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. Marian T. Zinicola AKA “Marty the Psychic”

    April 29
    April 29, 2017  |  12:00 am - 11:59 pm
    Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
    Marty, a native Staten Islander of Italian descent, will discuss her new book, “Soul Bonding.”
  2. Movies Under the Stars: Doctor Strange

    April 29 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
    April 29, 2017  |  7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
    Clove Lakes Park
    Join NYC Parks and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment for a free film. Know Before You Go You should arrive before 7:00 p.m. to get your spot. Feel free to bring a blanket to sit
  3. The World’s Largest Game of Musical Chairs

    April 30 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  9:00 am - 5:00 pm
    South Beach
    This is an all borough event. We’re getting together at the South Beach Boardwalk to break The Guinness World’s record & raise funds to promote awareness for Protecting One Young Heart at a Time in memory of Frank J. Reali
  4. NYRR Open Run

    April 30 @ 9:00 am
    April 30, 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.
  5. Nature Photography

    April 30 @ 11:00 am
    April 30, 2017  |  11:00 am - 11:00 am
    Silver Lake Park
    Bring your camera and get inspired by the powerful images of nature in winter. Registration Required: www.nyc.gov/parks/rangers/register On Wednesday, April 19th
  6. Kayak Tour

    April 30 @ 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  11:00 am - 2:00 pm
    Freshkills Park
    Join Freshkills Park staff and Kayak Staten Island for a kayaking experience like no other! This excursion along the park’s waterways will take you into the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge and up close to some of the park’s varied
  7. Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

    April 30 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    Alice Austen House Museum
    Join in a global event! Take your own pinhole photos on the museum’s grounds and process them in our pop-up darkroom. First exposure free; $5 per additional exposure.
  8. Farm Day & Shear Madness

    April 30 @ 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    Staten Island Zoo
    It’s hard work running a farm, especially with all the animals that need attention! And spring is sheep shearing time, removing the heavy winter coats from our flock at the Children’s Center! Professional sheep shearers will demonstrate how the wool
  9. Puzzles

    April 30 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    April 30, 2017  |  1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Arts Vocabulary; create your own jigsaw puzzle.
  10. Animal Time

    April 30 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    April 30, 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.