By Beth Pinyerd
This is an intergenerational article for families. For we parents, grandparents, let’s spend time with our children and grandchildren in sharing how “summer was in the good old days.” The time you spend with each other will be a time rich in memories and appreciation of each other. Families I am sharing a summer sensory enrichment lesson as your guide. Here goes, let’s dive into the joys of summer!
- Feeling, Touch, Texture:
How did people live and survive day-to-day before air conditioning. In looking at our great grandparents’ and grandparents’ homes, we can see that older homes had higher ceilings. Heat would rise so that families could enjoy the cooler spaces and rooms below. Deep eaves and porches would protect windows from the heat of the sun. Trees were planted around older homes to provide cool shade. Windows were also built opposite of each other to provide a cool cross breeze. Looking at the architecture of older homes in Opelika and Lee County you can see that this pattern was followed. Folks in earlier times also sat out on porches more rocking, swinging, and playing games. Families were a lot more sociable with their neighbors when sitting out on the porch. This writer remembers like yesterday sitting out on our back porch and enjoying the coolness of a summer afternoon rain. We also had electric fans, hand held fans, and attic fans to keep cool. In church I remember that we did not have air conditioning. We kept cool as a fellowship by fanning with cardboard fans. In the South, we use to take afternoon naps to escape the hottest part of the day.
Spring-fed pools to swim in and cool well water poured into big aluminum pans to splash in were other ways to stay cool during the summer. Touching a flower or lawn with early morning dew as well as walking barefoot through this cool grass remind us of appreciation of the touch and feel of summer.
Touching shells bring memories of warm sand between your toes as well as touching a smooth shell bring memories of waves crashing against the beach and shore.
Beach balls and beach pails bring up the memories of the many afternoons at the beach where we played games as well as building sand castles.
The smells of summer are gentle reminders of how delightful this season can be.
The gentle fragrance of honeysuckle, magnolias or gardenias signal that summer has arrived! The smell of suntan lotion floods me with love memories of my grandmother making sure her grandchildren didn’t get sunburn.
Smelling a summer rain, a summer breeze, ocean breeze, newly mowed lawn, or someone cooking or barbecuing, floods us with sensory enrichment and appreciation of summer.
All of us remember and still enjoy the quenching of thirst with fresh squeezed lemonade. The smells of barbecue, fish, hotdogs and other meats has always been a favorite summer pastime. Opelika and Lee County summers bring us fresh tastes of watermelon, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc.
How many of us remember that shelling butterbeans or peas were a family’s responsibility especially during the summer. Shucking corn, canning and freezing vegetables were and still are the tasks to be accomplished during the summer months. I love to ride the country roads in Opelika, Lee County and see the tall cornstalks waving in the very hot breezes of the evening sun. We can remember the good old homemade ice cream full of fresh fruit. Turning the handle on an old fashion ice cream churn was worth the work and wait.
Going out on a summer night, one can hear crickets, cicadas, and can catch the sound of frogs croaking here and there. The sound of lawn mowers and children joyfully playing on a summer evening echo in our memories as well as being heard. As a child I remember we children played outside more. Our parents and grandparents let us play outside more during the summer months.
Play is truly welcome during the summer months after spending many months of structure in a school setting. Play is a child’s work. My grandmother had we cousins to come spend many weeks with her at the family farm. We used our imaginations more as we played house in the shade of the pecan trees.
Taking time to “watch” summer can fill your day. Looking for the glow of fireflies in the evening, watching Hummingbirds getting nectar from a flower or feeder, following the flight of butterflies as they dart here and there can fill your day with enjoyment and observation. In Opelika and Lee County, we have so many beautiful sunsets to enjoy! There are so many parks in our area that offer shade and enjoyment for the old and young alike. We are more than blessed with so many outside family friendly community resources.
Reminders: I am going to remind us again of safety tips again for the young and old. Stay hydrated, stay in cool spots, don’t go out in the very heat of the day, be aware of temperature highs, wear light-colored and loose fitting clothes, protect your eyes, rub on sunscreen and wear hats.
Now let’s all dive in to the joys of summer living! Look, hear, smell, taste, touch and feel what all that summer has to offer! Let’s store up our summer memories to bring up for future cold winter days!
Pinyerd has taught young children in the early childhood classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. She has taught and outreached in the schools in Opelika and Baldwin County. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education as well as a bachelor’s degree in family and child development both from Auburn University. Her husband is the late Carl Pinyerd and she has one son, Gus Pinyerd who has taught her so much about learning. Classroom Observer is here to serve the community in sharing the wonderful teaching programs in our local public schools, private schools, and homeschools. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth, and families. Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures, and events by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org