggestion would be to ask each person to bring in their favorite book from the grade that you teach!
After researching their own heritage¸ create a class graph detailing the country or countries of origin for each grandparent. Famlies can also bring in ethnic food to share from that particular region and share stories of their travels to America. Other activities might include drawing a flag from that country or singing important songs.
Grandparents Day Poem
Here is a great template for reading and then designing your own cinquain poem. This is great for 1st or 2nd graders to use for a lesson on adjectives with a special topic!
Grandparents Day Word Search
What grandparent doesn’t enjoy a fun word search? This would be a great activity to try together as a family because it would work for any grade level!
Cross Word Puzzle
Help kids learn about grandparents all around the world by investigating the clues to find the correct answers!