As cases of the virus become more and more common, our daily routines become more and more uncommon, we are all searching for ways to cope.
Here is a list of simple crafts that you can do in small groups or one on one to help boost morale among your elders as well as provide some mental stimulation.
Please note, I have included links to resources (with permission) where I can, as well as pictures. These are not affiliate links in this article, I’m just trying to provide as much resources as I can. I will be adding more pictures and resources in the coming days as I acquire permission from other sites, so please check back and be patient. Also know that I have linked my Pinterest account under each section that I was unable to get pictures so that you can still get a link to appropriate resources. If you have any projects you would like to share please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add them to this page to share with everyone. We are in this together and we will thrive together!
1. Tissue Paper Roses and Butterflies
We actually did this craft for Valentine’s Day this year and my girls LOVED it! I was able to use things we just had on hand which was even better. This was a great small group and 1 on 1 activity. I added a little pizzazz by spraying our finished flowers with perfume to make them smell good, definitely a hit! Bonus: They can make these for loved ones and you can mail them or leave them outside the door during lockdown for their families to pick up :). They could also make them as a gift for the staff to encourage them.
2. Magazine Collage Crafts
If you have a stash of magazines like I do, this is a great go to craft activity. There are so many ways you can do these activities – a collage of their favorite things, things that make them feel good, cute animals, favorite foods, seasonal, self portrait style, etc. I use these with my memory care group on a weekly bases already, so it was just natural to add this to my 1 on 1 activities after lockdown was implemented. For my memory care group, each has a small binder and each week we make a new page for their book. They then use this book throughout the week to self soothe by looking at positive pictures that they enjoy. I’ve essentially implemented the same activity with my assisted living group, I just don’t have enough binders right now, so we just use construction paper. So far, this has been a very uplifting and comforting activity for them.
3. Painting Crafts
Again, there are many ways you can implement painting activities. This is great for hand eye coordination, use of fine motor skills, as well as cognitive stimulation (following directions, spatial awareness, etc.). Don’t underestimate how cognitive a simple painting activity can be. My favorite (and the elder’s favorite) activity is following along with Tracie Kiernan’s artwork tutorials. Her website is http://www.stepbysteppainting.net and it has just phenomenal tutorials with easy to follow steps and templates for those who are not artistically inclined.
You can also simply tape off some shapes on a canvas and let them go nuts painting whatever colors they like. These simple color block paintings always turn out cute and are very easy. You can also use sponges or a bundle of q-tips for those with fine motor difficulties. I also enjoy buying little painting kits from Dollar Tree and Walmart, sometimes it’s a suncatcher, sometimes a birdhouse, etc. They are cheap and it being a 3D object, tends to be easier for my less able residents. Highly recommend checking these activities out. Please check out my Crafts Pinterest page for more detailed links 🙂 https://www.pinterest.com/lovelaughandbingo/crafts/
4. Color by Number
Another very easy to acquire craft activity. I get a lot of my color by number printables from http://www.tpt.com, just make sure you are filtering by FREE. I have also had good luck finding some on https://www.crayola.com/free-coloring-pages/just-for-fun/color-by-number-coloring-pages/ and via my above linked Pinterest board. This is also a great cognitive and fine motor skill activity. I try to choose activities that are cognitively stimulating as well as fun, especially during such a stressful time. Remember, we want to preserve cognitive ability where we can, but also, relieve stress as much as possible. This is great for relieving stress because it takes some focus and concentration. Our brains can only focus on one thing at a time, so this craft can provide a much needed mental break, they can then mail the pictures to grandchildren or loved ones.
5. Crochet and Knitting
This might be a difficult one to teach if they don’t already know this skill, but if they do, you can bring new focus and inspiration to this craft. My group calls themselves The Happy Stitchers. They make baby blankets to donate to local shelters and hospitals. It’s a simple craft as far as crochet/knitting goes, but it provides meaning and purpose. Providing a positive focus is imperative during a high stress time when our elders are not able to seek comfort from visiting with family or friends.
6. Group Quilt
Similar to the above mentioned activity, but with a twist. Thanks to the magic of fabric glue, your elders don’t need to have any sewing skill at all to participate. I have some scraps of fabric on hand from other crafts, but I also ordered some felt squares (they are so stinking cheap, it’s amazing!) to add some variety. I’ve added some inspiration pins to a quilting board I’ve linked below. The idea is, each elder makes a square and then those that can, help sew them together. This becomes a display piece in our common area. https://www.pinterest.com/lovelaughandbingo/group-quilt-project/
7. Card Making
Great activity for boosting morale and you most likely have the supplies on hand. The supplies I used were : Cardstock, patterned scrapbook paper and stickers I got from Dollar Tree. I’ve included some pictures of ones my residents made below. This is any easy go to activity I keep on hand.
This is a great sensory type of craft, so I find it especially beneficial for my memory care residents. For cost effectiveness I use old egg cartons and disposable cups for our pots. I use simple flower seeds, cheap small flowers from Walmart or Home Depot. I’ve even dug up some small wild flowers in my yard to allow them to replant. I also use a cheap cookie sheet I got from Dollar Tree for them to work on for easy clean up and easy portability. This activity has definitely been a hit, you’d be surprised what a few minutes playing in dirt will do for the mind!
9. Flower Arranging
Similar to the mini gardens, this is a really great sensory/hands on activity. I get my flowers from my yard, our local florist (she gives me the ones that the stems are too short for her to use, call around, you have nothing to lose!) and from our local grocery store. I also use faux flowers from Dollar Tree and we spray them with perfume for some extra fun. I have lots of styrofoam and random containers that we just reuse and redecorate every couple of weeks, so no need to go nuts and spend a bunch of money!
10. Window Sun-catchers
I used contact paper and scraps of tissue paper to keep costs and supplies low. Very easy activity for both memory care and assisted living. Most of my assisted living crew has sent theirs to the grandchildren to decorate their rooms/windows since they are home from school. Please check out the Pinterest link for inspirations! https://www.pinterest.com/lovelaughandbingo/crafts/
I do hope this list gives you some ideas! Please do comment below with your ideas so I can share them with others!