Memories are Made of This
Stories of homemade lemon meringue pie, reading the Sunday funny papers, listening to the Lawrence Welk show on the radio, or spotting Burma Shave signs from the family Buick during trips on America's
roads and highways are just some of the memories many elders can identify with and recall with fondness.
These are just a few of the topics from the list of programs I completed this summer during weekly storytelling sessions for folks at three adult living and memory care sites in Tucson.
The format I created is ideal for people with a variety of abilities and levels of memory impairment.
During each 45 minute program, I share a short personal story from my past and provide related artifacts for the residents to hold and examine.
Each item is selected to relate to and reinforce the personal story. To complete the session, I include some folktales to complement the overall idea or theme established by the personal story.
Many of the residents at all three facilities are waiting and ready to listen when I arrive, and some ask me when I plan to return when a story session is over.
After several weeks, I noticed that more folks in each audience are willing to ask a question or make a comment.
On occasion, someone will spontaneously share a memory story once I've finished a story or passed around an artifact. I love this!
When I agreed to develop a storytelling program for older folks in residential settings, I hoped to meet the following personal goals.
1. Provide an interesting language-based program for an audience of seniors
2. Stimulate memory recall
3. Encourage individual participation
4. Listen intently to each person
5. Enrich a quality of life for each participating resident
As near as I can tell, I have accomplished what I set out to do!
If you want me to provide a program similar to this at an adult living and memory care facility,
please contact me for more information.
Integrating the Arts to Learning
It's exciting to see integration of the arts to learning take off in schools across the country. This growing interest seems to be driven by dedicated teachers seeking creative ways to incorporate educational learning standards and core concepts in lesson plans.
By including the arts in projects for specific areas of study, teachers see their students responding with new interest and energy as they solve problems and actively participate in the learning process.
I have found that projects in science, math and social studies are particularly appropriate for arts integration.
Student involvement remains high when teachers give kids more opportunities to actively participate in what they are learning, and I am convinced art is the key.
When artistic expression is included in the mix, students in all grades are enthusiastic about doing research, writing about a subject and finally creating meaningful art to express and share what they have discovered.
The beauty of all this is the way reading, writing, history, geography and different forms of communication come into play.
When the arts are combined with learning, students take ownership in what they are doing and the educational benefits are long - lasting.
On several occasions, I have been an artist-in-residence in grade schools for projects incorporating storytelling and social studies.
In these endeavors, the students research historical figures, write biographical narratives, create original art (drawing, sculpture, mural or collage) and share their new knowledge with others.
Different presentation options are available, and the students have fun deciding if they want to do a story, a play or a digital production.
I hope the trend of integrating the arts to learning continues. I can't think of a better way to involve young people in education.