Look at the calendar and you’ll discover that the dog days of summer are in full swing. The dog days run from mid-July through mid-August – 40 hot, sultry days. Remember all the ways you tried to beat the summer heat? Older adults can share a memory or two – from lemonade stands to a dip in the old swimming hole. Here are a few activities to refresh more summertime memories – and stay cool in the process.

Rekindle more classic car memories with a few of the activities suggested below. Adapt the activities, as needed, for all of the car enthusiasts in your group.

  • Say the following key words to your group: pigtails, bare feet, hopscotch, fireflies, ice cream, Kool Aid, four-leaf clover. Ask participants to share childhood memories of lazy summer days and cool, relaxing nights. Snack on watermelon.
  • Dress up like a 1950s soda shop waitress – cap, pink flared skirt, white blouse, and short apron – with a tray! Participants can wear white paper hats. Serve root beer floats. Pass around a photograph of an old A&W Root Beer Stand (drive-in restaurant) and share recollections of carhop service in the 1950s.
  • Reminisce about summer concerts in the park. Ask: Did you grow up going to outdoor concerts at a band shell? What kind of music did you hear – swing band, orchestra, marching band, jazz group? What did you like about the experience?
  • Watch the 1950 musical film Summer Stock, starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. Ask participants if they ever saw a play or musical at a summer stock theater in the 1940s, 50s, or 60s.
  • Hold a Scrabble competition or a bridge tournament.
  • Listen to the lyrics of songs like “In the Good Old Summer Time” and “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree.” Sing parodies of the songs.
  • Paint some pictures of poppies in bright red, orange, or yellow. Enjoy a summer bouquet of sunflowers, snapdragons, and poppies.
  • Reminisce about summer water fun. Show old photographs of swimming and family beach activities.
  • Show a photograph of a house with an old-fashioned porch swing, rocking chair, or glider. Share recollections of this favorite family gathering spot. Sip some fresh lemonade or iced tea. Pass around old paper dolls, a childhood favorite.
  • Ask participants to describe the perfect summer nap, complete with shade tree and hammock. Ask: Do you enjoy catnapping? What are the benefits of napping? Where is your favorite place to catch forty winks?
  • For some intergenerational fun, plan an old-fashioned pie and ice cream social. Enjoy the flavors of the season, including strawberry, peach, and cherry. Add music, games, and prizes.
  • Make a small terrarium or dish garden, using African violets.
  • Encourage participants to talk about life before air conditioning. Ask: How did you stay cool at home, in the car, at work, at church, on buses or trains? Do you remember going to air-conditioned movie theaters as a child? Show some vintage handheld fans or make simple paper fans with craft sticks.
  • Plan an indoor summer picnic (no ants allowed). Use recipes from an old cookbook, like The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, first published in 1950.
  • Sing some old campfire songs around the piano or ask a volunteer to play the guitar for accompaniment. Ask: Did your family take an annual camping trip? Did you stay in a tent, cabin, or RV? What kind of activities did you enjoy on the trip? Describe ideal weather for camping.



  1. Name some synonyms for hot that begin with the letter ‘S’. Sizzling, sultry, sweltering, scorching
  2. Finish the title of this popular summer song: “Those Lazy, Hazy… Crazy Days of Summer”
  3. If you take a summer trip to Austin, Dallas, or Houston, in which state are you traveling?Texas
  4. Which major tennis championship is played around the 4th of July? Wimbledon
  5. An annual gathering of Boy Scouts, large and lively, is known as a what? Jamboree
  6. Complete George Gershwin’s song line: “Summertime, and the livin’ is… Easy”
  7. In which summer sport might you hear the words birdie, bogey, or par? Golf
  8. What does RV stand for? Recreational Vehicle
  9. Which ice cream chain is known for its “31 Flavors” slogan? Baskins-Robbins
  10. What is a s’more? A Girl Scout treat made of marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate

“SUMMER’S DOG DAYS” written by Sue Hansen. © 2009 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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