Carnivals & Fairs
A Favorite Theme of Mine
With this theme, we seem to go down one route or another. Historic World's Fair history? State fairs and carnivals? My first group was all about carnivals.
I heard many sweet stories about riding on carousels. Dot reminded me that Papa wouldn't let her ride any other rides at the carnival... except the carousel. Oh she loved the carousel!
How I do love this group. They love music, games, talking at once... but we toned it all down with a little artwork. While some calliope music played in the background, we just talked and colored. Yes, colored. Two years ago I had to explain why that was okay, but the coloring craze has helped me.
I was surprised how many really disliked ferris wheels. But everyone loved hearing about the "Big Wheel" from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. It could carry up to 2,160 passengers at once.
The wooden Ferris Wheel reminded Robert of riding as a kid and making the seat rock. Ms. S saw the photo of the "Big Wheel" when it was first in Chicago, before it was sold to St. Louis for $750.00.
"I remember my grandparents talking about going to the Chicago World's Fair!" She beamed. 1893... so long ago!
The St. Louis World's Fair
No one in any of my groups knew of anyone who had gone to the World's Fair back in 1904.
Looking at photos of the wonderful old buildings and the Grand Lagoon, made me want to go back just 25 years, to ask my grandmother what she remembered. I so wish I'd asked her more questions about being a young girl at the St. Louis Fair!
1964-65 New York World's Fair
I had a few in my later groups who recalled visiting the fair in New York. Some remembered the exhibit, "It's A Small World" with the mechanical dolls from around the world.
Most in my first group were not familiar with the World's Fair at all. A few didn't even live in this country in 1964. It was sweet to listen to the 29-cent record and hear the words that remind us all of that people around the world are really all the same. Many sang along, while others seemed to concentrate on every word.
"There is just one moon and one golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone. Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it's a small world after all..."
Some in my groups remembered trips with family to Disneyland. Martha remembered visiting a center on the ground of the future Disneyland. I was born after Disneyland's opening, but I laughed to share a postcard I bought when I was about 10, when visiting the site of the future Disney World. I think I remember the center being in the middle of swamp lands. But maybe my memory is wrong.
What would you buy? We all wondered. I showed a picture of a large marble pedastal that my great grandparents bought at the St. Louis World's Fair. I couldn't bring the silk scarf that my husband has from his great aunt's visit to the Chicago World's Fair.
Movies and Books
We talked about some of the old musical films that featured carnivals scenes. "Meet Me in St. Louis" was the movie that most recognized. When I played a recording of Judy Garland singing the famous song, there very few who could keep from singing along.
I asked them all to imagine the clothing of that time, with all the layers and stiff collars and lacy petticoats. None of us could imagine enjoying a summer fair in those clothes!
Round & Round
We talked about the rides that thrilled us when we were young, but today make us sick at the thought.
In my last group, we were laughing at stories about the rides that make us dizzy, when Eva caught a glimpse of a little guy going by in the hall.
Our Little Visitor
Since I often have props that are really just old toys, we invited little Josiah to come in and see our toy, with twirling swings!
I couldn't tell what was more fun, watching our little friend trying to spin the toy, or watching the faces of my group as they smiled and laughed and encouraged his play!
What Did I Learn: I have always known, my senior friends are young at heart. They love the goofy toys and props I bring in. But what they love more than playing themselves, is watching a young one totally focused with a toy! What a treat! Thanks, Josiah!
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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.