Writing a Book Together
Your older grandkids have returned to school and you're spending time with the young one?
Make an alphabet book. Specifically an alphabet book of activities or items around your house.
This happened to me. My youngest granddaughter came to my house a couple of days a week while her mommy returned to work, and her siblings were off to school. She wanted to play "school" as well, and frankly so did I--ever the school teacher! We decided to make an "ABC" book about my house.
She was old enough and knew her alphabet, so we brainstormed together. What did we see or do around my house that started with the letter "A"? Always tempting to go with apples of course, but I tried to steer her on to other things. As I said, I'm always the school teacher, so I'm sure we talked about concrete items as well as action words.
It's a pretty straightforward endeavor. Just make it what you will. You and your grandchild can go around the house finding various items and taking pictures of them. However, I read an article recently where today's generation is not spending much time (if at all) on hands-on arts and crafts due to curriculum changes and technology. So by all means, have them draw some of the things they see or enjoy doing at your house to match each letter.
My granddaughter and I actually searched the photo albums in my computer files to find some of our pictures. That works too.
Just have FUN with it!
Whether you have them draw pictures, take the photos with a cell phone or camera, find existing pictures on your cell phone or computer, doesn't matter. In fact you can certainly have a mix. I wish I had had my grandkids draw the cover of our book. I could have easily scanned it, and used it for the cover. And I used Apple books for my hardcover book, but you could certainly make a scrapbook. That would be another hands-on activity I'm sure your grandchild would enjoy--all that cutting and pasting.
Here are some bookmaking websites if you're interested:
And here's a site for board books. I've never used it, but if you have toddlers, that would be great:
There is so much to do with this alphabet book. Keep it at your house for your own story time when they come. Send it home with them, or make an additional copy for them so they can read with their siblings and mom and dad.
And I'm sure you know some great ABC books to read to them as well. Two of my favorites:
And any number of others. Plan a trip to the library with your grandchild and see for yourselves how many alphabet books are available. It just adds to the fun of this project.
And another thing:
My daughter-in-law, who is an early childhood educator, wrote me after I posted this. She pointed out the research involving alphabet books and literacy development. It got me searching for online articles. Here are two I share~
Father's Day is coming! Why not involve the grandchildren in an activity for daddy or granddad or both? A teacher friend posted a questionnaire she did with her students for Father's Day. I loved it, and decided it would be great for me to do with my grandchildren. They had made a book for their mother. Now it was dad's turn! Here is the questionnaire:
Questions about my Dad
1. What is something your dad always says to you?
2. What makes dad happy?
3. What makes dad sad?
4. How does your dad make you laugh?
5. What was your dad like as a child?
6. What is his favorite thing to do?
7. What does your dad do when you're not around?
8. If your dad becomes famous, what will it be for?
9. What is your dad really good at?
10. What is your dad not very good at?
11. What does your dad do for a job?
12. What is your dad's favorite food?
13. What makes you proud of your dad?
14. If your dad were a cartoon character, who would he be?
15. What do you and your dad do together?
16. How are you and your dad the same?
17. How are you and your dad different?
18. How do you know your dad loves you?
19. What does your dad like most about your mom?
20. Where is your dad's favorite place to go?
The kids were over one weekend in May. Their ages at the time were 8-12, so they were old enough for me to give each kid a copy of the questions, and send each to a corner to write their answers. That way they weren't swayed by their sibling's response. But this would also be fun to ask the little guys who aren't reading/writing yet, and you record their responses. The answers for dad can be sweet and sentimental, but they can also be good for a chuckle or two.
And you know what I did. I made a book. I think it just makes a wonderful keepsake for dad. But you can certainly just tuck the questionnaire, along with their answers, in a greeting card. Either way, what a treasure for dad or grandpa.
Here are some sample pages from my son's book. As you can see, I just used photos I had on hand, or else some appropriate clip art.
Cover for book~
I then took the pictures I had used in the book, and made a collage for the cover:
My husband and I were traveling on Father's Day last year, so I wasn't with them when my grandkids presented their dad with the book. My sweet daughter-in-law snapped a picture of them giving their daddy the book. They gathered around him to listen to him read it. I think he was pleased. . .
Sometimes grandparents have to take the lead! Parents are so busy with the day to day details of raising children. And this time of year is especially crazy what with their children finishing out the school year. Both parents are often working as well, so it's hard for mom or dad to sit down with the kids to do a craft or write with their kids to give to daddy or granddad. This is where a grandparent can take the lead. It's important that we as grandparents model this--that giving something of yourself, whether writing and creating, is the best gift you can possibly give a loved one.
We enjoyed making this book, and I've tried to give you time before Father's Day to actually do just that. I have a Mac, so I used the iPhoto application. But here are some photo book-making websites:
I hope you'll find the time to get with your grandkids to create something for their dad, grandfather, favorite uncle or other "daddy" in their life. Just getting together with your grandchildren is great, and to create something for a loved one together is really special. And as I always say, please share your ideas and things you have done for Father's Day. We always love to hear.
"I want to congratulate all the men out there who are working diligently to be good fathers, whether they are stepfathers, or biological fathers, or just spiritual fathers." T. D. Jakes
Also. . . remember you can use the contact page to write me, and I'll be glad to send you the questionnaire.
Mother's Day Is Coming!
Mother's Day is coming--how about writing a poem for a dear lady in your life and do it with your grandkids?
My granddaughters are huge fans of classic Hollywood musicals (probably thanks to their mother and her love for same). One of their favorites is "The Sound of Music." I just know they are able to sing the lyrics to every song on that soundtrack and have been able to since they were little-bitty. A favorite is "My Favorite Things." Since we are always looking for something to write in the way of a book, the girls decided we HAD to change the lyrics to fit their favorite things. We tried and tried on several occasions to no avail. A song about their favorites patterned after the song's lyrics just wouldn't come. Everytime we got together, we tried. Finally I told them since Christmas was coming, let's create a book based on the lyrics, but write it about their mother and her favorite things, and present it to her for Christmas. They agreed. And the words just poured out. They knew immediately their mother's favorite things, and we learned about lyrics, syllables, and extending our list with expressive adjectives and adverbs to make it fit the pattern. We had so much fun!
We did it for Christmas one year, but it would make a great Mother's Day gift.
Here's a sample of their writing just changing the lyrics to the song:
"Time with her family
Is first on her list,
Sweet Charlie has a place in her heart.
Nieces and nephews,
And sister and brother,
These are a few of her
We made a book, but of course you can do anything. Just a simple card is nice with their writing. What a treasure to get something written from your children just for YOU!
Of course you don't have to do a book. You can have your grandchildren make other items to show off their writing to their mother or family friend. The ideas are endless. They can write their poem or song or essay, and present it in a card or on pretty paper tied with ribbons.
You can use a favorite song for the writing. Just change the lyrics to fit your Mother's Day recipient. It could be one of your favorite songs or one of your grandkids' favorites. Poems work well, and so do Mother Goose rhymes. Acrostic poems like we did above is always a fun idea.
Who should receive the writing?
This list is endless--their mother of course, but also a favorite teacher, neighbor, their other grandmother, their great-grandmother, aunts, and school bus drivers. Any sweet lady that comes to their mind.
You've got time before Mother's Day! I tried to get this blog out in time for Mother's Day. That gives you a couple of weeks to get together with your grands and do some writing as well as some art work to embellish that writing. I think I've even given you time for a book.
Whatever you do, HAVE FUN! That's really what it's all about.
Until next week!
Photo Safari with the Grandkids
Take advantage of the beautiful spring weather and take your grandchild on a photo expedition! Here in Texas, we really have to take advantage of the cool spring weather to do such activities. So get going!
I realize I am so richly blessed to live in the same town as three of my grandchildren. So when they were toddlers, I could spend a great deal of time with them. Of course they came to my house, and we just played the usual grandparent-grandchild games around the house. But to mix things up, I like to take them out into the community--going to the park, the children's museum, the mall, and the library. All very fun, but sometimes you just have to mix it up a bit. I've written about this before. My sweet daughter-in-law suggested I get my grandson a Fisher-Price camera--easily managed by a young child. So I had to plan a day around that! I came up with a photo safari. Alas, no animals to be photographed, but plenty of other things to photo-snap!
Now I don't even think you would need to buy a special kid-friendly camera--most kids under five can manage a cell phone very well. So if you've got one, you're set to go. Just pick up your grandchild for a day of fun!
I've previously written about my granddaughters and their photography books. One used her pictures from her photo safari to create the book, "Goodnight My Town," for her little sister. It was patterned after Margaret Wise Brown's book, "Goodnight Moon." My other granddaughter used her pictures to create her book, "The ABC's of Our Town." You can see with these two books, we had to take Stephen Covey's advice and begin with the end in mind. That is to say before we started out picture taking, we had to have in mind WHAT we would be photographing. With my first grandchild, it was more random and free-flowing. He just snapped what pleased him.
After we completed a day of snapping pictures, I wanted to create something tangible for him that he could relive the day and his photography skills. I decided we really needed to publish his pictures. And add more to it! So we did another day of taking photos of community sights around our town. I remember we stopped once on our quest, and discussed what we should photograph next. One of us proposed taking pictures of people. I thought that was a great idea. I knew he and his mother often visited the firehouse in their neighborhood--he loved visiting with the firefighters. We could stop by there and get their pictures. As we went about this new challenge, my grandson said to me, "You know, Gigi, we're taking pictures of nouns." That statement thrilled this old teacher's heart, and that became the name of his book, "The People, Places, Things of My Town."
I was fascinated by the way my grandson saw rhythms and patterns in nature. The above photos have not been edited by me. He would zoom in and refocus again and again until he got the shot just like he wanted it in his viewfinder. I learned a lot about him that day--who knew!?
If you decide to be a little more focused than we were when we first started out, you can brainstorm all the PLACES you want to photograph: the grocery store, the library, tall buildings downtown, bridges and overpasses. Yep, we even took a picture of an overpass--those columns that hold them up are quite impressive. For PEOPLE you can include people your child sees on a daily/weekly basis--their teacher, the librarian, firefighters, policemen, bus drivers, etc. And then for THINGS, the sky's the limit--we mostly included pretty plants that were blooming in the spring in our area.
All three of my grandchildren who live here in town have published books of their photographs. I made sure I printed one for them to keep, and one we donated to their school's library. We made an appointment with the librarian to deliver the books, and she barcoded them and everything!
If you have older grands, I'm thinking this would count as a photography badge in Scouts.
And if your grands don't live in town? Have them text you pictures that they take, and print them out in a photography book.
That's it! Take advantage of this beautiful spring weather (okay, okay.......spring is late this year....but when we do have spring.....) and go out with your grandchild on a photo safari! The rewards are endless. Have fun!
Recording family history and traditions~
It's the Monday after Easter as I write this. I'm sure, like many of you, my heart is full. Full because of the meaning of this holiday for Christians, and full because of time spent with beloved family at this time. And just like many of you, I'm looking at the sweet pictures from the weekend on my cell phone or camera.
If you're taking it easy this week after the rush of the holiday, I would like to encourage you to take some time to RECORD your memories and pictures of the holiday for your kids, grandkids, and great-grand kids. You can do it in a published book like I have, or a scrapbook or a journal. There's even a new term for a scrapbook--a SMASH book. It's much more haphazard and random. Not so formal and neat as a scrapbook and you can "smash" anything into it: photos, a pressing of the Easter corsage you got from your family, tickets stubs from the zoo or other springtime activity, brief essays of current holidays and holiday memories of your youth. There are no rules and regulations for a smash book, and to my way of thinking, that makes it even more fun.
The important thing is to record your family customs and traditions.
Why traditions are important~
I've addressed this subject before in this blog. After all, that's what this blog is about--sharing family customs through the SEASONS of the year. In November I discussed why I think it's important, and I quoted a favorite book, The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More, by Bruce Feiler. I quoted him then, "The more children know about their family's history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives and the higher their self-esteem." He explained that it gives them a sense of traditions and helps them realize they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Traditions are stories, beliefs, rituals and customs that are passed from one generation to the next. On Easter and other holidays, children can observe the goings-on around them and participate in them. They know that dyeing eggs, going to Easter egg hunts, going to church, big family dinners are all a part of the customs of their families. But why not record all that so they can revisit those days of their childhood over and over, and eventually share with their children and grandchildren? That's what I've opted to do by self-publishing my Easter books pictured throughout today's blog.
More thoughts on holiday customs~
And with Easter, it's not just about sharing our springtime customs and fun; for many families, it's about sharing our faith. This is a time we can witness to our children and grandchildren, share the value of our beliefs, and model it by worshiping at church, and coming together as a family. Another very important reason to document this for posterity.
One thing we don't often think about, but coming together as a family for small events or BIG events, adds to our children's sense of security. If your family eats together each night, that small event brings comfort to kids. They KNOW they will be with family and can discuss things of importance to them. It's the same with big celebrations--kids KNOW they will be going to gramma's for Christmas, or there will be a big family dinner on Easter. There's a comfort to that. It's important to have a few constants in your life--especially in our crazy, fast-paced world.
Again, the reasons for having family customs and traditions are myriad, everything from providing a strong sense of self to family members, to strengthening the family bonds, to offering a feeling of security.
It gives us a sense of connection. It ties us to family that came before, and it ties us to future generations, especially if we save our customs in some physical way and not just word-of-mouth. Paste those beloved pictures in a scrapbook, or write about them in your journal. It really is that important. I saved this quote in my quote folder from David Dawson Humes. It sums up this blog so well: "Family traditions are physical representations of our place in a never-ending story that includes everyone we've ever loved, and everybody they've ever loved, and so on. Observing and preserving tradition, and teaching it to our children, grounds us all in an ongoing project that will last far beyond our own short time on Earth."
So do it--sit down right now while it's all fresh in your mind, and preserve those family Easter customs and memories!
Great article from the Huffington Post:
Coming next week~
I have another guest blogger! It's my husband!! Our grandson just made the golf team, and it got me to thinking that Poppa needs to share the importance of grandfathers sharing their hobbies with their grands. Alan and our grandson have played golf together for years. So watch for that blog!
Happy SPRING everyone--go forth and spread the love!
Saving Memories. . .
I'm beginning to think I should change the focus of my blog, as I write so much about making books. I guess it's my background as a teacher--always encouraging my students to read and to write. And I do the same with my grands. Let's make a book!
My youngest son is a single dad. He lives about 200 miles away, and when it's his weekend to have his son, he often brings him down here to see us, his grandparents. It occurred to me that my youngest grandson needed a keepsake to capture those times with his dad, and to read when his dad wasn't around. So yes, I made ANOTHER BOOK.
"Perhaps host and guest is really the happiest relation for father and son."~Evelyn Waugh
The procedure is the same as I've described in other blogs about making books. Scan the pictures and/or download to a file on your computer. Go to a book-making website and begin creating. I tried to pick clipart that had a juvenile theme.
"Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son." ~George Lucas.
That's it! As a grandparent, I just feel we should nurture all relationships that involve our children and our grandchildren. That's the main focus of this blog--that important grandparent role we play. And you don't have to make a book or scrapbook just for a single dad--ANY dad would be thrilled to have such a book.
"No love is greater than that of a father for his son."~ Dan Brown
Websites for making books:
Family History for Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day--a great time to tell your love story! If you don't tell it, who will?
Recently two young women and sweet friends of mine shared their love story, and I loved it. I was inspired. If they could do it, so could I.
When my great-niece got all her wedding pictures from the photographer, she immediately created wedding books published at an online photo book site. She made several copies and gave them to various family members. What a wonderful keepsake for herself and her children. Don't you know her young kids love perusing that book.
As I said, when I saw C-Jaye's book, I was inspired to do my own. I had my wedding photos, but they were in an album that was coming apart. Better to put them in a book like my niece did, preserving and sharing with this generation and future generations.
My husband and I had those wedding photos as well as a few pictures from our honeymoon. We also collected keepsakes on our trip such as ticket stubs, matchbook covers and postcards. I scanned all those to put in my book as well. When I began assembling the book, I discovered more history that I hadn't even thought about. Take a look--
We were just two poor college students who really didn't have any money to take a trip. But we did have the money to go to San Antonio for the 1968 world's fair--Hemisfair. Our first night was spent in Lubbock, and we snagged the postcard from the hotel room. This is a history lesson of the 1960's in and of itself. Take a look at the decor for starters. I'm sure my female friends will take note of the huge hairdos. Look at the bellhop and how he's dressed. Notice the cash register. See the boxes for keys behind the counter? And the tobacco case as you enter the dining room. This postcard simply fascinated me, and what a bonus history lesson for my children and grandchildren. It's a snapshot of the 1960's with plenty of social commentary as well.
But wait! there's more!!
As we crossed the state, we also stopped in Houston. More history for future generations. Parking for 50 cents--imagine that. And the Astrodome was brand new. We couldn't wait to take the tour. As I said, I was just trying to make a photo book of our wedding celebration and honeymoon. Who knew it would also be a glimpse into 1960 Americana.
More ways to do your story~
My other young friend, Sara, is writing her love story for her children. She put excerpts from her essay in her blog, so I was able to read her sweet story.
So if you don't have photos of your courtship, wedding or honeymoon, simply write your story. How I would love to have my grandmother's story of her courtship written in her own hand. What a treasure that would be.
And still more! An oral history...
My daughter-in-law and son met on a hiking trip with a church group. They were leaders/counselors of the group of young people. They traveled to Colorado and besides falling in love with my son, Lisa fell in love with the Colorado Rockies and the beautiful aspen trees. She saved the terrain maps of the trip, and framed them after she and my son were married. Because she was so enamored of those beautiful trees, when they took a family vacation to Colorado, she took pictures of the aspens. Then her sister enlarged one of the photos poster-size, mounted it on canvas, and enhanced the painting further with oil paints. It's beautiful, and hangs over their fireplace. And she can tell the story over and over.....to her children as well as any guests in her home who ask. I can imagine her young children request, "Tell us the story, Mommy, about how you and Daddy met. Tell us again." Well, I'm a dreamer. It probably doesn't happen, but it sounds good in this blog. (Insert chuckle here.) Seriously, oral history is pretty special, so if you have any artifacts or heirlooms from your younger days, tell your grandkids the story behind them!
So there you have it. Three ways to tell your story: 1) You can tell it in pictures; 2) You can write it and share; or 3) You can gather your grandkids around and tell them the story.
Perk up your January!
Plan an excursion with your grandchild! That can get you out of the January doldrums real quick!
Got cabin-fever? Maybe you're able to get out, but it's too cold and you simply don't want to leave your home and hearth? Then plan a trip with your grandchild to take someday. I've read that even just planning a trip can add points on your happiness meter. In fact, they say planning a trip often adds more to your joy bucket that actually taking the trip. Nevertheless, being with your grand is always fun, so plan something for the next time you can be together. And I'm not talking about some grand vacation. If you're lucky enough to have a grandchild in the same town, plan an excursion in town--even if it's just sending them a formal invitation to come to your house for tea! The possibilities are endless.
I do have three grandchildren in town; and we're lucky to have a trolley that travels around our town center. We love to ride that trolley and stop at the mall and the library. How lucky are we! But perhaps your community has a bus service, and while riding the bus may seem uneventful to you, I'm guessing it would be grand fun for a young grandchild! Plan something around that!
I related in earlier blogs how I got my grandson a camera when he was about four years old. And that camera has been passed down to his sisters. With each one of them, I've planned a photo-safari on one of our excursions and snapping pictures of various landmarks and sites. Each one of them has created a book using those pictures. Today I'm writing about my youngest granddaughter. We decided to do an ABC book of her hometown. That meant we had to create a list of everything we could think of in our town--one for each letter of the alphabet. I let her do the entire list. Then we went out to take our pictures.
I realize you could stop right there with the trip. But I am ever-the-teacher, and I like to add a book to the time with my grand. It's important for so many reasons:
Plan that trip!
Here are some ideas, but you'll come up with a lot more:
Enriching the experience further by creating an ABC book!
Here are the basic steps:
Just do it! Plan a trip with your grand.
Even if you don't live in the same town, plan a side-trip with your grand when you visit them. It's great one-on-one time. If they come to visit you, same deal. Plan a small excursion in your town...just the two of you! And if you can take pictures and make a photo-book of those pictures, even better!
I've listed these book-making websites before. Give them a try:
It will eventually get warmer and the snow will melt. I'm looking forward to February and all those Valentine activities! Yippee! Come on February!
Through the SEASONS of the year with Gigi!
Saving Family Stories. . .
Got some free time after the holidays? That's a great time to record those family stories either with a video or a book.
Saving family stories with a VIDEO...
On several previous blogs, I've shared making a book either for or with your grand of a favorite family story or adventure. Another way to save those family stories or experiences is with a video. I have a Mac so that is easy for me to do with iMovie. But I notice there are other places to do this as well, such as animoto.com and wikihow.com. More about those two websites below.
Several years ago, we took our granddaughter to see her great-grandparents. I snapped many pictures of our experiences while we were there--from the trip to the airport, to the car ride to her house, to baking and sewing with her Mema, and on and on. I usually document such things with a book, but this year, I chose to share via a video essay. I burned DVDs of the video and sent one to my mother-in-law and one to my granddaughter. I also made it available on youtube and Facebook.
Here it is. Hopefully it will inspire you to create such a movie:
Saving family stories with a BOOK...
I've addressed this before in my blog--making books about a particular family experience. Besides preserving the moment for posterity, it is a great idea for a young grand who's learning to read. They're more tempted to pick up the book and begin reading if it's about them and something they have experienced. Even better if they help you write the book as they look at the pictures. And as I said, how fun for them to someday read to their kids and grandkids. The circle of life!
This book was with my youngest granddaughter. We took her to see her great-grandmother as well. One of the side-trips she took with cousins was to see a butterfly exhibit and movie. Hence the title, "Adventures of the Butterfly Princess." I just look at all the photos I've captured and see what title the pictures suggest. Butterflies played a role in this story, so I went with that title.
Preserve those family stories and trips!
You can do this in a multitude of ways--with a video slide-show, a video scrapbook, a published book from a bookmaking website, a scrapbook with pictures and mementos, and even a recorded audio retelling. And if you've done any or all of these, please share. I'd love to see your product and so would my readers I'm sure. A sweet friend had a copy of a video slide-show her son-in-law had made of his first daughter's birth. The girl is now 25; my friend showed the video at Christmas. She said that really made their Christmas Eve special. There's no end to the blessings that come your way with such a recording. Just do it!
Happy 2018! Wonder what the seasons of this year will bring?
A Book of Christmas Treasures
A book of Christmas treasures. . .
Wait! Before you take down your tree and box up those beloved ornaments, take pictures of favorites and cherished hand-me-downs and make a keepsake book of those treasures. My friend Judye suggested that a couple of years ago, and I'm finally doing it this year. Hey, it's cold and rainy outside, the festivities are over, so what else do I have to do. I'm doing it this year!
Really no explanation to give you--just snap those pictures and go to your favorite bookmaking website or app on your computer and get going. Create that book. Your kids and grandkids will thank you.
Here are samplings of mine that I will include:
I taught school for 36 years, so I have a lot of ornaments given to me by students. Some of them, I remember the child and delight when placing on my tree. These glass bells were given to me by a sweet Jewish girl in El Paso. This was back in the day when we seemed to have more respect for others' religions. (Sorry to editorialize, but it's true.)
Just do it!
I've heard that some families buy their children a Christmas ornament each year and then present those ornaments to the son/daughter when they move away into a home of their own and put up their own tree. How nice to document those ornaments in a small book and then present the book to the kid along with the ornaments.
There are all kinds of ideas of what you can do with those books. Perhaps you'll just keep it for yourself, and gather your grands around each Christmas, reading the book, and giving them a history of some of the ornaments.
If you're snowed in, or just resting from all the festivities, join me in making a book of ornaments!
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!