Help Wanted

Posted January 24, 2023

Help Wanted
By Amanda Janquart

Building bridges between the preschoolers and the senior residents happens in a myriad of ways. Children act out storybook plays, build sugar cube castles, shake percussion instruments while singing, play seasonal BINGO, and decorate Valentine’s cookies alongside seniors who meet them in the community room at the scheduled times. Or senior readers will make their way into the classrooms, young ones already gathered on the rug in anticipation to listen to a book or learn about Grandpa Dick’s ostrich egg.

My favorite bridges though, are the unexpected and spontaneous ones: popping upstairs to hand out meringue cookies, dressing up as doctors to check seniors’ hearts, plastering stickers on whoever we bump into. We’ve surprised grandmas and grandpas while they were in exercise class and helped put away their hand weights. And although preschoolers in the past have grabbed their lunchboxes to join the “men’s table” for lunch, children have never before been invited to do so by the chef – all of them, at the same time!

Chef Cory is new to Inver Glen, and he already understands the value in connecting the generations. Wanting to bring smiles to his diners, he reached out to the teachers with an idea. Would the children come and “work” for him, help out during lunch? There was no question as to their interest! Cory provided name tags, signifying the importance of being a staff member. Preschoolers listened closely to the procedures from their “boss” as he pointed out the cart where the menus are collected and demonstrated how to ask seniors if they needed something.

Then it was go-time. Children flocked to the diners, patiently waiting for them to circle their lunch choices on their menus. Some children called over a teacher to read the menu out loud for seniors with poor vision. They carefully delivered ice water and fruit cups. Preschoolers stood tall and spoke clearly, earnestly wanting to do a good job. When the first courses were all passed out, it was time for the children’s own lunch break. They found their lunch boxes and took seats where Cory had set aside a group of tables. “Whoa, this is like eating in a restaurant.” “Yeah, but a fancy one with chandeliers!” While they ate, the conversation was all about their first day of being servers. “I knew I had to hold the cup with both hands.” “I helped Grandpa Charlie get water.” “Grandma Lucy picked fruit. I like fruit too.”

Cory returned from the kitchen to thank everyone and let them know the diners were very pleased with their work. While he couldn’t pay them real money, he did happen to have a box of ice cream bars to share!

The Joy and Benefits of Coloring

Posted January 10, 2023

The Joy and Benefits of Coloring

By Tracy Riekenberg

In this day and age, when electronic entertainment is easily accessible, “best toys” lists are abundant, and families are busy running here and there, one of the best fine motor activities for children of all ages is often overlooked. That activity is COLORING.

Remember when you were a kid, lying on your stomach flipping through your brand-new Barbie (or He-Man or Disney or Transformers or …) coloring book trying to find the perfect page to start, looking for the best crayon to fit your hand, coloring with such concentration that your tongue would stick out of your mouth a little, and then tearing the page out to proudly display on your refrigerator? It was probably fun for you, and a bit of a reprieve for your parent, but while you were doing all that coloring, you were also learning.

Besides the obvious fine-motor-skill building, coloring exercises the brain. For young children, practicing sitting and working on a skill like coloring flexes their focus muscle and helps their bodies and brains prepare for more “academic” exercises like reading and writing. Coloring helps children develop a “stick-with-it” attitude as well, as they lengthen their attention span and recognize when the project is finished. In addition, when children are coloring, they are practicing making decisions, like choosing what color to make the cat.

Coloring also flexes children’s language. When very young children begin to color, the adult may narrate what they are doing, pointing out what colors they are choosing and naming the object that’s being colored. Children also learn descriptive words like bright, dark, light, warm, and cool, as well as art terms like shade, shadow, stripe, polka dot, and more.

And of course, coloring strengthens hand muscles, which are necessary for writing. Children can practice correct pencil/crayon grip, work on big strokes and small strokes, put light and heavy pressure on the paper, and draw different types of lines, squiggles, circles, and more that will be needed for writing letters and words.

In addition, coloring is relaxing and enjoyable for children. It is an affordable and portable activity, and it offers easy bonding time with adults. At All Seasons when children are coloring, a teacher is often near them, also coloring. The adults and children talk and share in a different way when the focus isn’t solely on the conversation. We teachers learn so much about children when we’re coloring with them. This is often the time children open up to teachers about what is important to them, like their family, pets, friends, toys, and so on.

We encourage you not to discredit or forget about the simple joy of coloring with your child. There are plenty of free coloring pages online if you can’t find a coloring book to your liking. Find one you and your child both love, print off a few copies, get a new box of crayons, and enjoy a bit of time together, relaxing, coloring, learning, and bonding.