Activities for Intergenerational Blending
Thanksgiving has long been celebrated as time to bring the family together for a shared meal across generational lines. Thanksgiving can be a time when the octogenarians and the pre-schoolers somehow get to spend some quality time together that will remain in the memory bank of all in attendance for years to come. Somehow that vision of bringing generations together at Thanksgiving doesn’t always work out. the way we envision it. Somewhere along the way, the group that all sat hungrily at the table together quickly drifts apart after the meal going to this room or that and the chance to have some intergenerational blending and some real fun disappears. You can make this year different by putting a little time aside now to plan how to bring generations together at Thanksgiving through activities created for intergenerational sharing.
Charades It’s a game about as old as time but don’t let the time origins of charades scare you off what can be a wonderful way to bring generations together at Thanksgiving. Several days before Thanksgiving take some time to sit down and using small file cards or slips of paper write phrases, names of books, movie titles or other well known quotations, one on each card. Make up as many as you can think of but try to keep the ages of your family members in mind. If you want everyone to enjoy charades you need to target your audience to keep everyone involved. The best guideline is to keep your youngest and your oldest participants in mind. Will they know the phrase you are writing, will they be able to guess the words as they are acted out? Not every card will have perfect quote for everyone but work for a balance.
When dinner is done, your family can enjoy splitting into two competitively even teams with kids and elders split between teams. Individuals then take turns acting out whatever they read on the card, without using any words, until the team has guessed the answer or a pre-established amount of time has run out. The person who has made up all the cards, should participate as the time keeper, the reading assistant for younger kids and the arbiter of all game disputes. If you are that person, it is also your job to keep everyone involved, cheerful and participatory. It can help to limit the overall time to be spent at this activity so that it doesn’t drag on forever. Following it up with dessert can allow you to award the winning team letting them get their desserts first or with an extra scoop or slice of whatever is being served.
Family mural If yours is a family that enjoys arts and crafts, you can help bring all generations together at Thanksgiving by setting aside time and space for the creation of mural. Depending on what is available at your house, you can use any flat surface from the recently cleared off dining room table to
a utility table in a family room or a long counter in the kitchen. All that is important is that all ages can work on the surface in comfort and that no one will feel excluded.
What to put on your family mural is entirely up to you and getting ideas from family members can be as much of an intergenerational activity as the art work itself. You might choose to create a mural of what your family members envision as the first Thanksgiving. Or you might choose to memorialize your own family’s celebration as seen through the eyes of all of the participants. But there are lots of other ideas too. Maybe you want to create a mural that shows the Macy’s Day Parade or a Thanksgiving Day football game. Maybe your mural will be a collage of different ideas all sharing one common factor, they came from your family. As much as you may enjoy creating this family mural in 2016, you will be delighted to see how much folks will want to look at the family mural each year as you gather. So when you are done, make sure to date it, roll it up and pass it on to whoever is hosting Thanksgiving for your family next year.
Lights Out, Story Time. Gathering everyone into the living or family room, lighting a few large candles and turning off the lights can set the mood for a Thanksgiving Day activity that will set a mood for family reminiscences. In whatever order you choose call on each member of the family to tell a story according to a set theme. Of course it can be a story of something they are grateful for in keeping with the Thanksgiving Day theme, but you might also ask each family member to share a memory of a past Thanksgiving Day, special in the mind of the story teller. Or why not ask for people to share their impression of what they think that first Thanksgiving was really like, or why they think Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day in the first place.
Give everyone a few minutes to think through the story they wish to share and then ask for a volunteer to begin. After he or she has completed their story let them chose who should be next storyteller. Of course, the idea isn’t to make people feel uncomfortable so anyone who wants to pass should have that option.
People spend Thanksgiving time around the same table but too often after the meal groups divide, with some going out to play football, some sitting around sharing conversation over pre-desert coffee and others heading for the television and a chance to catch a few winks. There’s nothing the matter with any of that but it can also be fun to find time during your gathering time to really do something that the brings the entire family in touch with one another – besides just eating. If you don’t like charades, hate the art work involved in a mural and frankly shrink at the idea of sharing stories in a darkened room with your relatives, that’s okay. There are lots of activities you can shape to help bring the generations together at Thanksgiving. Set up a puzzle room with a variety of puzzles people can work on together. Try an intergenerational sing along using only songs that have certain words like “day” or “thanks” or “giving” in the lyrics . If the weather is good try a scavenger hunt with teams across the generations, or if your house is large enough ( and picked up enough ) try an indoor scavenger hunt if the weather is too chilly for an outdoor search.
It is possible to bring generations together at Thanksgiving With just a little planning you can make it happen at your house this year.