Six Inexpensive Memory Makers

As we begin the second half of the summer vacation, time with the grandchildren can become more challenging and expensive. It’s great when kids are outdoors pursuing activities, but unbearable heat could drive them indoors and that could mean pricey activities. Below are a few frugal ideas to keep grandparents and youngsters occupied as summer comes to an end.

  1. If you belong to an organization or volunteer somewhere, bring the kids along for a few hours. It’s a great way to show off the grandchildren and let them see you around other adults. Most of the Island’s museums and historical sites welcome volunteers, even temporarily. Sign up for a single fundraiser or commit to a weekly service project. Find something that fits your schedule and will give you and your teen an opportunity to work together.
  2. Hungry? Dine at a “Kids Eat Free” restaurant. Here on Staten Island, on certain days of the week, some restaurants offer free kids’ meals with the purchase of an adult meal. Mark your calendar to keep track of the various offers or check out siparent.com for a list.
  3. Cook a special meal together for the family. Call it a special event! There is so much less pressure bringing the family together on a non-holiday occasion. And what better way than to involve the grandchildren?  First, plan a menu with the kids. Teach them to scan the weekly circulars for good deals. Next, shop for the grocery items together. You can get adventurous with your meal choices or choose cuisine from different parts of the world to really make it interesting! Then invite everyone over to eat.
  4. Play cards: the old fashioned kind, with a deck! Youngsters will learn several essential life skills. Card games enable children to think strategically, see patterns, and strengthen their memories. Start with shuffling, which demands dexterity and perseverance. Once that’s done, build a house of cards. While you’re playing a game of Rummy or War, teach them how to hold their cards so that they are not showing.  Build up to more skilled games.  How about a few card tricks? Teach them to amaze a crowd!  You can find simple tricks online.  Last, but not least, card playing encourages good sportsmanship—win, lose or draw, it’s all for fun or chips!
  5. Visit a nature preserve or wildlife center. Bundle some education in with a fun trip to a local nature preserve. The Greenbelt Nature Center and High Rock Park are two ideal places to begin a tour of the Staten Island Greenbelt Preserve. A visit to these centers is often free, and participating in programming may be as well. If not, the fee likely will be inexpensive. They have both educational programs and outdoor exhibits. Volunteering at a nature center is not only a great way to get involved in your community, but it’s also a great way to get to know one of New York City’s largest and most beautiful parks.
  6. Grab a ride on the Carousel in Willowbrook Park, which is open seven days a week all summer long. Rides are still just $1.50, and multiple ride vouchers are available.

Life is a one-time offer. Use it well!

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



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  1. Family Storytime: Spanish Read Aloud – Cuentos y Cantos

    April 25 @ 10:30 am - 10:30 pm
    April 25, 2018  |  10:30 am - 10:30 pm
    South Beach Library
    Children and their parents/caregivers can enjoy stories, and songs in Spanish. Acompáñenos a compartir y cultivar nuestras raíces con otros padres y niños de la comunidad para fortalecer el aprendizaje de los niños a través de canciones y lectura en
  2. Story Time For All

    April 25 @ 11:00 am
    April 25, 2018  |  11:00 am - 11:00 am
    Richmondtown Library
    Join us for interactive stories, songs, and coloring followed by play time for children to socialize. For Ages 18 months to 5 years.
  3. Clay Day

    April 25 @ 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
    April 25, 2018  |  1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
    SI Children's Museum
  4. Mechanical Wave Machine

    April 25 @ 4:00 pm
    April 25, 2018  |  4:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    South Beach Library
    Participants make a large-scale machine that demonstrates how waves work using wooden dowels, duct tape, and gummy candy. We will also demonstrate a simple oscilloscope that uses a laser beam to show how sound waves look. For ages 13 -18
  5. Lego Club

    April 25 @ 4:00 pm
    April 25, 2018  |  4:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    Todt Hill-Westerleigh Library
    LEGO CLUB GET CREATIVE AND BUILD!!!! The library will supply legos, while you provide the imagination All materials must stay at the libray —- so bring a camera to document your creations!! first come— first served recommended for age 8-14
  6. Family Storytime: Stay & Play Storytime

    April 25 @ 4:00 pm
    April 25, 2018  |  4:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    Tottenville Library
    First, we’ll share some fun, interactive stories together. Then we invite you to stay, play and enjoy the library’s toys & exploration stations. Meet other families in the neighborhood! Recommended for ages 3 and up. No pre-registration required.
  7. Bookcraft

    April 25 @ 4:00 pm
    April 25, 2018  |  4:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    Stapleton Library
    Have a blast listening to stories and making a fun craft!
  8. Family Storytime: Picture Book Time

    April 25 @ 4:00 pm
    April 25, 2018  |  4:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    New Dorp Library
    Enjoy hearing books read aloud, fingerplays action rhymes and coloring. For ages 3 years and up with caregiver.
  9. Evening Group Hike

    April 25 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
    April 25, 2018  |  6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
    Greenbelt Nature Center
    Every Wednesday: Join us for our weekly evening, guided hike where we will cover 4/5 miles. There are some small climbs but it’s fairly easy. You will probably see parts of the Greenbelt and the trail system that you haven’t
  10. Peepers: Learning about Nature

    April 26 @ 9:45 am - 10:15 am
    April 26, 2018  |  9:45 am - 10:15 am
    Greenbelt Nature Center
    Thursdays through May 31: Through hands-on activities, crafts, and stories, 2 year-olds and their caregivers will become familiar with the sights and sounds of the forest. Space is limited. Registration required. Fee: $3 non-members/Free for Greenbelt Conservancy members