Originally established to promote the sale of milk in grocery stores in 1937, National Dairy Month reminds us all to consume essential nutrients found in a variety of dairy products. Celebrate all things dairy during the month of June with the activity ideas below. The ideas can be used in small group settings or as one-on-ones.
DAIRY REMINISCING – From scooping ice cream at the soda shop or milking cows on the dairy farm, there are plenty of opportunities to reminisce about dairy this month. Ask questions about favorite ice cream shops members preferred to visit, or even worked there when younger. Reminisce about malts, shakes, drive-in diners, and summer activities. Encourage participants to share about milk delivery or eating milk and cookies as an after-school snack. Ask about making homemade butter or ice cream. If you have members who grew up on a dairy farm, spend time reminiscing about what that experience was like. Ask, what was your most dreaded farm chore?
CHEESE TASTING – Put together a cheese board and invite members to a cheese sample tasting. To do this individually, use small paper plates and place a variety of cheese slices and crackers. Then, distribute room to room and invite participants to a “Hallway Happy Hour.” For larger group gatherings, make the board bigger and add other foods, such as dried fruits, grapes, cured meats, or nuts.
YARN-WRAPPED COWS – Draw and cut out a cow pattern on cardboard or thick, card stock paper. Use a black marker to add eyes and a nose. Then, use a hole punch to punch a hole somewhere near the edge of the cow. Cut a long string of yarn, about two feet, and tie one end through the hole. Give the cow to a member and ask them to wrap the yarn around the cow, covering the body. Play as a timed game, inviting participants to race against each other, or use as a way for participants to meditate in the quiet of their rooms.
BARNYARD BINGO – Create farm-themed BINGO cards ahead of time or work one-on-one with members to make the cards. Start by creating a BINGO grid on card stock paper. Purchase farm animal stickers or write the names of animals in each square, leaving the center as a free space. Vary the cards. Write each word used on an individual index card. When you’re ready to play, shuffle the index cards and draw words randomly. Give Cow Tales candy as prizes.
COW FLIPPING – Head over to Meaningful Mama for step-by-step instructions on how to make a cow catapult. The website suggests launching Horizon Organic Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies into an edible mud pit, but you can use other small crackers, cookies, popcorn, or candies. You can make your own edible mud pit, or simply use a large bowl for the target.
MILK THE COW COMPETITION – Create cow udders using disposable latex or plastic gloves. Fill the gloves about halfway with water, leaving room to tie a knot in the glove. Place a cup or bowl on a table and poke a small hole in each udder, using a very fine sewing needle. Hold the udder above the bowl and instruct the participant to milk the cow. Time participants to see who can milk the fastest. Reminisce about milking cows or goats. Keep a towel nearby to clean up any spilled water.
BROWN COW FLOATS – Surprise members with a delicious, familiar treat. Pour coca cola into a cup, then add one scoop of vanilla ice cream. Top with a shot of chocolate syrup and you just made a Brown Cow.
TIN CAN COWBELLS – You’ll need tin cans (such as empty, clean soup cans), white construction paper, scissors, a black marker, tape or glue, yarn, and wood beads. Beforehand, poke a hole through the bottom of the can with a hammer and nail. Start by cutting the construction paper to size so that it can be wrapped around the tin can. Work with participants to create a cow print on the paper and ask participants to color in the pattern using the black marker. Then, wrap the paper around the tin can and secure it in place. Cut a three-foot length of yarn and fold it in half. Tie on a couple of wood beads on the ends of the two strings. Tie two big knots a couple inches above the beads so that the string doesn’t pull all the way through the hole of the can. Thread the end of the string, above the knot, through the hole in the can. Secure with another knot above the hole of the can. Now the bell is ready to ring!
UDDER APPRECIATION FOR STAFF – Designate a specific date and time for members to share their appreciation for all the staff in your building. Ask members to write notes of appreciation or to create posters. At the designated time, encourage members to open their doors and celebrate the staff. Ring your tin can cowbells, applaud the hard work, and shout appreciation.
FINISH THE DAIRY LINE – Visit phrases.org for a fun list of dairy phrases, and then turn it into a recollection game. Give the first few words of the phrase and ask participants to call out the end of the line. Then, spend a few minutes reminiscing about what that phrase means or where it originated.
AFTERNOON AT THE MOO-VIES – Feature your group’s favorite cowboy or farm movie this month. Our favorites include My Darling Clementine, Red River, Summer Stock, and Babe. Serve milkshakes or milk with chocolate chip cookies.
SINGING COWBOYS – Host a singing cowboy sing along and feature songs sung by Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Bob Baker, and Tex Ritter, among others. You can find an array of songs on Youtube. Create your own playlist prior to the activity, then encourage members to sing along.
MAGIC MILK CHEMISTRY – Fill a shallow dish, such as a pie dish, with about a cup of 2% milk. You don’t need a lot – just enough to cover the bottom of the dish. Instruct participants to squeeze food coloring droplets all over the top of the milk. Pour a tablespoon of dish soap into another small bowl or dish. Instruct participants to dip a Q-tip into the dish soap to coat it, then gently touch the surface of the milk with the soapy Q-tip. The molecules in the dish soap will try to attach themselves to the fat molecules in the milk, creating a firework effect in the dish.
PARTY ’TIL THE COWS COME HOME – Once your community allows group activities once again, invite members to the party of a lifetime. Stick with the dairy theme and decorate with cow print. Use cowbells as centerpieces. Invite a “Singing Cowboy” entertainer to perform. Serve milkshakes, malts, and chicken sandwiches. Encourage participants to wear cowboy hats or dress up like cows.
COWABUNGA RESOURCES – 25% off during May
Stock up on some of our featured ElderSong products to help support your theme this month, and then use the resources the rest of the year.
I Hear Memories, Volume 1 – Item #P108. Regularly $17.95. Online sale price $13.45.
Enhance your dairy reminiscence groups with I Hear Memories. Volume one includes a section called “On the Farm,” perfect for dairy farm reminiscence. Play the sounds of the farm on the CD, and then encourage participants to guess each one. Use the discussion guide to evoke memories from participants.
Mind Joggers, Volume 1 – Item #P204. Regularly $16.95. Online sale price $12.70.
Encourage participants to engage their brains with Mind Joggers. Tracking with this month’s theme, volume one includes a section called, “Moo, Cow, Moo.” Whether you use this product for one-on-ones, or in a small group competition format, Mind Joggers offers a wide variety of trivia games covering a span of 50 topics.
Down Memory Lane, 2nd Edition – Item #P114. Regularly $29.95. Online sale price $22.45.
Running short on reminiscence ideas for meaningful one-on-one activities? Pick up Down Memory Lane and have at your fingertips 65 themes for discussion and reminiscing. Each theme includes suggestions for music and visual aids, an activity to enhance the session, and discussion questions to engage participants in a longer conversation. Feature the theme, “Farm Life,” this month, then use the other topics to support future activity themes.
- On average, about how many gallons of milk does a dairy cow produce each day? 7-9 gallons
- Approximately how many gallons of water per day do dairy cows consume: 20, 50, or 70? 50
- How many compartments does a cow’s stomach have: one, two, or four? Four
- What is the most widely purchased and consumed cheese in the world: Mozzarella, Swiss, or Cheddar? Cheddar
- Which flavor of ice cream is America’s favorite? Vanilla
- Which U.S. states do not have dairy farms? Trick question – all U.S. states have dairy farms.
- Which U.S. state produces the most cheese? Wisconsin
- How many oranges would you have to consume in order to get the equivalent amount of calcium as in an eight-ounce glass of milk: three, seven, or nine? Seven
- What year did the first home delivery of milk begin: 1785, 1878, or 1929? 1785 (in Vermont)
- On average, how many gallons of milk does an American consume each year? 25 gallons
COWABUNGA THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.” – Robert Fulgham
“Cowabunga” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2020 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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