10 Ways to Learn With Your Grandchild From Afar

Author: AB Staff

10 Ways to Learn With Your Grandchild From Afar


Whether you’re social distancing from your grandchild for the summer or you live far away from your grandkids all year around, staying connected with them from afar can be a challenge. We’re here to help!

Just because we can’t be together on a Road Scholar program this summer, doesn’t mean we can’t still learn together. Our educators at Road Scholar have put together a collection of fun, educational activities for kids that’ll help you engage, connect and learn with grandkids of all ages.

We’re already planning our Road Scholar grandparent adventures for next year, and we can’t wait to welcome you back on the road next summer. In the meantime, make virtual memories with one of these ten educational projects for grandkids and their grandparents to do together from afar.

A few notes:

  • We’ve provided recommended age ranges as a guide, but you know your grandkids better than we do! Most activities can be adapted for kids of any age. As long as they’re interested, that’s all that matters.
  • We tried to select hands-on activities that take place primarily away from a computer, so your grandkids can have a rest from the screen time.
  • However, most of these activities are enhanced by incorporating video chatting with your grandchild. Check out our handy blog to help YOU learn about the Best Tools for Video Chatting With Your Grandchild.

1. Show and Tell

Preschool & Elementary
For a kid, there’s nothing like the excitement of taking your turn in front of the class to share a special object that represents you and tells a story about your life. Help your grandkids practice their presentation and storytelling skills by scheduling a weekly “Show and Tell” session on video chat. Ask them to bring an object that’s important to them, and you do the same. It’s a great way for you and your grandchild to get to know each other and stay connected from afar. You can even cycle in some objects from your Road Scholar adventures to help them learn about the world!

2. Nature Notebook

Preschool & Up
Parental Supervision Required (for nature walks)
If you and your grandchild love nature, activate their science, art, writing and research muscles and get them outside by starting nature notebook together. Start by decorating the cover of a spiral notebook. Then, send them out into their yard or on walking trails near their homes to explore. Try giving yourselves a task each day: take a leaf rubbing, draw a sketch of a tree, make a list of the animals and insects you observe, write a poem about your backyard or press flowers and tape them into your journal. Connecting with nature can also be therapeutic for both of you!

When you come together on your Zoom or FaceTime call each week, talk about different types of flora and fauna you discovered, and share some of your knowledge about natural history and ecology.

3. Athletic Activities

Elementary & Up
Parental Supervision May Be Required (for walks)
If you and your grandchild share a love of sports, take on an athletic challenge together from afar. Send them a fitness tracker and make a goal each week for how many steps you’ll both complete. You can even start a fitness journal together that records your steps, how many glasses of water you each drink, what vegetables you ate that day, whether you brushed your teeth, etc. You can also assign points to each task. This activity can help encourage your grandkids to make healthy decisions and can keep YOU on track with your health as well!

Looking to combine sports and creativity? Make a comic book featuring a favorite athlete that tells the story of an epic sports moment in history. Or create a brand new sport using the balls, rackets and nets they have at home. Talk it out over video chat and then try it in real life the next time you’re together!

4. Personal Journal

Second Grade & Up
Journaling can be a great opportunity to help your grandchildren practice their writing skills! Pick up a new journal for you and your grandchild (support your neighborhood small businesses by shopping at your local bookstore), and give each other writing prompts at the beginning of each week. (If your grandkids express themselves better through art than writing, encourage them to include sketches!) Then, on your video chat the following week, read excerpts from your journal and talk about what you wrote.

Putting your thoughts, feelings and memories down in a journal can provide an excellent emotional outlet for grandkids (and grandparents alike) who may be feeling stressed, and your journals will also provide a time capsule of a critical time in history that you’ve both lived through. You can also journal about favorite (travel) memories spent together, or ideas about the future if you and your grandchild need a little escape.

5. Travel Diary

Second Grade & Up
Parental Supervision May Be Required (for online activity)
Just because you can’t travel together in real life, doesn’t mean you can’t travel together in your imagination. If you and your grandchild have shared a Road Scholar adventure together in the past, start a travel journal by writing about memories of your travels together and share them together during your weekly calls or by email (or even snail mail!). You can write in a real, physical journal, or try a travel diary online if you’re both tech savvy. Check out this excellent travel journal blog from a Road Scholar grandparent and her granddaughter for inspiration.

Or start a “fictional travel journal” by picking a Road Scholar program you’d like to take together in the future. Follow the daily itinerary to guide you on a virtual learning adventure. Road Scholar participant Bobbie Herron tells you how to do it in her travel journal blog here.

6. Book Club

Second Grade & Up
If you and your grandchild are book lovers, think about starting a “Grand Book Club.” This can be a great option if you have multiple grandkids who are the same age! Pick a book you loved as a kid, or choose a newer one that your grandkids can introduce you to. Check out our list of travel books for grandkids here. Give yourselves an assigned number of pages to read each week, and then come together on your weekly calls to talk about what you read. (You’ll probably want to come ready with a few conversation starters.)

You can also add writing assignments to practice writing skills. For example: write a letter in the point of view of one of the characters and send them to each other in the mail. (Everyone loves getting mail — especially now!)

For inspiration, read how this grandmother and her granddaughter read a book to get them excited about a future Road Scholar adventure together. Read the blog here.

7. Build a Map

Third Grade & Up
Parental Supervision May Be Required (for walks)
Encourage their geography interests, expand their knowledge of the world and help them practice their directional skills by working on a map activity together! Depending on their age, you can start to introduce them to map legends, compasses, latitude, longitude and other mapping concepts.

  • Send them on a walk with their parents with the task of drawing a map of their neighborhood.
  • Do they live near you? Ask them to draw a map from your house to theirs.
  • For older kids, send them a road atlas and have them map out a road trip from their house to yours or from their house to a destination that you want to visit together.
  • Send them a world map or map of the U.S. with tacks to map out where they’ve been and where they want to go.

Map the Night Sky!
Parental Supervision Required
Study the stars with your little astronomer! Send them out at night and task them with mapping the night sky. Compare your maps to find out if you can both see the same night sky, and start to teach them about constellations. Learn how from Skyandtelescope.org.

8. Educational Travel Blogging

Sixth Grade & Up
Parental Supervision May Be Required (for online activity)
Another way to feed your grandchildren’s budding wanderlust and help them practice their writing and research skills is to start an educational travel blog together. (Here are some instructions on starting the blog.) If you and your grandchild aren’t tech savvy, you can also incorporate research into your travel journal.

Here are some great research-based travel blogs for inspiration:

9. More Science Explorations

All Ages
Parental Supervision May Be Required
Does your grandkid love science, technology, engineering and math? Several of Road Scholar’s Favorite Places to Learn About Science With Your Grandkid offer free resources for science activities that you can try at home — most of them hands-on.

And so much more!

All of these experiments and activities can get you both excited for the STEM adventures you can have together with Road Scholar in the future!

10. Share Your Other Hobbies

All Ages
Parental Supervision May Be Required
Does your grandchild love magic? Learn a new magic trick and teach it to them over FaceTime. Do you play an instrument? Send them a new ukulele and practice together on Zoom. Are you a birder? Encourage them to start a birding life list to their nature journal. Do you speak another language? Quiz them on some simple Spanish phrases over Skype. Are you passionate about genealogy? Build a family tree together on your weekly calls. Do you have a love for photography? Send them an inexpensive digital camera or a disposable camera and start to talk to them about light and composition. Is your grandchild a budding thespian? Memorize lines in a scene and practice them together on Facebook Messenger video chat. So many of your favorite hobbies can be adapted to share with your grandkids, and any time they’re discovering or practicing a new skill — they’re learning!

And while you’re learning together from afar, be sure to keep dreaming about your learning adventures together in the future. Whenever you’re ready to return to Road Scholar, we’ll be here to help you and your grandchild make memories to last a lifetime.

About the Author
Mike Zoob is Senior Advisor to the Road Scholar President, one of Road Scholar’s first employees and an avid Road Scholar participant. He is the grandfather of four remarkable grandchildren, all of whom have joined him on Road Scholar grandparent adventures. Learn more about Mike