This past month, our Intergenerational Book Club focused on the sweet little friendships that have formed between our older adult members and our children members. While we chose to tie this meeting to Valentine’s Day, it certainly could be replicated anytime of year by changing the shape of the posters we made.
One of the residents at the Assisted Living Center that we visit has been asking to read the kids a book that has dialogue so she could make voices for the characters. I loved that request and knew that an Elephant and Piggie Book by Mo Willems was a perfect choice! Elephant and Piggie Books are essentially all dialog. Because of our meeting proximity to Valentine’s Day, we chose a book about friendship (a kind of love). My Friend is Sad features Mo Willems’ beloved characters, Elephant and Piggie. In this book, Elephant is sad and Piggie tries to cheer him up by dressing up in a variety of costumes. In the end, Piggie discovers that Elephant is really just cheered up by Piggie’s friendship.
Since Piggie dresses up in a variety of costumes, we provided the opportunity for the kids to do the same! I brought a few costumes as well as a tub full of costume accessories that we have in our own home. I have filled our costume accessory tub over time by collecting inexpensive props during holidays and special events throughout the year (bunny ears are often available for around $1 in the spring; we’ve been given plastic fire hats when we’ve visited the fire station, etc.). The kids were really engaged in this activity and kept changing costumes before and during the book reading! A few kids even brought costumes over to the residents for them to wear! The residents really seemed to enjoy watching the kids dress up. We took pictures of all of the residents who attended with one or two kids in costume. After our meeting, we printed the photos and glued them to the Valentine heart posters that each child decorated.
I found large red cardstock heart cutouts at Target and had several Valentine craft supplies and glue on hand. At the end of the meeting, I collected the hearts that the kids decorated and attached printed photos of the residents and the kids to each one. On Valentine’s Day, my son and I hand delivered each one to the residents. Again, you could easily deliver posters/cards in a different shape any time of year.
Both the kids and the residents loved the activities this month! There was a lot of interaction between the younger and older members during the meeting, which is an important benefit of the Intergenerational Book Club. We are looking forward to seeing how these relationships continue to form each month!