July celebrates Independence Day, National Parks and Recreation Month, and this year, the official start of the Summer Olympics. Kick off the month with patriotic programs. Transition to more outdoorsy activities and explore nature around your community. End the month with your own version of Summer Olympics, encouraging your group to give their best performance. Use the activity ideas below to help you plan the perfect July.
PATRIOTIC SING-ALONG – Encourage feelings of honor and patriotism by leading a patriotic sing-along. Create a play list that includes the National Anthem, America the Beautiful, God Bless America, The Star Spangled Banner, and other favorites. Print off lyrics using a large font and purchase songs on a platform such as iTunes. Include service songs and ask veterans to stand when their branch song plays.
FLAG CRAFT – Head to a local paint store and ask for donations for paint sticks. Invite members to create a paint stick American Flag that they can hang on their door or in their room. You’ll need 10 paint sticks per flag, as well as red, white, and blue acrylic paint, wood or foam stars, twine, glue, heavy duty tape, and paint brushes. Head over to Glue Dots for detailed instructions. Make this a smaller project by using Popsicle sticks.
FIREWORKS PAINTING – Another easy patriotic craft is to paint fireworks. Give each participant a plastic fork and a piece of heavy paper, such as card stock. On a paper plate, give each participant a small squeeze of acrylic paint in whatever colors they prefer. Instruct participants to dip the back side of the plastic fork into the paint, then press firmly onto their paper. Continue the process, overlapping the fork prints to create a circular firework. Put two to three firework explosions on the paper, or create one large firework. Display in a central location for Independence Day.
PATRIOTIC REMINISCENCE – Gather participants to reminisce about Independence Day. Ask about favorite traditions, such as parades, picnics and fireworks. Did any member ever march in an Independence Day parade? Ask them to tell the group about it. Who did they usually spend the holiday with? Where did they spend the holiday? What was their town like on Independence Day? Did they prefer to travel over the holiday, if so where did they go? What does Independence Day mean to them? How has the holiday changed over the years? What foods remind them of the holiday? What does the holiday sound like, smell like, taste like, look like, and feel like? Serve lemonade and watermelon slices.
OUTDOOR PICNIC – July also celebrates National Picnic Month, making it the perfect time to plan a picnic with your group. Work with your dining team to create the perfect picnic. Either pack it up and take your group to a local park or stay put and head outdoors with your group on the facility grounds. Use portable canopy tents to add more shade, or rent a pavilion at a local park. If the weather is too hot, keep the picnic event indoors, or consider hosting an evening picnic, after the peak hours of sunlight. Invite an entertainer and turn the event into an outdoor concert.
NATIONAL PARKS ARMCHAIR TRAVEL – Beat the heat with your group by showing national park documentaries during the afternoons. Borrow DVDs from the library or purchase from a store. Create a stamp booklet that participants can bring to each viewing. Those who complete their booklets earn a Senior Ranger Badge. Serve popcorn during the film and lead a short discussion afterwards.
S’MORES & REMINISCENCE – Invite participants to reminisce about camping and exploring national parks. Reminisce about camping experiences. Where did participants camp? Did they use a tent or camper? What do they remember the most about it? What places did they camp? Did they explore national parks? If so, where? Does anyone have a favorite national park and why? Bring props, such as sleeping bags, flashlights, and other camping gear. Serve s’mores during the activity.
EXPLORE THE PARKS – Select a few parks to explore with your group this month. Look for parks with paved paths for easier walking. Find and print an outdoor nature scavenger hunt, or create one of your own. Visit your local nature center. Partner with your local Parks and Recreation Department and ask them to present a lecture about the local parks or native animals and plants. If trail walking is too cumbersome for your group, take your group on a scenic drive through the parks instead.
SUMMER OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY – Plan an official opening ceremony for your group’s Summer Olympics. Ask small groups to perform a choreographed act. Enlist the help of other staff members to lead each small group in a routine. Afterwards, create a paper Olympic torch and pass it among members. Or, hold a relay race, passing the torch in teams. Select a senior resident to officially light the Olympic torch—attach strips of red, yellow, and orange crepe paper to a box fan, set the fan on the side, then turn the fan on when “lit” so that the crepe paper flies upwards. End by singing the National Anthem with participants.
TEAM SPIRIT – Encourage your group to form teams for your Summer Olympic Games. Purchase white t-shirts from a craft store and invite members to create a team spirit t-shirt to wear while participating in the games. Provide participants with fabric paint or try a tie dye kit. Look for instructions online.
EASY SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES – Use the momentum of the official Summer Olympics to keep your group active. Play chair volleyball, using a net and a balloon. Provide participants with paddles made out of a paint stick taped to a paper plate. Use a frisbee to play discus throwing. Officially measure each participant’s toss. Use pool noodles for javelin toss. Turn your usual lawn games into Summer Olympic Games, such as bean bag toss, bocce ball, and ladder toss. Include trivia games as well. Create an official score board and give out medals after each event.
OLYMPIC ARTWORK – Provide participants with a piece of white paper, five circles cut from heavy-weight paper or card stock, and chalk pastels in red, black, blue, green, and yellow. Print a picture of the Olympic Rings for an example. Instruct participants to color the edges of each circle with a chalk pastel, one color per circle. Starting with blue, place the circle on the white paper and rub the chalk pastel off the circle onto the paper. Instruct participants to hold the circle in place with one hand and rub the chalk off with their other hand. Move on to the next color, black, overlapping it slightly with the blue circle. Repeat, following the pattern of the Olympic Rings. Optional, spray finished artwork with a light layer of hair spray to prevent the chalk from continuing to smudge.
PATRIOTISM, PARKS, & PERFORMANCE TRIVIA
- What is a common nickname for the United States flag? Old Glory
- What did Yankee Doodle call the feather in his hat? Macaroni
- What do the 13 red and white stripes on the American flag represent? The 13 original colonies
- Located along the Southeastern region of the United States, which national park was the most visited in 2020? The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Established in 1872 by Ulysses S. Grant, what is the oldest and first national park? Yellowstone National Park
- How many national parks are there in the United States: 42, 50, or 63? 63
- Which Southern U.S. city hosted the summer Olympics in 1996? Atlanta
- An Olympic gold medal is made mostly of which metal? Silver (The last Olympic medal made from solid gold was in 1912.)
- Which summer Olympics was boycotted by the United States as a protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan? 1980 in Moscow
- What are the five colors of the Olympic Rings? Black, blue, red, yellow, & green
PATRIOTISM, PARKS, & PERFORMANCE THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“The best motivation always comes from within.” ~ Michael Johnson, USA, track and field
“Patriotism, Parks, & Performance” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2021 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprint Policy: To reprint or republish all or portions of this entry, please acquire written permission and agree to link back to the original source. You can contact us at [email protected] to obtain permission.