Despite the arctic temperatures of -25 degrees Celsius (plus a windchill too), the kindergarten students and I were eager to bundle up in our warmest clothes and visit our senior citizens at Oakwood Place (the local seniors residence). We had handmade ornaments and cards (created with Microsoft Auto Collage) in tow and a repertoire of songs and poems to perform. Unfortunately a number of students were sick/absent, leaving us small in numbers but BIG in Christmas spirit!
We were warmly welcomed by 15 of the residents and after shedding our many layers of clothing, we introduced ourselves. Immediately the seniors began to make connections to family (it’s a small town after all) and tell some funny stories. “Young lady, did you know your dad used to ride the school bus I drove?” to which my little girl replied, “Was he bad?”
Once we met everyone, we performed the song, “Hello Friends” complete with actions and a welcome poem. The applause was so enthusiastic that we sang a bunch of our daily classroom songs too.
After our little performance, the students handed out our Christmas cards and beaded ornaments that we had made. The seniors had never seen a card created in Auto Collage, which led to a really interesting technology discussion. The students described the Auto Collage process in great detail (“The pictures swirl around and around. It’s really cool.”) which led to more questions about how we use technology. Without any prompting from me, the kids started explaining how we use Skype to talk to classrooms around the world. I filled in the “technical details” and the seniors were fascinated. My kindergarten kids then said, “Why don’t we teach them how to use skype Mrs. Caldwell?”, laying the groundwork for our next visit.
More fun soon followed: tours of the seniors’ apartments, meeting the resident bunny rabbit and feeding him a carrot, hearing all about one elderly gentleman’s matched team of miniature ponies he used to drive, studying the jigsaw puzzle in progress, a mini lesson on making bread and buns (one resident had dough rising), and receiving many yummy Christmas treats.
All too soon it was time to wish our new friends a merry Christmas and say our goodbyes. But before we left to make the cold walk back to school, we received many invitations to return soon for another visit. In January, we hope to visit and bring our tablets. We’ll show the seniors how to play a few app-based games, watch some movies we have made, and skype in our Grade 1 partner class from Hamiota!
The morning was a huge success, and all my students could ask was when they could return for their next visit. What better Christmas learning project could we have engaged in than this one? The warm glow in our hearts stayed with us for the cold walk back and we eagerly await our next experience at Oakwood Place.