We at Doing Good Together™ (DGT) recently connected with Cait over at My Little Poppies, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to her. If you enjoy this creative, compassionate family project, hop on over to her blog to discover more. While you're there, check out our post about a Summer (of Kindness) Bucket List!
One year ago, I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly homeschooling our eldest child. As a school psychologist, I have an education background and yet this is the first time in my life that I've been the teacher. My children are young, and I want to encourage and build upon their natural curiosity and love of learning. I am always on the hunt for fun project ideas.
Last fall, my 6-year-old son became extremely interested in history. We had been listening to Story of the World on audiobook for a couple of months and he was obsessed. He came up with the idea of creating a family history project. Around the same time, a dear friend of mine sent me a link to this article in which the author made a journal for a grandparent. I discussed the post with my son and he was over the moon excited about starting a journal for both sets of grandparents. We agreed to get started right away.
How We Did It
First, we purchased four large, lined, hardcover journals. Since we intended to pass these journals back and forth, and because we wanted them to last forever, we made sure that the journals were heavy-duty.
Next, we drafted a letter. In the letter, we explained the concept of the journal and asked each grandparent to participate. We emphasized that the only rule is that there are no rules. The journal activity was designed to be an enjoyable grandparent-and-grandchild project. We explained that answers could be handwritten or typed, and that writers were free to answer questions in as much depth as they'd like or to skip a question entirely. Responders were free to draw pictures, maps, share recipes, go off on tangents- whatever they wished, as long as it was fun!
Then, we came up with the questions. The kids and I had a fun brainstorming session. We started at the beginning and wrote down all the questions we could think of to ask the grandparents. This activity was oodles of fun, folks! It can be tough for young children to break out of their ego-centric mentality and this activity really got my children thinking about their grandparents as people with stories and unique histories and not just grandparents. We ended up with an incredible amount of questions! We decided to divide the questions into chapters (ie., Early Childhood, Late Childhood, Teen Years, Young Adult, etc.) so as not to overwhelm anyone.
Finally, we gift-wrapped the journals and gave them to the grandparents as a gift. The kids were so excited watching their grandparents open such a specially-crafted and family-oriented gift.
We have received the first chapter from two of our beloved grandparents already and let me tell you, this activity is worth its weight in gold. My children have delighted in reading The Story of Bubby and The Story of Grandpa Joe. It has been- by far- our best read aloud ever.
Benefits of the Grandparent Journal
- This is a wonderful way to introduce young children to the concept of history. History is far more relatable when it involves those you love dearly.
Understand family history
- A great way to introduce family genealogy, family tree, and a sense of chronology.
- Build an understanding of family history and traditions.
- The grandparent journal provides a first-hand account of a loved one's life story. It is essentially a handwritten autobiography for your children to treasure.
- Brainstorming journal questions requires that you put yourself in the another person's shoes.
- Reading about someone else's experiences, especially when the person is someone you treasure, builds a sense of empathy and a deeper understanding of that person as an individual.
- Journaling back-and-forth strengthens relationships and family unity. Your children begin to understand their grandparents as unique individuals with a story, and not just grandparents.
Learn interview skills
- The grandparent journal requires children to brainstorm and think of questions, building early interview skills.
Benefits of journaling
And lest you think that this journal is only beneficial for your children, think again. Numerous studies have suggested tha writing has been shown to reduce stress levels.t the act of writing can have a positive impact on health, happiness, memory, and creativity. In addition,
But wait, there's more
The grandparent journal is a hand-written treasure. It's your very own time capsule and will be sure to become a cherished family memoir for years to come.
Want to take it one step further?
Once we have completed all four grandparent journals, my son has big plans to reverse the project and have his grandparents ask him questions so that he can craft his very own autobiography. Who knew history could be so much fun!
How do you capture and preserve memories? How do you celebrate your family's unique history? Share your stories here.
Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley is a school psychologist who has worked in the Boston public schools. She is currently unexpectedly homeschooling her 7-year-old son and she writes about her family's journey at My-Little-Poppies.com. Caitlin is a Year Round Homeschooling contributor and a member of the iHomeschool Network. She volunteers for and is published by Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. You can follow her journey on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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