3 Creative Ideas that work for long-distance grandparents
Stay in the minds and hearts of your grandies with these fun, easy and educational activities is easy.
Have you seen your grandchild recently?
Congratulations to all grandparents who have been able to keep regular in person contact with their grandchildren throughout the year. Forgive me but I really had to add this photo…I hardly ever see “baby” George!
Baby George Wright in Adelaide 2014
ISOLATION is becoming the new norm for families.
In 2020, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions there is a growing number of parents who have been forced into separation from their adult children along with their grandies much to their sadness.
There is a new wave of grandchildren who do not have grandparent contact due to current travel and or visiting restrictions imposed by fear of transmission of COVID-19. I said it twice because the situation is becoming more common.
Some new born babies will not be held by grandparents until months into their lives. It is distressing to new parents not to have their own parents visit, live nearby or available for support. Whilst this is already the normal situation for thousands of families, when isolation is forced upon new parents unexpectedly it can be devastating.
Who knows when this will end? Do we just hope that life returns to normal as soon as possible? In the meantime our grandchildren are growing up and those special weeks and months of bonding are flying by.
Baby George on the play mat.
WE FEEL A SHARED PAIN
I was chatting to a friend at social tennis yesterday. We share the common problem of living in a different state to our grandchildren. She said that the older her grand daughter gets, the harder it is to keep her occupied and interested in talking to her on the phone, even with video calls. Her granddaughter was only 2 years old! My heart went out to her as she continued. “It was easy at first because I was a novelty, a new face and voice. Now that she wants to move around more it is hard for my daughter to keep her on the phone. We have really short calls and I’m worried that she will forget me.” I waited and listened.
She went on, “I wish I knew what to do to keep her interested but I am all out of ideas.” I felt for my friend as I suffer the same long distance heart-aches.
I shared my situation with her. “Actually I am currently sharing musical ideas online with my own grandchildren who all live in Adelaide.”
Before he can even walk George delights in playing the mallet and drums at home with his Mum and Dad.
My friend asked more about my situation and I went on.
“My belief is that, as grandparents, our advantage in that we have already brought up our own kids. We therefore have a head start on knowing the approximate developmental patterns of babies/toddlers and pre-schoolers.
We already know in advance that our grandkids are not going to stay in any one stage for long. They are always growing, learning and developing. Just when we think we have got it right they change. If we are going to keep them engaged, we have to be one step ahead. I have learnt that kids love puppets, they love movement, singing, and as the Bee Gees so nicely put it ‘You should be dancing.’ Music, dance, singing and banging on things all go hand in hand for little ones.”
“Oh, of course” my friend responded, “I was a school teacher. I know lots of music and craft ideas we can share.”
“Well maybe we can share some ideas together?”
Before too long George becomes Big Brother to Kianna…
…and serenades her with his new harmonica
HOW CAN WE KEEP GRANDCHILDREN ENGAGED ON VIDEO CALLS?
But what if you have never had teacher training, what if you have forgotten the baby to pre-schooler stages? If you are reading this blog then you most likely have access to the internet. A simple search for online learning activities for pre-schoolers will give you some really great ideas. Musical ideas for all the basic growth stages are also listed on many sites. In the meantime here are my three top tips for instant success with grandchildren online.
Tip #1 SING TO THEM…It doesn’t matter if you can’t sing, just sing anything.
Kids of all ages can’t resist music. From the smallest baby fussing over a nappy change to a 5 year old ready to start school the voice of their mother, father…or grandparent…breaking out in song brings them quickly to attention. Not only is the song unexpected, but if it includes their name, they can’t help but look intently at you and wonder what is coming next. There are plenty of songs that use names. Little Jack Horner, Old McDonald, Mary Had a Little Lamb and so on. Simply substitute your grandchild’s name in the song and you will have their immediate attention. with a little practise you can use a familiar tunes.
Try the following song to the tune of “Twinkle Star”. Substitute my family’s names for your own.
Music Matters Star Puppets on sticks. I made these at home and use them for online learning with George and Kianna. They are laminated for durability.
Twinkle Star song and tune for the “Wright Family”
“Heidi, James, Kianna and George live together in a great big house. All day long they laugh and play, running around and chasing a mouse. Heidi, James, Kianna and George live together in a great big house.”
Tip #2 PUPPET WITH THEM
What child can resist a puppet?
Forgetful Freddie is my green frog hand puppet. I take him to kindergarten class once a week to help me remember the children’s names. He’s nearly able to remember all of them, but he still gets mixed up at times. When he stays home for one week, the children are asking “Where is Forgetful Freddie?” I tell them, “He forgot to get up in time to come to Kindy today. Would you like me to wake him up in time for next week?… “Yes!” they reply.
Puppets are the best invention. Before too long you’ll have a whole farm full of puppets. With a puppet you can take on a new life, a new character, a new face (mask puppets). Puppets are actors. They pretend all day long. They pretend to be happy, to be sad, to be lonely, to be hurt to be amazed and so on. Kids of all ages simply adore puppets. Every grandparent can make a simple paper puppet.
Frog Printable Puppet thanks to www.homeschoolgiveaways.com
It can be a paper plate with texta colour eyes, nose and mouth. There are literally hundreds of printable puppets on the internet. Add a handle with a thick pop stick from your 2 Dollar Store and you have yourself a wonderful prop.
What about trying these “old fashioned” finger through puppets: do you remember them? I sure do! Thanks to Pintrest.com. You could ask your children to print a copy for their child and your puppets and theirs can chat to each other on online too. A great colour in exercise. Or you may like to print some puppets and post them to your grandchildren. Kids love getting real mail.
Try to end your phone call with the puppet telling your grand child about what is going to happen next time you call. Finish the video call on a high while they are primed for more action. Tell them you can’t wait to show them your other puppet.
Tip #3 DANCE WITH THEM
Ok, you may be wondering how you can do that. What kind of music gets you tapping your feet? For me its something with a regular beat, a nice clean bass guitar and rhythmic drumming. Did I mention the Bee Gees’ “You should be dancing” ? That really does it for me. I can’t sit still when I hear that song. There are some songs that get kids up and dancing too. One of them is “The Chicken Dance”. A quick search of this song on YouTube will give you several choices to play to your grandchildren. Let their parents know that you are going to set up some music for your grandchild to dance so they can have the video call in an area where they is a little room to move.
Pop the song on and let the kids do their thing. Mum or Dad can film them so you can see them dancing around and the kids will not forget that you helped them to dance online.
You don’t have to pre-warn your children that you are going to try something different with the grandkids regular video call unless you need more room for your grandchild to dance. If the singing, dancing and puppetry comes as a complete surprise to your own kids, they may ramp it up even more with their own kids. They will be looking forward to the next video call just like their own children because they are wondering what will happen next as well. Most likely they will want to do the same activity with their kids during the week, and may even surprise you with their own new puppets.
Let me know how you go and please do not hesitate to call me to chat about other ideas for entertaining grandkids with music online. 0418 563 226