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Social Distancing Provides New Ways to Learn

Social Distancing Provides New Ways to Learn


Our granddaughters moved in with us at our cabin in the woods. The walls on their house were closing in so we loaded them in the car and headed to the mountains.

We promised their parents to have them complete online homework and do chores. (My toes were crossed, but I figured we would try.) It didn’t take long for them to learn that life at the cabin requires different skills and moves at a more relaxed pace. Thus, finding time for reading wasn’t a problem.

The second morning, when hunger awakened, new math began. We shared tasks in the kitchen measuring ingredients for waffles (nothing taken from the freezer and popped in the toaster), warmed up the huckleberries, and added the correct amount of sweetener. We mixed the bread dough so it could rise on the fireplace mantle, made the Jello, and prepared the soup in the crockpot. Each task required more measurements, especially important when doubling the recipe for cookies.

“They didn’t tackle the task as a job or a math problem but as a puzzle to solve.”

Grandpa ventured outside first with a plan to disassemble the deck so that he could cut down the pine trees that had outgrown their space. To our astonishment, the girls wanted to help and to their surprise, they were handed drills and instructed on how to remove the screws that held the boards in place.

Before long they had determined each board contained 48 screws, calculated how many boards in total, multiplied the number, and estimated there to be approximately 1250 screws. They didn’t tackle the task as a job or a math problem but as a puzzle to solve. With excitement, they worked as a team and made it into a game.

Both girls were excited when grandpa explains how to calculate where the tree would land. They discussed angles, how the tension on the rope pulled the trunk and where to cut the base to place the massive pine on the ground.

The next morning, we yelled, “Timber!” when the tree swayed, then heard the final crack of wood splintering. We worked the rest of the day to cut the limbs and pile debris. At one point we taught a science lesson by explaining how to determine the age of a tree. She meticulously counted and announced we had just killed an 80-year-old tree in 30 minutes.

We have been working hard but also enjoying our time as we make memories and absorb the positive energy of the kids.


Brenda Mahler is a retired English teacher, administrator, and published author who currently writes a blog, I AM My Best! (iammybest.org) Her favorite topics to record share life experiences that provide opportunities to learn about live.



Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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