Since the pandemic began, I do a mini-version of my "Camp Nanabanana" over Zoom, the video conferencing app, with my grandkids most Saturday afternoons.
I was looking for an easy project when I stumbled across these cute corner bookmarks at https://blogs.dctc.edu/dawnbraa/2011/12/10/monster-bookmarks/
I have no idea who originally came up with the idea. I have seen it on several different websites and most considered this a origami project which included cutting and folding paper. I decided there must be an easier way and decided to use the corner of an envelope to make it easier for the younger kids.
Simply cut off the corner of an envelop, use the corner as a template to cut your animal print paper and then glue it to the corner. I really like the Elmer's disappearing purple glue. It's easy to see where you have applied glue but then dries clear. I purchased craft eyes which had adhesive backs. Then, we used construction paper to cut out "teeth", "noses" and "lips" to glue to each animal. Your grandchildren can use their imaginations to come up with all sorts of monsters and animals.
The hard is coming up with an easy enough idea that can be done on camera. In other words, the kids cannot require much help when you aren't there in person to assist them. Then, it requires my pre-ordering all the supplies and assembling a craft bag to be doorstep dropped to each child. The only things required for this project were animal print paper, glue sticks and "craft eyes". I am including links below to the types of products I used. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a commission if you use these links to purchase the items.
t 57, I'm a fairly young Grandma. My seven grandkids range from age 1 to 12. When I was little, my Grandmother watched me while my Mother worked. As a result, I developed a deep relationship with her.
My husband and I own a business and we both work full time. Being self-employed does allow me some flexibility but I do not get as much time as I want with my grandkids. I am finding as I age that I have limited energy and emotion and as a result, have to pick and choose my free time activities.
Since my grandchildren are very important to me, I make the time to spend with them. During the summers, I set aside one day a week to hold what I call "Camp Nanabanana". My camp is simply a day I devote to my grandkids. I pre-plan the activities and the food. During the winter, we plan cousin sleepovers.
I'm not sure that quantity of time is more important than quality of time. If you take the time to make unique memories with your grandkids, they will remember your efforts. I don't think you have to have daily, or even weekly contact, to develop a close relationship with grandkids. One of my husband's Grandmothers lived several states away and he only saw her sporadically. He grew up in a time when it was prohibitively expensive to even call long distance. What he remembers are her huge hugs and how she made him feel special the few times he did get to see her. A trip to Grandma's house was extraordinary and exciting!
Today, we are blessed with multiple means of cheap communication, including cell phones, facetime and videoconferencing programs such as Zoom. There is really no excuse to not keep in contact even during a pandemic. Our family uses Zoom and I plan an hour or so almost every week to do an activity with the grandkids. This week we made pie crust cookies.
While many of my ideas are inspired by others, this activity was inspired by my own childhood. My Grandma frequently made pies from scratch. She rolled out the dough and then lifted it into the round pie pan. She shaped the dough to the dish and used a knife to cut away any excess dough from the edges. These "scrapes" were then placed on a cookie sheet and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. She baked these scrapes and gave them to me as a treat. I loved cinnamon pie crust goodies!
I supplied each grandchild with a flat store bought pie crust and cookie cutters via a doorstep drop. The fun was in using the cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the pie crust, placing them on a cookie sheet and sprinkling with sugar and cinnamon. While we worked, I told them the story of my my Grandma's pie crust treats that I enjoyed when I was a kid. Once the pie crust is cut and sugared, simply pop in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes until done.
It was a very cute, inexpensive and easy baking project that even the youngest kids could complete with a little supervision. The treats were all eaten immediately though I must admit a homemade pie crust is 1,000 times better than store bought.
The point is not the project, it's the time you spend together.
Below are some similar items as those I used in this project. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
If your enjoyed this project, please consider purchasing my ebook: "Camp Nanabanana: A Grandma's Guide" to fun, inexpensive projects to complete with your grandchildren.
Copies can be found at: www.campnanabanana.com/
And don't forget to check back often for more Camp Nanabanana projects!
Many Grandparents ask, "How can I stay connected to my grandkids when I don't live close enough to see them frequently?"
I have been blessed to have my grandchildren live near but this year we have been distanced by a disease. Since it hasn't been safe to meet in person, I had to take my popular "Camp Nanabanana" online. I miss being physically together and especially their hugs. The popular video conferencing program "Zoom" has allowed us to take the fun online.
Since they are already doing school online, I keep my Camp Nanabanana activities to under an hour. It takes some pre-planning in order to get all the materials to them (doorstep drop off) prior to the activity. I hold my camp on Saturdays at 4pm and since they spend so much time online doing distant learning, I keep it short.
I feel being consistent is important. I want them to feel they can always count on the same day and time. I hope it gives them something to look forward to at a time when they are missing out on so much.
This week, we made personalized coasters. I had bought a box of stone tile years ago at a large box store and decided it was time to put them to use. All you need is a tile, a picture and some Modge Podge. If you want to be extra fancy, add a liner to the the bottom of the tile to keep it from scratching the furniture. I used some scrap pieces of leather I had left over from a furniture refinishing project though felt works best.
Each grandchild found a picture to decoupage to the top of the coaster. Most went with photos. Owen decided to use a special drawing his brother Cai had made of him in a cape decorated with a smiley face, his favorite attire. My mother, who my grandkids call Baba, joined us and turned a card from her great-granddaughter into a special memento.
There is really nothing more than gluing felt to the bottom of the tile and evenly brushing Modge Podge over the art. It helps if you coat the tile with Modge Podge, place the artwork and then brush the mixture over the picture. Make sure all the edges are thoroughly glued down. It takes a couple of hours for the Modge Podge to dry. It may take more than one coat.
I decided to cut a couple of pictures from a favorite childhood book from my own Grandmother's house. The book was torn and missing it's cover. The paper was faded and sporting brown age spots, much like my own skin. It was a book I remember my Grandma reading to me while I was snuggled in her large lap. I loved the book because the protagonist was a little girl with red hair and I was a little girl with red hair, something not common and often commented on in my life.
Now, instead of sitting out of sight in a drawer, only to be thrown away by future generations, it will sit on my coffee table and remind me of sitting in the warm embrace of my Grandma with my ear to her chest as she gently read me stories.
Below are some links for the products we used to make the coasters. If you purchase anything from Amazon using the below links, I may earn a small commission:
It helps to ask a lot of questions as you complete the project. Be sure to admire each child's handiwork. Ask them to hold it up so you can "ohhh and awww" over the creation. My granddaughter choose to make her coaster using a picture we had taken years ago in a photo booth. Perhaps when she is my age, she will still have the coaster and think back to the fun day we took the silly photo as well as the day we made the project during a pandemic.
If you enjoyed this project, please consider purchasing my book "Camp Nanabanana: A Grandma's Guide". It's filled with fun, inexpensive projects you can complete with your own grandchildren. You can download a copy from my homepage located at www.campnanabanana.com/
Nana can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Being a Grandma can be hard. It used to be all we had to do was bake cookies and we were great. But now, we are always competing with devices. It can be difficult to find things to do with your grandchildren that you both enjoy and that will hold their attention. And, when you throw in a pandemic, it compounds the problem.
For the last couple of years, I have held a "camp" at my home for my grandkids. Once a week, we got together and did crafts, made food, talked and played. I got to know them and they got to know me. Then came the Covid. Suddenly, to stay safe, we had to stay apart. It was devastating and depressing. I decided to take "Camp Nanabanana" online.
Each week, we schedule time to do something together over Zoom. I keep it at an hour or less because all of us are "zoomed out" by the end of the week. The kids are doing remote learning and I am working from home with lots of time spent online.
Last week, we made a simple bird feeder.
I try to keep my online projects easy, simple and inexpensive. I deliver packages of the needed ingredients to each grandkid. They are close enough for me to door drop but if they lived out of my local area it would take extra planning to mail or coordinate with parents to provide.
First, find pinecones. I like to walk and I found plenty of pinecones in a local cemetery. I scooped up plenty because I have several more projects planned that involve pinecones.
Next, tie a string at the top of the pinecone. Spread peanut butter all over the pinecone. Then, roll the pinecone in a bowl of birdseed. It's that simple.
I attached a couple of finished bird feeders to existing bird feeders. They were not stable and the birds spun around much like squirrels flung off a "Yankee Flipper". So, I next attached the feeders to trees and bushes and they loved them.
I also made a laminated bird cheat sheet to give to each grandchild. If we had been able to get together in person, I would have loved working together to make the sheet. It's designed to keep near a window to help the kids identify the birds that land on the pinecone feeder. It would have been fun to talk about the characteristics of each bird and take a bird watching hike around our little acreage.
I simply put together a few pictures of birds common to our area and laminated it. As I put the sheets through the laminator, my husband said, "What is that strange smell?"
I responded, "It's the smell of a middle aged woman having fun".
"It kind of reminds me of the smell of the mimeograph machine in grade school," he said.
It's a memory and a smell that only those of our generation can pull to mind.
Once you start spending time with someone of any age, you can quickly learn the details of their life. You can go from "How's school" with the obligatory and boring answer of "Fine", to "How did your project with Sarah go?"
Just like any relationship, it takes asking a lot of questions and learning the names of all the important players. I try to listen more than I talk. If conversation slows down, have a silly question in mind to help prompt the kids to open up.
One thing I have found they love is funny stories about their own parents at their same age. It's fun to relive those years with an appreciative audience. And, I think it helps them relate to their parents as people who experienced the same type of problems they encounter. Many conversations have started with "I remember when your Mom was about your age she used to really like to..."
While the projects are fun, the real point is to talk and enjoy each others company. It's like a "book club" without the book or "Girls Night Out" without the wine. The projects are an excuse to get together and keep our hands busy while we socialize.
If you are looking for more tips and projects, consider buying my ebook "Camp Nanabanana: A Grandma's Survival Guide" filled with easy, inexpensive projects to do with your grandchildren found at: www.campnanabanana.com/
Below are some products which you may find helpful in making this project. If you make a purchase using this link, I may make a small commission. If you don't want to make your own bird cheat sheet, I think this National Geographic kids bird guide would make a wonderful gift. And, I highly recommend the Scotch brand no jam thermal laminator.
If you are new to my grandparenting blog, welcome! I started what I call "Camp Nanabanana" to stay connected to my Grandkids which has suddenly became much more difficult with a worldwide pandemic in play.
Part of the fun of "camp" was getting together with all the cousins. Now, to stay safe we must be apart, at least in person but not in heart. I decided to take some of my Nana classes online. I usually pick two easy projects, each project takes about half an hour. We start with a easy snack and then progress to a simple craft or other project. It has become the best hour of my week.
It takes a little advance planning to make sure each grandchild has all the ingredients. I usually text the parents with links to the projects I am planning to do and ask if they need any of the ingredients. I doorstep drop or they pick up all necessary items they don't have in the pantry. None of the projects include expensive or hard to obtain ingredients. Part of the beauty of our camp, is keeping it simple and fun. You want it easy enough you can direct as you make the project and still hold a conversation. After all, the point of Camp Nanabanana is to build relationships.
This week, I decided to start with easy, three ingredient chocolate peanut butter Ritz no bake cookies. All it takes is Ritz crackers, peanut butter and chocolate candy coating. Slap a little peanut butter between two Ritz crackers. Made 24 cracker peanut butter sandwiches.
Place candy coating in the microwave for one minute, take out and stir. Heat at 15 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted. Dip the cracker sandwich in the coating and place on a piece of aluminum foil or waxed paper until hardened.
This time I tried a variation on this cookie classic. I purchased Toll House Edible Cookie dough and made about half with this filling rather than peanut butter. I had planned on also trying marshmallow fluff as a filling but alas, there must have been a run on fluff this week. My grocery orders always seem to be randomly missing one or two items, frequently the one ingredient I really crave or which is most vital to a recipe. #pandemicproblems
I obviously should have hoarded less toilet paper and more fluff.
I also put a little coarse salt on the tops of some cookies and sprinkles on others. The sprinkles were a good way to identify the filling. When I was a kid and you occasionally got a box of chocolates, it was frowned upon to nibble the edges to determine the "good" candy and not get stuck with a nougat-filled ball of wax. No kid has ever enjoyed candy less than one being forced to eat the one they randomly chose and hated.
Below are some of the types of products I used. As an amazon affiliate member, I may earn a small commission if you purchase items through my links.
Once we completed our cookies, we moved on to the grandparent-grandkid Zoom friendly project of making fluffy slime.
I found my fluffy slime recipe on marthastewart.com. Before the internet, all we had was Martha Stewart. My generation eagerly anticpated Martha's magazine each month and quickly flipped to look at the "good things" pages for ideas. Everyone in 1990 had a pretty glass bottle with a spout, filled with dishwashing liquid next to the sink. Martha was the original "influencer".
Below is a link to the recipe we used:
All it takes is:
1 cup of white glue
1 cup of shaving cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons saline solution
I halved the recipe so I could make two batches of different colors, Pour the ingredients into a bowl and mix. At first, I thought I had done something wrong. It takes a little working before the slime firms up.
I walked the kids through the steps, "First pour your bottle of glue in the bowl, etc."
These kids were slime experts having made slime at school and home multiple times. My grandson had a bowl of green goop that seemed to be growing and spreading beyond his bowl.
My granddaughter chimed in, "Cai, you forgot to add the activator!"
Apparently, saline solution is a very important ingredient. But eventually, he was able to experiment until he came up with a respectful bowl of green slime. He was wearing it as a beard when we signed off.
I have to admit, it is a highly addictive activity. There is something soothing about squeezing fluffy slime through your hands. We all laughed and held up our squishy creations, stretching it into ropes and shaping it.
It very much reminded me of the silly putty we used to buy in a red egg when I was a kid. It was a rubbery material you could pull and stretch. I remember lying on my Grandma's floor, smoothing it flat onto the comic papers and then pulling up a faint ink image. I can still smell it in my mind but I couldn't come close to describing it's distinctive silly putty scent.
Just remember, it's not about the projects. It is about listening and laughing together. Someday, one of my grandchildren may be telling the story to her grandchildren of making slime with Nana. At least, I hope she does.
If you enjoyed this post, consider purchasing my ebook found on my home page. It is filled with easy, inexpensive projects your grandchildren will love.
Below are links to products you may want to use making this project. I may receive a small commission if you purchase products using these links.
I long to spend time with my grandkids, to hug them and cover them in sloppy kisses they wipe off with the back of their sleeves. But right now, keeping everyone safe is my priority. So, how do you stay connected?
Our family has taken "Camp Nanabanana" online. If you have read my previous posts, we use the video conferencing tool known as "Zoom" to talk and do projects. Zoom is also a great way to keep in touch with your grandchildren if you do not live close to them. In today's mobile society, this is unfortunately the case for many grandparents.
As a kid, my favorite cartoon was the "The Jetsons". The Jetson's had a video telephone which was an amazing imagination feat in the 1960's when we were all still tied to landlines. In fact, landline wasn't a term. We just called it the telephone. Zoom is simply the Jetson's telephone made possible in my lifetime. And during a pandemic, what a lifeline it is.
I set a specific time to meet online with all my grandkids via Zoom. It takes some pre-planning to come up with simple enough projects and make sure each grandchild has all the ingredients. I ask the parents to provide some of the ingredients and I doorstep drop other necessary items off at each child's house. If your grandkids live at a distance, it will take even a little more pre-planning to get the project materials to the kids. I suggest using Amazon and simply having the material delivered directly to their homes or go old school and mail them.
For this online version of Camp Nanabanana, I decided we would start by making a simple snack together.
I chose "Puppy Chow" but you can make it's equally good cousin, "Muddy Buddies".
One recipe I have saved for over thirty years is the first recipe my daughter, Andrea, wrote out when she was around six. I remember how proud she was to make this simple dessert. And from the tattered looks of it, we made it frequently.
For Muddy Buddies, you can find the recipe on the back of a box of Chex cereal, which is one of the main ingredients or in the slideshow above.
Both recipes are so sweet you feel yourself getting a cavity just staring in the bowl.
One thing we have discovered as a family is about any cereal will work in this recipe. I used Life cereal. My daughter used Cinnamon Toast Crunch and said she is never, ever going back. Next time, I am considering using Cap'n Crunch, my very favorite cereal which was born the same year as me in 1963. I love a man in uniform, especially Horatio Magellan Crunch of the S.S. Guppy. And yes, that is his real name according to Pepsico.
I simply stepped the kids though the recipe on Zoom. Pour a package of chocolate chips in a bowl along with a stick of butter and half a cup of peanut butter. Melt in the microwave and stir until smoothly combined. Pour over a box of cereal. Pour in a cup (or desired amount) of powered sugar and mix. Or place the mixture into a paper bag and shake until the cereal is fully coated. Smaller children may need a parents assistance but anyone over age six (since that is the age my daughter made her first batch) can probably make this very easy recipe with a grandparents online tutelage. I can not vouch for the state their parents kitchen upon completion.
It took us no more than 15 minutes to mix up our Dog Chow/Muddy Buddies.
Once we had our snack, we were ready to start on our easy craft project, terrariums.
First, each child will need a jar. Wide mouth Mason jars with lids work great. But really, any jar with a lid does just fine. I am a huge fan of recycling and save lots of jars for future Camp Nanabanana projects.
I delivered my "kits" to the kids with potting mix already placed in the jar.
I actually ordered my succulents online. I have never bought live plants online and was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the little plants. Each child received a small, live plant and I instructed them how to dig a small hole with a long handled wooden spoon and then they lowered the plant inside, gently planting it.
I had included baggies with a few small items to use to decorate the jars. Some I had on hand, others I ordered. I had plenty of shiny tumbled rocks from when we had performed rock tumbling in the summer. I also had a few small birds, tiny baskets, ribbons, fake flowers, washi craft tape and the like. Some of the kids had small items of their own that they ran to include.
I have placed links to some products listed on Amazon which are very similar to what we used in our project. I may earn a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase through Amazon. You probably have some of the items on hand or your grandkids may have miniatures they would like to include. If not, try these products.
I wrapped my jar with a little washi tape and a ribbon. I, along with all the grandkids, were quite pleased with our finished products. I heard a lot of discussion as to where best to place their finished creations. Bedroom windows being the standard choice.
Making the terrariums took less than half an hour. I try to keep my online Camp Nanabanana to an hour or less because I find it hard to hold kids attention for much longer. It is a great way to do something together, make a memory and get them talking.
If you enjoyed this project, please consider purchasing my e-book, "Camp Nanabanana: A Grandma's Guide to Inexpensive, Fun Projects" found on my home page at www.campnanabanana.com/
As always, I can be reached at email@example.com. Let me know how your project turned out and what projects you recommend. Us Grandma's got to stick together!
I feel for grandparents with out-of-state grandchildren and know it adds to the struggle of remaining connected. I am so thankful that all of my grandkids live within 20 minutes of my house. It has made having "Camp Nanabanana" very easy since they are all in close proximity.
Then a pandemic happened. At first, we meet with just one set of grandkids at a time and only outside. It wasn't quite the same, since being in a large, loud group of your cousins is sort of the hallmark of my camp. Still, I was able to do some small, limited projects with one or two grandkids at a time.
Then, the rates of infection started increasing. The weather turned from sweater weather to downright need-a-down-coat-cold. We no longer felt safe being together, even at responsible social distances and sporting the latest fashion accessory, masks.
My husband, Chuck, said, "There is light at the end of the tunnel but unfortunately it's a long, treacherous trip".
As we await our turn to receive the vaccine, I started wondering how I could stay connected with my grandchildren through the coming long, tough winter. I decided to go online.
If you have not heard of "Zoom" then you need to familiarize yourself with this product. It is a way to tie multiple people into a group meeting. It's facetime on steroids. Zoom offers free sessions for families though I opted to pay a monthly fee in order to have unlimited time.
Remember the opening of the old TV show "Brady Bunch"? It was my favorite show as a kid. It's very hard for me to conceive that my childhood crush, "Greg Brady", is now 66 years old. In the opening credits (and I know you are silently singing the theme song in your head), each person was in their own little box, twisting around to look at the other members of the family. Apparently, that was a prophecy fulfilled in 2020.
While Zoom is not perfect, it's a step above loneliness. Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation. Perhaps that is what we can teach our grandchildren during this time. How to survive with a smile. How to stay positive and peaceful. How to be content in a chaotic world. How to find joy amid trials.
Online Camp Nanabanana took more than the usual pre-planning. I had to find a project conductive to doing online and purchase all the necessary ingredients and equipment. I had to deliver packages of ingredients to doorsteps.
Since I am not venturing out in the world currently, I ordered my products online through Amazon. I had to order far enough in advance to ensure they would arrive prior to the day set for "Camp". The two primary items I ordered were dog bone shaped cookie cutters and small rolling pins. I would also recommend a pastry mat if you do not already own one. Below are affiliate links to the products I used. If you purchase these items through my link, I make a small commission.
Our family are for the most part "dog people", I had settled on making dog biscuits as our project. Dog biscuits are extremely easy to make and a lot of fun.
I put all the dry ingredients in one gallon size baggie and the wet ingredients in a smaller pint size baggie and stapled the two together with the recipe. I had stipulated they would need to provide eggs because they seemed a little precarious to transport and well, most people have eggs on hand.
The website where I found my dog biscuit inspiration recipe used mild obscenity in it's name so I will let you decide whether to visit the site. I'm a Nana. I don't use profanity or find it cute when children use profanity. I hope I can pass those values along to my grandchildren. Others may find this old-fashioned or quaint but I view it as a moral choice. You may feel differently. We all pass along our own set of values.
In the large gallon baggie, I placed:
2.5 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
half a cup of oatmeal
In the smaller baggie, I placed:
half a can of canned pumpkin (about a cup)
a big spoon of peanut butter (about a third of a cup)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
That's it. Dump all the ingredients in a bowl, add a couple of eggs and mix into a dough. Roll it out to the thickness you prefer. Since I added baking powder, they raised slightly. Cut out the biscuits and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. The recipe made a surprising amount of biscuits, somewhere in the neighborhood of 70.
I led the kids through the steps and they were able to watch me and follow along. Parents of the younger kids helped but those over 8 made their own dog biscuits without adult help.
If you don't have canned pumpkin, I think pureed baby food or mashed banana would work as well as pumpkin. While I added oats, raisins or other dried fruits would also be a nice addition. If your dog has a sweet tooth, add a little honey. If she is a gourmet, maybe a little salt and beef bouillon. If it's a little too wet, add more flour. Too dry, add a little water or another egg. They are dog cookies...I don't think you can go wrong.
Dogs are not that picky. Think about it, they eat dog food pellets and road kill. Almost anything you make is probably a taste sensation in comparison to their normal diet.
Store the biscuits in baggies or a mason jar with a lid. They should last a long time.
If you enjoyed this project, visit my home page and download my eBook, "Camp Nanabanana: A Grandma's Guide to Inexpensive, Fun Projects" found at www.campnanabanana.com/
Check back often for other upcoming fun projects!