Best grandparenting tips to inspire children to learn

by Mary Ann on September 24, 2010

An Example of Recognizing and Responding to a Spark Part 4 – Closet Letters

A few of the grandkids

Grandparents have a wonderful opportunity to teach their grandchildren. Grandparents can share their values, what they love and anything that interests them. Grandchildren are so open. For whatever reason grandkids love to be with grandparents and whatever we say and do is of interest to them. My grandchildren listen to me. WOW!

That puts us in a wonderful position to teach them all kinds of things. We can have conversations, read books, work on the computer together and go exploring. If grandchildren aren’t close you can write Closet letters.

Ashley and her volcano

In the last three blogs I have taken you on an adventure, following a Spark with two of my grandchildren. part 1, part 2, part 3. I just received this email from their mom, “So the girls really remembered the stuff you taught them about volcanoes and even remembered all the names to stuff.” They really did learn and LOVED it. I want to extend that love of learning and fun for them and me. So here is my plan for the next few months.

When they left I realized that there were many crystals in our hall way fountain. Their little rock collection doesn’t contain much. We just didn’t have time. I am sending an egg carton with the crystals inside. I am going to purchase an inexpensive book on rocks and minerals so they can find and label their collection.

I found a poster showing the inside of a volcano which they can hang on their wall.

One of the things that really caught their attention while we were studying how rocks are made was the pictures of mummies at Pompeii. I’m going to share what happened there.

In another letter I will talk about the eruption in Iceland. I’ll be sure to include a link to the web so they can see the actual volcano going off. They will love that! I will include information about Mt. St. Helen’s.

I am sending them each a small container of body powder made from talc and reminding them what we learned about the hardness scale. I can give them a few experiments to conduct by telling them what to scratch with what. For example, a penny, which is a three on the scale, can scratch chalk which is a 1.

I want to purchase a small vile of gold flakes that they can add to their collection. Then I can talk about prospectors, the gold rush and any part of history that applies.

For Christmas I am going to send them the money for tickets to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. They have an extensive gem and mineral display, a pair of Egyptian mummies and a terrific fossil collection.

The Colorado national monument is only 4 miles from their home so I want to send a letter all about it and the startling white and red sandstone formations they will see there.

Closet letters are a great way to engage with your grandchildren and assist your adult children in helping their children to love learning. Here are simple instructions for writing a letter kids will love.

* Do some online research on the topic . Don’t spend tons of time, just get some ideas.

* Write in a way that is age appropriate. Make the information clear, simple and understandable.

* Add LOTS of pictures to illustrate what you are talking about.

* If hand writing the letter, print or write very legibly so a child can read it themselves.     If using the computer use a large font (12-  14) and print it off. This facilitates   adding pictures easily.

* Depending on your interest, energy and time you can send a letter weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or a few times a year.

* It works well to write letters that correspond to world events, holidays and special occasions.

These letters work for children of all ages. Most of my grandchildren are under the age of 12. I have written letters about Martin Luther King, the Cherokee Indians, our scriptural cannon, The census, Fredrick Douglas and slavery, proverbs people use in daily speech, George Wythe University, Nelson Mandela, Easter and the word onomatopoeia, to name a few.

The Booth Family

When I first began sending the letters I wondered what the children thought about them. Let me share what happened. My 20 year old daughter went to visit my married daughter for Spring break. When she arrived Lizzy, the five year old said, “I know what onomatopoeia means”. Then she gave a couple of examples. The seven year old proudly said “but I know how to spell it.” This conversation took place almost two months after I sent the original letter.

These letters can really impact your grandchildren. Send one to each child or one to a family. They will LOVE learning with you.

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