Residents of nursing homes enjoy expressing their creativity with age appropriate craft projects. Since many residents may already have a fondness for paper crafts, sewing, working with yarn, plants, baking or other hobbies, the crafts presented at a nursing home should represent these activities. Choose activities for the residents that coordinate with an upcoming holiday, season or special occasion. Select activities that express independence, and reinforce hobbies they enjoyed while living at home. This will foster conversations among the nursing home residences, and allow them to reminisce about past experiences related to the craft project.
Cookie Craft Ideas
Make, bake and decorate cookies as a group. A conference or meeting room table can easily be converted into a cookie work station. Have the nursing home kitchen staff mix up a batch of sugar cookie dough. Allow the nursing home residents to roll out the dough using rolling pins.
Distribute cookie cutters with handles to the residents, allowing them to cut out the desired shapes. For Christmas cookies choose Santa Claus and Christmas tree shapes. For Halloween make pumpkins and witches hats. Easter egg shapes, chicks and crosses are appropriate for Easter.
Place the cut out cookies on baking sheets, and allow the kitchen staff to bake them. Provide tubs of colored frosting to decorate the cookies. Allow residents with the most dexterity to frost the cookies, while others can sprinkle course ground colored sugar, sprinkles or small candies on the cookies. Allow the cookies to dry, and place them on a large platter for the residents to enjoy after dinner that day. Also, package small bundles of the cookies for residents to give as gifts to their visitors.
Plant Craft Ideas
At the start of spring, plan a plant craft project. Supply several flats of flowers, potting soil and various sizes of terra cotta plants. Allow some residents to scoop potting soil into the pots, while others carefully place the plants. Work in groups to coordinate various heights of plants together in one pot. Draw on experiences from the residents who have gardened in the past. Decorate the edge of the pots by gluing on decorative stones, pieces of tile or garden figurines.
Allow the most mobile residents to place the plants outside, near the residents windows, at the entrance of the nursing home and in window sills. Create a watering and pruning schedule, so each resident involved in the project has a follow-up responsibility.
Consider planting some herbs, edible fruits and small vegetable plants. Ask the residents to “harvest” such items as strawberries, parsley or grape tomatoes for the kitchen staff to use during meal preparation.
Paper Craft Ideas
Supply a variety of colorful and patterned scrapbook paper for the nursing home residents. Ask them each to bring a favorite photograph or two to the craft session. Make color photo copies of the photos for the residents to use for the craft. Help the residents trim the copied photographs and glue them on colorful paper. Ask each resident to describe the photograph and tell who is in the picture and why they are special. Start a conversation among the residents about family, friends and children.
Write key adjectives and other descriptive information around the photograph, such as “grandchildren, wedding, Christmas at the farm or baking with friends.” Use stickers with fun words to decorate the pages. Create a bulletin board in the nursing home hallway to display the photo crafts. Place a paper heading above the photo projects that says ‘”Our Family, Friends and Memories.”