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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 necessary materials.

Knees were 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" Activity Center!

To 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!

At 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 to them.

Many 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!

Additional photos of the Aging Simulation Centers.

Meeting 1 | Simulation Centers | Meeting 2 | Meeting 3 | Final Meeting

Images © Patricia Knox and The Franklin Institute. All rights are reserved.