Focusing on wellness can make time with grandchildren especially rewarding.
Time together supports the three goals of Grandparents Day: honoring grandparents, sharing love with grandchildren, and helping children learn about their grandparents' strengths and guidance.
Fun activities can be good for you and your grandchildren.
Grandparents Day is officially the first Sunday after Labor Day, but at Healthier Generation, we like to celebrate all year long! Why? Grandparents provide essential protective factors—like stability and consistency—for young people experiencing adversity.1
And not to be grim, but the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the importance of child-grandparent and other family relationships. According to the COVID Collaborative, more than 91,000 children have lost a parent and 79,000 have lost a grandparent caregiver due to COVID-19.2
Following public health advice can help us make the best choices for ourselves and our families. Grandparents can model healthy behavior by making a point to focus on wellness during time spent with grandchildren. You can choose activities that support physical health, emotional health, and the health of our environment.
What Grandparents Day goals can we boost all year long?
So, how can we make every day Grandparents Day? Let’s start with the three goals of the celebration:
- To honor grandparents
- To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children
- To help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer
Are you ready to celebrate? Let's start by exploring these wellness-themed activities.
Move more, together
Energize your next family Zoom call or gathering, and try using these ways to champion inclusive physical activities from the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD).
Want to make your own game? One of my favorite DIY physical activity games is Mystery Exercise Box. Because you (and the children) decide on the movements, it is easily adapted to all skill and ability levels.
- Tear or cut a scrap sheet of paper into multiple strips.
- Using big bold letters, write a simple activity like 'reach to the sky,' 'jog in place,' and 'lunges' on each strip of paper. Fold the pieces of paper and put them in a cup or hat.
- Randomly select an activity and do the movement together.
Interview each other
Pick a few of the following questions and host your own interview show, with grandparents asking children questions and children asking grandparents questions. You can style this after a talk show or news segment and record as a video to watch together and screen for others. For an art activity, invite children to turn the conversation into an illustrated scrapbook.
Growing up one of my favorite family traditions was __________________.
What is your favorite family tradition? Why?
The greatest thing I learned from my family was ___________________.
What memorable lesson have you learned from your family?
My happiest memory is ___________________.
What is your happiest memory?
When I was younger, the bravest thing I did was ___________________.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Get outside and observe nature, together
Time in nature has been proven to improve our mental health. Fnd a spot to observe what’s around you using your senses as a guide. Then, go on a Rainbow Walk Scavenger Hunt. Take turns naming colors of the rainbow and sharing what you find.
If you’re collecting natural items that have fallen on their own, you can create a nature sensory box—fun for even the youngest explorers.
Turn your nature walk into a weekend project by drawing or painting a postcard to send to another grandparent, a friend, or other loved one. You can even print out this Nature BINGO card and try finding the items on the square either as a BINGO game or a self-guided scavenger hunt.
Give reading time a healthy twist
Host your own read along and encourage family bonding. With older grandchildren, take turns reading a loud or even acting out your favorite book.
A few of my favorite books that connect healthy habits, food, and social justice:
- Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin
- Zora's Zucchini by Katherine Pryor, illustrated by Anna Raff
- The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter written and illustrated by Shabazz Larkin
- Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee, illustrated by Man One
Think nature when you get crafty
If you enjoy creating craft projects with your grandkids, consider starting with homemade play dough or by making your own rain stick using the simple directions in Healthier Generation’s Virtual “Me Moments” hub. In Resources to Engage Families through Art and Nature, one of the craft activities includes tissue paper suncatchers—a simple DIY project for all ages that can be shared as a homemade gift.
Make a healthy snack
Working together in the kitchen is a great way for grandparents to share culture and history with children. If you’re looking for a fun recipe perfect for young children to make, try Animal Toast Faces. It’s a simple and inexpensive afterschool or weekend snack.
1. Afterschool: Fostering Protective Factors That Can Last a Lifetime. Afterschool Alliance et. al. Found on the internet at http://afterschoolalliance.org/documents/issue_briefs/issue_protective_factors_75.pdf
2. Hidden Pain: Children Who Lost a Parent or Caregiver to COVID-19 and What the Nation Can Do to Help Them. COVID Collaborative and Social Policy Analyitcs. Found on the internet at https://www.covidcollaborative.us/initiatives/hidden-pain#the-report