Church Champion Story: Reminiscence

Older people laughing together

Author: Jan Coleclough

Faith in Later Life Church Champion Jan, leads the Senior Moments work at Emmanuel Church Leftwich in Cheshire. Here she tells us more about how to plan a Reminiscence programme or feature Reminiscence items in your existing seniors work.

Just about any subject can be used in a reminiscence programme. For example: make do and mend, holidays, leisure time, the best of the 50’s, wedding memories, attic treasures, war time memories, your local town, school memories, families and household tips. You will need to be governed by the age of your seniors. If no one is old enough to remember the war then there is little point reminiscing on it!


Try the local library, museums, charity shops, ebay. There are lots of free downloads available on the internet just search for free reminiscence resources, others are available to purchase. Here are some examples:

If you are using your own book for reminiscence purpose you could take it apart to circulate around the group so all can be engaged in looking at something.  Guests could bring their own objects and photos in to share.

Childhood Pastimes

Objects to look at and try: Whip and top, yo-yo, hopscotch (use masking tape on the floor to create a grid and have a polish tin or stone), jacks, 2 balls, cat’s cradle, cigarette card collection, peg dolls, marbles, ask what used for cricket stumps or football goals, has anyone got a leather football compare with today’s footballs, conkers on strings, paper aeroplane challenge, skipping rope and rhymes, pop gun, hula hoop.

Sweet Shop Memories

Purchase old fashioned sweets such as pear drops, liquorice sticks, for tasters. Market stalls often sell these or a retro sweet shop. Show old adverts like this quality street one:
Download the nestle pack from above.

Leisure Time

Ask in advance if anyone has any memorabilia. For example: old programmes, post cards, samples of embroidery, photographs, records, old knitting patterns, pegged rugs, cross stitch, magazines, old Blue Peter annuals, stamp collections and cigarette cards.

Print out the leisure time prompts to circulate to stimulate memories and to chat about:

Leisure Reminiscence Sport
Leisure Reminiscence TV
Leisure Reminiscence Cinema
Leisure Reminiscence Music and Dance

Timeline Reminiscence Challenge

The challenge is to match 10 inventions in each category to the correct year. It can be done in small groups by circulating the categories, in small groups with all doing the same category at the same time or as a large group taking each category in turn.

Print off the sheets below. Laminate if you want to use again. Cut up and store the 10 cards in an envelope marked with the category, e.g. “On the move”.

You will need a timeline for each category. This can be drawn on a sheet of A3 paper. Coloured sugar paper is nice and bright. The answer sheet provides the dates. Write these dates on the paper with enough room for a card below it.

20th Century Timeline On the Move
20th Century Time Line in the Home
20th Century Timeline Foods
20th Century Timeline Toys
1700s 1800s Timeline Inventions
Timeline Reminiscence Answers

We’re grateful to Jan for sharing her experience with us. Please pray for her and her team as they continue to serve older people in their community. You will find more of their excellent ideas for seniors ministry on the Senior Moments Website.

If there’s something you do in your church or community which is helping people to have faith in later life, we’d love to hear from you!