Activity of the Week

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Make a Model

Last updated: October 29, 2012


When you were a kid you probably made at least one model car or plane, but the selection of models is even better today. You can build the Eiffel tower, a robot that can walk, or a sailboat with working sails. Even someone with limited small-motor coordination can enjoy model making with minimum assistance.

What you'll need:

  • Models can be ordered online or picked up at a local hobby or craft store.
  • Most supplies will come in your model kit.
  • A good work space and lighting make the task easier.
  • A craft magnifier comes in handy.
  • Some type of clamp makes it easy to hold the model in place and work comfortably.

Why it's great:

  • Model making provides hours of building and creating.
  • Model making can be enjoyed at home or can brighten up the day of someone in a care facility.
  • The models you make can become part of a collection or given as a gift.

How to do it:

  • Choose a model. You can

Lampshade Art

Last updated: October 22, 2012


Lampshades are a home staple, but they're also a canvas just waiting for your creativity. This project doesn't take much (if any) cash, but it does give you the opportunity to be artistic. You can cover a lampshade with fabric paints or pens, a favorite scarf or material, black-and-white photos, doilies or handkerchiefs, sea shells or sequins. Or simply write your favorite quotes around the rim; a shade is the perfect place to express yourself.

What you'll need:

  • A variety of art materials -- photos, postcards, doilies, a scarf, leftover material, sea shells, stickers, decals, book pages, ping-pong balls, ribbons, fabric paint, chalk paint, sequins "“ whatever strikes your fancy
  • Fabric glue or a hot/cold glue gun

Why it's great:

  • Caregivers and their loved ones spend most of their time indoors, and "doing up" a lampshade is a small but impressive way to spotlight your style without

Whittling and Wood Carving

Last updated: October 15, 2012


Whittling is something you may remember your grandfather enjoyed. He might have made you a small bird or a wolf's head, and he probably spent many contented hours with a piece of wood and pocketknife in hand.

Now this old-fashioned hobby is back. It's taught at community art and senior centers around the country, and it just might be the perfect activity to offer your dad or granddad hours of pleasure.

What you'll need:

  • A pair of leather, Kevlar, or yardwork gloves (you might have a pair in your garage) A sharp pocket knife (you're more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife because you'll force it) A piece of soft wood, or a bar of soap to practice on
  • If you're serious, there are more sophisticated, easier, and safer supplies you might want to purchase:
    • Palm tools
    • A sharpening stone
    • Sandpaper
    • A leather strop
  • A rocking chair and a porch -- whittling and rocking just seem to

Visiting Small Museums

Last updated: October 08, 2012


When's the last time you did something for the first time? For many caregivers and those they care for, monotony and the endless stream of medical appointments threaten to sap the joy and energy out of any day. So why not strike out and find whatever interesting, odd, quirky, and zany museum is near you? There's something about a collection of the unexpected that will give you a new reason to smile.

What you'll need:

Your car or some other means of transportation is all that's required.

Why it's great:

  • Our brains crave new experiences. That's when our synapses start firing, but we're also creatures of habit -- mostly boring habits. It takes a bit of effort to step out of the routine, but it's worth it. Whenever we're on a new road, figuring out directions, and experiencing something new, we come alive again.

  • Some small museums are weird -- the museum of pig hair, for example -- but

Ice Cream Social

Last updated: October 01, 2012


I scream, you scream, what's better to eat than ice cream? Don't go out to buy a ten-dollar banana split when you can enjoy an ice cream social right at home. Whether indoor or out, whether you've got fancy bowls or paper ones, ice cream and toppings are delicious and easy. You can invite a crowd, create a special atmosphere, or just prop your feet on the coffee table and dig in.

What you'll need:

  • As many ice cream flavors and toppings as you'd like

Why it's great:

  • Gathering to share food is the most natural way for family and friends to get together.
  • Creating an ice cream social creates a festive occasion that can be as simple or as creative as you choose.
  • Kids, teens, parents, and grandparents all love ice cream, and there's a flavor and topping sure to delight all.
  • An ice cream social is an inexpensive gathering with no cooking involved.

How to do it:

  • Consider a theme. Do

Activity of the Week: Handprint Art

Last updated: September 24, 2012


If you're fortunate enough to have a multigenerational family, then why not capture everyone's hands? We've all made handprints, but what makes this special is to see the generations, the sizes, and to capture them in a way that's permanent. There's nothing like seeing the old and the new, the big and the small together, to remind you that you're part of an amazing and growing family.

What you'll need:

  • Fabric paints
  • A paint or foam brush
  • A T-shirt, an apron or solid color canvas bag, or a stepping stone kit from a craft store (think about who the gift is for and what item they might like best)

Why it's great:

  • Handprints are a great way to capture a new baby's print or to commemorate a family reunion.
  • Capturing a handprint doesn't take long. Even if you have several family members to include, you can complete this project in just a few minutes.
  • Kids love to see how much they've gr

Stones for Wise Words

Last updated: September 17, 2012


Most families have a few inspiring quotes or stories they say again and again. Why not capture them in stone? As much as you think you'll remember certain sayings, you might forget. Stones are a great way to capture the wit and wisdom that's unique to your family.

What you'll need:

  • River rock or stones (these can be purchased in bags at craft stores or bought in bulk or by the pound at garden centers)
  • Sharpies in various colors
  • A jar or basket for your collection

Why it's great:

  • Your loved one will feel honored to have his or her wit and wisdom written in stone (literally).
  • Stones are part of collecting your heritage. The sayings will be unique to your family and may reflect your faith, your culture, your humor, and what you all value individually and as a family.
  • Creating and reading these stones will also spark stories. It's a great conversational starter for family gatherings,

How Do I Love You?

Last updated: September 10, 2012


Celebrating a loved one's birthday doesn't necessarily mean you have to buy a gift, but it's important to show how much that person means to you -- and to others. One thoughtful way to celebrate is to focus on how many years he or she has been around and use this as a catalyst for all sorts of thoughtful and fun ways to commemorate the special person and his or her day.

What you'll need:

  • His or her age
  • A variety of items such as M&M's, marbles and a jar, sea shells, a large card or poster, markers, fabric pens, a video camera, or a collection of photographs. Your items will be determined by what you choose to focus on (read more in How to Do It).

Why it's great:

  • Instead of dreading how many years have passed, this is a way to celebrate that number.
  • It's a visual reminder of a lifetime of not only years but memories.
  • Collecting a large number of something small -- like candies, sh

Thoughtful Downsizing

Last updated: September 03, 2012


Downsizing can kick up all kinds of feelings: To many older adults, it can feel like they have to let go of parts of themselves and their lives. It can also feel freeing. It matters how you approach it. Thoughtful downsizing means creating an atmosphere where items can be cherished, shared, and even told good-bye in a way that brings closure and comfort.

What you'll need:

  • A camera
  • Some boxes you can decorate
  • Labels
  • A cold-glue gun
  • An old picture frame
  • A screen

Why it's great:

  • Clutter can affect how we feel. Too much stuff makes most people start to feel claustrophobic, and holding onto the past (literally) can be painful and block opportunities to make new memories.
  • Sharing our legacy, even if it's a teacup and saucer, a military pin or patch, or a purse, is a way to connect with others in our lives. Vintage items can be given to family members and friends who can enjoy and cheri

Historical Tours

Last updated: August 27, 2012


Ghost tours, historical home tours, small-town history tours, lighthouse tours, and historical reenactments are great ways to lure your loved one out of the house. Most tours have minimal fees, take less than an hour, and can be customized for an older adult's needs.

What you'll need:

  • Transportation
  • Snacks and other items to make a short trip comfortable

Why it's great:

  • You and your loved one may learn things about your hometown that you never knew. It helps you feel connected to the people, landmarks, and events that have occurred in your own neck of the woods.
  • It's a great outing for your mom, dad, spouse, or grandparents. Women might enjoy a historical home tour (check during the holidays), or the man in your life might want to check out a battle reenactment, a fort, or a war monument.
  • You can continue to learn at home by going online and checking archives or old local newspap

About Activity of the Week
  • Wondering how you and a loved one can pass some special time together? Try an idea that's as simple as it is enriching.

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