Celebration of Living History

3, 4, 5

This lesson is a celebration to culminate this intergenerational project. The students make a final visit to the senior center or retirement home where all the participants gather for a snack and a farewell celebration. Students give their published Living History Books to their senior friends. Each pair of students reads their book aloud to their senior. Back in the classroom, students debrief the entire project through journal entries, reflections, Venn diagrams, etc.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Hour at the Retirement Home One Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learners will:

  • experience a sense of pride in giving time and talent as well as his/her quality work.
  • read his or her “Living History” aloud in a clear, loud voice.
  • express appreciation to his/her senior friend.
  • reflect on the entire project through journaling, Venn diagrams, etc.
  • Optional: flowers for each senior
  • Cookies and punch, enough for all participants
  • Balloons for decorating and an optional poster or banner
Home Connection 

Invite family guests (as well as administrators and school board members) to join the class for this very special occasion. Teach the students in advance how to make a formal introduction.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Discuss the meaning of “community.” The classroom is a community of people who share a place to work and learn. It is important to get along with others in the community, share and abide by rules. The senior center or retirement home is another community. Ask the students to list ways that the seniors form a community. Talk about the larger community that the school, the retirement home and others in the local area form. Ask the students why it is valuable to form relationships with people of different backgrounds, ages and living situations within the larger community.

  2. Prepare the students for their final visit to the retirement home. They should have their completed books with them. Tell the students that on this visit, they will be celebrating a partnership with the senior. Remind students to be respectful and polite at all times. 

  3. Students meet with their senior friends. They read their book to their senior in a clear voice, loud enough to be heard. They will give the book to the senior to keep.

  4. When they have finished reading the book, the students may serve punch and cookies for their friend. They may visit with their senior friend, introduce the senior friend to their friends or other adults. The senior friend may introduce the students to friends as well.

  5. After a time of visiting, they will say their thank-yous and their goodbyes, and return to school.

  6. In the classroom students will share verbally, and in writing, responses and reflections of the entire Living History project (see Assessment below).


Students will be assessed by teacher observation during the celebration at the retirement home. Did the students speak clearly, use manners, follow directions, etc.? They will also be assessed by journal entries and other assessment projects. See Venn Diagram One--Places and Venn Diagram Two--People (Attachments One and Two). See the Living History Reflections, Attachment Three.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will present their senior friend with the Living History book. This farewell visit provides companionship and a further chance for students to bond with a senior. Students and seniors may continue to write letters to each other through the school address. Note: Students should not give out personal addresses or phone numbers without parental permission.

Read about the service-learning project called Nursing Home Visit by Nicholas A. Intermediate School students who were taught using this Celebration of Living History lesson to guide student learning and action.

Ms. Petersen and Ms. Dunlap are teachers at Nicholas A. Intermediate School in Missouri who feel that, “Teaching service is a valuable lesson we must teach our students. Allowing students to be a part of providing services for those in need can teach compassion, empathy, and kindness. Many students may not have the opportunity to participate in services like this at home.”

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.13 Offer examples of community/social capital in school.
      2. Benchmark E.7 Describe why the classroom, school, or neighborhood is a community governed by fundamental democratic principles.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
      3. Benchmark E.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.
    2. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe the process of program evaluation.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      3. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.