Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Arts and crafts materials
- Tape or approved mounting material for use at residential facility
- Bottle(s) of hand sanitizer
Preparation for Activity
- In advance, contact an elderly housing or assisted living facility in your community. Obtain permission to donate the children's artwork to decorate the thresholds (the doorways) of residents' rooms. Or, arrange a visit where the children can work together with residents to make decorations for the thresholds. In either case, offer to post the decorations on residents' doorways yourself or with the children.
- Gather the arts and crafts materials you will use to make the decorations. If you are making the decorations in your regular meeting place with your group, pre-set work tables with arts and crafts materials. If you are visiting a residential facility, pack up the materials to bring with you, including hand sanitizer.
- If you are taking your group to a residential facility, make sure the date and time are convenient for your co-leader as well as participants and their families. Secure parental permission using the form provided by your religious education director. Arrange adequate supervision and transportation for all children. As needed, ask parents and other congregants to help.
- Before your visit, let your contact at the residential facility know how many adults and children are coming, and their names.
- When you arrive at the residential facility, locate restrooms children may use. Before the children meet residents, have them wash with hand sanitizer.
Description of Activity
This activity brings decorations to the doorways of people in a residential setting. It is a short-term project if the children make the decorations for you or another adult to bring to the residential facility. It can be a long-term project if they visit the facility to bring the decorations and meet with residents or to join with residents to make decorations on-site at the facility.
Tell the children that they will create artwork to decorate the threshold of someone who lives not in a family home, but in a different kind of home. Explain that sometimes when people need special help or medicine every day, they share a home with others who have the same kinds of needs. At this kind of home, helpers such as doctors, nurses, and others are there all day and all night. Invite children to raise their hands if they know anyone who lives in a nursing home, assisted living home, or other group home. If no one has an example, offer an example from your own knowledge or experience.
Guide a discussion to explore ways a residential facility is like, and unlike, a family home. Some children may be familiar with residential facilities. You may correct any gross misinformation a child may offer, but do allow participants to speculate what it might be like to live in a residential facility. Use these questions to prompt discussion:
- With whom do you normally eat dinner? How many people sit down together? Do you all eat the same food for dinner?
- If someone lives in a residential facility instead of a family home, with whom might they eat dinner? Would everyone eat the same thing for dinner?
- Where do you sleep? Do you share a bedroom with someone in your family?
- Where do people sleep in a residential facility?
- What else do you know/wonder about living in a residential facility?
- What do you think would be nice about living in a residential facility? What do you think may be better about living in a family home?
Introduce the idea that by making threshold decorations for someone who lives in a residential facility, children can bring the gift of attention and beauty to the residents' home, much as the boy did for his family in the story The Magic Vase.
If the children will not be visiting a facility, the discussion about a residential facility can take place while they are creating the decorations. While the children work, visit them individually, ask about their creations, and tell them how their artwork will add beauty and warmth to the threshold of a resident's room.
If you have arranged to bring the group to make decorations on-site at a residential facility, prepare the children for meeting residents. Explain that some residents may have difficulty hearing, seeing, or speaking, and that some may be seated in wheelchairs or use canes to help them walk. Tell the children they may need to say their names more than once or to walk slowly if they are walking with one of the residents. Encourage participants to be ready to tell residents that the Creating Home group is learning about how special the threshold is in a home.
Distribute permission forms and complete any other logistical preparations for the visit.
Including All Participants
You may have children in your group who live now, or have lived, in foster care, in a half-way house, or in a residential facility. In your discussion, be careful to avoid assumptions that all children always do, or all should, live in family homes.