February is the month for hearts and the celebration of love and friendship. On the occasion of Saint Valentine’s Day, lovers and friends exchange gifts that come from the heart, such as candy, flowers, and cards. During the observation of American Heart Month, many people show their own hearts some love by learning about nutrition and exercise. Help your group enjoy plenty of heartwarming experiences during the cold winter days with some of the activities suggested below.
- FOR VALENTINE’S DAY: Make and display a variety of hearts with different shapes and textures (3-D hearts, decoupage hearts, origami hearts, heart doilies, button hearts). Learn the history and symbolism behind the heart shape. Share some heartfelt memories of a special Valentine’s Day. Talk about gifts that come from the heart: home-cooked meal, love song/poem, handwritten valentine, red roses.
- HEART SONG: Listen to the 1969 hit “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” Talk about simple ways to keep love in your heart and make the world a better place.
- CUPID: Share the folklore associated with the Cupid symbol. Listen to the 1961 song “Cupid” and the song “Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof. Ask: Have you ever played Cupid? Ever been a matchmaker? Set someone up on blind date? Talk about the pros and cons of blind dates.
- AMERICAN HEART MONTH: Observe American Heart Month with a focus on heart-smart foods. Challenge your group to a nutrition quiz. (See the American Heart Association web site for ideas.) Pass around a heart-shaped box of dark chocolates – or another healthy snack. (Find out who produced the first Valentine’s Day candy in 1868.) Encourage participants to wear red on Wear Red Day, the first Friday in February.
- SWEETHEART SONG: Sing the song “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” List synonyms for the word sweetheart (examples: heartthrob, beloved, sweetie, ladylove, old flame, steady, love bug, significant other). Reminisce about your first sweetheart. Ask: What gifts did you exchange? Did you ever woo your valentine with a song? What is your favorite love song? Did you write love letters to each other? Have you ever experienced unrequited love?
- HEART WORDS: Ask participants to name some “heart” words that describe the way people behave and react to various situations. (Examples: cold-hearted, soft-hearted, hard-hearted, faint-hearted, half-hearted, big-hearted, heartless)
- HEART SAYINGS: Discuss the meaning of the following “heart” sayings: man after my own heart, a bleeding heart, change of heart, lose heart, bless her heart, wear your heart on your sleeve, a heart-to-heart, eat your heart out, faint of heart, in my heart of hearts, pour your heart out to, to your heart’s content. (Add others to the list.)
- LOVE AND CHANGE: Play the Beatles’ tune “When I’m 64,” or read the words aloud. Encourage the participants to share how love changes over the years – from meeting, to first kiss, to engagement, to marriage, to parenting years, to growing old together. Ask: Do the words of this song ring true, or are they just the fantasy of a young man imagining mature love? (Activity from the music session titled “Ya Gotta Have Heart” in the ElderSong resource Roses in December.)
- CARD GAME: Hold a Hearts card game tournament. Serve heart-shaped cookies and cocoa.
- SPIRITUAL: Share thoughts on the following verse from the Bible: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21 – KJV)
- MOVIE TIME: In honor of the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 22: Watch an award-winning romantic comedy that “tugs on the heartstrings.” Suggestions: Roman Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, Some Like It Hot, It Happened One Night, Sabrina.
- ROMANTIC RECORDS: Dig into The Guinness Book of World Records for some romantic records related to Valentines’ Day. (Examples: oldest love poem, longest kiss, earliest box of Valentine’s Day chocolates)
- HEART DISCUSSION: Talk about the relationship between the heart and our emotions. List some positive emotions that would be good for the heart and some negative ones that would not. Try the following activity taken from the ElderSong resource Drama A to Z: On a series of index cards, write a common life situation and the predominant emotion connected to it. Ask the participants to pick a card, and talk about the situation and all the emotions connected to it. Some suggestions: bringing a new baby home, receiving a promotion, standing in a long, slow line, waiting for the phone to ring, walking across a busy street, investing a large sum of money, buying a new dress, going to your child’s graduation (add others to the list).
- POETRY: Discuss the meaning of “learn by heart.” Talk about the benefits of memorization and recitation in school. Ask: Do you remember something you memorized as a child in school? Did you have a recitation bench? What poems do you recall? Recite the short Valentine couplet that begins “Roses are red….” For fun: Write some original Valentine rhyming couplets, and ask for some volunteers to recite the poems.
- PETS: Talk about why pets, especially dogs, are good for the heart. Watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, televised on February 16-17 at Madison Square Garden, and pick your favorites. Invite a dog owner to bring his/her pet to perform some tricks for the group.
- BIRDS: Celebrate National Wild Bird Feeding Month. Make a heart-shaped suet cake for a bird feeder. Learn about the habits of doves and lovebirds, and why they are associated with Valentine’s Day.
For more activities on “Hearts,” check out the resources featured below.
Continue to look for upcoming editions of this newsletter the first day of the month. (Themes focus on the following month.) Our newsletter contains useful information to make your job of working with older adults more fulfilling. In this issue, you’ll find the following:
- Hearts Resources
- Valentine’s Day Trivia Quiz
- Featured Products for January
- Thought for the Month
Do you still feel you’re “young at heart” after all these years? Bring back a bit of romantic nostalgia with a trip down memory lane and the good-old days of malt shops, diners, and jukeboxes. A few heartthrobs, like Elvis and Bobby Darin, might come to mind. The 4-disc CD set, Malt Shop Memories, features 72 classic jukebox songs from the 1950s and early 1960s. Sing along with favorites such as “Dream Lover”/Bobby Darin, “A Lover’s Concerto”/The Toys, “Love Me Tender”/Elvis Presley, “Chapel of Love”/The Dixie Cups, “Baby Love”/The Supremes, “Help Me, Rhonda”/The Beach Boys, “Come a Little Bit Closer”/Jay & The Americans, “Downtown”/Petula Clark, and more!
Remember your first case of “puppy love”? Win hearts with the playful antics of puppies in the DVD Ambient Puppies, a hilarious look into the minds of some of our four-legged friends. Giggle at the adventures of 13 classic breeds as they star in their own comical skits: Cocker Spaniels in Sleepover, Poodles in The Olympic Poodle Team, Collies in The Next Lassie, Dachshunds in Pumping Rawhide, Old English Sheep Dogs in The Quest, and more! Enjoy the improv comedy of The Ironicals as they provide the thoughts and voices of these precocious puppies. (Can be played with or without the comical voices.)
Did you ever have a pet dog that ruled your heart and your home? Celebrate the heartfelt bond between humans and canines with For the Love of Dogs: True Stories of Amazing Dogs and the People Who Love Them. The book is an endearing collection of 36 short stories about man’s best friend. You’ll find chapters on Four-Legged Family Members, Common Language and ESP (Extra-Sensory Pups), Teachers and Healers, Unconditional Love, and Celebrating the Bond. Read, for example, about the black Lab named Hart who takes on the role of co-therapist, or the beagle named Duke who has a taste for stolen ham sandwiches. Meet a Queensland heeler named Smidget and Stewie, a New York “Yorkie” whose pedigree comes into question. The stories are perfect for a read-aloud session with your group and will rekindle pleasant memories of a beloved family pet.
Put your heart into some friendly competition on a cold winter day. Play ElderSong Bingo, the song version of the classic game. Challenge your group to recognize songs such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “Home on the Range,” “Pretty Baby,” “Alice Blue Gown,” “My Bonnie,” “School Days,” “Yankee Doodle Boy,” and “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” The game includes the following items:
- A compact disk with 20-30 second excerpts of 54 different songs. (The 54 song excerpts on the CD are taken from the Sing-Along with ElderSong recordings.)
- 24 different bingo game cards with 16 large-print song titles on each card.
- Laminated list of songs for rapid check-off. Dry-erase pen included.
- Game instructions and adaptations.
You can also purchase additional game cards and large plastic bingo chips for your group – and play to your heart’s content.
Get it straight from the heart! Jump-start some lively discussions with courtroom drama from You Be the Judge, Volume 3. The book features 38 real-life cases, often decided in a court of law. The cases are brief and easy to follow. You’ll find controversy intermixed with humor. Read, for example, about the dog that actually received an official voter registration card. Could the dog’s owner cast a vote for him? Ponder the case about the waitress who refused to sing “Happy Birthday” to patrons on their special day. Should she have been fired?
Each case begins with a presentation of the facts, followed by some questions to focus your group’s debate. Which side should win? Present and defend an argument for each case. The real outcome of the case is then provided, along with some discussion questions that encourage group members to reminisce about related events in their personal past. Sample cases in the third volume of You Be the Judge: Voting with Dogs, A Camp for Kids, A Penny Saved, College Days, No Strings Attached, A Peeping Tom, Private Matters, To Bee or Not to Bee, The Midnight Train, For Love of Chocolate.
VALENTINE’S DAY TRIVIA QUIZ
- One what day is Valentine’s Day celebrated? February 14
- What are the main colors used on Valentine’s Day? Red, pink, and white
- What does an “X” and an “O” on a love letter mean? Hugs and kisses
- According to an old saying, what makes the heart grow fonder? Absence
- What are the names of Shakespeare’s famous “star-crossed lovers”? Romeo and Juliet
- According to Roman myth, what is Cupid’s weapon? Bow and arrow
- Which flower symbolizes true love on Valentine’s Day? Red rose
- Finish this line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s love sonnet # 43: “How do I love thee?…” Let me count the ways
- What was the name of the Greek goddess of love? Aphrodite
- Name some famous chocolate makers. Cadbury, Hershey’s, Nestle, Mars, Lindt, Godiva (others answers are possible)
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.” ~ Washington Irving
"Hearts" was written by Sue Hansen. Copyright 2014 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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