Spruce up Your Grandkids’ Bedrooms


Want to have some fun? Get permission from your children to help spruce up your grandchild’s bedroom. Spend a little time dreaming with your grandchild about his or her perfect room and then make some plans. It’s a bedroom makeover!

Kids’ bedrooms are often a messy hodgepodge of toys, clothing, books and half-eaten snacks. You can help inspire a special hideaway for play, study, and a place to “be” that will become your grandchild’s sanctuary.

Durable, not Fancy Furniture

Wayfair has a stunning array of choices in children’s bedroom furniture. Check out their popular high sleeper beds which offer a fun bunk bed plus lots of space beneath the beds for storage or a unique study or play area.

For some fun choices in personalized chairs check out Crate and Barrel Children’s furniture. They also offer a wide selection of dressers, end tables, beds and more.


Inexpensive and super-useful, you’ll love Maginels children’s wardrobe units. Brightly colored and kid-friendly these units solve your clothing and toy storage problems.

Colorful kids’ mini-lockers are available from Schoollockers.com. They’re a cute addition to a child or teen’s bedroom.

Ways to Create Special Areas


Think about what your grandchild loves right now. Is it princesses, dinosaurs or a certain movie character? Then think ahead three or five or seven years. Make a design plan that can incorporate what is loved now, but also look ahead a few years when that favorite thing may change. The key thematic pieces should be the accents that can be easily replaced with something new.

Check out thirty-six different themes for kids’ bedrooms at digsdigs.com. You may select just one idea to add to your plan that will make all the difference in the fun quotient.

Here are some more bedroom ideas from donpedrobrooklyn.com. From simple to ornate, you’ll find something your grandchild loves.



Find fun kids’ bedding at The Company Store, Bed Bath and Beyond, or Children’s Bedding Direct.


Tents make perfect reading and play areas in a child’s bedroom and don’t have to take up much space. Check out the tents at Wayfair.


Area carpets are a great way to brighten up a bedroom and there are so many choices. Go to Kid Carpet or Wayfair to browse.

Other Accessories

To find those perfect finishing touches for your bedroom makeover consider looking for pillows, chairs, wall hangings, curtains and lighting pieces. Try IKEA.

Planning this bedroom makeover will mean lots of quality time with your grandchild, and lots of fun hours together enjoying the final result.

Time for a Road Trip: Kids in the Car

As summer nears, many of us are contemplating road trips to wonderful places. Road trips are fun. Road trips are exciting, but…how to entertain the kids? 

It takes a bit of planning and some ingenuity to solve the problem of what to do during those long hours of driving. It helps to prepare some games and activities ahead of time because you know best what your kids or grandkids love to do and we all know it’s hard to sit still for long hours.

One tried and true method is to purchase small gifts and toys ahead of time. Wrap them and number them—one for each day of driving time. They can either be distributed at the beginning of each driving day or at the end of one day to be used the next. It gives the children something to look forward to.

Here are some game/toy/activity ideas to use as you take your summer road trip:

Home Made

Car Ride Bingo: Make some bingo cards ahead of your trip. Make a five by five or six by six grid with a free space here and there. Write in objects that your kids can find while looking out the car window. Be creative and include things like animals, vehicles, certain shapes or colors, etc. Add at least one funny object to hunt for.

Twenty-one Questions: The person who is “it” thinks of an object. It can be anything in the world. The rest of the players take turns asking questions to narrow down the categories, but be careful, twenty-one questions can go by very quickly.

Color the Map: Print off maps of your country. In the U.S. kids will look for license plates from each state and color in the state when they find it. In Europe they will color in certain provinces, regions or zones.

Small Tins: Find small tin cans with tops such as breath mint cans. Use them to store small toys for the road trip. You might include

Crayons and sticky notes for hours of driving fun.

Tiny Legos to build small structures

Tic Tac Toe handwritten board with colored buttons to use as x’s and o’s.

I Went to Town and I Bought…Use the name of the city that will be your final destination of the day. The first player begins by saying I Went to (town) and I bought an apple. The next player has to say the same sentence but finish it with an object beginning with the letter B. Can you make it to Z?

And Then…Players tell a story. The first person begins Once upon a time and tells as much of the story as he or she likes. When it’s time to pass the story on to the next person, finish by saying, “And then….” The next play continues the story until time to pass it on. And then…

Metal Tray with Magnetic Letters and Shapes Find an old cookie sheet or other small metal tray and pack some magnetic letters and shapes. Encourage writing words that rhyme, words that are five letters long, color words, names, etc. Ask if the children can make a picture that looks like an animal, a building, or a toy.

Printable Games: Here is a site that has printable games and activities to copy off before your trip.

Purchased Toys and Games

Magnetic Animal Homes: From Purple Cow, this fun matching game matches animals to their habitats.

Wikki Stix Travel Pak: Wikki Stix are fun to use and easy to take along on your road trip. These come in a handy plastic box and come with an activity book offering many ideas to spark creativity as kids bend the stix.

Tangrams: This travel version of tangram puzzles is called Tangoes and is perfect for hours of puzzle-making in the car.

Wooden Toy Magnetic Puzzle Pieces: This toy is a combination of a white board that is also magnetized to take puzzle pieces. It will entertain young children for hours at a time. The wooden box makes it easy to take along on your road trip.

Ed Emberley Drawing Books: Ed Emberley Drawing books are a treasure trove for little ones. Take your pick of  Animals, Trucks and Trains, or things you can make from your own Thumbprint. His step by step pictures make success just one line away.

Take N Play Hangman This favorite word game is easy to pack and fun to play. Get Hangman before you go.

Busybag: This travel bag is filled with small toys and games to keep your kids happy for many hours. It comes in bags for boys or girls.

Scavenger Hunt: Choose from the Highways or City and Suburbs deck of Scavenger Hunt cards. Play individually or in teams to find the designated objects as you travel.

A family road trip will be an adventure and will create family memories for years to come. Do a little planning before you embark and keep the kids satisfied during those long hours of driving.

Gardening with Children

Children have a natural curiosity about the world around them. If they are growing up in a rich literacy environment full of books of all sorts, they will want to experience some of the things they see in the pictures. One of the best activities for helping young children to  learn about our beautiful natural world is to allow them to see the growth cycle of plants. As adults we take the life cycles of plants and animals for granted, but when we introduce them to children we can, once again, enjoy the miracle of new life growing—a tiny seed growing into a tiny shoot, a seedling and then a mature plant. 
Beans, radishes, or grass seed are good choices to begin with because they germinate very quickly. Planting in a clear plastic container allows the child to watch the development of the root structure below the soil as well as the growth above. Little science experiments such as giving one plant more light than another will give your little learner a chance to notice change over time and to learn that plants need certain nutrients to thrive. They may even begin to document growth over time with a simple chart or labeled drawing. The basis of good science is observation and then asking key questions about information observed. You can get your grandchild off to a great start as an observant learner by doing nothing more than planting a few seeds and then waiting for the exciting results.
Here are some excellent books to use as you have fun with plants and seeds:


The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss 

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert        

City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan        

The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall      

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert        

Sunflower House by Eve Bunting

NON-FICTION (How to books):      

  Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy        

The Children’s Kitchen Garden by Georgeanne Brennan        

Gardening Wizardry for Kids by L. Patricia Kite        

Grow Your Own Pizza by Constance Hardesty

Finally, you must try the classic:

I Can Read book by Millicent Selsam entitled Seeds and More Seeds. In this easy-to-read book young Benny begins to wonder about seeds. What are they, how do they grow and what will they turn into?

Read this simple book to your grandchild, or better yet, allow him or her to read it to you, and then watch as enthusiasm for getting out into nature grows into a passion for planting and watching things grow!

Here is a fun idea. Take a paper cup, draw a face on it, fill it with soil and plant grass seed on top. Wait a few days and watch the hair grow!!!

Finding the Right Gifts for the Older Children on Your List


   Holidays and birthdays are never far away and our great joy as parents and grandparents is to see faces light up as they open much-anticipated presents. Eagerly they strip away wrappings to reveal the dolls, trucks and games that they have requested.

As they laugh and smile and radiate excitement we oldsters are once-again pleased that we have given joy to our loved ones. There is great satisfaction in giving a gift that “fits”. But as our children get older it isn’t as easy to satisfy them nor is it as easy to anticipate what will bring about those happy and excited faces. None of us want to give a gift that misses the mark.
   One of the keys to finding the perfect gifts for our pre-teens or teens is truly knowing who they are and what they enjoy. If you live far away from them and don’t have the opportunity to visit with them in their home setting, you have an even greater challenge in keeping up with their current interests. However you will find that making an extra effort to either talk to them personally or to talk to their parents will pay dividends in the end. 
   Is your young man or woman a sports enthusiast? Does he or she have more of a creative nature? Perhaps he enjoys hands on science activities or she enjoys writing.

Whatever the current hobby or activity may be, your efforts in finding a gift that dovetails with it will show your child that you took a personal interest in them. So often we hear that teens feel isolated and unloved. They are going through difficult transitions and it is vitally important that the adults in their lives continue to play steadfast mentoring roles for them. So do a little research before shopping for those older children this year and reap the rewards of genuine hugs and thank-yous.
Here are some suggestions:
For active pre-teens and teens:
biking equipment such as helmets, pads, blinking lights, skateboards and equipment, snowboard or ski equipment, clothing or tow passes, dance pads that are compatible with home games, box sporting equipment, soccer, baseball, football, etc.
For the creative:
art supplies: easel, canvas, brushes and paints, knitting books, needles and yarn beading supplies.

More ideas next month!

“My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19!”

News release of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee

9 April 2020 News release

A new story book that aims to help children understand and come to terms with COVID-19 has been produced by a collaboration of more than 50 organizations working in the humanitarian sector, including the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Save the Children.

With the help of a fantasy creature, Ario, “My Hero is You, How kids can fight COVID-19!” explains how children can protect themselves, their families and friends from coronavirus and how to manage difficult emotions when confronted with a new and rapidly changing reality.

The book – aimed primarily at children aged 6-11 years old – is a project of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, a unique collaboration of United Nations agencies, national and international nongovernmental organizations and international agencies providing mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings.

During the early stages of the project, more than 1700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world shared how they were coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. The input was invaluable to script writer and illustrator Helen Patuck and the project team in making sure that the story and its messages resonated with children from different backgrounds and continents.

In order to reach as many children as possible, the book will be widely translated, with six language versions released today and more than 30 others in the pipeline. It is being released as both an online product and audio book.

Download the book here

My Hero is You: all language versions

Simple Ways to Stay in Touch with Friends and Family

Text Messaging Applications (sometimes called apps)

Text messages are quick and easy ways to write short messages to anyone in the world. They are usually set up on a smart phone, but can then be used on your desktop as well. Messages are easy to send and the recipient is notified immediately that you have contacted them. Here are four of the most popular messaging applications. 

  • Facebook Messenger is part of the Facebook system. It is installed on your phone and is a quick and easy way to stay in touch with your contacts. In addition to quick messages, you can also send photos or videos, and make audio or video phone calls. 
  • Telegram is a messaging app available on most phones and can be used on desktop computers as well. Download it from your app store and use your phone number to register. You can invite friends from your contact list. Use Telegram for online chats, sending pictures or making phone calls. You can create a “channel” for chatting with a group of folks all at once. This may work for your family to have group chats or phone calls. 
  • What’s App is another popular messaging application to use with your smart phone. It is safe to use and is a way to send messages, pictures, videos and to make phone calls. This app is used around the world. It also has the capacity to group chat up to 100 people. 

For help with setting up and using the above messaging systems, go to www.techboomers.com. and search setting up the specific messaging application.

Video Calling Devices

If you don’t have a smart phone but would love to stay in contact with family and friends, you may look into these simpler, more senior-friendly devices below.

  • ViewClix Smart Frame is a simple frame that displays a slideshow of your family’s most recent photos. There is no need to learn any newfangled technology, because there is an auto feature allowing video calls to be received automatically. The system is safe and only verified family members or friends can make the calls. Family members use the free ViewClix mobile app to share the pictures and make the video calls.
  • Grandpadis a tablet for seniors. For a low monthly fee family and friends can have instant contact with their loved ones. The app used by family members is free and no wi-fi is necessary to use the tablet. There are only four buttons on the screen, phone calls, e-mail, photos and camera. The tablet can also connect to the internet and has games specially designed for senior users. 
  • Amazon Echo is a handy little speaker that can make connecting with the outside world a dream. Just say “Alexa” and follow that name with your command. Alexa can tell the weather or play your favorite music. She can come up with cooking ideas and report the latest news. The echo can be programmed to set the temperature in the home or turn the lights on or off. Alexa can also make phone calls. You just say, Alexa, call (insert name of your kids or grandkids.)

In these uncertain times, it’s really important to stay in touch with our loved ones. Take some time and learn how to use the messaging components of your smart phone or if you don’t use a smart phone, try out one of the devices above to help you stay current with friends and family.

Stuck at Home? What to Do When the Grandkids Say, “I’m Bored.”

It’s very possible that we may find ourselves confined to our homes in the coming weeks and months due to the spread of Coronavirus. If that should happen and you need ideas to entertain the grandchildren, there is help.

Illnesses aside, children today often need prompts to motivate them to engage in active play. They tend to extend screen times to many hours a day and all the experts agree that this is a negative trend. Kids need to engage in active play, both indoors and out. They need to run, pretend, read, and create. So what is boredom and how do we counteract it?

According to Psychologist John Eastwood, PhD, of York University in Toronto, “A bored person doesn’t just have nothing to do. He or she wants to be stimulated, but is unable to connect with his or her environment—has ‘an unengaged mind’.” In other words, boredom is an unfulfilled desire for engagement in a satisfying activity.

So, what does it mean when children say they’re bored? It can mean different things to different individuals. It may mean…

  • The child needs direction or ideas. He or she is not able to come up with an activity without help.
  • It may mean, “I’m lonely. I want some attention from the adults in my life.”
  • It might be a case of overstimulation and a need for a break, a nap or some quiet time.
  • It may mean, “I don’t like what I’m doing right now.”

As a former teacher, I often heard parents say their child was more capable than he or she was performing in class because “he was bored.” I learned to take this complaint with a grain of salt. A child not performing in class might feel disengaged, but there are many reasons for that problem. It could be:

  • He or she needs redirection. Attention and focus are lifeskills that require some practice. Getting off-track is not the same as needing more difficult or challenging work.
  • He or she may, indeed, need a greater challenge.
  • The learner may need guidance in order to proceed with a task. The parent or teacher then takes the role of a coach.
  • The child may be in the habit of negative thinking when it’s time to work. Work ethic is another lifeskill that takes time to master.

Today’s children live in a world of near-constant stimuli. Television, videos, games; all entertain at the push of a button. There is very little opportunity for our kids to practice coming up with their own ideas for fun. They lack experience in using their imaginations, entering into creative play and being independent in their play. And this is a problem, because play is the work of childhood.

What to Do?

There is no doubt that screen time needs to be managed and limited. The addictive nature of online play is more than evident. And while computers and screens are here to stay, they can’t be allowed to overshadow all other forms of play and entertainment. 

Children are happiest and most fulfilled when they engage in self-directed play, learning to explore both their inner and outer worlds. They need to imagine, invent and create. 

Here are some ways you can encourage healthy, creative play:

  • Ask questions. Do you know what you’d like to do? Would you like to…?
  • Provide materials for creative play such as art supplies, dress-up clothes or simple do it yourself projects. 
  • Teach an old-fashioned game such as jacks, hopscotch, tag, or capture the flag. Kids don’t know how to play these games anymore.
  • Be willing to help your children brainstorm fun things to do. Create an activity jar filled with slips of paper, one fun activity per slip. Then when a child needs a new idea, they may pick three slips of paper and must choose to do one of them. (Check out boredom buster jars.)
  • Encourage active play out of doors every day. Bodies are designed to move, not sit still for hours.
  • Direct your grandchild to a quiet activity such as reading, drawing, or writing.
  • Talk with your grandchildren about the need to grow in the ability to play independently and develop important lifeskills such as creating and finishing a project on their own.

In extraordinary times, we grandparents can still be a positive force in our grandchildren’s lives. We can encourage an active, engaged play life. We can encourage creativity and imaginative play and set the tone for calm in a time of storm.

I believe our readers could really benefit from this guide. Check it out:

Homeschooling during COVID-19: How One Family is Doing It