October ushers in autumn colors, smells, and experiences in full force. What better month to take some time to cozy up with reminiscing about home, along with highlighting some fun sporting events (local and national) that give everyone a reason to cheer for the home team. This month, dive into the familiar feelings of home while making an effort to make your group members a part of the greater community as well. Go, Fight, Win!
MUSIC – Nothing says autumn homecoming than a small town parade. If you work in a town that hosts a homecoming parade this month, be sure to plan an outing to attend the event. Residents love the opportunity to catch a parade (and maybe even a few pieces of candy thrown by the participants), but if you are unable to attend a parade, bring the parade to you. Call your local high school or junior high and offer your courtyard area as a place for band members to practice their parade songs or football halftime show. It’s a wonderful partnership, giving extra practice time to the students and extra special entertainment for your group.
COGNITIVE – Football season is in full swing, and you can add a bit of physical fun into your next sports trivia group. Set up hula hoops in varying distances around your event room (or outside), and assign each hoop a certain number of points. Have participants throw a football (child-size or full-size) into one of the hoops before answering a trivia question for that amount of points. Keep track of the score for a friendly trivia game, if you like, but be sure that everyone has a chance to throw the ball and enjoy some post-game snacks.
FAMILY – Take your family night on the road this month for a fun outing to the local high school football game. Invite all family members to your community for a pre-game tailgate, full of football food that your dining team has prepared (think hot dogs, nachos, brats, burgers, and root beer). If possible, turn your parking lot into the dinner venue, encouraging folks to bring their own folding chairs and tailgate games. After your stomachs are full, load up the busses and head out to support your local high school football team. Pass out plastic megaphones, pompoms, or cow bells in the school colors and bring along plenty of hot chocolate to enjoy in the stands. Be sure to call ahead of time to set up a special place for your group to sit, on or near the bleachers, in order to make the event run even smoother.
FOOD – For many of us, autumn means comfort food and generational family favorites. This year, compile the family favorite recipes from your community members and staff to make a cookbook. Get your group involved in choosing a title, adding a few stories about what they remember fondly about being in the kitchen with family. Ask your facility administrator to write a forward to the document too. Once typed, proofread, and printed, you can ask a local copy shop to bind the books together. Sell your cookbooks to raise money for your activity department or a local cause (perhaps an organization that serves those without homes or at-risk seniors).
SPIRITUAL – For this month’s spiritual activity, try tapping into a combination of reminiscence, sensory stimulation, and prayer. Harness the scents of the season (and upcoming holiday season) by making clove oranges. Try using the soft Cuties oranges, since it’s easier to insert the cloves into the rind. Participants can choose to make designs with the cloves or to cover the entire surface with the sweet smelling cloves. Encourage them, however, to say a prayer of gratitude for something specific about their home or family for each clove they put into the orange. A spin on a rosary habit, this clove orange activity can become deeply meaningful. If you have participants with poor fine motor skills, you or a staff member can put the cloves into the orange on their behalf, with them still thinking of a grateful memory for each one. Another option to the clove orange project is to make potpourri that will keep your whole community smelling comforting and cozy. Give each participant a few cloves to add to the pot, one at a time, as they name one of their blessings.
CRAFTS – There’s nothing quite like a pennant to evoke memories of high school or college. For this month’s themed craft group, encourage residents to make their own pennants. Provide wooden dowels, large felt triangles (cut these in advance), and decorations like felt letters, shapes, ribbon or sequins. Have a few examples made that include the phrase “Go Fight Win” or “Go Team!”, but let residents make their own designs that highlight their alma mater or current community. Add ribbon or sequins for a bit of pizazz and then, once dry, hang the creations throughout the hallway, activity room, or dining room for the remainder of the month.
SENSORY KIT – For this month’s sensory kit, think cozy reminders of home. This is a great kit to include lots of warm and comfy fabrics like squares of fleece, flannel, and even wool. Include a pair of slippers, yarn with hooks or needles, and a coffee table book with beautiful photos of autumn landscapes. Add a bag full of colorful leaves that residents can look at, touch, and even crunch, along with a few acorns if you can find some. Eat homemade applesauce and drink warm apple cider out of a sturdy mug that you can wrap your hands around. Enjoy your cozy time together!
INTERGENERATIONAL – Is your local high school hosting a Homecoming dance this month? October is often home to the first dance of the year, and many high schoolers would welcome the chance to show off their dresses (and their dates) at your community. Coordinate with your local high school, asking for a volunteer club like Student Council or Key Club. Offer your community as a place for photos and refreshments on the day of the dance; students can take advantage of your community’s beautiful landscaping for photos, and residents can enjoy oohing and aahing over the pretty couples. Serve sparkling cider in fancy glasses with raspberry garnishes and petit fours to the couples, residents, and photo-taking family members. If you can’t swing a pre-dance soirée, don’t give up. Ask if you can host a dress fashion show before or after the big dance right in your community.
GIVING BACK – Home is a lovely thing, but many in our own backyards do not have a home to call their own. Consider working with your Marketing and Social Work department to host a soup supper fundraiser for your local homeless shelter or food pantry. Ask residents and staff members to help with the preparation, including painting ceramic bowls that you can fill with donations and auction off at the event. Invite family members, residents, referral sources and community partners to enjoy soup with you for a modest charge that includes a piece of bread and a bowl of soup. Offer dessert options at an additional cost. You can have a few seatings, including a lunch option. If you chose to make a community cookbook this month, this is a wonderful event to begin to promote it.
CELEBRATION – For Halloween this year, consider opening up your community home for a safe trick-or-treating celebration. Outfit everyone in a sports theme – think cheerleaders, coaches and football players – and give out a bag of candy to each as they line the halls. Kids can load up on sweets by trick-or-treating to each resident in the hallway, and residents can enjoy seeing everyone dressed up for the holiday. (You might give out non-sweet snacks as well – packs of crackers, e.g.). Consider having a craft area, a storytelling/read aloud area, and a pumpkin seed-spitting contest area for the kids and families to enjoy as well.
HOME TEAM TRIVIA
- According to the saying, home is where what is? The heart
- Speaking of the heart, which room is said to be the heart of the home? The kitchen
- This song, made extra popular when it was recorded by Johnny Cash, is the state song of Kentucky and says that the “sun shines bright” there. What Kentucky-inspired song is it? “My Old Kentucky Home”
- Which holiday song asks the listener to “please have snow and mistletoe”? “I’ll Be Home for Christmas“
- In poker, having two queens and three kings is one way to have what kind of hand? A full house
- What kind of animals to we sing about in the song “Home on the Range”? Deer and antelope
- What is the best hit in baseball called? A home run
- Which expression describes a place that isn’t your home but feels just as comfortable and cozy? A home away from home
- Dorothy and Toto had to say this phrase three times to get back home to Kansas. What was it? “There’s no place like home“
- In the classic children’s story, what materials did the three pigs use to build their homes? Straw, sticks, bricks
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“Home is wherever I’m with you.” – Edward Sharpe
“Let’s Hear It for the Home Team” was written by Haley Burress. Copyright 2016 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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