Grandparents’ Day

I was so blessed to grow up around my grandparents. They all played important roles in my life, and I would not be who I am today without their love and encouragement and the many lessons they shared along the way.

Needless to say, I’ve always been delighted when Grandparent’s Day rolls around each year. It gives me another opportunity to let my grandparents know just how much I appreciate having them in my life.

At the school where I used to teach, we had a “Grandparent’s Day” of our own a little later in the fall. It was a day for students to invite their grandparents (biological or “adopted”) to school for the morning to share what we’d been up to in the classroom and have some special one-on-one time as they engaged together in a learning activity and ate lunch. Each year I also worked in some type of discussion about the differences between the experiences of the students and their grandparents in areas like education, communication, transportation, or technology. My students were fascinated by the changes that had occurred over the past few decades… and sometimes the grandparents made amazing discoveries of their own when they saw what and how their grandchildren were learning.

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The following books are ones I have enjoyed reading with my students as we shared about our own experiences with our grandparents. These stories provide opportunities for meaningful class discussions about how grandparents influence our lives, what we can learn from them, how their lives differ from ours, the types of challenges they face, and the importance of having and sharing memories.

Tom by Tomie dePaola

 

Big Mama’s by Donald Crews

 

dear juno by Soyung Pak

 

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman

 

When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

 

Lighthouse: A Story of Remembrance by Robert Munsch

 

“I Remember!” Cried Grandma Pinky by Jan Wahl

 

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

 

Grandpa’s Teeth by Rod Clement

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Looking for some ways for your students to learn more about how things have changed during their grandparents’ life times? Visit the following sites to learn more about the inventions, discoveries, and advances over the years:

National Museum of American History interactive timeline – view iconic artifacts that illustrate key events in our country’s history

Key Moments in Consumer Electronics: A Timeline – from Pong in 1972 to the iPad in 2010

NASA’s Apollo Program vs. The Future of American Human Spaceflight

American History Timeline

 

Activity Ideas:

Working with their grandparents or researching on their own, students can

  • Compare and contrast two time periods and complete a graphic organizer like this.
  • Create a timeline to show some significant historical and personal events from their grandparent’s childhood to today.
  • Write a narrative to share a family story.
  • Put together a memory box of items that bring family events to mind.
  • Write a letter to a grandparent.
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A Walk Down Memory Lane

Memories… so much of our lives are tied together with bits and pieces of our past.

Whether they make us laugh or cry or are as precious as gold or are rather forgotten, memories can help us cherish the past, look forward to the future, and sometimes make sense of the present.

One of my favorite stories that explores this topic is this delightful children’s book by Mem Fox:

As little Wilfred comes to discover from his friends at the retirement home, memories are many things but most of all they are meant to be shared.

The Learning to Give site has a five lesson unit entitled Sharing and Caring Across Generations that is based in part on Mem Fox’s story.

 

To further explore this topic with your students, you could incorporate the following books and lessons into your class activities:

Tanya’s Reunion, by Valerie Flournoy

Check out the link here for a lesson plan based on the story.

 

 

 

The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco

Many of Polacco’s stories are based on her memories. Visit her website to learn more about her books and see some activity ideas.

 

All the Places to Love, by Patricia Maclachlan

 

 

 

When I Was Young in the Mountains, by Cynthia Rylant

 

What brings to mind your favorite memory?

Stories of Life

Another successful set of writing prompts to use in the classroom focuses on the students themselves.

What better topic do we know in-depth information about  than our own experiences?

Providing students with prompts that connect to their lives can help to eliminate that feeling of not having anything to write about and instead help students focus on the abundance of life experiences they face each day.

The following autobiographies and biographies provide rich examples of life stories for students and can serve as mentor texts as students take on the task of writing about their own lives:

Bill Peet: An Autobiography, by Bill Peet

 

Flora and Tiger: 19 very short stories from my life, by Eric Carle


When I Was Young in the Mountains, by Cynthia Rylant

 

A Picture Book of Helen Keller, by David Adler

My Name is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter, by Jeanette Winter

 

Rocks in His Head, by Carol Hurst

 

Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

 

Cleopatra, by Peter Vennema and Diane Stanley

 

Additional Resources:

Scholastic: Writing an Autobiography

Telling a Story About Me: Young Children Write Autobiographies

How Do Kids Write an Autobiography About Themselves?

With Family and Friends the Fun Never Ends

Whether it involves a trip across the country, a walk down the street, or opening your own home to guests, visiting family and friends can be another kind of summer adventure. Sharing time, and experiences, and stories is  a great way to connect with others and broaden our own view of life.

The following stories can remind us of the power of these connections and hopefully bring to mind some of our own summer adventures…

 

The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant

Bigmama’s, by Donald Crews

Grandfather’s Journey, by Allen Say

The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco

All the Places to Love, by Patricia MacLachlan