It is not uncommon for ESL teachers to plan activities for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but what about dear, old Grandpa and Grandma? Grandparents have a very special place in our hearts. Their special day is celebrated on the Sunday after Labor Day.
Whether your students have any grandparents still living or not, and no matter how old your students are, Grandparent’s Day should always be celebrated as a reminder of the many wonderful things they did or still do for us.
Here are some great activities to try with your class:
How to Celebrate Grandparent's Day in Your ESL Class
A special gift
Make gifts for grandma and grandpa (or any senior citizen) that will be special, not because of the item itself, but because it will be made from re-used and recycled materials. Bring out your box of odds and ends, and give your students several options to choose from depending on the materials you have available in it. From decorated photo frames to colorful jewelry, it’s not important what they make. Your goal is to help them understand that just because something is old it doesn’t have to be discarded. For some great gift ideas, read our article, What You Can Do with a Box of Odds and Ends.
When my grandma was my age…
Young learners don’t realize just how different things were when their grandparents were their age. And even older students may have difficulties grasping this. Put together a list of questions that each student must ask a grandparent or any other senior citizen. Some of the interview questions may be:
- What did you do in your free time?
- What toys did you have/play with?
- Did you watch TV and if not what did you do instead?
- What things did you have in your bedroom?
Students return to class and report their findings. They may be surprised to find out that their grandparents had no TV and listened to radio programs instead of watching cartoons. Have the class share and discuss what surprised them the most.
What is a grandparent?
Explore what a grandparent is and does. This is a great activity for intermediate to advanced learners. Give your students some old magazines and ask them to look for pictures of people who look like grandparents. What are they doing in the picture? What do they look like? What makes them think they are grandparents? Continue with a discussion on what it means to be a grandparent. Do all grandmothers bake pies? Do some work? Do all grandfathers stay home making repairs around the house? Or do some teach in universities?
How do you say it in your language?
Ask students to share how they say “grandmother” or “grandfather” in their own language. Extend the discussion to where they are from. Where are they are now? Are their grandparents’ lives different from theirs in their country of origin and how so?
What does your grandma/grandpa do/did best?
Students may say their grandma makes or made the best cookies or the prettiest sweaters. Or that their grandpa is the best fisherman and catches the biggest fish. Encourage students to use comparatives and superlatives.
Grandparents of the future
Ask students to write an essay imagining what it will be like to be a grandparent in the future. What technology will they use to keep in touch with their grandchildren? How will they travel? Will they live to be over a hundred? Will they be more active than their own grandparents now? Will there be cures for some of the health problems their grandparents currently have?
Grandparent’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to talk about families and create a family tree. You may use this Family Tree worksheet or instruct students to make their own by drawing it themselves. Another very creative way to do this is to use real twigs and have students add construction paper leaves to their “trees”.
A Song for Grandma and Grandpa
NationalGrandparentsDay.com has a wonderful video you can share with your students. Play the video, or simply have them listen to the song. As they listen, they must take notes on some of the things that children love about their grandparents or enjoy doing with them. The student who gets the most correctly wins. You may also choose to give them the lyrics to read as they listen and fill in gaps.
Keep in mind that even if your students may no longer have their grandparents with them, this is a great opportunity for them to honor them and any other senior citizen they may know.
You may also choose to make your Grandparent’s Day lesson a reminder of how important it is to respect our elders and just how much we can learn from them.
For more September activities, don’t forget to go to our September Section. There you’ll find some great worksheets and ideas!