Elementary Grandparents/Significant Elder Project

interesting-grandparents-day-clipart-1National Grandparents Day is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day in the United States, BUT my school will be celebrating Grandparents Day this upcoming Friday. That afternoon, we have a celebration. The whole school gathers with students’ families, grandparents and grandfriends, and each grade goes on stage to perform or present something. It’s sweet to see how excited students are to have their grandparent at school and showcase something for them.

Last year, we created grandparent similes and metaphors. These were a lot of fun…and funny! It was a hit, and I loved that it was academic. It fits right in with our focus on figurative language in ELA, so I plan to do it again this year.

But this year, I’m also adding something different. A couple questions from a weekly assignment triggered an idea last week…In this weeks Social Studies Weekly assignment, students were asked to respond to the following questions.

ssw copy

imgres-1This got me thinking, Will students really be able to grasp how communicating instantaneously can be detrimental? Which led to — Do they have any idea of what society was like for previous generations? Which led to — My students are always on the go with such busy schedules. Do they ever just sit and chat with older relatives? Do they know how different it was to be a student just 30 years ago? Which led to — I remember doing an interview assignment when I was younger that made me have a conversation with my grandmother about her upbringing and childhood. 

And when my thoughts get going like this, what do I do? Google (because I am in the twenty-first century and I can).  So, I did some researchin’.

2007 ancestry.com study revealed that Americans know “surprisingly little about their own families”. A USA Today article described the generation gap in the workplace today and how different generations are having difficulties communicating because they do not understand one another. This can arguably be connected to the ancestry study, the fact that younger generations don’t know or understand much about their own grandparents. It begins here, with one’s personal prior knowledge and experience, right?

Workplace effects aside, communicating with grandparents fosters a close rgrandparents-grandkidselationship between grandparent and grandchild. Unfortunately, many student’s lives are so scheduled and scripted now that there is less time for dinner conversations and grandparent chats, and many families are scattered across the country. Maybe this is the reason we know so little; we don’t actually take the time, or have the time, to talk and listen.

As an educator, I want to enable my students to have conversations with their grandparents. Hey, if we require an assignment in class, we can facilitate this learning. Make it possible! If my students’ engagement during social studies is any indication of their interest, I believe that my kiddos will love to learn about their grandparent’s history.

Endpoint, I’ve seen the smiles on my students’ faces and their outward joy as they share with grandparents on Grandparents Day, and I’d like to provide another opportunity for sharing (and learning) through the use of a Grandparent Interview Project.  So, with the help a few online resources (credited below), I put the following project together for my 5th grade class.

Click the images for access to the complete printable documents. Contact me if you would like to make revisions, and I can email either document to you.

GPP copy

This Interview Sheet contains 17 questions and a lined page for additional notes. It is appropriate for upper elementary students.

GPPI copy

I pulled information from the following resources to create the 5th grade friendly forms above.
Credit: http://www.deangeli.lapeer.org/lessons/ctb_lesson/student_guide/ and http://www.teachers.net/gazette/AUG08/printables/#one

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