Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge teaches to Honor Senior Citizens, Connect Generations, and Remember!
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Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge teaches to Honor Senior Citizens, Connect Generations, and Remember!

Book Title: Wilfrid Gordon Mcdonald Partridge

Author: Mem Fox


Book Summary:

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is a small boy who has a big name - and that's why he likes Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, because she has too. So when he finds Miss Nancy has lost her memory, Wilfrid determines to discover what memories are so he can find it for her. This is a perennial classic, perfect for reading aloud.

Enduring Understandings:

  • Sharing our memories with others is one way to ensure that our memories will live on. 
  • By sharing our memories with others, we form new memories. 
  • Honor those who are older than we and remember those generations who came before us.

Essential Questions:

  1. What is a memory? 
  2. How can our memories live on? 
  3. How can we best demonstrate the value of kibud zekaynim, honoring senior citizens?

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

Jewish tradition regards honoring and respecting senior citizens, kibud zekaynim, as a value that reminds us to learn from those who have come before us. The earliest discussion of honoring the aged derives from Leviticus 19:32 which instructs, “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old; you shall revere [fear?] your God, I am the Eternal.” The implications of this instruction are clear: recognition and demonstration of respect for age and life experience.

The Torah has numerous references to support senior citizens, especially in regards to their experience and wisdom. Of note are references to the seventy elders who accompanied Moses during his journey to the top of Mt. Sinai, and who were consultants and advisors to Moses and the Israelites during their time in the desert. These “elders” had experience and wisdom to help the people make progress (Numbers 11:16)

Judaism also emphasizes that tradition that is handed down from one generation to the next. The Talmudic section Pirkei Avot begins by telling us that Moses – after receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai – transmitted its teachings to Joshua, and from Joshua to the elders, the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Great Assembly. We constantly remember the wisdom of our preceding generations with which our entire way of life is based.

What is clear from Judaism is that sharing our experiences helps us learn from each other and grow. When we honor senior citizens, they too, will honor us. In turn, when we learn from the elderly, they too, will learn from us.

Questions for Reflection

  1. How can we make sure our own memories live on? 
  2. What memories senior citizens have shared with you impacted you most? 
  3. What are ways in which we can reach out to senior citizens to show that we honor them? 
  4. How can you incorporate and teach the value of kibud zekaynim in the classroom?

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Create a “Memorable Moments” bulletin board, encouraging students to spontaneously contribute their words, pictures and illustrations of meaningful moments they wish to remember in their classroom. Periodically reflect over the memorable moments, exploring students personal memories of the experience, the feelings attached to those memories and how those moments were shared. At the end of the year, photograph the board and give each student an image to take with them that represents their memories. Consider making this image into a “Memory Postcard” so that the image is on one side and the teacher’s personal note to the student is on the other.

Materials and resourcesmore


Copy of Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge


Music Video “L’dor Vador ” © 2006 Josh Nelson Music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnEgGlrU_i0

Sharing The Storymore

Introducing The story

Bring several objects to class that represent special memories to you. Place them together in an area and ask students what these objects might have in common. Then explain that each represents a special “memory,” something from your life that you will remember. Describe the memories that each represents using the criteria of memories described to Wilfrid Gordon in the book (e.g., “something warm,” “something from long ago,” “something that makes you cry,” “something that makes you laugh,” “something as precious as gold”).

In groups, have students discuss what the word “memory” means to them and then put their ideas together to create a class definition. Copy this definition and keep for future reference.

Reading The Story

Share the cover, read the title, and let students make predictions as to what the book might be about. Explain that it is a book about memories and a little boy with four names! Ask students if any of them have four names - or more! If so, have them share their names.

Read the book aloud, stopping to ask the following questions and allowing students to share their own questions and reflections:

  • How does each person in the story describe a memory to Wilfrid?
  • Why did Wilfrid go to so much trouble to collect memories?
  • What did Wilfrid learn about memories and how did he use that to help Miss Nancy?

After The Story

Discuss the mitzvah Honoring Senior Citizens-Kibbud Zekaynim. The Torah regards living a long life and dying old to be a blessing and a reward for observing the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents, having respect for living creatures, and conducting business ethically (Leviticus 19:32). The activities listed below are designed to help change attitudes and bring generations together in mutual respect, appreciation, and benefit. Through interviews and talking with seniors, students will learn about history and life lessons. Just as Wilfrid Gordon did, through interactions with seniors, students can learn to value the spirit and contributions of a generation that came before. For a list of assisted living facilities in your area, contact your local Jewish Federation.

Involve students in an intergenerational learning project:

  • Visit a local senior center. If that isn’t possible, explore your options that will give students an opportunity to interact with our seniors in some way: inquire whether residents of a local senior center can visit your classroom (many senior centers take residents on expeditions regularly and a visit to your school might be appropriate); use video conferencing to allow students to communicate with the center’s population.
  • Pair students with a senior “buddy,” suggest to students that they begin their relationship by sharing the story Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge or what they learned from the story and then asking their new buddy “What is a Memory?” Collect answers to create a collage or class explanation of the varied answers that the senior buddies supply. 
  • During their visits, students and their buddies can work on a project together (e.g., making jewelry with beads, taking pictures, learning how to knit, making paper kites, storytelling, etc.). Photograph these ventures and create a class scrapbook complete with name and activity descriptions so that they memories will be preserved. 
  • Become pen pals by having students send brief letters, postcards, e-cards, emails, or pictures to let their buddies know they are thinking of them.
  • Hold an annual “career day” at a local senior citizen center. Senior residents can share highlights of their careers with the children as well as pictures and artifacts.

Once students have had the opportunity to get to know their senior buddies, involve them in a conversation in class to identify similarities and differences between themselves and their senior buddies.
  • What is something you and your senior buddy have in common?
  • What will you remember most about this person?
  • What do you hope your buddy will remember most about you?
  • In what way did your visit(s) reflect the value, Kibud Zekaynim, honoring senior citizens?


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Special Shabbat Guests
Enjoy Shabbat with grandparents! Invite a different grandparent, great-grandparent (or older family member/friend) to visit the classroom to visit the classroom to celebrate Shabbat. Ask him/her to share a favorite hobby, read a book, or make a favorite recipe (be sure they let you know what materials/ingredients you need to collect in advance.) Alternatively, video chat relatives or friends who live too far away to visit.

Interview the Shabbat guests. Brainstorm questions in advance, such as the following:

  • Where were you born?
  • Where did you live when you were growing up? What did you like best about this place?
  • When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you do this as an adult?
  • What is a favorite memory you have from when you were my age?
  • What is a favorite quote of yours that helped you in life?
  • What do you think was the most important thing that happened in the world since you were born?

Family Album
Read aloud the picture book Aunt Claire’s Yellow Beehive Hair by Deborah Blumenthal, which focuses on a young child who discovers her connection to family, past and present through family pictures and through stories told to her by family members. Along with your students and their extended family, collect photographs as well as other memorabilia and create a family album. Encourage students to create a slideshow of photographs that they can share with their community to help share their family memories and histories. Invites students to put the slideshow to music and give it as a gift to family members.

Note to My Future Self
Ask students to write a letter to their future selves, explaining what they know now about the importance of honoring senior citizens, remembering and connecting generations. Provide a variety of prompts to help students focus their letters, including (but not limited to):
  • The kind of parent I hope I’ll be will…
  • The kind of grandparent I hope I’ll be will…
  • I hope that one day I will learn more and then can share what I know about…with people younger than me.
  • Three things that I want my older self to know about my younger self are… 
  • One day, when I’m grown up, I’ll share my…with other children. 

Music Connectionsmore

List of All Songs

L’dor Vador

By Josh Nelson


Have students watch music video of “L’dor Vador” by Josh Nelson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnEgGlrU_i0

Discuss the meaning of the lyrics and the impact of each generation on generations to come by talking about ways their own parents and grandparents have affected their lives and the lives of others.
After several viewings, ask students to join in singing. This song can be presented to parents, grandparents or the school at a communal celebration.


We are gifts and we are blessings, we are history in song
We are hope and we are healing, we are learning to be strong
We are words and we are stories, we are pictures of the past
We are carriers of wisdom, not the first and not the last


L dor Vador nagid godlecha (From generation to generation, we will tell of Your greatness)
L dor Vador... we protect this chain
From generation to generation
L dor Vador, these lips will praise Your name

Looking back on the journey that we carry in our heart
From the shadow of the mountain to the waters that would part
We are blessed and we are holy, we are children of Your way
And the words that bring us meaning, we will have the strength to say


L dor Vador…

Additional Music Connections

Evidence of Learningmore

Students articulate the benefits of maintaining intergenerational relationships.
Students can share memories of their own and thoughtfully listen to the memories’ of others with patience and empathy, finding similarities and differences.


Parent Memoir:
Send a note home inviting parents to think about their own childhood memories, asking them to write a brief memoir of something special that happened in their life while they were growing up. Suggest a story starter life: Once Upon a Time in ______. They can add photographs and share keepsakes, if possible. Once edited, ask them to share it with their child. Invite parents and children to share their family history in the classroom, as appropriate.

literature connectionsmore

TitleAuthorIllustratorBook Summary
Chicken Soup by Heart Ester HershenhornRosanne LitzingerA story of friendship and the power of chicken soup! With his mother’s help, Rudie prepares chicken soup for his babysitter, Mrs. Gittel, using Mrs. Gittel’s secret ingredient: sweet memories of their friendship!
Mrs. Katz and Tush Patricia PolaccoPatricia PolaccoA story of an intergenerational friendship between an elderly Jewish woman and her neighbor, a young African-American boy. On their visits together, they talk about many things. They share food, holidays (including a Passover Seder), as well as the history of their people who have faced both discrimination and slavery.
Remember That Leslea Newman When Bubbe comes to live with her family, she passes on traditions and life-lessons to her granddaughter. Every time she shares another valuable piece of wisdom, she tells her granddaughter to “Remember That
The Hundred Penny Box Sharon Bell Mathis Aunt Dew is a hundred years old and her great-great nephew, Michael, liked to play the (hundred-penny game) with her in which she relates something significant from each year of her life. Michael’s sensitivity to his great-great aunt causes him to stand up for her when his mother wants to discard his aunt’s old box (which is symbolic of her life).
The Memory Box Mary BahrDavid CunninghamZach’s latest summer vacation with his grandparents is the beginning of a memory box because he learns his grandfather has Alzheimer’s disease. The box gets filled with keepsakes and mementos of the past adventures the two of them shared. Zach learns about Alzheimer’s disease and cherishes their memory box because he will share the contents with his grandfather the next summer he visits.
Aunt Claire's Yellow Beehive Hair Deborah BlumenthalMary GrandpreAnnie sees old, faded photographs on her grandmother’s mantel and she yearns to learn more about her family and her past. On a rainy day Annie gets her wish as her grandmother and aunt go through the house looking for items and memorabilia that belonged to the people in the pictures. She learns about the uniqueness of each member as they are brought to life through memorabilia and stories.
The Keeping Quilt Patricia Polacco The concepts of Jewish heritage and family history are interwoven throughout the fabric of the text and symbolized in a quilt, which was crafted by Anna’s great grandmother when she immigrated to America. The beautiful quilt symbolizes faith, love, endurance, family traditions, and security as it is passed along for four generations, and the quilt serves a different purpose in each generation.
Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs Tomie dePaola Every week Tommy visits with his grandmother and his 94-year-old great-grandmother, who lives upstairs. Tommy dearly loves both his grandmothers. He visits his great-grandmother upstairs and shares his mints. After his great-grandmother dies, Tommy deals with her death and learns that dying is not a scary thing.
* PJ library Books