Activities for Grandparents and Grandchildren during the Quarantine by Ruth Nemzoff, an author and and a scholar at the Brandeis Woman’s Studies Research Center.
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.
I have compiled a list of resources to help Jewish grandparents through this difficult time. 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! Many of these resources are Jewish, but not all. This list can be used as a series of fun activities, to deepen Jewish connection and knowledge, or to teach about another culture.
- Young Kids:
*PJ Library has a list of resources.
*Shalom Sesame is fun to watch together over Zoom screen sharing.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. Keep your expectations low in terms of how long their attention will remain.
*If you’re ordering groceries for other members of your family, have the kids walk you through their pantries, showing their favorite foods!
*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.
*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.
*The Wall Street Journal has a list of resources for kids of all ages.
- School age kids:
*You can go museum hopping.
*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.
*Suggested by poet Wendy Mnookin: Hold classes for your grandkids — teach them poetry by Facetime, maybe, 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 and available on Amazon.
*Jewish Women’s Archive have a scavenger hunt.
*Gateways: Access to Jewish Education have a series of activities for kids and continually add more on their Facebook.
*The Israel Museum has virtual tours.
*The Center for Puppetry Arts offers workshops online.
- Tweens, teens and older:
*Kveller lists Jewish TV shows to watch.
*You can listen to the Metropolitan Opera nightly.
*There are virtual board games you can play: scrabble, chess, etc.
*You can play online games for learning Hebrew.
*You can cook together — teach them a recipe as you Zoom into each others’ kitchens, and see how each of your creations turn out! You can always have the family taste-test.
*You and your grandchild can create a playlist together.
*Listen and discuss these Feminist podcasts with your grandkid!
*Similarly, enjoy these activities from Hadassah.
*Join the Forward’s book club!
*JNF has a schedule of activities.
*Jewish Women’s Archive is holding a book club.
*Pardes has a list of resources.
*Meditate with your grandkids through Jewishspirituality.org.
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.