×

Stories from grandparents to kids will link generations

Judd Morrissey, associate professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, performs during an interactive performance composed of poetry, video and sound on Thursday at the Northern Center. He and Jen Scappettone, associate professor at the University of Chicago, talked about their project, “Lament; Or, The Mine Has Been Opened Up Well” based on their research in the Copper Country. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

Children who are successful readers have many stories read and told to them. They have family conversations about a wide variety of subjects including their culture and ancestors. Young children may not understand every nuance of the stories now, but they will later.

Family gatherings provide perfect opportunities to tell about parents and grandparents growing up. Storytelling is the first exposure to history and the stories of people they love. Most important, if family stories are passed on, they are not lost.

One generation passes on the family’s values, morals and religion through stories. They are family lessons of kindness, sharing, perseverance, courage and triumph over difficulty. Some are just funny.

Grandpa and Lombardi

Grandparents can help pass on little tips that make growing up a bit easier. One Grandpa grew up in Green Bay and took his bike to watch Vince Lombardi and the Packers practice. He watched the great team up close, but he was always careful not to use the same words Coach used or he would have his mouth washed out with soap. Lesson: Be your own person and be smart about what you say.

Judd Morrissey, associate professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Jen Scappettone, associate professor at the University of Chicago, perform during an interactive performance composed of poetry, video and sound on Thursday at the Northern Center. They talked about their project, “Lament; Or, The Mine Has Been Opened Up Well” based on their research in the Copper Country. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

Telling stories takes a little practice. You can start with a story you know well. Perhaps your grandparents told you some stories. Think back to an encounter with an animal, an experience you remember vividly, something funny, a lesson you learned or a slightly scary story that turns out well. Use lots of description, sounds, moving around and exaggeration.

There might be a favorite book, Aesop’s fable, legend or Bible story that teaches a lesson you want children to remember. Another way to recall stories is to take out old family pictures and tell a story about the people. These stories are great for car trips, long winter nights, family holidays, campfires or times when children need to settle down.

Recording

Families can use smartphones to interview grandparents so stories and voices can live on. You can have the questions written in advance and practice with the technology. Grandparents can receive questions in advance to think about their answers. Enlist young children to press the buttons and help ask some questions. You can start with the basics. What is your name and do you know why you have it? When were you born? What did the family do for fun? What family chores did you do? How has technology changed? What were your favorite foods? What is your favorite funny family story? What were your special holiday traditions? Were there any fads while growing up? Were there any special home remedies when the family got sick? The interviews can be saved on cheap jump drives and given to family members. See grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com and wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.