March ushers out the last days of winter and welcomes the first day of spring, and it’s about time we welcome a new season filled with new life and hope! There’s something magical about the first days of spring – the first sprouts of the crocuses, tulips, and daffodils; the first robin returning after a long winter; the first spring rain that melts away the last pile of slushy, dirty snow. Mother Nature is ushering in a new season. After months of being cooped up, it’s no wonder that “Spring Fever” is the theme of this month.
INTERGENERATIONAL: March 12 is National Girl Scout Day. Often, Girl Scout troops are looking for ways to earn badges. Contact a local troop and invite them to your community. Encourage the troop to arrange a service project for your group members. Ideas may include a craft they make together, donating Bingo prizes and playing a game together, or creating “Happy Cards” to give to each participant. Offer to purchase a few Girl Scout cookies and serve milk while they visit.
REMINISCENCE: Spring is associated with new life and Mother Nature has baby fever on her mind! Host a baby shower and reminisce about babies. Ask your co-workers with little ones at home to bring in baby clothes and other baby items. Discuss how much has changed in the world of babies since your group members raised children. Play games such as “Finish the Nursery Rhyme” or “Name that Lullaby,” Download lullabies from iTunes. If someone in your community is expecting, invite her to be the guest of honor and encourage group members to write out “Wishes for Baby” or “Motherly Advice” for the new mother.
MUSIC: With the start of spring, feature Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons – Spring” at your next musical activity. Vivaldi published the concerti along with poems that described the emotions of each season his music was intended to evoke. Research more about Vivaldi and share your research with your group. Read the poem that accompanies Vivaldi’s “Spring” and then play the recording. Invite a local orchestra conductor to dive deeper into Vivaldi’s works. For the more tech-savy activity directors, go to youtube.com and search for “Vivaldi’s Four Seasons-Spring.” There are several videos available to share.
SPIRITUAL: Use the momentum of a new season to create “Faith Notebooks.” All you need is a notebook, stickers, and colorful writing utensils. After decorating their notebook with stickers, instruct participants to write about anything they want in their notebook. Ideas include favorite Bible verses, prayers, quotes, hymns, or thoughts of gratitude. Assist those with dementia or lower cognitive abilities by encouraging them to draw images of faith. Provide adult coloring pages of faith images and create a “Faith Notebook” for those needing assistance.
CRAFTS: We definitely have “Spring Fever” on our minds with this adorable craft…what says “spring” more than a baby chick, bunny, or bird? Purchase pint-sized mason jars and paint the entire jar either white for a bunny, blue for a bird, or yellow for a chick. Once the paint dries, use black paint to draw two dots for eyes in the center of the jar. Use either orange paint to draw a small beak for the chick or bird, or pink and black paint to draw a nose with whiskers for the bunny. These are so cute and simple that you could make several and use for centerpieces in your dining rooms.
FAMILY CELEBRATION: We celebrate Easter on March 27. While we all know how to lead a typical Easter Egg Hunt for the little ones, why not start a new tradition at your community that includes the older kids (think pre-teen through adulthood). Hide jelly beans instead of Easter eggs. Then, let the older kids hunt for jelly beans. Afterwards, host a Jelly Bean Auction. Purchase small prizes ahead of time and wrap them in various gift bags. At the start of the auction, display the first prize bag and start the opening bid with one jelly bean. Participants must use the jelly beans they collected to bid on the various gift bags. The catch – don’t show what’s in the bag. Families of all ages will enjoy this twist on the typical Easter Egg Hunt.
SENSORY KIT: Now is the time to spring-clean your sensory kits and create several spring sensory kits to use throughout the entire season. Create a garden-themed sensory kit with garden gloves, seed packets, a plastic garden trowel, and photos of flowers or vegetables. Create a baby-themed sensory kit with baby onesies, socks, burp cloths, blanket, toys, and a bottle. (Bonus: group members who like to keep busy will enjoy folding the cute items.) For the men, think spring-cleaning for cars. Include a sponge, car cloths, empty wax container, hose nozzle, and a new-car air freshener.
COOKING: During your next baking class, make these adorable, edible birds’ nests: Following your community’s food safety protocol, instruct participants by giving them a task to complete during the activity. Instruct participants to grease the wells of a 12-muffin pan with butter (about a tablespoon for the all the wells). While participants grease the wells, melt six ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips and six ounces of butterscotch chips in 30-second intervals, until thoroughly melted, in a large microwave-safe bowl. Participants then add in one cup of creamy peanut butter, mixing well until smooth and combined. Next, participants add six ounces of chow mein noodles, stirring until the noodles are completely coated. Using a large spoon, demonstrate how to mold the mixture into the wells of the muffin tin, indenting the tops slightly with the back of the spoon to create the shape of a nest. Encourage participants to mold the other 11 nests. Chill until hardened, about one hour. Once chilled, gently remove the nests from the muffin tin. Place three Cadbury miniature eggs or colored jelly beans on the tops of each nest and serve. This recipe yields 12 birds’ nests.
PURPOSEFUL: Use this month to spring clean your activity room and activity spaces. Invite your more agile community members to help you clean out those activity closets and organize your activity supplies. Clear shoe boxes can be purchased for about one dollar and are useful in organizing craft supplies, games, or creating sensory kits. The participants will appreciate the opportunity to help you with a task, and we all know that “many hands make light work.”
INTELLECTUAL: “Think Spring Mind Aerobics.” Ask group members to call out words or items that are related to spring. Prompt residents by naming categories, like spring flowers, birds, foods, smells, or chores. Write the words on a white board and count the list once finished. You can include St. Patrick’s Day, Purim, and Easter if desired. You could also play as teams, by either taking turns as each group names an item within the larger group or, assign a list taker to each group and see how many groups can name then compare lists when you are all finished.
SPRING FEVER TRIVIA
- Daylight Savings time officially begins at what hour? 2 a.m.
- Name at least three typical spring flowers. Lilac, iris, lily, tulip, daffodil, crocus, snow drop, hyacinth, et. al.
- Which seasons come before and after spring? Winter, summer
- The first day of spring is called the Vernal Equinox. Vernal is Latin for spring. Equinox is Latin for what? Equal days
- In the northern hemisphere, do the days get longer or shorter during spring? Longer
- True or false: The first day of spring always falls on March 20 each year. False: Since a year does not have an even number of days according to the Gregorian calendar, spring can begin on March 19, 20, or 21.
- Before it was called spring, what was the season known as? (Helpful hint: what do we call the 40 days leading up to Easter?) Lent or Lenten
- What grocery product is known as a symbol of fertility in spring? An egg
- Every year, the U.S. President hosts an Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn. What U.S. President started this tradition in 1878? Rutherford B. Hayes
- The earliest known use of this term was in 1857 and refers to deep cleaning one’s home. What is the term? Spring cleaning
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” ~ Pablo Neruda
“Spring Fever” written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2016 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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