Many people look forward to winter and the season’s first snowfall. Senior adults often have many happy memories associated with the “big” winter snows of their childhood. Plan some reminiscing activities related to wintertime, and you’re sure to get a few snow stories. Ask: What is the biggest snowfall you can remember? How did the snowfall affect the community in which you lived? Did you ever walk in a winter wonderland? Describe the experience. What did you do when you played in the snow as a child? Did you go sledding on an old wooden sled with metal runners? Or, did you use a “homemade” sled? Did you enjoy building snowmen and adorning them with old clothes? Did you ever try ice-skating on a mill pond? Encourage participants to share a favorite memory involving snow and cold weather. Try to locate an American Flyer sled and a pair of metal skates for props. Listen to some mood music, such as the 1945 song “Let It Snow.” Here are more winter-related activities for your group to enjoy.
- Listen to an audio recording of bird calls/songs. Talk about feeding and sheltering winter birds. Display various kinds of bird feeders. Make a pine cone bird feeder.
- Ask participants to list favorite comfort foods of the season. Pass around copies of Campbell’s cookbooks from the 1940s and 1950s. Prepare a simple winter stew, casserole, or soup.
- Highlight the beloved New England poet Robert Frost, winner of four Pulitzer prizes for poetry. Be sure to read the favorite Frost poem “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
- Listen to the sound of old sleigh bells. Revisit family holiday traditions of yesteryear by showing pictures of horse-drawn sleigh rides. Pass around additional props: hand-knit cap, mittens, and wool blanket. Play a recording of “Sleigh Ride,” composed by Leroy Anderson in 1948.
- Watch a travel video on the Swiss Alps. Plan a winter adventure at a popular snow resort.
- Post a sign “Welcome Snowbirds.” Ask if anyone in the group ever dreamed of being a snowbird. Plan a winter “getaway” to Arizona or Florida in your recreational vehicle.
- Pass around branches of evergreens and identify the type of tree, e.g., cedar, fir, pine, spruce. Learn about life on a tree farm.
- List words and idioms associated with snow, e.g., snow boots, snow plow, snow job, Snow White, as white as snow.
- Enjoy snow crystal photography from the “Snowflake Man,” Wilson Bentley from Jericho, VT. Cut out paper snowflake designs to hang.
- Talk about the Olympic tradition. Highlight the Winter Olympic Games held in the United States, e.g., 1960 in Squaw Valley, California, or 1980 in Lake Placid, New York. Show one of figure skater Sonja Henie’s movies from the 1930s and 1940s, such as the musical comedy, “One in a Million.”
- Evoke the winters of youth with vintage snow globes, a popular collector’s item. Ask participants if their grandmothers owned a unique snow globe.
- Reminisce about winter fashions using old Sears catalogs. Did anyone have a favorite item, e.g., flannel shirt, cabin vest, wool scarf, earmuffs, wool gloves and mittens, corduroy jumper, Shetland wool cardigan? Pass around sample winter fabrics to compare.
- Show historical photographs and share recollections of presidential inaugurations with snow on the ground, e.g., John Kennedy in 1961.
- Explore the history of winter carnivals or festivals, which celebrate the season with activities such as ice carving, skating, skiing, snow sculpting, and dog sledding. Display different types of winter sports equipment.
- Enjoy a wintertime treat – a snow dessert, such as snow cream or snow pudding.
- Evoke nostalgic memories with paintings of winter landscapes-Currier & Ives, Thomas Kinkade, and others.
- Wintertime often brings family members closer to home. Ask participants to reflect on the meaning of “hearth and home” and why they like to retreat to the shelter of home on a cold winter day. Encourage them to reminisce about a snowbound day in their childhood home. Ask: What indoor activities did your family enjoy? How did you cope with cabin fever?
ALASKA TRIVIA QUIZ
Nature lovers and snow buffs will enjoy talking about The Last Frontier – Alaska. Challenge your group to an Alaskan trivia quiz.
- In what year did Alaska become a state? 1959
- What is the capital of Alaska? Juneau
- What is the famous Iditarod, held in March each year? Dog sled race
- What is the largest city in Alaska? Anchorage
- To what does Klondike fever refer? Gold Rush in late 1800s
- What is another nickname for Alaska that refers to the amount of daylight there? Land of the Midnight Sun
- What do Alaskan bush pilots do? Carry mail, deliver supplies and freight, transport passengers to and from remote areas of the state
- The tallest mountain in North America is located in Alaska. Name it. Mt. McKinley
- What is the state fish of Alaska? King salmon
- What is a musher? Driver of dog sled team
“SNOW, SNOW, SNOW” written by Sue Hansen. © 2006 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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