Hand-clapping games have ruled the school play ground for centuries, but who knew they were such a wonderful inter-generational facilitator in care homes, as well as tried and tested social bonding activities between friends in the playground?
During the first Parlours of Wonder sessions held in our partner care settings between residents and local school pupils, it was the hand-clapping games that provoked the most memories, conversation and physical interaction between residents and pupils! …Just like the proverb informs us, “you can’t clap with one hand only.”
I was amazed at how enthusiastically the Year 5 pupils responded to older residents recalling the songs that accompanied their hand-clapping games when they were young, such as, ‘A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea’ and ‘My Mother Told Me (Rubber Dolly)’ . The older residents were also entertained by some contemporary versions that pupils confidently gave renditions of, however, whilst the lyrics might have changed across generations, the basic hand-clapping sequences had not.
Hand-clapping accompanied by singing, was an activity that facilitated interaction between the school pupils and older residents, because it is an activity shared across the generations strongly associated with childhood and school, as well as being valuable because it is a physical, multisensory activity that does not exclude those with restricted mobility, hearing or vision impairment, nor those with dementia. To that we say, put your hands together and applaud (loudly!)
One of our project partners, Blaise Weston Court extra care facility, held an Open Day on Friday 31st March. It provided an invaluable opportunity to meet a group of Year 5 pupils from a local primary school (Oasis Long Cross) who will be participating in our Parlours of Wonder project after the Easter break.
The pupils were intrigued by the objects they found in the Parlour of Wonder room located on the ground floor of Blaise Weston Court. A series of boxes that are chronologically labelled with the different decades through the Twentieth century particularly grabbed their attention. They rummaged in the boxes and marvelled at landline telephone sets, black and white family photographs from the 1930s, workmen’s tools and various board games, but the biggest surprise and wonder was reserved for the record player, vinyl records and bed warming pan. A female pupil who had never seen vinyl records before suggested they were “giant DVDs” and one of the boys, puzzled, like the other pupils, over the bed warming pan. When one of the residents at Blaise Weston Court asked them what they thought it was, nearly all of the pupils suggested it was a pizza oven!
These responses made us all laugh out loud because we all appreciated in that moment how much we take for granted with regards to the objects we encounter and use in our daily lives. We also reflected upon how quickly a number of these objects change or become obsolete.
After a very enjoyable hour or so the pupils returned to their school escorted by one of their teachers, who later emailed us to report that:”the children were buzzing after last Friday’s visit. They spent the walk back trying to work out all the historical events that would have happened while Barry has been alive!” (Barry is one of the participating residents on the Parlours of Wonder project)
Meeting the pupils from Oasis Long Cross was a delight for all involved and reminds us of the importance and value of intergenerational interaction, story telling and knowledge exchange. Long may it continue!
Yesterday, although Valentine’s Day, was an exciting day for the Parlours of Wonder project despite the mood for love clearly evident across the city, because our partners joined us at our department, the Graduate School of Education, at Bristol university, for a workshop focused on sharing our experience of working with objects and technology in care settings, as well as sharing innovative approaches to intergenerational activities. By pooling resources and experience, and consolidating alliances with project partners and beyond, we were especially keen to generate solutions for the ongoing challenges that care staff face when working with volunteers and delivering in-house, intergenerational activities. We hope that yesterday’s workshop marked a step in the right direction and left project partners feeling invigorated and inspired to continue their great work across the region.
…So thank you to all those who came and participated, even on your day off AND on Saint Valentine’s day; we hope you enjoyed the love hearts!