Big Hug Card
Connections: Schools (Art); Families; Community Groups.
What You Need: Sheets of white paper; 11 x 17 inch colored construction paper (or tape together two 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheets); pencil; pencil crayons and/or markers; scissors; tape; glue.
There's a line that's repeated in A Little Something: "She gave her a big, warm smile and a warm, snuggly hug." Hugs are a way to show love, and a way to make people feel loved and cared about. But do you know that research shows that the older people get, the fewer hugs we give them? We give teenagers fewer hugs than toddlers, and older adults fewer hugs than young adults. Everyone needs a hug sometime. So, go ahead, give someone a hug!
Here's a hug card that makes a great gift for a parent or grandparent (especially a grandparent who may not live nearby). You can also use the card as a gift for older adults in an assisted living facility or grandfriends participating in an intergenerational program.
Start by taping two sheets of white paper together end-to-end so that you have a single, long sheet. Lay your hand (fingers spread apart) and arm down on the paper so that the fingertips of your hand are close to one end of the sheet of paper. Have someone help you trace around your hand and up both sides of your arm, from one end of the long sheet of paper to the other. Tape another two sheets of white paper together and trace your other hand and arm in the same way.
Cut out the arms and hands. Tape the arms together so that it looks like outstretched arms ready to give someone a hug (make sure the thumbs on the hands both face up).
Now write a message along the arms (e.g. "Here's a BIG Hug for You!" or "I Love You THIS Much!"). You can also decorate the arms and hands with hearts, flowers, and other drawings. Don't forget to put "To (name)" somewhere and sign it "Love (your name)."
Fold a large sheet of colored construction paper in half to make the outside of the card. Decorate the front of the card in any way you wish.
Open up the card and glue the "end" hand (i.e. hand that falls at the end of your message) thumb up into the center of the right-hand side of the card. Finally, carefully accordion-fold the arms until one hand stacks on the other and you can close the card without any of the arms peeking out.
The Valentine's Activity Kit has another design for a "Hug Card" (see the Story Steppingstones section) along with recommended storybooks about hugs.
Best Memory Notes
Connections: Schools (Language Arts); Families; Seniors Groups/Facilities; Community Groups.
What You Need: Copies of the note cards -- "Remember", "Memories", and "My Best Memory of You"; pen; scissors. Optional -- pencil crayons and/or markers; copies of Something to Remember Me By.
I wrote Something to Remember Me By based on my fond memories of my grandmother. Memories are one of the most precious legacies passed down across generations.
When people give A Little Something as a gift to someone they love, they often include a short note with the book with their own special memories. The three note cards supplied here are sized to fit inside the book (cut them out along the thin line). You can slip one of the cards into the front of the book when you give it as a gift to a child, grandchild, mother, or grandmother. You can also use the note cards on their own, as a gift in themselves. For example, many older adults in care facilities value the opportunity to complete the note cards (on their own or with some help) to give to their children and grandchildren as "something to remember them by."
The "Remember" and "Memories" note cards are a "Top 10" list. Make a copy of the one you want to use and fill it in. If you wish, you can color the border of the note card.
"Remember" is designed to be used by a grandparent or parent to give to a child or grandchild (young or grown). List the top ten things you would like them to remember -- special times you've spent together, significant events in your lifetime, life advice, your favorite sayings, or whatever you identify as the most important memories you would like them to hold on to in the years to come. The thought you put into creating a carefully selected list will be treasured by the recipient.
"Memories" is designed to be used by a child or grandchild (young or grown) to give to a parent or grandparent (e.g. a mother or grandmother for Mother's Day). What are the top ten things you will always remember about the person? Choose vivid, specific recollections of events, things you've done together, things they've said to you, or things you've learned from them.
The "My Best Memory of You" note card is a more focused version of the "Memories" note card. It has blank lines to write a single, short, specific anecdote about your best memory of the person. If you're giving the note to your mother or grandmother, what's the absolute best, most defining memory you have of her? Maybe it's something she said to you, something you did together, or some important advice about life she's given you. Maybe it's a family trip or tradition, or something she taught you like how to bake her famous pies. Was there one time in particular when she really came through for you? Is there one incident that defines your relationship? Often, people are surprised at what you feel is the most important or the best memory you have of them (they may not even remember the exact moments that you remember). But you'll be surprised at how much sharing these kinds of thoughts can mean to a person.
Mother Versus Grandmother
Connections: Schools (Language Arts, Art); Families; Community Groups.
What You Need: Copies of "Mother" and "Grandmother" sheets; pen/pencil; pencil crayons and/or markers. Optional -- family photographs; scissors; glue.
What's a mother? What's a grandmother? What's the difference? Is a grandmother really a grand-mother? These are questions children can explore on their own or in an intergenerational group. They can also create special "Mother" and "Grandmother" keepsake pages.
There are a couple of different ways to answer the questions above. One way to answer them is from an "etymological" perspective. Etymology is the study of the origins of words. The etymology of a word is its linguistic history. Over time, languages evolve. There are slow changes in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar that occur naturally over long periods of time. One language may split into two different but related languages when speakers are separated by physical or cultural barriers for extended periods. Linguists divide the languages of the world, past and present, into various language families. English belongs to a family of languages called the Indo-European Language Family, which includes Greek, French, Russian, Hindi, German, Irish, and many other tongues of Europe and Asia.
In its long history, the word "mother" has always meant what it means today. The farthest back it has been traced as an English word is to about 500 AD, the very beginnings of English itself: in Anglo-Saxon times the word was "moder" or "modor" or "moddor" (the use of the "th" in English instead of the original "d" probably dates back to the 1500s). It had been brought over to England by the Anglo-Saxons from northern Europe, where similar words existed in other Germanic languages; these words have become the modern words "moeder" (Dutch), "Mutter" (German), and "moder" (Swedish). But the roots of the word go back even beyond Germanic. The Germanic languages and most other languages of Europe, and many from southern Asia, all derive from a single, now lost language known as Proto-Indo-European. Because just about all languages derived from Proto-Indo-European have words very similar to our "mother," they must have inherited the same original word. When you compare "mater" (Latin), "mater/meter" (Greek), "mati" (Slavonic), "mathair" (Irish), and "matr" (Sanskrit), they are all very different languages but are all derived from Proto-Indo-European.
Unlike the word "mother," the word "grandmother" is not a direct descendant of an Anglo-Saxon word. The word used back then was "ealdemoder" or "eldmoder," with the prefix that gave us the modern word "old." But "oldmother" never made it into modern English because in the Middle Ages, after the Norman invasion of England, French culture was all the rage. The French prefix "grand," derived from a Latin word for "big" or "great" and used in the French word "grand-mère," was adopted into English. So, the resulting word "grandmother" is a blend of two words with very different histories: "grand" from medieval French and Latin, and "mother" from Old English and Germanic.
So, that's the etymological perspective on "mother" and "grandmother." Another way to distinguish the two concepts is through personal experience and observation. What's your mother like, or what are other mothers you know like? What's your grandmother like, or what are other grandmothers you know like? What's the difference between your mother and your grandmother? In general, our relationships with our mothers and grandmothers are quite different; for one thing, relationships with our grandmothers tend to be far less psychologically complex than our relationship with our mother.
Read some storybooks about mothers and grandmothers (see the suggested book lists in the "Family Book Reviews" activity below) to compare the ways that mothers and grandmothers look, the things they do, and the way they are portrayed.
Now that you've thought a bit about mothers versus grandmothers, use copies of the "Mother" and "Grandmother" sheets to create a special gift. How is your mother or grandmother a good mother or grandmother? What makes her special? What does she mean to you? Fill in the blanks on the sheets to describe your mother or grandmother. Use each letter of the word (e.g. "M is for my marvelous mom", "O is for how outstanding she is", etc.).
Finish off a sheet by drawing a picture of your mother or grandmother in the square, or gluing on a photograph of her. If you wish, you can color the border of the sheet.
Extension: Find out what the words for mother and grandmother are in other languages and make a collage of decorated names. A good online resource for word translations is www.itools.com/lang/#trans. For example, other words for mother include moeder (Dutch); Mutter (German); moder (Swedish); mère (French); matka (Polish); madre (Italian and Spanish); mãe (Portuguese); anya (Hungarian). Other words for grandmother include babcia (Polish); grossmutter (German); halmonee (Korean); ya-ya (Greek); oba-chan (Japanese); popo (Chinese); nonna (Italian); abuela (Spanish); grand-mère (French); avia (Latin).
A great book for discussion with older children and teenagers is Generations of Women: In Their Own Words by Mariana Cook. It combines handsome family portraits with excerpts illuminating the perspective of each generation of woman pictured -- sometimes spanning five generations in a single family.
All Kinds of Grandmothers
Connections: Schools (Language Arts); Seniors Groups/Facilities; Families; Community Groups.
What You Need: Copies of books suggested below; paper; pen/pencil.
A Little Something shows one kind of grandmother. The grandmother in the book is very much like my grandmother; I called her Baba (which is Ukrainian for grandmother). But there are all kinds of grandmothers. And grandmothers today are different than grandmothers of decades ago. How have grandmothers changed? What are grandmothers today like?
This is a good discussion activity for an intergenerational group (e.g. older adults talking about their grandparents years ago and children talking about their grandparents today), or a topic children can explore on their own.
Read and compare some of these storybooks that have grandmothers as main characters (complete annotation for each book appears at the end of this kit): Peacebound Trains by Haemi Balgassi; Gifts by Jo Ellen Bogart; Something to Remember Me By by Susan V. Bosak; Dancin' in the Kitchen by Frank P. Christian; Bigmama's by Donald Crews; The Disappearing Island by Corinne Demas; Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola; Abuela by Arthur Dorros; Grandmama's Joy by Eloise Greenfield; Bubbe & Gram by Joan C. Hawxhurst; Grandma Gets Grumpy by Anna Grossnickle Hines; Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman; Two Mrs. Gibsons by Toyomi Igus; Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles; My Grandma's The Mayor by Marjorie White Pellegrino; Mimi's Tutu by Tynia Thomassie; Liliana's Grandmothers by Leyla Torres; Grandma Without Me by Judith Vigna.
Two particularly good books for exploring grandmother diversity are Our Granny by Margaret Wild and Grandmother's Alphabet by Eve Shaw. A good book for discussion with teenagers is For She is the Tree of Life: Grandmothers Through the Eyes of Women Writers edited by Valerie Kack-Brice.
Complete this activity by making two lists on a sheet of paper (or writing on a blackboard) under two columns: "How Grandmothers are the Same" and "How Grandmothers are Different." Which column ends up having more under it?
Family Book Reviews
Connections: Schools (Language Arts); Families; Community Groups.
What You Need: Copies of "What's Family? Book Review" sheet; pen/pencil; copies of books suggested below.
Read and discuss a variety of picture books to explore different themes related to family. I've come across many good picture books with intergenerational themes. You can find a complete annotated bibliography at the end of this kit (and there are other bibliographies at the end of the other activity kits that are part of the Something to Remember Me By Legacy Project). Picture books are an art form that can be used with all ages, toddlers to teenagers. For teenagers and adults, a picture book is often a concise, compelling vehicle to introduce topics, motivate discussion, and stimulate further thought and investigation.
Suggested picture books with family themes appear below. After reading a book, fill in the "What's Family? Book Review" sheet. Doing a book review and discussing books enables children to systematically explore many different themes related to family and develop a more sophisticated understanding of the concept of family. To complete the book review sheet, children start by filling in the title of the book and the name of the author and the illustrator (recognizing that a book is written by an individual, from their perspective, is important, as is recognizing that books are illustrated by different people, with different artistic styles). The next step is identifying the main characters in the book and their relationship (e.g. "Sarah and her grandmother Margaret" or, if the characters don't have names, "a grandmother and her young granddaughter"). Writing a concise summary of a story helps children remember and understand the story, and is a useful skill in itself. Then, the book review sheet ties the story to the reader's own experience. How is the story like the child's own family? How is the story different from the child's own family? For example, the story may be about someone who is adopted. A particular reader may not be adopted (which is how their family is different from the story) but everyone in their family helps each other out (which is how their family is like the story). Identifying both similarities and differences helps children appreciate diversity. Finally, what does the story help a reader understand about family -- theirs in particular, or the concept of family in general? What does the story make you think about? What do you know now that perhaps you hadn't thought of before?
Individuals can read several books and complete a book review on each. Or, each person in a group can be assigned a book, do a review, and then everyone can share their reviews. The book review sheet can also be used by an intergenerational group to structure discussion. The sheet and the list of books below can even form the basis for an ongoing intergenerational book club.
Here are some suggested books, loosely grouped into general categories related to different family relationships (the complete annotation for each book appears in the Storybooks section of this kit):
Mothers: By the Dawn's Early Light by Karen Ackerman; Momma, Where Are You From? by Marie Bradby; Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman; My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray; Seven Brave Women by Betsy Gould Hearne; Two Mrs. Gibsons by Toyomi Igus; Tell Me a Story, Mama by Angela Johnson; Mom Pie by Lynne Jonell; A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza; Ma Dear's Aprons by Patricia C. McKissack; Love You Forever by Robert Munsch; In My Momma's Kitchen by Jerdine Nolen; Monster Mama by Liz Rosenberg; When Mama Gets Home by Marisabina Russo; A Pillow for My Mom by Charissa Sgouros; This Is the Bird by George Shannon; When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Emily Spinelli; I Speak English for My Mom by Muriel Stanek; Me & You: A Mother-Daughter Album by Lisa Thiesing; Mimi's Tutu by Tynia Thomassie; A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams; Grump by Janet S. Wong; A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert; This Quiet Lady by Charlotte Zolotow.
Grandmothers: Peacebound Trains by Haemi Balgassi; Gifts by Jo Ellen Bogart; A Little Something by Susan V. Bosak; Dancin' in the Kitchen by Frank P. Christian; Bigmama's by Donald Crews; The Disappearing Island by Corinne Demas; Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola; Abuela by Arthur Dorros; Just Right Stew by Karen English; The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy; Tanya's Reunion by Valerie Flournoy; Grandmama's Joy by Eloise Greenfield; Bubbe & Gram by Joan C. Hawxhurst; Grandma Gets Grumpy by Anna Grossnickle Hines; Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman; Two Mrs. Gibsons by Toyomi Igus; Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles; My Grandma's The Mayor by Marjorie White Pellegrino; Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan; Mimi's Tutu by Tynia Thomassie; Liliana's Grandmothers by Leyla Torres; Grandma Without Me by Judith Vigna.
Fathers: Through the Night by Jim Aylesworth; My Dad by Anthony Browne; Castle of Books by Bernard Clavel; Room for a Stepdaddy by Jean Thor Cook; Daddy Will Be There by Lois G. Grambling; Your Dad Was Just Like You by Dolores Johnson; Like Jake and Me by Mavis Jukes; A Special Kind of Love by Stephen Michael King; In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers by Javaka Steptoe; As the Crow Flies by Elizabeth Winthrop; Always My Dad by Sharon Dennis Wyeth.
Grandfathers: The Two of Them by Aliki; The Magpie Song by Laurence Anholt; A Day's Work by Eve Bunting; Dear Annie by Judith Caseley; Grandpa's Face by Eloise Greenfield; Grandaddy and Janetta Together by Helen V. Griffith; Tambourine Moon by Joy Jones; Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr.; Waiting for the Whales by Sheryl McFarlane; Gus and Grandpa by Claudia Mills; Lucky Pennies and Hot Chocolate by Carol Diggory Shields.
Siblings: Za-Za's Baby Brother by Lucy Cousins; Big Sister, Little Sister by Marci Curtis; Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep by Joyce Dunbar; Tell Me What It's Like to Be Big by Joyce Dunbar; She Did It! by Jennifer Ericsson; She Come Bringing Me That Little Baby Girl by Eloise Greenfield; A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban; With My Brother/Con Mi Hermano by Eileen Roe; Brothers and Sisters by Ellen B. Senisi; Big Sister and Little Sister by Charlotte Zolotow.
Parents/Family: Black Is Brown Is Tan by Arnold Adoff; The Biggest Bed in the World by Lindsay Camp; Mama & Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling; It's Going to be Perfect! by Nancy L. Carlson; You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano; Black, White, Just Right! by Marguerite Davol; How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman; Do I Have a Daddy? by Jeanne Warren Lindsay; Missing Rabbit by Roni Schotter; Jalapeno Bagels by Natasha Wing.
Adoption/Family: How I Was Adopted: Samantha's Story by Joanna Cole; Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis; Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz; I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis; Aunt Minnie McGranahan by Mary Skillings Prigger; Allison by Allen Say; Lucy's Family Tree by Karen Halvorsen Schreck; The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted by Mary Zisk.
Grandparents/Extended Family: Big Wind Coming! by Karen English; Robert Lives With His Grandparents by Martha Whitmore Hickman; Down the Winding Road by Angela Johnson; Aunt Flossie's Hats and Crab Cakes Later by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard; What's in Aunt Mary's Room by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard; All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan; Hope by Isabell Monk; A Birthday Basket for Tia by Pat Mora; When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant; If the Shoe Fits by Gary Soto.
General Family: A Far-Fetched Story by Karin Cates; Hairs/Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros; Love Is A Family by Roma Downey; Family Pictures/Cuadros de familia by Carmen Lomas Garza; In My Family/En mi familia by Carmen Lomas Garza; Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron; Families Are Funny by Nan Hunt; The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell; Erandi's Braids by Antonio Hernández Madrigal; His Mother's Nose by Peter Maloney; Red Bird by Barbara Mitchell; Family by Isabell Monk; The Always Prayer Shawl by Sheldon Oberman; Families Are Different by Nina Pellegrini; The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco; The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant; Wool Gathering: A Sheep Family Reunion by Lisa Wheeler; Homeless by Bernard Wolf; Big Meeting by Dee Parmer Woodtor.
Connections: Schools (Art); Families; Community Groups; Seniors Groups/Facilities.
What You Need: Photograph of the person you're drawing a portrait of; large sheet of drawing paper; pencil; eraser; ruler; pencil crayons and/or paint. Note: If you're using paint, make sure you go to an art/craft store and purchase a suitable type of paper (e.g. watercolor paper if you're using watercolor paints).
People can spend thousands of dollars getting a portrait painted of themselves. But sometimes a portrait created by someone they love can mean more than one done by a professional artist. Create a portrait of mom or grandma to give her for Mother's Day.
As you get better at drawing, create a portrait of each person in your family -- siblings, parents, grandparents -- and hang them together to create a "family portrait gallery." You can even make portraits of several generations of, for example, women in your family, going back as far as you have photographs. Making family portraits creates a keepsake and helps young people get to know their family and the features passed down across generations. Older adults can also try their hand at creating portraits of their children, grandchildren, or young visitors in an intergenerational program. My father, for example, is in his late seventies and greatly enjoys drawing and painting. He recently took some watercolor painting classes and is getting quite good!
Laurie McGaw is the illustrator and portrait artist who created the illustrations in A Little Something. The illustrations in the book are actually watercolor "portraits" of a real family. Can you see a family resemblance in the illustrations? Laurie did a search for models to find three generations from one family she could use for the book. She chose grandmother Maureen Viegener; her 7-year-old granddaughter Melissa Tratt (for the young granddaughter in the book); her 11-year-old granddaughter Sarah Tratt (for the slightly older granddaughter); and her daughter Mary Anne Tratt (for the grown-up granddaughter). Laurie took rolls and rolls and rolls of photographs of the real people, and then used the photographs to create the illustrations.
Before you start drawing, familiarize yourself with the general rules of thumb for standard facial proportions:
- The eyes are halfway between the top of the head and the chin.
- The bottom of the nose is halfway between the eyes and the chin.
- The mouth is halfway between the nose and the chin.
- The corners of the mouth line up with the centers of the eyes.
- The top of the ears line up with the center of the eyes.
- The bottom of the ears line up with the bottom of the nose.
These standard proportions will help you place facial features and find their orientation. But keep in mind that these are only general guidelines. Even very small differences in a person's nose or eyes, for example, is what gives them their unique individual appearance.
Study the photo you're using for your drawing. Examine each of the key facial features -- eyes, nose, mouth, ears. Where are they positioned? What do they look like? What shape are they? What interesting lines or folds do they have?
Using a pencil, start by drawing an oval on your sheet of paper. The oval should be the size you want the final face to be, or a bit smaller. Leave room at the top of the sheet for hair and at the bottom of the sheet for a neck and shoulders. The bottom of the oval should reflect the jaw line of your subject (i.e. is it square, rounded, pointy?).
The next step is to make a very light pencil grid to help you locate facial features (you'll erase the grid when you're finished drawing). Follow the sample illustration, making adjustments to match the face of your subject. To start the grid, draw a light horizontal line at the top of the oval and another at the bottom of the oval. Then draw a horizontal line midway between the first two lines to divide the oval in half. This is the line on which you draw the eyes, which are roughly the shape of a football.