Arts and Crafts With Grandma

This is a guest post about arts and crafts you can make and do with your grandchildren, written by Nana Joyce. She has her own awesome blog at What Happens at Grandma’s. Thank you, Joyce, for this great post!

Nanas, Omas, grandmas – there’s a lot of us running around these days, and we are very different from the ones we knew as children. In fact, we ourselves are far more educated, mobile, and resourceful now than we were as parents. And no, I don’t have an academic footnote for this data. I’m so done writing term papers for myself and editing those of my kids. I’m a grandma now. I just know what I know and that is that!

   My style of grandmothering is my own. Even though I am frequently quizzed for details, I don’t make a business of telling others what to do. In fact I don’t even suggest that my way is the best way, but I do document everything on my blog, “What Happens at Grandma’s,” and I like how people seem to enjoy reading it. Some even write to tell me that they’ve gotten off the couch and into the craft store to renew their own method of being a grandmother. And that part I really like!
   Over the past five years I have utilized my background as a high school art educator and free lance designer to enrich the lives of my grandchildren. At my house they paint – fully and freely with wide open carefree strokes on huge sheets of paper. They paint here because doing so is messy and fussy and mommy doesn’t often have the time or space for it at home. Here, we experiment with air dry clay and build any old thing we want from paper mache. Sure we make messes – and leave them behind, but grandpa cleans them up and doesn’t seem to mind. Once we have a nice little stash of projects we set up our annual clothesline art show, “The Art of Being Adorable.” We invite the family, charge admission, sell our work and serve refreshments. We’re theater people too – open for business on occasional Sunday afternoons for puppet shows and concessions sold from behind a home made cardboard booth.
arts and crafts
    For some random reason we held a “Snake Festival” to learn all about those long skinny things and used our crafty skills to stuff ourselves wild eyed three footers of fleece fabric strips. That was last year. We sleep with them to this day.
arts and crafts
More Arts and Crafts
    At grandma’s annual family carnival we invite our friends, play games, win overflowing bags of prizes and stuff our little faces with candy and junk. This year, the oldest cousins, five year old twins, are going to take charge of operating a game booth, and whatever these future little businessmen say, goes! We make gifts and decorations for mommy and daddy on all the major holidays, testing many different media. We bake too, freezing extras to sell at our annual “Sugar Bug Bake Sale.” We hike the backyard woods to dig for eggs that grandma’s homemade eight foot dinosaur laid herself – and was kind enough to fill with toys and candy – before she waddled away! But gardening? Alas! I wish I could do more for the kids in this category, but you can only teach what you know – and growing weeds and mosquitoes is all I know about gardening so far.
   But that’s my point, grandma. Teach what you know. Because everybody knows something and grand kids are eager to learn it all. But not from some stodgy old professor in the scolding drone of her tedious voice: “You darn kids need to read more! Why in my day…..!” Better: Make a family library. Collect books and magazines from everybody, set them up in makeshift shelves and let the kids play “library lady” (or “library man.”) Call a staff meeting to make rules, post them, issue cards and invite the “public” to a grand opening that includes story telling by the “librarians.” Decorate the room seasonally and feature a book of the week. When they’re in school your grandkids won’t always have a chance to be in charge of something – sometimes that’s fair and sometimes it’s not, but at grandma’s the odds are skewed unrealistically in their favor – the kids who matter most to you will always get their turn – a really, really, really looooong one! – and trust me – they will never forget it!
   Are you an athlete? I’m in the process of organizing a Family Olympics for this summer. Me. Klutzy old (ish) thing who can’t tell the difference between a soccer and volleyball. If I can plan ordinary games like foam rocket launch and beanbag toss and potato sack race imagine what YOU could do! Mix everybody up on teams so little kids end up racing grandpa to the finish line. When every athlete basks in the joy of cheers and family togetherness, a strong unit is established. Kids will know that home is where support and love and fun resides, and an open welcoming door always awaits them.
A few paragraphs above, I said “teach what you know.” I’m taking that back now. As I mentioned, I’m no gardener. Plants hate me. They cringe and run when I approach, and even fake ones look worried when I admire them in the store. I’m no scientist either. For those pursuits, Pinterest and the library are my friends. I learn what I can and do what I can. Some of my fellow grandmothers wail, “But I’m not an aaaaaartist like yoooooooou arrrrrre!” No? Well so what! Does a three year old care that the paper plate “pie-der” you’re making alongside her have legs sticking outta the top of its head? Heck no! Although, if you’ve declared an official “Spider Day,” your project better have eight legs and not just six. Grandmas never pass up a chance to slip a little learnin’ in along with the fun. You do want your precocious little Kindergartner to point to a classroom Halloween decoration and inform teacher that, “This is an arachnid. It is not an insect. Count the legs!”
arts and crafts
On my first visit to Teresa’s blog, I enjoyed her post describing marketing opportunities missed by companies with unrealistic opinions about where grandparents spend their money. I personally spend grandpa’s money at the three major national craft stores. Just listen to him: “Hmmm, why do we always have so many plastic bags from Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and JoAnn stores?” Hold the hearing aid ads, people! And I don’t need a cane either! Well, at least for now. But when I do my grandkids will help me build one out of sticks and paper mache and we’ll decorate it seasonally….let’s see, maybe with twinkling battery operated lights and streamer stripes for the fourth of July…….?
Meet Joyce Gillis, from What Happens at Grandma’s
Joyce Gillis
Joyce says….”I like to do things in multiples of three. I am the mother of three lovely daughters who brought home three handsome sons-in-law. These couples presented me with six grandchildren, now ranging from one to five years in age. I have six rescued cats, but only one dog (also rescued) and one husband.”

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