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Activities for Residents in Assisted Living Facilities - To Help During Social Distancing Times!


Recreation Therapy ideas for Coronavirus Activities for long term care and assisted living facilities for Morning Pointe – Ruccio Way, Lexington, KY and Thompson – Hood, Wilmore, KY

It is with pleasure and honor the Eastern Kentucky University’s Recreation and Park Administration Department with a concentration in therapeutic recreation can assist during this crisis.  Dr. Gerken’s REC 512 class generated these ideas with the hope to assist during this pandemic crisis. We hope these ideas help and generate more ideas. 

God Bless your residents,

Michelle Gerken, Ph.D., CTRS

Eastern Kentucky University Recreation and Park Administration


1.     Have the residents make a paper plane and then have a race down the hallway to see whose goes the farthest.

2.     Have the residents make something by either crafting, coloring, or sewing/knitting it together and then put them all together to make one big community quilt or display.

3.     Have the residents come up with a murder mystery or riddles for their across-the-hall neighbor to figure out.

4.     Have each resident color a single letter and then hold it up outside of their door. The letters will spell out something encouraging like "stay home and healthy" or "Kentucky strong" and then a picture can be taken of the residents holding up the letters from down the hall. This can be a cute Image to boost social media for the organization, as well as, give the residents family members a picture of their loved ones during a time they cannot visit. 

5.     Have the residents learn a short dance and then take a video of themselves doing it. Then compile all of the footage together to make one long choreographed dance to a song. 

6.     Have residents engage in a cook off and submit some kind of breakfast, lunch, or dinner recipe. The staff could be the judges and there could be a small incentive. Since we are living through a pandemic and being sanitary is the main focus, the cook-off could be held later. For now, each resident could submit their favorite recipe or make up a new one to make one big cook book. This cook book could even be sold or given out to family members.

7.     Start a book club that meets to discuss characters and plot lines from their doorways. Have residents swap their favorite books. 

8.     Have movie night but each resident watches it from their own place. Bring in a new one that would be in theaters now.

9.     Do a scrapbook activity that is personalized to each resident. This could also help with therapy and used as kind of a reminiscence therapy. 

10.  Set up virtual tours of either National State Parks or famous Zoos around America. A lot of these online entertainment activities like this are now available due to COVID-19.

11.  Bingo outside their doorways: 1) Residents would sit in their doorways and have their table in front of them. 2) Activity director yells numbers to them from the hallway (or uses a microphone)

12.  Paint: 1) Sit in the doorway. 2) Follow the activity director step by step (stand in the hallway). 3) Could turn it into a contest

13.  Paint their nails: Whichever residents want to, can have the option to paint their nails in their room

14.  Scavenger Hunt: Give the residents magazines, a list of items to search for, and then cut them out and glue them on a piece of paper to make a collage or I spy

15.  Pot a Plant: 1) Sit in the doorway and have their table in front of them. 2) Follow directions of the activity director to learn how to pot their own plant. 3) Gives them something to look forward to doing everyday (watering it, taking care of it, watching it grow, etc.)

16.  Movie and Popcorn Night: If there is a channel that connects to everyone’s rooms, they can play a movie and then pass out popcorn to the residents

17.  Karaoke Night: Residents can sit in their doorways and sing/ listen to each other

18.  Have Church Service: 1) Sit in their doorways. 2) Can sing hymns and take communion (with their own cup and bread)

19.  Exercise: Sit in their doorways and do the group exercises

20.  Craft Night: Residents sit in the doorways with their tables and residents can choose to paint, draw, color, trace, etc.

21.  Make a lovely spring wreath for their door.

22.  Paint a canvas

23.  Some sort of music activity (maybe a resident or a staff member can sing or play an instrument)

24.  Have a comedy night and have residents/ staff tell jokes (this would be a good way to bring some light during a dark time)

25.  Board games, card games – a board game and one side of the hall against the other and activity director moves the pieces

26.  Trivia night

27.  Bake sugar cookies and have residents decorate them. Kitchen will make them and residents decorate.

28.  Gardening (get residents a pot, flower seeds, and soil to plant)

29.  Bring a game show to real life (family feud, jeopardy, or wheel of fortune) with one side of the hallway against the other. 

30.  Morning or afternoon stretches/exercise

31.  Small craft (stickers, drawing, coloring)

32.  Costume shows (reveal a surprise costume when they open the door (or guess who is in the surprise costume i.e. administrator or Director of Nursing different person per time)

33.  Trivia games (jeopardy)

34.  BINGO

35.  Simon Says

36.  Talent Show staff and/or resident

37.  Scavenger hunt (“Do you have this in your room?”)

38.  Modified Play. Assign residents to parts, some to be the audience and then have each person read their lines from their doorway.

39.  Bible study sessions and bible trivia

40.  Group painting or coloring activity from doorways.

41.  If they have access to a Wii they could do Wii sports tournaments on a rolling cart.

42.  The residents could do a talent show, the staff could film them doing their talent and show the other residents and let them vote.

43.  Movie night, a movie is voted on so that they all get to watch from their room if they have a system to play a movie in all rooms.

44.  If they have a window in their room they can make up an eye spy game with the things they can see or things in their apartment and ask each other if they have.

45.  Storytelling, let each resident try to come up with the wildest story they can imagine and add to it.

46.  Follow a Bob Ross Painting session on canvases.

47.  Create Birdhouses for outside of their windows.

48.  Do a fashion show and walk down the “runway” (hallway) while the other residents are able to see from inside their rooms.

49.  Start a book club and do the discussion portion from their doorways.

50.  Learn a foreign language or ASL.

51.  Host a dance party from their rooms.

52.  Do a dance workout such as a Zumba class. (They have beginners workouts for those who are just starting out.)

53.  Have yoga sessions during the day from the rooms.

54.  Have a paper airplane contest.

55.  Have a meditation session to get the residents in a healthy mindset.

56.  Press some flowers. (Could later attach to a canvas and make a painting out of it)

57.  Make up inspirational quotes to put in their Grandkid’s lunchboxes. (Can give to the family after quarantine)

58.  Make homemade icecream.

59.  Make slime or playdoh.

60.  Make a mini brownie in a mug.

61.  Work on a larger sized puzzle.

62.  Make a mini succulent garden for the window.

63.  Make a mini gnome or fairy garden for the window.

64.  Look through old family photos.

65.  Could do a “group” activity where the residents could make “homemade” gifts for their loved ones.

66.  Listen to an audio book.

67.  Listen to an interesting podcast.

68.  Start a gratitude list.

69.  Do some spring cleaning within their rooms.

70.  Work on organization or rearrange the decorations within their rooms.

71.  Bird watching from within their rooms.

72.  Watch a virtual tour of zoos. (Most of them are doing daily tours or talking about a different animal each day)

73.  Make a personalized door hanger.

74.  Decorate the doors and have a contest on the most creative door.

75.  Build something using Legos.

76.  Use oil-based Sharpie paint markers to personalize a dollar store coffee mug.

77.  Decorate their walker or cane.

78.  Learn to crochet or do a new pattern for those who are experienced.

79.  Make a sculpture out of clay & then paint or decorate it.

80.  Complete a word search. (Could have a contest amongst residents on who finishes first)

81.  Play ring toss or bowling from their doorways into the hallway. 

82.  Have a “picnic” in their rooms. (Set up a blanket, bring their food in a basket, etc.)

83.  Create a picture with stamps and an ink pad.

84.  Paint with Q-tips.

85.  Play Solitaire or other single player card games.

86.  Play cornhole for exercise. (Could get mini boards to play with or play from across the hallway)

87.  String beads to help with fine motor skills. (Could make a necklace or bracelet for their grandchildren or loved ones)

88.  Decorate their windows with clings.

89.  Make homemade bookmarks for loved ones.

90.  Bring small animals in for interactions.

91.  Do a sensory balloon guessing game. (Fill balloons with different substances and have them guess what is in them)

92.  Make a scrapbook using their own photos.

93.  Build towers with cups.

94.  Have a “wine” (grape juice) and cheese group that discusses daily news or current events from their doorways.

95.  Play balloon ball with the resident across the hallway. (Can use a pool noodle or a racket)

96.  Play Guess the Smell game. (Can use coffee, cinnamon, cat food, etc. in paper bags and have the residents guess)

97.  Make a recipe book to pass down to loved ones.

98.  Have a face painting session.

99.  Have a cardio drumming session from the doorways.

100. Have a stretch and relax session throughout the day from their rooms.

101. Make cards for their loved ones.

102. Follow a line dance tutorial.

103. Write some poetry or a haiku in honor of National Poetry Month.

104. Plan a tea party with the grandkids.

105. Make a garden hat.

106. Phone an old friend.

107. Make some sensory moon sand.

108. Play a round of tin can indoor golf.

109. Play a game of hangman from across the hallway.

110. Make a stained glass ornament.

111. Have a Spa Day (facials, paint nails)

112. Paint rocks or bricks and use them as door stoppers

113. Make suncatchers (you can create these out of mason jar lids, coloring sheets, stones and beads)

114. Paper flowers- help brighten up the residents rooms with flowers you make yourself. You can create these with tissue paper or coffee filters

115. Homemade heating pad- using fabric and some rice or beans to create a microwavable heating bag to help soothe aches and pains. You can also add essential oils for aromatherapy.

116. Make a pillow

117. Homemade picture frames- they can be decorated, hold photos of family or friends, and can help personalize the room

118. Window Art

119. Play “Sock-er”- Roll up socks into balls, Make a goal out of a basket and then try to kick the “balls” into the goal.

120. Make a daily planner.

121. Make a wall or pocket sized calendar - help keep track of events, meetings, classes, etc.

122. Keep a daily journal or diary- Use it to write down daily thoughts, troubles, plans, etc.

123. Make a daily bible verse journal - Write down a different verse every day, leave room for thoughts and comments.

124. Make snow cones - perfect midday snack.

125. Make your own ice cream in a ziplock bag & serve with toppings.

126. Make a “Thankful Journal” - Use this to write down all the things that you’re thankful for.

127.Build a “marble track” and use it to race marbles. (can use cardboard, tubes, pool noodles, etc.)

128. Make a magazine collage.

129. Make a sticker collage.

130. Fill balloons with paint & pop over a canvas. (Could also mix with a little water and throw at a canvas.)

131. Make crayon art. (Tape crayons to a canvas, use a hair dryer to melt the crayons, remove the tape when done.)

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