Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Grandma’s Summer Culture Club

One Love is the original art work of Edie Pijpers. Used with permission. Prints available at

Put on your summer thinking capsgrandkiddoes

The arrival of summer break produces an initial burst of exuberant joy and relief. A week or so later, boredom’s creepy little head pokes itself into the crevices of carefree lives. Understandable. School kids are creatures of structure, tuned to the intake of new and exciting facts, ideas, and experiences. Clearly, there’s a mid-June, grandma-with-a-computer gap to be filled here!….

And I’ve got the solution!….

Grandma’s Summer Culture Club is my invention. Its goal is to supply enrichment in language, fine art, and classical music in a relaxed, noncompetitive, inclusive way. Invitations extended to ten grandchildren were enthusiastically accepted. Six of them live within a few miles of me, four are states away. Ages range from nearly five to thirteen. Usually it’s a challenging task to keep such a diverse crew engaged, but I’ve enjoyed full participation with them all. 

Here’s how it works:

Every Monday, I group message two “vocabulary words of the week” with definitions. Included are sentences I wrote using those words. (Grandkids and pets are often the topics, heavy on inside jokes!). Club members discuss the words with mom and submit their own sentences for others to read. A cumulative spelling test is an added option. 

Up next are pictures of two well known works of art, paintings or sculpture. It’s nice to recognize art when it appears in popular culture, so kids are encouraged to research the pieces and learn more about them. They might also decide to make their own copies of a painting. 

Finally, I supply the title of a classical musical work by a significant composer with instructions to “ask Alexa to play it.” That one, I’m sure, is greeted with pre-teen eye rolls and groans, but this grandma marches onward, knowing that the future holds rewards when a familiar glimpse, note, or word pops up and a smug little smile of recognition crosses the face of a Grandma’s Summer Culture Club member! 

Getting started….

Here’s a few vocabulary words I suggest: mandatory, superfluous, threshold, rudimentary, sedentary, legible, heritage, impetus, velocity, verbatim, truculent, innocuous, lament, gullible, quench, proposition, prominent, perpetual, patriot, optimistic, obsolete, nebulous, mollify, restitution, reprimand, quest, legible, threshold, sumptuous, stamina, zenith, vindicate, verbatim, vacillate, unilateral, prudent, augment, feasible, pretentious fiasco, malign, nemesis, obsolete, opaque, accumulate

Art work: The Scream, American Gothic, Nike of Samothrace, Starry Night, Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Persistence of Memory, Dancers in Blue, Nighthawks, The Thinker, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Soup Cans, La Grande Vitesse, The Last Supper, Self Portrait - daVinci

Music: Fifth Symphony - Beethoven, Second Waltz - Shostakovich, Daphnis and Chloe Suite no. 2 - Ravel, Morning - Grieg, Water Music - Handel, Hall of the Mountain King - Grieg, Canon in D - Pachelbel, William Tell Overture - Rossini

First day results brought me a sentence from soon-to-be five year old Tyler: “When you drive, it is mandatory to keep the doors closed.” I foresee a lucrative career for this little genius as a writer of consumer caution labels. The infamous “Do not drive with windshield screen in place” comes to mind!