When I was in high school, we had a service requirement to graduate. In my senior year, my best friend and I were volunteering together in a local nursing home, mainly on a floor with Alzheimer's and dementia patients. Up until that point, my interaction with people who needed constant care in that capacity was fairly limited- when I was VERY young we used to visit a second cousin who had cerebral palsy and some other conditions, and I had a great grandmother who suffered from Alzheimers- and I have to admit that it took me very far out of my comfort zone. I think I just had a hard time knowing how to act with the residents- these people so much older than me, but many of them needing to be cared for like children- so I struggled with it so much.
Which is why I think it's great that the fifth grade class at my kids' school spends some time during the school year visiting with the residents at a nursing home/assisted living facility nearby. The kids go 3-4 times over the course of the year to spend time with the residents, and it's really interesting to see the change in their approach to things as the year goes on. Usually on their first visit, most of the students are pretty quiet and unsure of where to go, but by the time they have their last vsit, they've gotten comfortable, both in the facility itself, and with the residents.
Usually, the class brings along some sort of craft or activity to do (so everyone's not just sitting around staring at each other) and they might have a snack or treat, play games, and sing together. And since I am the classroom parent for my daughter's class, her teacher asked me to help with crafts for the kids to do with the residents. This turned out to be harder than it sounds, because they had to be something that didn't take too long, was easy to transport to the facility, could be done by two or 3 people at the same time, and had to be fairly easy in terms of motor skills so that the residents could participate. Oh, and we wanted it to be something fun to display, because the residents would keep them.
My most favorite one was the one we did on their last visit, this spring. These sun catchers were easy for the kids and residents to do together (in most cases the kids handled the glue while the residents chose the color and placement of the tissue paper), and they look so bright and cheery hanging in the windows. The 5th graders really enjoyed makng them, and my 4 & 5 year-old testers had no problem doing them all by themselves, so they are gorgeous and great for any age! And you may already have most of the items at home, but if you don't, you can find all of them at the dollar store.
To make these stained glass suncatchers, you'll need:
- Tissue paper in various colors (I just bought a package of 24 sheets in multiple colors)
- Clear plastic plates
- School glue
- a small bowl
- Foam brush of large-ish paint brush
- Twine, yarn or ribbon
- Hot glue gun
Pour some glue into your bowl. Working in sections, use the foam brush to paint glue on the top side of the plate.
Lay pieces of tissue in a single layer on top of the glue. The pieces of tissue paper can overlap at the edges, but you want to avoid laying too many pieces on top of each other, so the sun can still filter through.
Gently paint a second layer of glue over the tissue paper, smoothing out any bumps or pieces hanging over the edge. Allow to dry. When the glue is dry, hot glue a loop of yarn, twine or ribbon to the back of the plate. Hang in a window that gets lots of sun.
When I prepped everything to take to the nursing home, I pre-cut the tissue paper into squares and hot-glued loops of twine to the backs of the plates ahead of time, but you can let the kids do the cutting (or tear the tissue paper), and add your hanger whenever works for you.