For the past couple of years we have had monthly visits to a seniors home for a music and story time. Over the summer I saw a video about a preschool in a seniors residence in Seattle. I forwarded the video to the coordinator at our seniors home and she said it has always been her dream to have a similar multi-age environment here. From that discussion, and interest of some of our families, we decided to hold StrongStart up at the residence once a week for the full morning.
We use their activity room which is a nice size for me to set up play areas
to allow the children to play and wheel chairs move around freely.
At the far end of the room are comfy chairs perfect for a tea party.
I brought dishes, a stove top and some play food to encourage interaction
between the children and the grand friends.
Each week I set up a simple craft. This week I put out materials to make an autumn leaf but as the children and grand friends coloured one senior drew bunny ears on her plate then held it up to her face like a mask. Soon the child beside her made a lion mask. Regardless of age we can learn and play together.
There is a small sensory bin that has rice and figurines in it. It provides another conversation starter or a soothing activity for someone who may be a bit nervous.
A few other activities set up include play trays, puzzles, blocks, animals, and vehicles. They are set around the room some on tables and others on the floor to accommodate the range of ages and capabilities.
The children sign in when they arrive. The first time they visit they print their name, or the first letter depending on their age, on a tongue depressor then choose which can to put it in.
After playing for about an hour we move out to the lounge for songs, stories and playing with the parachute.
During this time Julia, a music therapist, joins us and teaches us new songs. One song we sang while using the parachute involved blowing bubbles. It was a lot of fun.
Next we have a special snack, cookies and juice, then if time we go for a walk in their flower garden.
By visiting once a week we are getting to know our grand friends better. We are learning how to be compassionate. We are learning that we all have something to offer regardless of our age.