• Simon O'Donovan

Winter Wonderland

"Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless. " --Terri Guillemets

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."" --Edith Sitwell


Remind members of the day, date, month, season and year.

Ask them to introduce themselves and say what they like, or dislike, about winter.

Have some examples on standby if anyone struggles to answer ...

- Cold weather, frost, snow and ice

- Shorter days, dark mornings and evenings

- Sitting by the fire, wearing socks and jumpers to keep warm

- Stormy weather, gales and rain, umbrellas and wellies

- Writing Christmas cards

- Opening the Advent Calendar

- Putting up the Christmas decorations

- Buying the Christmas tree

- Doing the Christmas shopping

- Making the Christmas cake

- Buying and wrapping presents

- Having a glass of mulled wine or a mince pie

Add to the list.


The season includes the months of December, January and February.

The winter solstice, or shortest day, is 21st December. The hours of day light (in London) are 7 hours, 49 minutes and 43 seconds. This is 8 hours, 48 minutes and 37 seconds shorter than the summer solstice (on 20th June in 2020).

The worst winters in the UK were:

The 'Big Freeze' in 1962-63. Temperatures fell to -20c across the UK and snow drifts of 6m were experienced across Wales and the South West. The cold weather started in December and lasted pretty much until March.

The 'Winter Of Discontent' in 1978-79. A blizzard hit on New Year's Eve and caused widespread disruption to transport and power. This was also the winter of widespread strikes in the public sector, hence the impact was greater with many without heating, and sometimes lighting.

(James Callaghan was Prime Minister at the time.)

Ask members if they remember the power cuts and ask how they filled the time without TV. Radio was often okay, as many sets were battery powered. Candles were often in short supply. As was food, as many distribution centres were affected by the strikes.

Who remembers having a bath or getting dressed in front of the fire?

Did anyone have an outside toilet?

1981-82 was pretty bad, when the South West and Midlands had drifts of up to 23ft. The cold lasted throughout December and January.

The most recent cold snap was in 2009-10. Most of the UK suffered very cold temperatures, as low as -17c, with snow and ice not melting for several weeks. 1,000 motorists were trapped on the A3 in Hampshire from January 5th-6th and water and electricity supplies were disrupted.

Discuss with members who likes the snow? Who remembers tobogganing, having a snowball fight and making a snowman?

Who had a duffle coat or a parka? What about mittens on a string across your arms?

What about bobble hats and scarves. Has anyone started wearing their's yet?

We all agreed that as long as you have warmth, food and company then snow and ice outside can be nice to look at. But when you have to venture outside, for work or other commitments, then things can get a bit tricky.


What is the coldest day on record in the UK? (Nearest guess) - MINUS 27.2C - RECORDED TWICE (IN BRAEMAR ON 10TH JANUARY 1982 AND IN ALTNAHARRA ON 30TH DECEMBER 1995)

A foot of snow when it melts produces how many inches of water? - ONLY ONE INCH

How much can the Police fine you for driving with snow on your roof or windscreen? - £60

Where does snow have to fall for there to be an official declaration of a white Christmas? - THE MET OFFICE IN LONDON

Which carol includes the line: "When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even?" - GOOD KING WENCESLAS

Which song begins with these lines: "Sleigh bells ring: are you listening? Down the lane, snow is glistening."? - WINTER WONDERLAND

Who had a hit with Ice Ice Baby? - VANILLA ICE

From which play does the line "Now is the winter of our discontent" come? - RICHARD THE THIRD

'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents!' is the opening line of what classic novel? - LITTLE WOMEN

Where is the land of talking animals and mythical creatures that one White Witch has ruled for 100 years of deep winter? - NARNIA (THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE)

In Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol', which four ghosts visited Ebenezer Scrooge? - JACOB MARLEY AND THE GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST, PRESENT AND YET TO COME

Which dog is rumoured to carry a barrel of brandy around it's neck to revive avalanche victims? - SAINT BERNARD

Which Caribbean country entered a bobsleigh team in the 1988 Winter Olympics? - JAMAICA

(There was a 1993 film about this, entitled 'Cool Runnings')

Who was men's figure skating gold medallist at the 1976 Winter Olympics? - JOHN CURRY

In the 1980s which British Couple dominated the world of Ice Dancing? - JAYNE TORVILL & CHRISTOPHER DEAN

Which piece of music did they dance to when they won the gold medal at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics in 1984? - RAVELL'S BOLERO

Which UK finished last, but was the first ever to ski jump, in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary? - EDDIE ('THE EAGLE') EDWARDS

Which zodiac sign runs from November 22 to December 21? - SAGGITARIUS

What is a (fairly) common name for people born on Christmas Day? - NOEL

Can anyone name some famous Noels?





Which sweet was first advertised 30 years ago by a polar bear? - FOXES GLACIER MINTS


When was the first Christmas Card sent? - 1843 (By John Calcott. He printed and sent it to his friend Sir Henry Cole, the man who gave him the idea.) How many Christmas cards get sent every year in the UK? - 900 MILLION, THAT'S 16 CARDS EACH

Which country has given a Christmas Tree to Trafalgar Square each year since 1947? - NORWAY (in gratitude for the role of Britain in preserving Norwegian liberty during the Second World War)

What year did Queen Elizabeth II deliver her first 'televised Christmas message to the nation'? - 1952 What time is The Queen's Speech broadcast each year? - USUALLY 3PM

IDIOMS Complete the following phrases with members ...

- The north wind doth blow and WE SHALL HAVE SNOW (An old saying) - Jack Frost nipping at your NOSE (Cold outside) - Blanket of SNOW (Freshly fallen, deep covering of snow) - Dead of WINTER (Midwinter)

- Not a snowball’s chance in HELL (No chance) - Cold hands, warm HEART (A nice person, underneath the frosty exterior) - A cold SNAP (A sudden and brief period of cold weather) - As pure as the driven SNOW (Innocent, virtuous, flawless) - Cold comfort (Not much of a comfort, an insufficient consolation) - In the cold light of DAY (A time and place from which problems can be objectively considered) - In cold BLOOD (Ruthlessly) - Left out in the COLD (Neglected) - On thin ICE (In an unstable or risky situation) - Snowball EFFECT (An escalating process, something that starts off small but grows very quickly as it picks up momentum) - The tip of the ICEBERG (The small detectable part of a much larger and hidden problem) - Add fuel to the FIRE (Intensify a conflict, make a bad situation worse) - Snowed UNDER (Overloaded with work) - Break out in a cold SWEAT (Sweat due to fear or anxiety) - Break the ICE (Do or say something to relieve the tension) - Send shivers down your SPINE (Suddenly become afraid) - Freeze UP (Find yourself unable to do/say anything because of panic) - Get cold FEET (Lose your nerve) - Give someone the cold SHOULDER (Snub someone or be intentionally unfriendly) - Go cold TURKEY (Abruptly and completely give something up) - Blow hot and COLD (Feel suddenly shocked or scared) - Pour/throw cold water on SOMETHING (Discourage or put a stop to something) - Put something on ICE (Put something aside for the moment, delay something) - Under the WEATHER (Unwell or in low spirits) - When hell freezes OVER (Never)


The north wind doth blow, And we shall have snow, And what will poor Robin do then? Poor thing. He’ll sit in a barn, And keep himself warm, And hide his head under his wing, Poor thing.

I’m a little snowman, short and fat, Here’s my scarf! And here’s my hat! When I see the snowflakes, hear me shout! All you children, please come out!

Here we go round the mulberry bush, The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush. Here we go round the mulberry bush, On a cold and frosty morning! Doctor Foster went to Gloucester In a shower of rain; He stepped in a puddle Right up to his middle And never went there again

It's raining, it's pouring. The old man is snoring. He bumped his head and went to bed And he couldn't get up in the morning.

Rain, rain go away Come again another day. Rain, rain go away Little Johnny wants to play.

Spring is showery, flowery, bowery Summer - hoppy, croppy, poppy, Autumn - wheezy, sneezy, freezy, Winter - slippy, drippy, nippy.


Spotify Playlist here:

O Christmas Tree - Traditional

Ask members how they like to decorate their Christmas tree? Do they put and angel or robin on top?

What about baubles and glitter? Any Christmas lights?

What about putting the presents under the tree? Or a Christmas stocking?

Who does what? Has anyone finished their preparations yet?

December, 1963 - Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Who composed 'The Four Seasons'? - ANTONIO VIVALDI

Go around the room and ask members which is their favourite season and why?

It May Be Winter Outside (But In My Heart It's Spring) - Love Unlimited

When does (meteorological) Spring start? - 1ST MARCH

Baby It's Cold Outside - Tom Jones & Cerys Mathews

What is the freezing point of water? 0 DEGREES CELSIUS OR 32 DEGREES FARENHEIT

Northern Lights -Renaissance

What is the proper name for the Northern Lights? - AURORA BOREALIS

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow - Dean Martin

Who remembers having a coal fire? What were the required accoutrements? - COALMAN, COAL CELLAR, SCUTTLE, SHOVEL, TONGS, BRUSH, NEWSPAPER (TO DRAW THE FIRE), MATCHES (TO START IT)

Snow - Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye & Peggy Lee Featuring Trudy Stephens

What 1954 Christmas film did this song come from? - WHITE CHRISTMAS


Rainy Days And Mondays - The Carpenters

(Nearest guess) What are the average annual days of precipitation in the UK (from 1981-2010)? - 133 DAYS OF RAIN OR SNOW

And the annual average precipitation? - 33.7 INCHES

California Dreamin' - The Mamas And Papas

Who was the lead singer with 'The Mamas And Papas'? - MAMA CASS

How old was she when she died in July 1974? - 32 (SHE DIED OF A HEART ATTACK)

Heigh-Ho - The Dwarf Chorus

What 1937 film did this song feature on? - SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS


A Winter's Tale - David Essex

Can anyone think of any other David Essex hits? - ROCK ON (1973 - REACHED NUMBER 3 IN THE UK CHARTS), GONNA MAKE YOU A STAR (1974 - NUMBER 1), HOLD ME CLOSE (1975 - NUMBER 1), OH WHAT A CIRCUS (1978 - NUMBER 3)

What musical did this last song come from? - EVITA, WHERE DAVID ESSEX PLAYED CHE GUEVARA

Stormy Weather - Billie Holiday

What was Billie Holiday's nickname? - LADY DAY

Which US singer song-writer starred in the 1972 movie about her life 'Lady Sings The Blues'? - DIANA ROSS

Have You Ever Seen The Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival

What would members do to keep themselves warm and dry? Go around the room ...

- Macintosh

- Overcoat

- Wellington boots

- Thick socks

- Thermal underwear

- Hat

- Scarf

- Gloves

- Umbrella

- Stay indoors

Riders On The Storm - The Doors

Who was the lead singer with 'The Doors'? - JIM MORRISON

Here Comes The Rain Again - Annie Lennox

Who paired with Annie Lennox to form 'The Eurythmics'? - DAVE STEWART

Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush

Who wrote the novel 'Wuthering Heights'? - EMILY BRONTE IN 1847

Right, time to list some winter weathers ... Go around the room and ask members to come up with their own list.

- Drizzle

- Mist

- Fog

- Rain

- Hail

- Frost

- Freezing rain

- Sleet

- Snow

- Wind

- Gales

- Blizzard

- Floods

A Hazy Shade Of Winter - Simon & Garfunkel

What was their only UK number 1, in 1970? - BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER

Winter Wonderland - Darlene Love

Which best selling Christmas album did this song feature on? - A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR YOU BY PHIL SPECTOR

The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

Does anyone know the words to the nursery rhyme 'Old King Cole'?

"Old King Cole was a merry old soul, And a merry old soul was he; He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl, And he called for his fiddlers three. Every fiddler he had a fiddle, And a very fine fiddle had he; Oh there's none so rare, as can compare, With King Cole and his fiddlers three."

To finish, ask members to choose one or two carols to sing, from Classic FM's 2018 'The Nation's Favourite Carols' ...

(They are all included in the Spotify Playlist)

10. Joy To The World

9. Once In Royal David's City

8. Carol Of The Bells

7. O Little Town Of Bethlehem

6. In The Bleak Midwinter (Harold Darke version)

5. O Come All Ye Faithful

4. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

3. In The Bleak Midwinter (Gustav Holst version)

2. Silent Night

1. O Holy Night


Make snowflakes with an origami technique - see YouTube video for an example.

Decorate them with coloured pens, glitter and whatever else is available.

Make a snowflake chain.

Decorate some gingerbread men with different coloured icing sugar. Kits are available in most superstores.


Have some mince pies and mulled wine on stand by.

Eat the gingerbread men, if you have managed to make any.


About Me

Simon O’Donovan MBE has worked in NHS Wales for most of his adult life, supporting people with dementia, their carers and families and developing and improving services to benefit this client group. 

He recently retired from working as a Community Mental Health Nurse within a Young Onset Dementia Service and continues to contribute to weekly CST 'Friendship Group' sessions as a volunteer co-facilitator.


He has been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive tried and tested activities resources, with the ultimate aim of providing an 'off the shelf' resource library of weekly themed CST sessions which can be used on rotation throughout the year. 


The main aim of this website is to share experience and resources freely, in order that others can dip in and out and use some or all of the materials provided in their own CST work. Thus it is hoped, facilitating and supporting the provision of uplifting and enjoyable sessions that optimise people with dementia's quality of life.

This site is not owned by or affiliated to any organisation. It’s a personal commitment, a not for profit exchange of ideas and a resource library which aims to enable more widespread use of CST approaches for people with dementia. 

To this end, 'Guest Blogs' are VERY welcome, but bearing in mind that no images of clients are to be used without their express written informed consent.

Please note that some images are reproduced on this blog from the internet under the 'fair use copyright' principle, in that they will only be used for educational purposes with disability groups and in no way will be linked to profit making activities.


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