Special September

I hope when you read this, we are having some late summer sunshine! The schools will be back, summer holidays over and harvest festivals being prepared. Now is the time to enjoy the last of the summer flowers in the garden and look forward to some autumnal activities!

It will have been a very long time since your residents left school and there will be a mix of memories, so this is a great topic for reminiscing. Try chatting about the old playground games. Bring in a rope and let them turn one end each, while remembering old skipping rhymes such as, “My mother said, I never should, play with the gypsies in the wood. If I did, she would say, ‘Naughty girl to disobey!'”

Remember how you were picked for games? ‘One potato, two potato, three potato, four.’
(Try and avoid ‘eeny meeny miny mo’, as this is far from PC these days!)

Talk about marbles, satchels, school milk, conkers, times tables, school dinners and friendships.

Here is an old playground clapping rhyme: ‘There was an old man named Michael Finnegan, He grew whiskers on his chinegan, The wind came out and blew them in again, Poor old Michael Finnegan, begin again!’

And many will remember singing this before eating their dinner: ‘Thank you for the world so sweet, thank you for the food we eat, thank you for the birds that sing, thank you God for everything.’

There is also a series of lovely stories on The Daily Sparkle website, written for the February ‘School Days’ competition, featuring amazing and varied memories from so many residents’ school days. You can see the winners here and the runners up here. Perhaps you could read these out in a group and see which ones resonate, or get residents to share their own memories.

This is on Saturday 14th September and it is a programme many will remember watching, full of patriotic songs and plenty of pomp, ceremony and flag waving. If you can’t watch it, you could always organise your own Last Night of the Proms event. Get out the flags, the bunting, the musical instruments, have a picnic, and either get an appropriate entertainer in, or get yourself the Last Night of the Proms CD to play. Most of all have a great party!

Most harvest festivals happen towards the end of September and into early October. Your local church will be putting on a service, but there is no reason you can’t organise your own. Regardless of whether you are in a rural area or in the middle of the city, everyone has to eat, and this is the time to say thank you to the farmers.

Make a display
You can raid your kitchen for vegetables and fruit, the garden for flowers and greenery and, where possible, ask a farmer for a few stalks of wheat or barley. Make paper flowers, especially sunflowers, to add to your display.

Have a service
Ask the vicar to come in and run a midweek service, or organise your own. Use the famous harvest hymn ‘We Plough The Fields And Scatter’, plus ‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’ and ‘Come Ye Thankful People Come’. Throw in a few poems and the ‘Farmer’s Prayer’ and you are done!

Make a harvest festival soup or a fruit salad. If you are feeling very inspired have a go at making a loaf of bread in the shape of a sheaf of corn – a great activity to do as a group, as everyone can be involved in shaping the different bread elements. Brilliant instructions here.

Have a barn dance
Dress up with cowboy hats and try a bit of country dancing. It can be done seated or with carers pushing wheelchairs. Source traditional music and enjoy!

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you all to remember you are doing an amazing job out there, providing wonderful events and sessions for your residents, and that everything you do is always, always appreciated.

I hope these few ideas give you a bit of inspiration for the month ahead!


Jan Millward has worked in care for the last 14 years, most of which she spent working as an activity coordinator in a home in Dorset with an outstanding CQC rating. She recently made the decision to go freelance and now works at numerous local homes offering activities sessions with a strong focus on reminiscence. She also recently joined The Daily Sparkle team in an essential capacity as an advisor, sharing her activities experiences and working with us to develop and improve our resources.