This month, as you spend time with friends and family, try a few of these fun ways that are sure to bring young and old closer together.
Generations Guessing Game
Play this guessing game when family members are visiting. Players can form teams of two; for example, parent and child, or grandparent and grandchild.
One member of the team leaves the room. For example, all the mothers step outside. Children are then asked four or five questions about their mother’s preferences. They write their answers down on sheets of paper and place the sheets face down in front of them, in the order the questions were asked.
The mothers then return to the room. They are asked the same questions. After a mother has stated her answer, her child reveals his/her answer. Do the mother and child have the same answers?
Switch places to see how well the mothers know their children. You can run several rounds of this game with different questions. You can choose to keep score or not.
Asking about “favorites” makes for a revealing game. Here are some examples: favorite color, season, animal, flower, holiday, sport, movie star, TV show, cartoon character, musical group, song, singer, musical instrument, fruit, vegetable, snack, cookie, candy bar, pizza topping, flavor of ice cream, hobby, talent.
Did You Ever…?
Saying “tell me about your life” is usually a little too broad to evoke memories. You have to focus on a specific topic. “Did you ever…?” is a great game for evoking memories.
Each person in a group tells a true story about one of the topics below. Tell a story in as much detail as you can. Remember the incident like a movie in your head, and explain what you see one step at a time—what happened, what you thought, and what you felt before, during, and after.
Here are some ideas: Did you ever…
- Sleep in a cabin or tent
- Go to a county fair
- Go berry or vegetable picking
- Act in a play
- Get a bad grade
- Win a prize
- Have a good luck charm
- Make something you were really proud of
- Move to a new house
- Travel overseas
- Live in a foreign country
- Stay in a fancy hotel
- Drive in a convertible
- Have a pet
- Bake bread
- Play an instrument
- Go swimming
- Go on a boat
- Take a cruise
- See a circus
- Go to a beach
- Visit an art gallery
- Stay on a farm
Variation: If folks don’t have a story to share, encourage them to make one up. Have them tell the story as if it really happened. After they’ve told their story, the group has to guess if the story was real or made up. How often can you guess accurately?
The “Hot” List
What was really “hot” and “with it” when folks were young? Reminisce or share and compare your “hot” list with children, grandchildren, or young friends as part of an intergenerational program.
Topics could include “hot” music, movies, TV shows, actors, actresses, video games, books, magazines, clothing, hairstyles, food, cars, and slang.
Let’s Fix It!
Hoping for the future includes trying to fix the problems we see around us. Start by asking family members what they think is “wrong” with the world today. People often have strong opinions and appreciate the opportunity to voice them and have someone listen.
But don’t stop with the problems. Pick one or two of the “problems” and decide how you can do something about them. Maybe everyone can participate in writing a letter to a government official on a current political issue. Maybe you can plant a tree or garden as a way to help the environment. Maybe folks can bake or chip in to buy cookies or other food items for local children who can’t afford special treats. No matter what our age, we can still do things to make the world a better place.
The Ageless Self
The older you get, the more surprised you are when you catch a glimpse of yourself as you pass by a mirror. You’re constantly amazed at the “old” person you see reflected back. The simple fact of aging always seems to surprise us — because inside we don’t feel any different.
Many older people express a sense of self that is ageless—an identity that maintains continuity despite the physical changes that come with old age. Talk with family members and have them share three things that make them who they are. What hasn’t changed since they were young?
If a person was determined when they were young, they’re probably still determined. If the person liked music when they were young, they probably still like music. Maybe their favorite color has always been and still is blue. Maybe they have always loved strawberry ice cream. Perhaps they have a saying they’ve always used to guide them throughout their entire life. Find out what makes people themselves and unique, no matter what their age.
What You Need: Sheets of paper; markers, crayons, and pencils.
Get together to create posters with a positive view of aging. Talk about the advantages of being old, like getting tax benefits and no longer having child-rearing responsibilities. What can older people still do, even if they have some limitations? For example, they can still love, give a hug, and share life advice.
Create bright, eye-catching posters with positive slogans about being old. Some examples: Age is a Case of Mind Over Matter—If You Don’t Mind, It Doesn’t Matter; Age is Just a Number; Aging is Living; I’m Not Over the Hill—I’m On a Roll; It’s Not How Old You Are, but How You Are Old; Older is Bolder; Youth is a Gift of Nature, Age is a Work of Art; The Best is Yet to Be.
Use watercolor paints and markers to decorate the posters. These can also be used as special gifts for family members or friends.
Weekly Memory Jar
What You Need: Slips of colored paper; pen/pencil; a jar.
Each day we make memories. Celebrate the special moments in your family. Involve friends and neighbors, too.
Everyone pays attention to anything warm, happy, fun, interesting, or moving that happens to them during the week. Write it down on a slip of paper (just a few words to remind you of the memory). Fold up the slip of paper and drop it in the Memory Jar. No one can peek inside the jar until the “official” weekly opening.
At the end of the week, everyone takes a turn pulling a memory out of the jar. The person who wrote the memory explains what it was.
A Bevy of Butterflies
What You Need: Round, paper coffee filters; watercolor paints and markers; paintbrushes; clothespins; colored paper; scissors; glue. Optional, glitter.
Brighten up a room with cheerful butterflies! These colorful, easy-to-make butterflies can be made by anyone with the help of family members or young friends.
Use watercolor paints and markers to decorate round, paper coffee filters with various patterns to look like butterfly wings. You can also use glitter to add some sparkle.
Once the filters are dry, pinch them one at a time in the middle like a bow tie. Clip the clothespin onto the middle and fan out each side to create the butterfly’s wings.
Cut two thin strips of colored paper (about the thickness of a matchstick and about 3 inches long). Curl one end slightly with scissors and glue the other end onto the end of the clothespin that pinches together. Now the butterfly has antennae.
Talk to each other about your hopes and dreams. What did they want to do when they were younger? Have they done it? What are the things they would still like to do? Everyone has hopes and dreams, and having a chance to share them can be a very special gift.