a feature article by Lynn Wilson, author of A Handbook for Grandparents*
1. Magic Closet: Create a spectacular hideaway spot! Gather up glow in the dark sticks, flashlights, favorite stuffed animals, books, blankets and pillows and presto a comfy but secret hideaway! This could be a place to read books by flashlight or a camping light fastened on a headband. You might even add some glow in the dark stick-ons like stars and moons to the walls and the ceiling!
2. Plant A Special Tree: Plant a special tree for each of your grandchildren, perhaps to commemorate a special event! There are so many spectacular trees to explore especially in the spring as new growth “explodes”. Trees such as Forsythia, Lilac and Magnolia trees are spectacular examples. A dwarf tree is just right for young children. They take up very little space. Some trees will bear fruit within a year or two of planting and the fruit will be easy for your grandchildren to reach. This memory tree will be one your grandchild can return to as they grow older. A fun project would be to photograph your grandchild standing next to the tree over many years – a wonderful keepsake.
3. Heritage Chest: You may begin this heritage chest on the day your grandchild is born. You might save the newspaper that was printed on that day, you might record the weather, your version of their delivery and this can be an ongoing project for many years. It may be given on a special occasion.
4. Letters: Write letters to your grandchildren even before they are born and throughout their lives. You can keep them for a special event or use snail mail to send the letters. There is nothing more fun than getting your own mail.
5. You Book: Why not create a book for your grandchild that is all about you! Include old photos especially those photos that represent you when you were their age.
6. A Special Shoe Box: Each time your grandchild visits put something new and interesting into a shoe box that you have decorated with their picture on it. Place it near the front door and watch your grandchild head for it every time. What a great way to start a visit!!
7. A Surprise: A great deal of excitement will be generated when you send your grandchild a surprise package through the mail that includes a memory stick filled with fun things you have been doing. It is even more wonderful when it is unexpected! You could also send an empty one for your grandchild to fill up and send back to you. This may be especially meaningful for grandparents who live far away!
8. Back to School Backpack: You may want to purchase a new backpack together for the start of the school year and fill it with all kinds of interesting and fun supplies. This might be a ritual that you share together at the start of every school year.
9. Family Cookbook: Create a document together with all of the family’s favorite recipes as a gift for a special occasion. You might take photos of your grandchild preparing some of the recipes and the finished products to include in the cookbook.
10. Stone Sculptures/Inuksuk’s: Choose rocks of different sizes, shapes and colours. Have your grandchildren pick the rocks that are the most interesting to them. Encourage the children to make rock sculptures providing them with lots of rubber cement. Some children may want to paint, add props or other creative materials to their Inuksuk. They might want to create an Inuksuk garden with all their structures strategically placed. Take their photos and display their creativity.
11. Rainy Day Suitcase: Small, easy to manage suitcases can be filled with all kinds of interesting props and materials. This suitcase might be saved for a rainy day filled with interesting dress up clothes, jewelry, fancy hats, purses, scarves, boas, pirate hats, eye patches, chef hat etc. – anything that will be new and interesting.
12. Time Capsule: Gather together some favorite things – photos in a Ziploc bag, a list of best books ever, small toys, coins, a letter from your grandchild to their future self, front page of a newspaper, a lock of hair etc. Decorate a watertight tin and bury it in a secret spot. Date the container and make a plan as to when you want to open this up again. Don’t forget where you buried it!!
*These are only a few of the more than 700 activities included in A Handbook for Grandparents, written by Lynn Wilson. For more information, go to http://www.grandparentshandbook.com.