Making Words a Gift
Every month we take preschoolers to the Calvin Coolidge Nursing Home to visits whom we call, the Grandmas and the Grandpas. We have been doing this for a few years now and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how impacting it is on both generations. It wasn’t until one of them put a call in on a banana to one of the Grandmas and told her he was coming soon and he missed her. He missed her and this is the way a 3-year-old says he cares. He missed her and he was thinking about her. What could be better than that?
The visit itself to the nursing home is an amazing gift for both the children and the residents there. The children are the center of attention (which they love), laughter fills the room and the residents are happy and engaged. Often they reminisce about the past and their children, whom are grown and grandparents themselves. They gently sweep the faces of the children and they both smile. A priceless gift!
Here are a couple of gifts that integrate creative-free play with thoughtful ways children can reciprocate their love and caring of the elders in their life…
This is a favorite activity for toddlers and preschoolers, because they say the most outlandish, kindest and the cutest things. Start by asking your child if you can ask them a question. If they are open to it, then go with it. Ask a question that is open ended and does not have a right or wrong answer. Asking “why” is a great way for a toddler or preschooler to understand: “Can you tell me why you love visiting with the Grandmas and Grandpas?”
“What” questions are also an easy way to engage: “What is your favorite time as a family?” or “ What can you do to help your friends be happy?” Talking through these feelings with your toddler is a great way to sift though heavy feelings and gauge how they feel about situations, a person, a place or a memory.
Once you have a few quotes, the card is easy part. You can use any type of card; holiday, homemade, birthday, thinking of you card. Simply write your child’s quote down on the inside. Doing this gives your child a feeling of ownership over the card and brings the card to life! It creates a personalized tangible gift for a hard to place feeling.
The Five Reasons Card
This is a simple concept that is similar to the quote card. Over the course of a few days, ask you child the same question each morning or evening. Explain to them, you are going to ask the same question for five days, giving them an opportunity to think about the question throughout the day. “ Why are the Grandma and the Grandpas so special to you?” or “What makes you love them?” Asking for the quotes everyday for five days, allows your child to process a huge questions, it gives them time to think and internalize the question. On day five, take a hand-print of your child using an ink pad or thinned paint, or press it in dough to create an ornament. After the hand-print dries, add the five answers to that one big question. These can be cut out, laminated and gifted that way, or attached to a card.
The best gift a person can receive from a child is a gift created with love and intention. Words can do so much to warm a soul!
[Photo credit: (cc) Emily Orpin]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programing for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.