Back in 1970, Marian McQuade, a West Virginia housewife, came up with the idea of a day set aside to encourage families to visit their elderly relatives. With a firm resolve to make it happen, she began lobbying policymakers. McQuade got through to her Senators, Jennings Randolph and Robert Byrd, who introduced a resolution to make Grandparents Day a national holiday. It took a while to reach the White House, but finally, in 1978, the resolution declaring National Grandparents Day as the first Sunday after Labor Day, was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter.
Ok, wait it gets better. There's a Grandparents Day song. A guy from Bad Axe, Michigan named Johnny Prill recorded "A Song for Grandma and Grandpa." It's not exactly "When I'm 64" but it's not terrible. Take a listen: A Song for Grandma and Grandpa.
Catchy, right? Granted, the date and its accompanying ditty haven't drawn the popularity of say, New Year's and "Auld Lang Syne" or Christmas and "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." Yet.
Bottom line, this Sunday, the law requires the President to call on the people of the United States to observe National Grandparents Day with appropriate pomp and circumstance. And gifts. One always needs to include a gift. So, the Grandparents.com team is ready to unveil our gift to you. Here's our website. No, here's your website. Unwrap it, use it, read it, write on it, yell at us, embrace us. We want you to treat the site as a member of your family and we're very happy to include you in ours.
Happy Grandparents Day!
Grandparent Interview. Put your newshounds to work on a great story -- an interview with a senior citizen! Brainstorm a list of questions with the class, or use Education World's Interview with a Super Senior Teaching Master. More questions can be found at Sample Questions for "Interviewing" Your Grandparents on the official Grandparents Day site. (Alternate source of questions.) If your students are too young to write the answers on paper, have them tape their interviews. Oral history can be even more effective than written! Incorporate math and science into the activity with Family Fuel Facts Reporter. Find ideas for creating a questionnaire at Developing Relationships with Older People.
Great Greeting Cards. Have your students send a personalized message to their grandparents or other seniors. You will find links to many types of cards that can be made in the classroom at Home-Made Greeting Cards. If a card is simply not enough, take the assignment a step farther and have your students write letters expressing their appreciation for the support of their grandparents or other people in their lives.
Mapping Nonna and Opa. Can you say grandma and grandpa in Italian? Use this list of words that kids use for grandparents in other countries as a mapping activity with your class. Print out the World Map, and have your students find the countries and label them on their sheets. Use the outline map with older students and a regular map with the countries labeled for younger students. These words refer to grandma and grandpa in the following countries:
- Poland -- Babcia and Dziadek,
- Germany -- Oma and Opa,
- India -- Nana-ji and Nani-ji,
- Korea -- Halmonee and Halabujee,
- Greece -- Ya-ya and Pa-pu,
- Japan -- Oba-chan and Oji-chan,
- China -- Popo and Gong-gong,
- Italy -- Nonna and Nonno,
- Israel -- Savta and Saba,
- Cuba -- Abuelita and Abuelito.
Visit a Nursing Home. Did you know that 60 percent of nursing home residents never have a visitor? Schedule a field trip to a local nursing home, and have your students adopt "grandparents" or "secret pals" to cheer. As a pick-me-up, they may bring handmade Placemats for the seniors. (See another placemat idea.) Students and residents may teach one another about hobbies they enjoy or read books and stories together. As a part of this activity, create a Forget-Me-Not bulletin board of photos and stories for your classroom or school. Be advised that visiting a nursing home may not be appropriate for all students. It is important to remind students that though some seniors require care, many do not, and they lead productive, independent lives.
Family Tree. Grandparents Day is the perfect time for students to study their family trees. The Family Tree Chart will help your students organize their relatives to illustrate their ancestral history. This is a great activity for students to complete with their grandparents. Older students can go further with their research and use sites such as Genealogy.com to find their long-lost roots. Post a world map in your classroom, and have the students mark the countries in which their ancestors lived.
Graphing the Ages. Your students can illustrate the median ages of people in regions of the United States or by state with the data found at Estimates of the Median Age of the Population for the U.S. Where does your state stand in the larger national picture? Access more data from the U.S. Census Bureau, including statistics about American households and changes in population.
Poems for Grandma and Grandpa. Invite your students to share their thoughts about grandparents poetically. Their work may be serious, humorous, or fanciful. An example is Sammy Snake's Grandpa by "Grandpa" Tucker. Consider having your students write poems or create artwork; you can find some samples to motivate them in the contest resources at National Grandparents Day. (Note: The contests have not been run in several years, but the samples are available for viewing.)
Bag of Fun. Gather a few materials and put them in bags for students to take with them and share with their grandparents or a senior friend. You might use paper lunch bags and have your students decorate them with crayons or markers. You might include the Hand in Hand Activity and some of the Grandmother or Grandfather coloring sheets. Other possible items for the bags might be student-made stories or books, cards, tea bags or hot chocolate mix, cookies you have made or decorated in class, a favorite classroom song, and any other items that encourage students to share. Mature students may create a portfolio of their class work and take a favorite book to a scheduled visit with their grandparents.