Life Is Grand: Culture in the Fifth Borough with the Grandchildren

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One of the grandest things about being a grandparent is an opportunity to share the things we are passionate about with a new audience. When my own children were young, I dragged them through museums, mostly on Mother’s Day or my birthday–occasions when I got to pick the activity.

Although they complained that all the Monets at MOMA looked alike to them, they could identify a French Impressionist piece of art from a mile away. We exposed the children to music by playing “Name That Tune” in the car to Rolling Stones or Beatles songs to make sure Rock and Roll would not be lost on the next generation. My husband took our kids to sports events, even in diapers. They were exposed to books, nature, and other interests to help develop their curious minds. And now we get to do it all over again!

This time, we know what works best and can provide input their parents cannot. We have the benefit of interacting on a level that is removed from the day-to-day responsibilities of parents. We are now the family historians and will add a rich sense of family tradition to our grandchild’s life. Also, we will give our young ones positive attitudes towards aging. Something, unfortunately, my generation did not always experience. My own grandmother, dressed in black with her gray hair rolled in a bun under a hairnet, seemed ancient and sedentary at age 70.

So, the best grandparenting activities flow naturally from the interests of both the grandparents and the grandchildren. The good news is that you don’t have to leave Staten Island to find cultural things to do. Many Staten Island grandparents take the kids to local museums, neighborhood theater, and historical landmarks without having to leave the borough!

Visit S.I. Parent online (www.siparent.com/cultural-centers) to see a list of Staten Island Cultural Centers. Check out gems such as Sandy Ground Historical Society, where children will learn about its instrumental role on the Underground Railroad. Also visit The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, home of the true inventor of the telephone–Antonio Meucci.

Remember, concerts, plays, movies, science centers such as those at the Staten Island Children’s Museum, provide opportunities to be together and to exchange ideas and opinions. A simple ride on the Staten Island Ferry turns fun into education as you are presented with an up-close view of the magnificent Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Read up ahead of time and impress your grandchildren with a few facts and trivia.

Do not underestimate the value of educating our children about recent history. A short distance from the St. George Ferry Terminal stands Postcards, a minimalist marble sculpture stretching 30 feet in the air. This understated memorial to the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy was erected to honor the lives of the 274 Staten Island victims. Stand directly between the two structures to see across the water to the exact location of the former Twin Towers.

If you only have a short amount of time to spend together, simply going to parks or walking in the neighborhood can be both fun and educational. Bring binoculars on walks; kids love the adventure of seeing nature up close or landscapes in the distance.

Regardless of a child’s age, there are endless ways to have fun with the grandchildren. Every age offers its own challenge, as well as opportunity. It is a lot cheaper to entertain younger children than teens, but keep an open mind and look for various resources to accommodate everyone.

By Staten Islander Marianna Randazzo, author, educator, and a newly minted grandmother.



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  1. NYRR Open Run

    February 19 @ 9:00 am
    February 19, 2017  |  9:00 am - 9:00 am
    Conference House Park
    Join New York Road Runners for free weekly runs in your neighborhood! Open to all ages and experience levels. Walkers, strollers, and dogs on leash are welcome. Cost: Free, no advance registration required. Sign up here.
  2. Living with White-Tailed Deer

    February 19 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
    February 19, 2017  |  11:00 am - 12:30 pm
    Blue Heron Nature Center
    Explore Blue Heron Park with the Urban Park Rangers in a search for deer. Learn about deer ecology and behavior as you look for clues of deer presence. Join a discussion about the impacts of deer in an urban environment.
  3. Hieroglyphs in the Art studio

    February 19 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    February 19, 2017  |  1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Arts vocabulary; Hather,Hake and Horos- can you find these Egyptian gods in hieroglyphs? Learn this ancient form of communication and create your own Pictographs.
  4. Sea Shanty Sessions

    February 19 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    February 19, 2017  |  2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    Noble Maritime Collection
    Led by the Folk Music Society of New York, this program is really gaining in popularity and offers a great opportunity to experience authentic, time-honored maritime songs in an appropriately historic setting. The sessions are free and family friendly, and
  5. Animal Time

    February 19 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    February 19, 2017  |  2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Join us for this daily program and meet one of the animals from our living collection. Check the white board at the museum for details.
  6. Story time

    February 19 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    February 19, 2017  |  4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Join our staff in Portia’s Playhouse and hear a heart warming tale. All books will feature a letter of the alphabet. Time is subject to change. Call Museum for more information
  7. Presidents’ Day

    February 20
    February 20, 2017  |  12:00 am - 11:59 pm

  8. Historical Craft

    February 20 @ 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
    February 20, 2017  |  11:00 am - 4:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Make an historical craft and design a gold coin in honor of Alexander Hamilton founder of the Federal Reserve, the First Bank of the United States.
  9. School Holiday Break

    February 20 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    February 20, 2017  |  1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Staten Island Museum
    Enjoy drop-in activities during school vacation including family tours and art activities.
  10. Kids Week Staten Island: Living with Deer

    February 20 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
    February 20, 2017  |  1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
    Bloomingdale Park
    With the Urban Park Rangers we will look for, learn about, and discover the signs of white-tailed deer.