Jul 27, 2011

Sending Kids to Visit Their Grandparents? Ideas for Activities

How many of you are sending your children off to visit grandparents before school begins, or, if you are grandparents, anxiously awaiting the arrival of your favorite little people? Maybe your family is the highly active type that plans outings, maybe hiking or visiting museums. Or, maybe you like more low-key amusements like going to the movies or out for a bite to eat. Sometimes grandparents feel like they have to entertain grandchildren (or grandchildren expect it), so visits become chock filled with moving from one programmed activity to the next. Finding activities that have real value and can deepen relationships can be difficult, and yet another trip to the pizza-token-arcade place might not be it. On the other hand, some families are the exact opposite, where children need to entertain themselves when visiting grandparents.

If you have the opportunity to spend time with grandchildren, especially with kids in that tricky tween age range, a terrific project is creating a memory book. Grandparents and grandchildren can work together to complete the book’s thoughtful questionnaires and to fill in the family tree. You might talk about what your bar or mat mitzvah was like and what your grandchild hopes his or hers is like. You might explain where special Rosh Hashanah recipes were handed down from, and what your own favorite parts of holidays are. Learn more about the Grandparent's Memory Book for Jewish Families.
If your grandchild doesn’t have the attention for project that requires writing, try doing an interview and recording it. If you have smaller grandchildren, videotape yourself reading books with them. I highly recommend A Grandma Like Yours/A Grandpa Like Yours, in which a whimsical collection of animal grandparents illustrate the characteristics of Jewish grandparents. Then, talk about what kind of grandparent your grandchild thinks you are!

Are you off to grandma’s this summer?

Jul 21, 2011

Books and Baseball

My inaugural blog post as the new publicity coordinator for Kar-Ben is inspired by the people I’ve seen in the neighborhood where our building is located. Kar-Ben’s office is located just a couple blocks away from where the Minnesota Twins play Major League baseball, Target field. Each afternoon as I’ve made my way home, hordes of ardent baseball fans have been swarming off the light rail trains as I’m stepping on virtually empty trains to go the opposite direction. These must be some loyal and dedicated fans, since lately here in the Midwest we’ve had the most oppressive heat and humidity that this area has seen in decades. Heat and baseball do share summer in common, as does an important activity: keeping kids reading during summer break.  

Keeping children actively engaged in reading helps avoid the summer slide and keeps up important skills like reading comprehension and building vocabulary. Some children see summer as a time free from academic demands and haven’t yet realized that reading can be pleasurable. Have a reluctant reader but an avid sports fan? Encourage your child to read books about subjects—like baseball—about which he or she truly cares. You (and they) may be surprised by how they devour books on these topics.
All-Star Season by T.S. Yavin is a book about baseball that will appeal to readers ages 10 and up. Brothers Reuven and Avi have two strong bonds – the solidity of their Jewish family life and their passionate love of baseball. Reuven, a pitcher, is desperately working for a spot on the end-of-season All-Star team and is willing to ignore the advice of his parents and even involve his younger brother in his campaign to succeed. The tensions leading to the big game and its surprise outcome will satisfy all young baseball fans.

Do you have a favorite book about sports?