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