An Uncertain Theme
Who can relate to Paris? Why would I even want to do a theme like this?
At the Community Center, I scattered some books and photos and figurines on the quilt... as well as a delicious smelling loaf of French bread. There wasn't one person in my group who had been to Paris, but that made no difference.
I Love Eloise
For a little creative inspiration and humor, I shared one of my favorite childhood books, Eloise Goes to Paris. This nutty book about Eloise and her unusual way of exploring Paris, was what made me wish for a Paris trip on every birthday candle throughout my childhood.
Pass the Bread
While Ella Fitzgerald's voice sang April in Paris, we passed the French bread and gave everyone a chance to come up with a creative use for the loaf, besides using bread as shoes like Eloise in Paris! "Use it like a bat... practice sword fighting... feed the birds... let it get stale and become a weapon against robbers... balance it on your head while walking, for good posture... make a bridge for small animals to cross... paint it and let it become art!" We celebrated all the creative answers with some slices of French bread...that had not been handled.
Music, Movies and Books
I thought the movie An American in Paris would be memorable to some in the group. The famous Gershwin music from the film turned out to be less interesting than music from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame and Offenbach's Can-Can!
I joined in with a young granddaughter who was visiting and the others clapped and laughed from the table. What a surprise!
A Quieter Group
There were such different surprises in my next group. Our peaceful group of 8 enjoyed the books and photos for a while before warming up.
Tourists in Paris
All the talk of French grapes and French fries and French onion soup made us crave a gourmet French feast... or even some Mc Donald's fries. Interesting fact that that Belgium and France still seem to disagree on where French fries originated!
Questions, questions, questions!
My last group at the skilled nursing facility seemed to have the most fun with the question cards. We each took a turn sharing a question with the group. These sometimes silly and sometimes thoughtful questions were about everything from poodles to Napoleon.
A Bit of History
I may not have any Can-Can dancers in this group, but I can always count on learning new things. I love having my friends around the table teach me things, like why there are gargoyles on gothic cathedrals and the name of the cooking school that Julia Child attended and how to pronounce certain French words. I even learned some raunchier tibits about Moulin Rouge and Ladies of the Night. But Ken shared the most intriguing history about a small plane that flew through the Arc de Triomph in 1919 after WWI. I had to look that one up on the internet later and was delighted to find an actual glimpse on YouTube!
Flight thru Arc: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIZzkq5Y8q0
What did I learn?
I learned 3 things.
1 - Everyone really can enjoy a trip to Paris, even if it's just through photos and stories.
2- My role seems to change with each group. A few at the Community Center actually call me Teacher, but I played that role down and asked only open ended, fun questions. In my last group, I felt like I was the student... or even daughter. Many knew more about Paris than me and I was like an eager kid at bedtime wanting endless stories. "Tell me more!"
3- I NEED to go to Paris, again. It's been 16 years since my birthday wish came true.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.