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WINTER, BE GONE!

If snow is still blanketing your landscape, take heart. Slowly, but surely, winter is beginning to relax its grip. Signs of spring are beginning to emerge – the days are getting longer, frozen ponds are melting, tree sap is running, the birds are returning, snowdrops are blooming. While your group is patiently waiting for the arrival of a new season, you can entertain them with some activities that bid adieu to winter. Here are some suggestions.

  • MUSIC: Plan some music sessions on “Chasing the Blues Away.” Ask group members to name activities that fight the winter doldrums and lift their spirits. Sing songs that illustrate each activity. (Examples: Exercise and sing together – “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes”; Talk about spring – “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”; Eat comfort food – “Animal Crackers in My Soup”)
  • POETRY: Read the poem titled “To the Thawing Wind” by Robert Frost. Discuss how the “loud Southwester” will “turn the poet out of door.” Encourage participants to make their own plea for springtime, beginning with the word “Come….”
  • DISCUSSION: Display colorful nature photos of winter melting into spring – or spring thaw. (Examples: icicles melting, a red robin perched on a snow-covered branch, swelling buds on a pussy willow tree, newborn baby lambs lying in a field, purple crocus flowers emerging from the frozen ground) Ask group members to describe other ways that Mother Nature awakens from her winter sleep.
  • DISCUSSION: Share the history of the “Hints from Heloise” newspaper column, started by Eloise Bowles Cruse in 1959.  Reminisce about spring housecleaning. Discuss the old saying, “Man may work from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done.”
  • DISCUSSION: Discuss the old adage, “A dog is man’s best friend.” Read aloud some delightful dog stories. (Use the resource titled For the Love of a Dog, a featured product for the month.)  Invite a dog owner to bring his/her pet to perform some tricks for the group. Listen to Patti Page’s rendition of “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” with your group. Find out the most popular names for male and female dogs today.
  • WRITING ACTIVITY: Write a limerick (funny five-line poem with a rhyme scheme of aabba) about the end of winter. Here are the first two lines to get your group started: Old Man Winter, it’s time to say bye/You can show up next year for another try….
  • ACTIVITY: Sharpen participants’ observational skills with some simple spot-the-difference puzzles. Look for a picture puzzle book that contains photos of outdoor spring scenes. (A good choice: LIFE Picture Puzzle books) Ask group members what they like best about springtime.
  • ACTIVITY: Pass around old travel postcards that say “Wish you were here.”  Plan an imaginary vacation to a warm and sunny destination – Florida, Panama, Mexico, the Caribbean. (For lots of travel activities, see the ElderSong book Travel Unlimited. Example: If your group is visiting the Sunshine State, enroll at clown college for a day, hold a Magic Kingdom ice cream party, take a gone fishing quiz, declare a dolphin day.)
  • ACTIVITY: Get ready for St. Patrick’s Day – Learn about Ireland’s connection to the shamrock plant and four-leaf clovers. Sing “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover.” Talk about the saying, “Luck o’ the Irish.”
  • ACTIVITY: Display a variety of outdoor magazines such as Game & Fish, Outdoor Life, and Fish & Stream. Invite an avid fisherman to speak about the upcoming spring fishing season for trout and bass. Show the latest fishing gear. Share memories of family fishing trips. Save time for some funny fishing stories! Snack on fish crackers.
  • ACTIVITY: Play old card games that were popular during the Depression and World War II (Examples – bridge, whist, pinochle, rummy, hearts, canasta, solitaire). Ask: Did your family enjoy playing cards together? Did you ever belong to a card club, for bridge or poker?  What other kinds of games did you play with your siblings? More fun: Demonstrate some simple card tricks then show how they are done.
  • ACTIVITY: Read a newspaper article about the beginning of spring training for baseball players. Make predictions for the upcoming season. Wear baseball caps. Give participants plastic bats to swing as they sing the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Try some other gentle arm exercises.
  • ACTIVITY: Celebrate the founding of the Girls Scouts of America on March 12, 1912. Invite a family with third (or fourth) generation Girl Scouts to talk about the annual cookie-selling campaign and how it has changed over the years. Sample some Girl Scout cookies.
  • ACTIVITY: Watch the 1948 musical Easter Parade with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Make a simple spring bonnet with lots of “frills” upon it!
  • SENSORY: Choose (and use) a flavor of the month, like fresh mint. Learn about uses for the herb, inclding culinary and medicinal. Smell sprigs of fresh mint. Sip mint tea. Chew spearmint gum. Sample peppermint candy.

THE SUNSHINE STATE TRIVIA QUIZ

  1. What is the state capital of Florida? Tallahassee
  2. What national park in southern Florida is home to alligators and crocodiles? Everglades National Park
  3. What location is the home of the Kennedy Space Center? Cape Canaveral
  4. Which two large bodies of water border Florida? Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico
  5. Which famous 20th century American writer lived in Key West? Ernest Hemingway
  6. What’s the name of the famous auto race held in Florida in February? Daytona 500
  7. What is the state bird of Florida? Mockingbird
  8. Name the three professional football teams in Florida. Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  9. In which city is Disney World located in Florida? Orland
  10. What kind of pie is Florida famous for? Key lime pie

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH

“O, Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet, in Ode to the West Wind

“WINTER, BE GONE!” written by Sue Hansen. © 2013 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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