The best intergenerational activities are those that have an inherent appeal to people of all ages. This includes things like eating, visiting interesting places, talking, and dancing. Singing is another medium that works great for intergenerational engagement.
The “sing down” activity brings young people and adults together in a family/community fun kind of way as they share their favorite songs with one another. It is also a competition insofar as all participants are broken into 4 teams and challenged to come up with as many song segments as they can for each of several categories such as “songs that mention a color” and “songs that refer to a season.”
This activity can work with anywhere from 10-100 participants. Ages of participants: 3-4 years and above. [There needs to be one person to run the event (the M.C.), and an assistant.]
Participants will share the songs they know, learn new songs, and gain some insight into the generation-specific trends that have influenced each others lives.
- 4 clip boards and pads of paper
- One large blackboard, white board, or large pad of paper (on easel)
- Prizes. Ideally at least something small for all participants, with something a bit nicer for ¼ of the participants (the winning team).
The sing down activity can be conducted in several ways. Here is how it can work with an multi-generational group, such as at a kinship care retreat.
- Break into 4 teams: This can be done before the activity, e.g., by color coding participants’ name tags, or on the spot at the activity. If there are families involved in the activity, try to keep members of each family on the same team.
- Give each team a clip board and a pad of paper. [Have each team choose a recorder (to write down the names of the songs that each team generates).]
- Begin the “Sing Down” Competition
- The M.C. will shout out a category, e.g., “Songs that mention a color.” Give an example of a song that fits in this category, e.g., “Mary had a little lamb. It’s fleece was WHITE as snow…”
- For about 10 minutes, have each team huddle up and come up with as large a list as possible of songs that team members know that fit into this category. For them to list a song, the one who introduces it needs to teach at least one sentence of the song to other members of the team so the team can sing it together when called upon (see below).
- Then the M.C. starts selecting teams, one at a time to share their songs. If a team repeats a song that has been sung by another team, they have to select another song. Teams continue to be selected to share a new song until they run out of songs. The last team left wins 3 points. The assistant records the points on the front board.
- Repeat for other categories.
- Some possibilities for additional categories of songs:
- Songs that refer to a season.
- Songs that refer to a temperature (e.g., hot, cold, warm, etc.).
- Songs that mention the word “love”.
- Songs that have a color in it.
- Songs with a number in it. [E.g., “One, two, three o’clock rock…”]
- Any other ideas????
To add to the excitement and to emphasize that this is an exercise in teamwork, the M.C. and assistant can give teams “spirit” points (for how loud they sing) and “unity” points (for how they sing together as a group).
by Matt Kaplan, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor, Intergenerational Programs and Aging,
Department of Agricultural and Extension Education.
© The Pennsylvania State University 2007