One of the objectives of this project was that students will
understand that all parts of the body are affected by aging. Young children recognize
the obvious signs such as wrinkling skin and graying hair. Other changes that
are not as noticeable include hearing loss, vision changes, and changes in the
ability to touch, taste, and smell. These changes
can affect the way older people open a pill bottle, walk up and down stairs, or
read the newspaper.
Prior to the second meeting
between the students and their Grandbuddies, teacher-led discussions
focused on some of the physical changes that may occur with aging. The students
were then offered an opportunity to experience what effect some of these physical
changes might have on their daily activities.
Activity Centers were set up around the classroom and parent
volunteers were recruited to help the children as they rotated through the centers.
The hands-on activities were designed to simulate some of the physical challenges
that our Grandbuddies might face on a day-to-day basis. Each center
contained a sheet of instructions for conducting the simulation along with any
wrapped with elastic bandages for the "Stiff
Legs" activity to simulate loss of agility and flexibility. Students
found navigating stairs to be difficult...and painful!
Simple tasks such as tying
a shoe, shuffing cards, or picking up coins were really HARD for students to perform
when they visited the "Butterfingers"
simulate difficulties with feeling and touch, transparent tape was wrapped around
their finger joints. To make matters even more difficult, they had to wear gloves
over the taped fingers!
the "What Color Am I?" center students
donned googles with yellow lenses to simulate the loss of color vision. They attempted
to pick out blue and green candies or crayons from containers of mixed colors.
Headphones helped students simulate partial
hearing loss. The "What
Did You Say?" activity required them to read a book
to a partner and take a Spelling Test with headphones on.
Several of the students observed that it was easier
to "hear" when they could see the face of the person who was reading
older adults have difficulty focusing. "Fuzzy
Eyeballs" took place while wearing goggles whose lenses had been smeared
with petroleum jelly to simulate blurred vision. Students were required to read
a page from a book and put magnetic letters in ABC order while wearing the goggles.
By the end of the afternoon the students had learned a great
deal about how some of their Grandbuddies might feel and what difficulties
they might encounter in their daily living. The teachers learned a valuable lesson
too...more than one volunteer is needed to man each Activity Center!
© Patricia Knox and The Franklin Institute. All rights are reserved.