I brought a farm theme to two groups this week. My Senior group and the kids at the Fort Bend Women's shelter. I always love comparing the similarities of such different groups.
One potato, two potato, three potato, four...
A basket of potatoes. I could have left everything else at home and done a whole session with potatoes. Even the word is fun. Potatoes are fun to examine and compare. They have faces like the moon.
I wore my "farm wife apron" and started up a wild game of hot potato, using a very frantic recording of Turkey in the Straw! I ended up having to run around the table with the potato as it got bogged down here and there. At one point I had to lay down the law about throwing the potato! And I also had to stop my own mom from taking a bite as it got passed along. But there wasn't one person at the table not laughing by the time I collapsed in a chair.
Reacting to Pictures
We calmed down with a little sharing. Photos often prompt stories. Everyone seemed to recognize the famous "American Gothic" painting, although known of us could remember the full story behind it. Vivian saw the photo of the farmer and little girl and sighed, "That could have been me when I was little." She told us about growing up on a farm in Texas.
Stories with the Kids
In the afternoon I took the same props and photos to the shelter. This was the photo the kids liked best. It's my sister at a friend's farm in the early 1960's. The kids studied the photo and then spent many minutes arguing about whether my sister was really driving the tractor. "It's blurry, it must be moving fast...look at her hair!" "No, she's having too much fun. She would be scared if it was really moving." I love it that children can even talk about farms! Most children hardly have a clue what a farm is!
The Kids and Potatoes
Maybe it was because it was dinnertime, but we had more fun listing off all the ways you can eat potatoes. Baked, fried, mashed...And then it was time for hot potato.
They'd never heard of it. And then I got some real complaints because of my Turkey in the Straw music. The older ones just rolled their eyes. They wanted Michael Jackson!
But they loved the game. And they actually followed directions. "Passing, not tossing!"
They passed the passing test, so we added more potatoes. We changed the game so when the music stopped, the winner was the one left holding the potato with the face!
We progressed to potato bowling. And we even had a 10-year old potato juggler!
Out of Time
I could have spent a day having fun with a farm theme. But it was time to go.
When I stepped out into the parking lot I had to laugh to myself. Off behind a nearby apartment complex, I could hear the crow of a rooster. I headed home in rush hour traffic... stopped in at the grocery store deli...and picked up a container of potato soup!
What I learned: If I could do it right, I'd take the Senior folks and the kids on a field trip to a real farm. But it's amazing how much farm you can bring to a group just by stopping at the grocery store. Last year I brought corn and we all shucked a little! What will it be next year?
Fairs and Carnivals
The World's Fair... county fairs...carnival rides...cotton candy...sideshows...
At Silverado, everyone had something to share about ferris wheels. Vinita liked this wooden version. There were memories of queasy stomachs and spectacular views of nighttime fairs.
St. Louis World's Fair
We talked about the "Observation Wheel" at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. We tried to guess how many passengers could ride at once. The answer is, 2,160! There were 36 cars that each held 60 people! We wondered why we don't see anything so amazing anymore.
A Song for my Mom
I reminded the group that my mother had grown up in St. Louis and grew up hearing her mother's stories about going to the World's Fair as a child. I asked them to see if they recognized my song. As soon as I started to sing, "Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie" my mom and the others began chiming in..."Meet me at the fair." I guess they did recognize it!
We talked about movies with fair themes. Betty and Vivian looked at photos from Rogers and Hammerstein's State Fair. That got us off on a tangent about yummy fair food!
Rita held onto a DVD of Carousel and grinned slyly at the photo of Shirley Jones. "How did you get my picture?"
I love Rita's humor!
New York World's Fair
Rita remembered that her brother got to go to the New York Fair in 1939. No fair that she didn't get to go! I told about going in 1964 and how my favorite part was "It's A Small World". Our group actually managed to recall most of the words. No problem with the melody. We agreed that once you've heard the song, you can never get the melody out of your head.
The two songs we sang ended up being the highlight. I was surprised that everyone seemed to know and join in with both! Once again the power of music! Why oh why didn't I record some caliope music that sounded like an old carousel? That would have been a treat!
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.