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Craft Ideas for Nursing Home Patients

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Finding crafts that nursing home patients will enjoy making can be a daunting task. This is a page about craft ideas for nursing home patients.


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There are so many small craft projects, with assistance that the elderly, handicapped and disabled can do! My most important suggestion is not to involve them in a lengthy project, but one they can accomplish in a short time frame.

Here are a few ideas, but use your imagination as there are a lot of brilliant members on Thrifty Fun!

I guarantee these projects will be a hit and very rewarding, both ways! Their motor skills and abilities may be impaired but, with your help, the possibilities are limitless! Please add your own creative ideas to this! Thank you!


By Missy MM from OH

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June 27, 20121 found this helpful
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I like these ideas and I intend trying them with the special Needs group I help at. A couple of weeks ago we had a "pottery painting evening". I cast models using rubber moulds and plaster of paris. We had dogs, cats, owls, (soccer) footballers, (British) policemen, lions, rabbits and crinoline ladies. It was an eye-opener seeing what colours the members chose for their models, bright purple and pink cats, orange dogs, a two colour crinoline lady! But they were thrilled, they had done it themselves and they each had a souvenir to take home wrapped in kitchen towel!

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March 2, 2011

Make hoops of color hung on fish line in groups by the craft room, in the windows like stained glass windows, or in the hallway to the day room.


Approximate Time: two sessions about 30 minutes each or as long as it takes.



  1. Show a finished hoop to your group or the individual. Hang one in the window of the day room or art room before you start.

  2. Stretch synthetic or silk in the hoop. Let the resident(s) help you. Trim edges to one inch and again later when done.

  3. Give your group sponges and water bowls. Let them handle the sponges.

  4. Talk about what colors they like and suggest a theme (sky, rivers, forest, mountains, etc.)

  5. Use little cups of diluted colors for project, but use only one at a time near the artist.

  6. Guide success. In my picture, a river ran across the hoop. We used several blues. We had juice while the river dried and then we decided what to add. We added sky and clouds (more blue and some white on top). (new sponge) We added trees along the river.

  7. The next day we talked about the painting and everyone wanted fish and birds. I had brought in pictures of ponds from a computer and cards (copied) for another project. We got them and the group of ladies now involved in this (8) decided what to add and where to put them.

I left the hoop at the nursing home when it was to be sold and my job eliminated. Best job I ever had. This is just a suggestion. I never thought to make photos of our projects because I loved my job and had no idea the job would end.

By barbara brandt from Ewing, NJ

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April 23, 20130 found this helpful
Top Comment

Sorry about the loss of job, sounds like you were in your element.
I really had to read this through to get some idea of what you were describing, (not easy writing tutorials for sure), but once I did understand, I can see where this would have been a great group project.


These might also be very nice done as fabric art, using extra fabrics, textures etc. (using a good fabric glue) to hang on a wall vs using paints or dyes to hang in a window.

I'm sure the completed hoop-art piece was beautiful.
Wishing you well in your continued career...sounds like you should stay in the physio or occupational therapy business.

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Looking for craft ideas to engage retirement home residents. Here are a few suggestions to engage them in conversation whilst doing crafts.

Van Gogh Sunflowers

Sketch out 12 sunflowers and a vase. Give each person a flower or two to paint in. Discuss the life of Van Gogh and show residents how to paint flowers in Van Gogh style using small brush strokes and dots.

Love Locks

This is a good Valentine's activity. Draw a few locks on cardboard and discuss the Love Locks bridge in Paris with residents. They then paint or colour in the locks and write the names of people or things they love on each lock. Then glue them to the bridge.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

I work at a nursing home as an activities director. I need ideas for new and exciting things I can do with them. Please keep in mind, that not many of them can do anything. Many only have the use of one hand.

I would also like to beg you to get involved in your local home. Many of them don't get visitors and could use friends. If you call ahead, most places will have someone able and ready to go for an ice cream or even church on Sundays. You can help simply by grabbing your pet and/or a book (I like the Chicken Soup books) and just go read to them, or hold a hand, you won't be sorry.

April from Buffalo, NY


By Debbie W. (Guest Post)
August 19, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have been volunteering for over ten years with my children at the local nursing home. We call it Moms, Tots & Pops. My five children range in age from 14 to 4. I set up a date once a month and we have about 20 - 30 people who participate. They love the kids being there and sometimes other moms and kids join in. The following are examples of things we do throughout the year. I try to tie it in with the season. We make suncatchers sometimes out of tissue paper and contact paper, we have also used beads and string, We have made sand designs, painted eggs for Easter, made picture frames, bookmarks, painted small pumpkins, marble painting on card stock to make cards, streamer windsocks in red/white/blue, memory cards, potpouri sachets, yarn dolls, pine cone turkeys, paper airplanes along with making magnet fish to have a game day. We've done garden pot decorating, hand wreaths, turkey pins, turkey pine cones, and a candy pipe cleaner Christmas tree. I hope those suggestions help. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just Google it, it will probably come up with directions and pictures for you.

Have fun and bring your kids/grandkids, neighborhood kids they make it that much more fun for the residents.

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August 20, 20081 found this helpful
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Bless you for your work and for reminding people to get involved as a volunteer at nursing homes!

A couple of decades ago I had a really large, mellow, declawed, twenty-four toed cat that I would take to the senior center a couple times a month and, man, did it ever feel good to see all those faces light up being able to see, pet and hold a pussy cat!

When my time comes to be in a nursing home or retirement community I think it would simply be fun to be a kid again with things like crayons and a coloring books :-) And maybe at Christmas time to even string popcorn garland for the community tree :-) Even those who only have use of one hand can team with someone else and feel job well done :-)

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August 20, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

What about having them do some actual art activities? I am thinking of watercolor painting. If you do not know anything about watercolor, perhaps you could contact an art teacher or artist in the community to show you how to do some projects, or better yet, to volunteer to come into the home. I think this would be a very good activity. Those who are artistic can paint. Those who are less capable can do something abstract that may still turn out very nice. If you want to do something other than make paintings to hang on the wall, you could do small ones and turn them into greeting cards. I would use fairly good quality materials -- the paper is the most important thing. One of the homes that I know of had a professional artist in residence that facilitated art activities rather than crafty things.

One thing that would be nice for people who do like crafty things is to paint on precut wooden ornaments. I do a lot of this stuff with my middle years students at school. They make particularly nice wooden Xmas ornaments. You can use acrylic paints, but even easier is colored markers. We used white out pens to put "snow" on the houses, and you could use actual glitter and glue, or glitter pens to put shiny things on these if you liked that effect. Depends what you are making. I prefer them without the glitter. Coloring with markers -- fine tipped if you are making small things -- is much easier than painting, and much less messy. Even someone who has only one hand could do this. One kid picked a duckling cutout and just colored it over and over to get a glowing yellow duckling. It was very effective.

Another craft that is quite easy is to cover a bottle or a juice can (cardboard) with ripped up pieces of masking tape. Then this is polished with a medium brown shoe polish, and buffed to a shine. It makes a mock leather bottle or pencil holder if you are doing the can thing. They could make it for their grandchildren!!! Turn the tables on them!!! Even those with only one hand could do the tape and the buffing.

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By Cassandra (Guest Post)
December 4, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

Well I am planning to visit someone at a nursing home soon. I want to do something nice this year even if it's just one person picked at a nursing home, it just feels like it's time to help someone out and make them feel like they have people around them who really do care.

I am thinking about buying a small stocking and filling it with stuff like pens wrapped in ribbon making them colorful, a Christmas poem, a nice book, and some candles, I am going to buy small candle holders and decorate them then put green and red candles inside. I also want to make decorations or take stuff and have them help me make their room look more colorful and seem a lot nicer to be in, make streamers, things to brighten the window.

It'll be a lot of fun and I'm writing this because if you're thinking of doing something for someone, don't change your mind, it will make them happy and you will know that you made someone feel hopeful.

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By Lyn L. (Guest Post)
February 21, 20091 found this helpful
Best Answer

Draw a simple large butterfly shape and photocopy as many as needed. Scrunch up 1inch or 2inch squares of tissue paper and decorate the butterfly. Cut out and hang up with invisible thread. Works of art on display and also the residents who cannot communicate can see them hanging. Very colourful

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By Lyn L. (Guest Post)
February 21, 20091 found this helpful
Best Answer

Make a mood chart. This is good for those who cannot communicate well. Can be made from felt or something that can have velcro attached to make it stick and removeable.
Make faces happy, sad, confused etc and head the chart I AM FEELING. The resident can help make the chart and this is a form of communication. So may times each day a resident is asked 'how are you feeling' Now they can tell you.

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July 25, 20091 found this helpful
Best Answer

I volunteer at a local nursing home and do crafts several times a month.

Ideas that have worked well:

Rubber stamping -- I ink the stamps and place them on the paper where the resident wants it. The resident pushes down on the stamp to make the imprint. Most residents have the strength to push down on the stamp. We have made pictures and greeting cards from the stamps.

Stickers -- we have made pictures and cards using stickers. The helper removes the sticker from the sticker sheet and the resident places it where she wants.

Last week we made foam door hangers for the residents' rooms. The kits had self-adhesive letters and stamps. I brought my digital camera and printer to the nursing home and took pictures of the residents which they added to the foam hanger. I bought the kits from the Oriental Trading Company craft catalogue -- about $5 for a set of 12.

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March 6, 2005

I am looking for an Easter craft for girl scouts to do for nursing home residents. Any help would be appreciated.


By Pat Shook (Guest Post)
March 7, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

It depends on the age and abilities of your girls. A really simple one is to take a paper plate and a piece of construction paper. Cut two "ears" out of the construction paper. Glue the ears to the back side of the plate and use a pink pom pom for the nose. Draw on the eyes.

For older girls, go to craft store and buy small flower pots. Have the girls paint them or cut flowers out of magazines to glue on the pots. Add some grass and a few jelly beans. If you want to get really fancy, you could tie a ribbon around the rim of the flower pot. Hope this helps!

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By Pather (Girl Guide Leader) (Guest Post)
March 20, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

Hi, hope you are getting some good ideas. One activity I did with my patrol was for them to trace and cut their hands out (which will be the wings). (Some of the older people wanted to do it, so the girls traced around their hand.) Then you draw an egg shape on another piece of paper (which will be the body). then you make beek and two legs. attach the hands onto eiter side of the egg. Attach the legs and beek then draw eyes. And you will have a chicken. It was a very easy and fun activity for both the older people and my patrol of 7 year olds.
Happy Easter

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By dawn (Guest Post)
March 12, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

One that I plan on doing with my daughter's first grade class is a Easy basket. You will need styrofoam cups. Poke a pipe cleaner into the sides for the handle, add grass (I'm going to use the different color grass) and add candy inside the cup. You can also use stickers to decorate the basket.

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By Amber (Guest Post)
February 12, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

My Venture Crew went to the local nursing home last year when I really felt a tug on my heart to hold an Easter service in addition to our usual Christmas service there. Our first year we got the pastel colored Construction paper (cutting it into an egg shape pattern we found online) and used the foam stickers and regular stickers in addition to crayons, markers, and glitter glue pens and gave each person their own Egg to decorate. The majority of the patients loved it. I think it went well.

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March 12, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

I am the activities director at a memorial home and last year a group of cub scouts made our residents sun catcher crosses. Just use clear contact paper and colorful tissue. Cut the crosses out of white paper and stick to the contact paper and then fill in the space with the tissue paper. Our residents loved them.

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I am looking for some easy and cheap crafty ideas for Father's day for disabled, elderly residents at an independent living facility.

By KATHY BELK from Bowling Green, KY


May 14, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Make a checker board and checkers. Instead of using a pizza box for the checker board as per the instructions, you could have them use whatever you can think of like cardboard or foam core.

Another suggestion is those little 6-packs of plants, some potting soil, spoons to dip the soil, some cheap little plastic pots. Have them transplant a plant into a pot. Tell them to water as soon as they get them home. They can keep their plants in a window. If this isn't 'crafty' enough, they could paint designs on the rim of the pot, but not the pot itself so they will be able to carry it home without having to touch the paint.

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May 25, 20090 found this helpful
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Is this for the seniors to make? Or as gifts to give them? If it is for gifts for them, I would suggest getting some fabric and making small "pouches" for eyeglasses, remotes, etc. I made one for my grandfather from some denim. 3 feet long by 1 foot wide. Put right sides together. Fold over about 1/3, so you have a pouch with one longer side. Sew up the two sides of the pouch. Flip right side out. Tuck the long end under the sofa cushion? Under the mattress? Under their bottom on their wheel chair? Wherever, holds those things that are always getting put down and misplaced. He kept his glasses, remotes, and cordless phone in can make hems, decorate, etc..or leave them really simple. If not hemming, use pinking shears to cut the edges and use non-raveling material.

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June 2, 2012

I am starting my summer clinicals shortly with elders from a local retirement home. I will have a mix of men and women with varying degrees of ability. Anyone have any ideas for "therapy inspired" craft projects? I need something different. The elderly at the retirement home get to see groups like us every semester. I want to really engage them cognitively, socially, and physically (fine motor mostly). But here is the kicker - it MUST be fun! I don't want to bore them with "oh, this again".

By KisanOTA from Appleton, WI

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November 2, 2007

I work volunteer hours working an assisted living home trying to earn my silver award for Girl Scouts. We do crafts every other week or so and we do a craft usually for each holiday. We have done a Halloween craft but now I need ideas for a Thanksgiving craft that the residents could hang on their door. These crafts need to be not very complicated and not use expensive supplies. These people's hands are shaky and have trouble with gluing many parts together. They love to paint (they use the foam brushes for sponge painting) so painting is okay.

Kim from CA


November 2, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

my grandsons class made the cutest wreath. they took a thin white paper plate and cut out the inside circle which left a round circle about 3-4 wide to use as the wreaths base for building.Then they cut out the same shape of a maple leaf using construction paper in fall colors like red, orange, yellow green, and glued those on in a clockwise circle slightly over lapping each leaf on the one before it until the wreath was full one layer around. Then a ribbon piece tied into a bow was attached (the wide 2 inch wire tulle ribbon0 it was attached to the top with glue. simple yet so pretty. It can hang anywhere because the inside circle was open. Hang on there doors, bedpost, in the window. Even add a picture of the person on the wreath.
Supplies used were:
1 white thin cheap paper plate
various colors of paper construction paper
elmers glue or glue stick
wire tulle ribbon
you could even cut out the leafs prior to the day of fun for them.

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April 19, 2011

Can anyone help me with clay pot crafts or any other easy craft ideas for a nursing home residents' craft day.

By margieT from Australia


April 19, 20110 found this helpful

Read Archives, also here are a few websites.

This website gives some craft ideas that have been made by the Girl Scouts. You might be able to find some fun crafts for the residents to do.

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January 8, 2012

I am looking for some simple craft ideas for colorful Bedford bendable ribbon. I bought it at a garage sale so have no patterns or ideas.

I have 1/8, 1/4, 3/4, and 1 inch wide metallic bendable ribbon in red, white, pink, blue, and green. I want to use it for a craft project for my resident's in a nursing home. I need simple and easy ideas for a fun project. Can anyone help me?

By Karen K.

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January 26, 2010

I would like ideas (and pictures) of easy crafts using recycled items that nursing home residents would enjoy making.

By sandi from Brookville, IN

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December 30, 2014

I need a January craft to make decorations for the inside doors at a nursing home.

By Kim

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November 14, 2011

I am trying to find online craft ideas, with directions, for elderly people in a nursing home. I have found a few things on, but it only gave me two sample ideas because it is a craft magazine. I volunteer and don't have the money to buy a craft book. If anyone has suggestions, as to where online to find ideas, please respond. Thanks.

By Cora

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June 20, 2016

This is a page about crafts for visually impaired nursing home patients. Visual impairment can affect the type of crafts a person can do enjoyably and successfully.

Elderly woman stringing beads

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

April 19, 2011

I volunteer at a local nursing home and do crafts with the residents a couple times a month. The residents enjoy the following crafts:

Rubber stamping: Myself or a helper ink the stamp for the individual and place it on the paper. The resident pushes it down to make the stamped image. Most of the residents are able to push on the stamps. We have used the stamps for pictures, and then colored them in using craft chalks and eyeshadow applicators), to make greeting cards.

They also enjoy making cards and pictures using stickers. The helper removes the sticker from the sticker sheet and the resident places it on the craft.

Last week we made foam door signs with the resident's pictures on them (I ordered these from the Oriental Trading Company craft catalog - about $5 for a set of 12). The craft kit included self-adhesive letters and shapes. I took my digital camera and printer to the nursing home and we put the photos on the door signs. The residents really liked them.

They also enjoy making jewelry using pony beads or large wooden beads.

My helpers are my son and his friends. The kids enjoy the crafts as much as the residents do, plus the residents enjoy seeing the kids.

By Kim J. from Redford, Michigan


Nursing Home Crafts

In time you get back more than you give. Blessing will come to you for what you're doing for the residents, and it's giving me ideas. Thank you. (08/05/2009)

By susan winship

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July 27, 2009

I work in the activities department of a busy nursing home. It is a challenge finding craft ideas that are enjoyable to MEN. Any ideas? Bear in mind that these dear gentlemen have physical and/or mental limitations, so crafts must be fairly simple and safe to do under appropriate staff supervision.

Thank you in advance.

Deborah from Pomeroy, PA


Nursing Home Crafts

Leather craft, making belts, wallets or even bookmarks. Macrame, painting is always good. I know it sounds weird but you could try scrapbooking, easy stuff, of things they like. Maybe first level model cars, I used them with my 6 year old. Clay or poly clay. Small container gardening. Check out for lots of different ideas (01/13/2007)

By me

Nursing Home Crafts

How about puzzles with large 25 or 50 pieces and the glue to make it to hang; or acrylic paint by number, if there is such a thing (like oil painting). How about punch rugs? Ice cream stick things: (01/18/2007)

By pam froelich

Nursing Home Crafts

I am a Activity Director and the men in the home of which I work loves to paint those wooden cars and trucks you can buy at Wal Mart. They can do this forever and it's good for social skills. they talk about the cars and what they need to look like.I also have a Men's Club where they can play checkers and cards and have coffee and as they say "grunt together", they love it! Good Luck and have fun (09/15/2008)

By Gail

Nursing Home Crafts

Give your local museum a call. They have boxes of "stuff" that you can collect and keep for a week. To date, we have had "wartime" glamour and glitz,in the kitchen (utensils, etc. from 1940's). It costs nothing and is really fun to browse through all the old things. They should also have books of old photographs from around your area .

Sponsor a donkey. Our "Molly" comes to see our residents about every 3 months all for a 10 pound donation.

Play Your Cards Right: Our ladies love this game and enjoy shouting out LOWER! HIGHER! Of course, you don't get anything for a pair (not in this game) .

Indoor bowls, you can make these from empty milk cartons with a bit of rice in the bottom.
Hope some of this is useful to you!

By Christine - UK

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August 15, 2008
Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
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