Back in the day, older generations were much more involved with younger people, but times have changed. Now, parents are having children much later in life and live further away from their immediate and extended family, making regular visits a thing of the past. In fact, modern families only get together once a month on average, simply because of the distance between them. This has driven a wedge between different generations, leaving little common ground and poorer understanding of each other.
23rd-29th March marks Intergenerational Week, a time that’s dedicated to celebrating and encouraging closer relationships between generations to close this gap. And we encourage your family to get involved too! So, inspired by Intergenerational Week, here are four activities that will close the generation gaps in any family.
1. Make a Family Tree Together
No matter the age, everyone loves learning about their past. So, why not bring the family together and make a family tree!
For those who don’t know, a family tree visually documents one’s ancestry. It’s an engaging project that encourages families to come together and share memories of loved ones who are the very reason for their existence. It will give little ones a better sense of who they are and help them appreciate older, distant relatives who have influenced their lives without knowing it. Grandparents or great aunties/uncles can also tell stories about their heritage to build a connection and shared interest with children.
Sit down as a family and go over what you already know about your ancestry. Start with yourselves and work backward – you might know more than you realize! Use this information as a basis for your family tree. You can use free resources such as the National Archives catalogue or your local library as you go further back in time. There are also plenty of subscription sites like Ancestry.com that are full of historical archives such as birth certificates, census polls and military records, but you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to access this information.
Next, you can start building your family tree. Remember, this doesn’t need to be an extravagant or complicated task. There are plenty of free templates online that you can print off. Or, you could get creative and make a shadow box family tree:
- Shadow box
- Artificial twigs
- Green card
- Leaf shaped paper punch
- Hot glue gun
- Photos of family members (if possible)
1. Use the leaf-shaped paper cutter to make leaves out of your green card. Each will represent an individual family member, so make as many as you need. If you have photos of family members you could use these instead.
2. Cut your twigs into Y shapes. These will act as branches for your tree. You’ll also need a larger section to act as the trunk.
3. Arrange the twigs inside your shadow box, stacking the smaller Y’s on top of each other alongside the trunk. Glue the twigs into place once you’re happy with your tree shape.
4. Write your family members on the leaves and position them on your tree, starting with the youngest at the bottom. Glue into place.
5. Secure your shadow box and enjoy!
2. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Exploring the great outdoors is a brilliant way to enjoy some quality family time. But in the digital age, it seems the younger generation especially would rather sit indoors on their phones, tablets, games consoles etc. than play outside. Older generations often feel disconnected with youngsters because of this, as it creates a communication barrier between the two. What’s more, 9 in 10 parents believe gadgets are getting in the way of quality family time.
A scavenger hunt is a great way to get people of all ages up and moving. Families can split up into teams, with older and younger generations mixed together. It could also be turned into a friendly competition if played in groups, but be prepared with runner up prizes as sportsmanship isn’t something younger children always understand.
Theme your scavenger hunt around a particular topic. For example, if you’re in a woodland area it could involve identifying objects you’d find there, such as flowers, animals and trees. Or, if you’re in a city you could spot historical landmarks, e.g. London could be Big Ben, the houses of parliament etc. There’s also plenty of readymade templates available online if you’d rather download one.
What exciting treasures will your family find? Get outside and start looking!
3. Make a Treasure Box
As time passes many family mementos that hold special meaning are misplaced and forgotten. Tickets from a fairground trip, shells from days out at the beach – every family has keepsakes for days spent together. Why not bring the family back together to create a treasure box to commemorate these wonderful memories?
There’s nothing complicated about this, all you need is a box to put everything in. But you could go a step further and decorate the outside of your box to make it extra special. Encourage everyone – young and old – to bring items that hold special meaning. As you fill your treasure box, everyone can enjoy reminiscing about the stories behind each of your keepsakes and why they chose to keep them. It’s a great way to get children involved too – after all, what child doesn’t love the idea of a box full of treasure?
Once you’ve created your treasure box, put it pride of place in the family household. Then, as you create more memories, the family can get together again and keep adding to the box!
A simple activity, but nothing creates quality one-to-one bonding time between little ones and their family than reading a book. In fact, a recent study by Kiddi Caru discovered that 99% of parents still read to their children, with 75% doing so every day. Story time is alive and well, so pick up a book and start turning those pages!
Reading is perfect for strengthening the relationship between young and older generations. In their early development years, children need influence from older role models to share important life lessons that will stay with them as they grow and books make an educational, yet fun teaching tool.
Encourage your little one’s older relatives to spend some quality reading time with them. For example, grandparents could read books they used to read as children to establish some familiarity with their grandchildren.
There are also some fantastic grandparent themed children’s stories out there including:
- Grandpa’s Wish List: Follows Grandpa Badger as he makes a list of all the wishes he has for his new grandchild.
- Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa: Tells the story of a little llama’s first night away from home with his grandparents.
- Grandma Loves You: Filled with beautiful animal illustrations, this simple rhyming story is all about a Grandmother Rabbit’s deep enduring love for her new little grand-bunny.
You could even build a reading nook to have dedicated space for reading. All you need is a sheet, drawing pins and some pegs. Simply secure the middle of the sheet to the corner of a room and drape each side over some heavy objects (e.g. bookcase, chest of drawers) and you’re done! Add some fairy lights, blankets, a basket or books and cuddly toys to make your reading nook extra cosy.
Some books may even inspire follow up activities, lengthening the amount of time that a child stays engaged. For example, Kiddi Caru’s Chelmsford nursery in Writtle Village recently took part in some activities based on the book The Gruffalo.
The children enjoyed creating their own versions of the characters using paint and collage materials. As well as, using shaving foam and other sensory activities to explore the Gruffalo’s supposed favourite foods ‘owl ice cream’ and ‘scrambled snake’.
The little ones also created their own Gruffalo scenes using sand, soil, wooden blocks, natural resources and characters from the story. This could be a great way to extend the fun experienced in the story and increase the intergenerational bonding.
With Intergenerational Week coming up, do your best to coordinate more time for your family to spend together and bridge the generation gap!