26 Apr Fifty Ideas for Grandparenting During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Isolation does not mean being isolated from one another. We are all finding new ways to reach out and communicate with each other. Just because we’re practicing physical distancing, doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected with our loved ones.
This list of resources is intended help grandparents through this difficult time. It can be used as a series of fun activities, to deepen Jewish connection and knowledge, or to teach and learn together with your grandchildren. Many of these resources are intended to entertain, but also to be used as conversation starters.
The end goal should be a sense of human connection!
With Young Kids
- Distract the kids for a bit in any way you can — give their quarantined parents a bit of a break. To do this by computer or phone, create things like a puppet or music show, something the kids will focus on. If you’re ordering groceries, have the kids walk you through their pantries, showing their favorite foods!
- Play “Family Geography,” in which you write down names of family members and names of places and have them connect it. You can also play “Family by the Numbers,” a matching game of family members and numbers such as age and height.
Keep your expectations low in terms of how long their attention will remain.
With School Age Kids
- See if you can join their online classes or Zoom in for homework hour. Their parents might appreciate a tutor!
- If your grandkids have a hobby or are learning a skill (music, for instance), you can help by talking about it with them, looking at their work or sitting with them while they practice.
You can raise plants together! Buy the same type of seedling and chart their growth.
Tweens, Teens and Older
You might use virtual museum tours to find something which sparks interest in your grandchild and then conducting further research on the topic together. Many museums are doing online tours, activities, and talks, including (check out their social media pages as well as their websites):
- The Jewish Museum.
- The Contemporary Jewish Museum.
- The National Museum of Jewish History.
- The Rose Museum.
- The Israel Museum.
- Many More.
- There are virtual board games you can play: scrabble, chess, and more.
- You can cook together — teach them a recipe as you Zoom into each other’s kitchens and see how each of your creations turn out! You can always have the family taste-test. Lots of Jewish organizations are offering virtual Challah baking classes for kids and their families – join one.
- Start a family tree!
- PJ Library has a list of Jewish resources. For kids from young toddlers to age 12 and their families, as well as resources just for grandparents. (Your local PJ Library may also have supplementary resources.)
- Shalom Sesame has resources ranging from crafts to learning about Jewish values and it’s fun to watch the Shalom Sesame YouTube video channel together over Zoom screen sharing.
- Cook with 18Doors – these recipes have adult and kid tips!
- Gateways: Access to Jewish Education has a series of activities for kids and continually add more on their Facebook.
- Shalom Learning has many Jewish educational programs.
- Shabbat ShaMorning with ShirLala (Shira Kline).
- Bobby Doowah has fun Shabbat songs!
- Jason’s Power Hour (Jason Mesches).
- Caribu.com is a video calling service which allows you to read digital storybooks to your family. You both see the pages turning, and your voice is broadcast — this can help keep kids’ attention better than a book they can only see through a webcam.
- The Wall Street Journal has a list of resources for kids of all ages.
- The Center for Puppetry Arts offers workshops online.
- Google Earth is offering virtual National Parks tours – and there are many other virtual ways to explore the natural world.
- The New York Times List of “Board Games With a Touch of Tech”
- The Google Play app has many free games.
Suggested by poet Wendy Mnookin
- Hold classes for your grandkids — teach them poetry by Facetime, at a consistent time during the week.
- Some good resources: Wishes, Lies and Dreams; and Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? both by Kenneth Koch.
Read & Watch (and discuss!)
- Join the Forward’s book club!
- Jewish Women’s Archive are holding a quarantine book club.
- Jewish Book Council has book club recommendations and discussion guides
- Kveller lists Jewish TV shows to watch.
- Meditate with your grandkids through the Institute of Jewish Spirituality.
Music & Podcasts
- You and your grandchild can create a playlist
- You can listen to the Metropolitan Opera
- Listen and discuss these Feminist podcasts with your grandkid!
- Story Corps Connect enables you to share and chronicle family stories using video conferencing.
- Beit Hatfutsot offer a number of resources to share family stories.
And for you!
- 18Doors on how to bring Jewish to grandparenting!
- JNF has a schedule of activities.
- Enjoy these activities from Hadassah.
- The Florence Melton School for Adult Jewish Learning offers online Jewish learning.
- Pardes has a list of resources.
*Note: While resources have been sorted into age categories, many of them can be enjoyable for multiple age groups, depending on your own and your grandchild’s interests.
Ruth Nemzoff, a member of the Jewish Grandparents Network National Advisory Committee, is the author of Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children and Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws Into Family and a resident scholar at Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center. She is a frequent lecturer on emerging adulthood, parenting adult children, empty nest syndrome, intermarriage, grandparenting, and family dynamics in intergenerational families. You can learn more about her at https://www.ruthnemzoff.com/