12 Ideas to Reimagine Teaching with Beanbags

Fresh ideas for using bean bags this fall in the music room or choral rehearsal.

As summer vacation draws to a close, it is always fun to get some fresh ideas for the beginning of the school year.  So go ahead and add some ways to use the bean bags from Bear Paw Creek to your repertoire! These activities will also bring giggles and smiles to teaching the potentially humdrum foundations of music making. 

This blog will share activities using beanbags not only the classroom, but also in choral rehearsal. In addition, at the end of the post is a game I developed exclusively for you, the fans of Bear Paw Creek’s Blog!  This game is open-ended, so with some poster board and markers, and of course, beanbags, you can make a delightful game that can address any skill your students need to work on.

I have been thinking about beanbags a lot lately. It is a shame for a prop that raises the spirits of students and teachers alike to be overlooked. Especially considering its durability and versatility. Why don’t we use them more?  And, if we don’t have them, why not? They are certainly one of the most affordable props out there.  In fact, www.bearpawcreek.com has bean bags for just $20 per dozen, and you can even choose the bright or muted color palette or texture that works best for your students’ needs.

If the obstacle is a lack of awareness of how to use this awesome prop, then let’s overcome it, with these 12 ideas that will help you to reimagine teaching with beanbags. These ideas include activities that I have developed, as well as some existing activities that I have adapted to beanbags, not to mention the exclusive game at the end of this blog.

Let’s get you excited for the new school year, and for using that underdog of props, beanbags!

Bean Bag Activities for the Classroom

1.Ostinato Bean Bags: Teach your ostinato, but in a kinesthetic way. Students toss the bean bag from hand-to-hand in rhythm with their singing.

2. Quick Sort: Looking for a fast way to divide students up for an activity?  If you have a variety of bean bag colors then you can hand out bean bags in a color-coded manner to designate groups/activities.  For example, if you wanted to have a sound ensemble activity, you could designate red=sung sounds, yellow=spoken sounds, orange=whisper sounds etc, and a next step would be holding up a red beanbag to start the sung group’s performances.

3. Bean Bag Engagement: Not that kind of engagement! I like to use props like the bean bags to call on students. It is an incredibly easy way to infuse more mundane tasks with fun.  I also like to have the students use this method to call on each other, which makes your existing activity even more entertaining.

4. Bean Bag SMART Notebooks: There are some great SMART notebooks available that allow students to randomly select a question or challenge by popping a bubble. Rather than walking up and popping it, you can safely have student underhand toss a bean bag at the board. My students love this method!  SMART Notebook exchange has “Candy Rhythms Koosh Ball Game” and Teachers Pay Teachers has several as well.

5. Bean Bag Shakers: If you are a new teacher that doesn’t have many props or an itinerant teacher trying to reduce how much equipment you move, consider using bean bags as a percussion instrument. You can shake or tap it, and the volume is low, so it may be just right if you have students with sound sensitivity.

6. Steady Beat Bags: When students are still learning to find the steady beat, a strategy is to have the student gently tap their chest. Putting a bean bag in that hand makes it more fun, and adds more sensation. 

Bean Bag Activities for the Classroom or Choral Rehearsal

7. Treble or Bass Clef Toss: Use masking tape to create a five line staff on the floor and have students toss a bean bag onto the staff. Then they name the note based on which line or space it lands on. Another option would be drawing the staff on poster board or other moveable surfaces to make a portable version if you are an itinerant teacher.

8. Bean Bag Rhythm: A variation on the ostinato bean bag activity above, requiring students that are struggling with a particular rhythm to toss the beanbag to the steady beat.  This could be up and down in one hand or hand-to-hand as they say rhythm syllables, chant the lyrics in rhythm, or sing the troublesome section.

9. Bean Bag Note Values: I was introduced to this activity with tennis balls, and it works great with bean bags too. Assign each note value a bean bag movement that will take an appropriate amount of time. For example: two eighth notes= fast hand-to-hand toss, quarter note= single hand toss, half note= go around body 1st beat in front of body 2nd beat in back, whole note= same as half but stopping in four points- 1 front, 2 side, 3 back, and 4 other side.  Students should verbalize the counts as another pathway to learning. Display the note value students are performing so that they can make the connections between the symbol, the movement and value.  Once the students are proficient, I turn on pop music and have the students perform various note values to the beat, continuing to display the note symbols and point to them throughout.

 

Bean Bag Activities for Choral Rehearsal

10. Part Throw: If singers are forgetting that they don’t sing in a particular section, play a game!  As that section begins, have the forgetful singers toss their beanbag to a chorus member who is supposed to sing that part.  It will be so memorable that they will probably not make that mistake again.

11. Projection Toss:  This thrilling activity was intended for adults using a football, but I have adapted it here for children using beanbags. If your chorus is not projecting their voices to the back of the rehearsal space, try having them send their sound out with the bean bag by tossing it forward (after you get out of the way!). Alternatively, singers could get into pairs and have them sing a phrase tossing to their partner and then their partner sings a phrase tossing it back.

 

Here it is… your exclusive open-ended game:

The Bullseye of Music!

As I was thinking about ways to use bean bags that would be fun and engaging for our students, I also factored in that we teachers don’t necessarily have much time to craft. So if I was going to create something, I wanted it to be a game that could be used for different units.  The result is a game that can be used throught the year, with any age and the only thing you’ll need to change is the Fact Sheet.  

The 12th activity, The Bullseye of Music! :

How it works:

  1. Have two children, or the whole class play.
  2. Child A throws the bean bag at the bullseye.
  3. Child B (the opponent or class representative) announces the color which their bean bag hit.
  4. Child A puts the tip of a pencil into a paper clip in the center of the spinner for that color and flicks it. The paper clip indicates a number.
  5. Child B gives Child A the task or question based on the color and number, and they have a blast performing it!                                                                                                                                                                 

I didn’t design this for keeping score so there isn’t a plan for that, but you could certainly develop one.  The game is so engaging because the target requires skill and the spinner is pure chance.  I put the arts Integration/extra fun activities in the center, on red, to make them harder to get. 

How to Make Bullseye of Music Game Pieces:

Materials: Foam poster board, For tracing- a frying pan & small bowl, Poster markers/paint, Pencil, Paper clip, Paper, Sheet protector/clipboard

Steps:

  1. Target– Sketch the biggest possible circle you can on the poster board
  2.  Trace frying pan and small bowl creating the concentric circles of a target
  3.  Color each ring in a different color (I went the traditional route of red yellow and blue)
  4.  Spinner– On the paper, use the small bowl to trace three circles and coordinate the colors to match the circles on the target
  5.  Divide the circles into five sections (or more) and number them
  6.  Fact Sheet– create blue questions or activities of an easy level and number them 1-5 to match the spinner, and repeat for yellow   being medium level and red being difficult/super fun. Zoom in on the image above for an example Fact Sheet.
  7.  Print out Fact Sheet and slip into a sheet protector and plan to give to Child B or the Opponent described above.
  8.  Once the materials are done, grab your Bear Paw Creek bean bags, pencil and a paper clip and start having a fantastic time learning new concepts or reviewing!

Remember, all you have to do from here is create a new Fact Sheet to totally change the game!

Thanks: My appreciation to my music teacher colleagues in Anne Arundel County, MD for being such wonderful teachers and collaborators.

I hope you enjoy your bean bags in the classroom or rehearsal all the more for having some new ideas.

BPC has a great selection of bean bags right here on bearpawcreek.com.

Leah Murthy is a music educator, performer and military spouse. She is currently a Doctoral candidate in Music Education at Boston University, holds a Master’s in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory, has 15 years experience teaching music and recent contributions to professional journals such as The American Organist and The Chorister. When she is not teaching music in Maryland, or playing with her two little girls, she is in Washington D.C. conducting for The National Children’s Chorus.

Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal

Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal

Now that we are in the New Year, it is time to begin afresh, and make some magical moments with those wonderful props you have from Bear Paw Creek. But, have you noticed there aren’t a lot of resources out there for church choral directors to draw upon when searching for music and movement activities?  

I did notice the lack of resources, and certainly very few mentions of activities for more mature adults as well. So I set out to create some new activities and share some resources with you Bear Paw Creek fans and church choir directors to maximize the props you have.

If you do not yet have the budget to purchase the high quality props the BPC has to offer, then I will give you some alternative ideas for until your funding comes through. In addition, if you are like Janet and I and enjoy being makers, I am providing ideas, instructions and resources for you to make away!  

Stretchy Band

Stretchy Band in Choir Rehearsal with All Ages

Where is the magic? 

Where is the magic I mentioned?  To me, the magic rushes in in the moment when I take out a prop and see the excitement and expectation on the faces of those young and old in my choir, wondering what I will suggest they do with the prop! Then, just as thrilling, seeing the concept I wanted to impart take hold so quickly because manipulating the prop engages those kinesthetic and tactile learners in my group.

 In this first of several blog posts on magical moments with music props in church choir rehearsal, I will provide you with activities using the stretchy band that will be just right for the church setting. There will be suggested church-appropriate activities for adults and children, recommendations on how to acquire a stretchy band for your rehearsal space on any budget and two ways to make your own stretchy band.

[Tweet “The magic rushes in when I take out a prop and see the excitement and expectation on the faces of those young and old in my choir! “]

Stretchy Band Activities that are fun and engaging!

Adults and/or Children-

Breathing Technique- Everyone breathe with the following motions- step back on the inhale and forward on the exhale, but never fully collapsing their ribcage by moving all the way to the middle, this creates a visual for good breathing technique.

Musical Learning- Adults and children together or separate, work together to make the stretchy band into note shapes and dynamic markings, this helps them to team build and work together.

Musical Form- Analyze the form of a current anthem or hymn using teamwork, by making a triangle as group for the A section, circle for B, square for C and so on.

Children-                                                                                                                                                                                                 Song Movements- Use the band for movements to songs such as: Michael Row the Boat Ashore, My God is So Big, Father Abraham, Zaccheus or Deep and Wide.

Highlight Individual’s Movements- Sing songs that highlight individual’s actions, for the larger group to imitate such as Did You Ever See a Lassie or Walking, Walking.

Fisherman Song- Use the chorus of the tune Blow the Man Down to create fishermen lyrics such as: Gather the net and pull in some fish in yea hey, like Peter did

Preschoolers- Stretchy bands can work on fundamentals like: high and low, soft/loud, up/down, in/out, colors and shapes through movement and visuals.

Putting away the stretchy band: Teacher “How big is Jesus’s heart?” The children stretch the band back and say “Sooo big!  and release. Or simply have everyone pull back and have everyone let go simultaneously, either way leaving the band in a nice, easy to pick up pile, and it is fun!

Easy Stretchy Band Clean-up

TIP: Be open to participants contributing lyric, movement or song ideas, as they are often good ones. 

 

HOW TO GET A STRETCHY BAND:

  • Big budget: You can purchase a high-quality stretchy band right here on this site from Bear Paw Creek.
  • Small budget: I made a thick and hearty homemade band of my own design for less than $20 and about two hours of work several years ago and it is still holding up well! See below for directions.
  • Tiny budget: The blog Education in Our World has an entry with a very frugal way to create a thin stretchy band of flexible size.

 

Two ways to make your own stretchy band

  1. Thick and Hearty

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Fabric- colorful cotton/polyester blend or polyester cut lengthwise into 6 inch wide strips.
  • Fabric yardage- (using typical 44-45 inch width fabric) A few examples for stretchy bands intended for  different numbers of participants: 12 people= 1 ¼ yards, 20 people= 2 yards, 24 people= 2 1/3 yards. Formula for customization purposes can be found below.
  • 1 inch width elastic
  • Extra large safety pin
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
    STEPS:
  • Calculate size based on maximum number of children or adults times 1 foot, which will give you the amount of elastic. Then double that number, which should give you the total length of the fabric strips you will need.

o   Formula for elastic:  Number of People x 1 foot= Elastic Needed*.

o   Formula for number of fabric strips: Elastic Needed x 2= total length of fabric strips needed.

o   Formula for fabric yardage required: Total Length of Fabric Strips x 12 = total number of inches required. Inches required divided by the fabric width of 43= total put into calculator at Quilter’s Paradise: Pieces to Yardage Area Calculator.

  • Cut the fabric into 6 inch wide lengths down the longest way of the fabric until you have strips adding up to the total length you calculated in the first step.
  • Turn two fabric strips so the right sides are facing each other, then sew the short ends together, repeat until all the pieces are one very long strip.
  • Fold completed long piece in half the long way, right sides together and sew about 1/2 inch from the edge creating a very long tube.
  • Turn the tube right side out, you will need to use a very large safety pin stuck through one end to aid you in this process.
  • Now comes the challenge- threading 1 inch elastic with the big safety pin in the end through the entire length.
  • Finally, sew the two ends of the elastic, overlap by an inch and stitch in a box shape and then in and x over the center of the box. *If the elastic length you require can only be achieved by purchasing two packages of elastic, then you will use the above process to attach the two ends of elastic together to make a larger size.
  • Fold under unfinished edges and sew completed stretchy band closed.

TIPS:

  • Enlist the sewing skills of an adult choir member or a child chorister parent or grandparent.
  • Go big, you can always tie a knot in the finished stretchy band to shrink the size if necessary.
  • Always double stitch everything if you want it to last.
  • If you are savvy, you can make this style for about $15 in a large to extra-large size. Look in the clearance fabric for steep discounts.
  • If your band is one color or pattern, tie scarves or ribbons every 12 inches to the stretchy band in order to be able to call out choristers by color for activities
  1. Thin and Flexi

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 bag of nylon potholder loops

STEPS:

  • Can be found on the blog Education in Our World when you go to Mrs. Toben’s entry  “Games and Movement Band” where she explains how to make a thin, flexible band in five minutes for about $5 worth of spandex potholder loops.

TIPS:

  • You can easily adjust the size for each group
  • Create sections of a particular color so you can call colors being held for people to switch places etc.

I hope that these ideas are helpful to you in your upcoming rehearsals!  Let me know if you have any questions or comments below or you can email me at [email protected] Check out my next blog on Magical Moments for more activities.

Leah Murthy is a music educator, performer and military spouse. She has a Master’s in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory at Berkelee, 14 years experience teaching music and recent contributions to professional journals such as The American Organist and The Chorister. When she is not teaching music in Maryland, or playing with her two little girls, she is in Washington D.C. conducting for The National Children’s Chorus.

Summer Activities for Kids

A few ideas for when life slows down a bit.

 

 

A few great things to do away and at home with your kids… for when they ask to get on the computer, iPads, WII, Xbox… Well, you know…

Nothing wrong with extra time to enjoy their electronics during the summer, but here’s a list of alternatives to “gaming” their summer away.

The ebb and flow of summertime.

This morning, I enjoyed coffee with my dad as we chatted with my six-year-old.

We listened to her account of a nightmare about spiders, followed by ther dream of giant pink bugs. We speculated on the relative scariness of bugs that are huge, even if they are a shade of pink… It was good to just sit and talk and laugh a little with the morning cheer shining through the window.

Just two and a half weeks into June and we’ve already enjoyed: 1) A family reunion, 2. Two summer camps, 3. Family visiting in our home, and 4. A wedding weekend out of town. For the next few days, we’ve got the pleasure of having my dad here. Then we’ll finish out with another summer camp (for my younger kids this time). What a fun whirlwind – talk about a full month with many precious memories made!

The remainder of my calendar for this summer looks pretty empty, with enough time to be a bit more leisurely. There’s plenty of space to enjoy more coffee and conversation in the morning. I’ll have room in my days for contemplation. We won’t have places to rush off to and  I’ll have no piles of post-camp-laundry to catch up on. Our pace will slow down.

As my kids adjust to having greater ammounts of free time, I want to make sure those days aren’t all filled up with screen time . I’ve been strategizing about mostly “unplugged” activities we can enjoy. When my kids are asking to be on the computer all day, I’ll be ready with these ideas.

[Tweet “Here’s a list of alternatives to “gaming” their summer away.”]

A list of activities to enjoy with kids this summer:

Berry picking and peach harvesting.

We have so many orchards and berry farms around us. I missed the strawberry picking season (busy!), but this week is the perfect time for picking blueberries around here. For information about farms and orchards near you, go to this website: pickyourown.org.

To extend the fun, you can also read the classic, Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey while you eat your fresh berries over ice cream.

Journaling to inspire the love of writing and build confidence.

My husband and I sell used books on Amazon and occasionally I snag one from the “sell” pile if I fall in love with it.

The book, In the Company of Children, by Joanne Hindley, falls into that category. This is a warm, friendly book which helps you and your reluctant writer get past the paralysis of the blank page. It is not only a “how-to” book on journaling but also a “why” for motivation. She’s encouraging and injects a sense of community into the writing process.

I’m looking forward to bringing this into our family and seeing what it does for our family. I can see the influence of this book reaching into the adult years of my children, enhancing their grasp of good communication and their enjoyment of it as well.

Planning for when it’s too hot or rainy outside:

Watching this series on YouTube

Last year I studied Geography with my kids and about three months ago we stumbled across this channel Geography Now, created by Paul Barbato, pretty much from the first video we were hooked. He uses humor, and great visuals to make all the countries you’re a bit unclear about memorable. I want my kids to have a working knowledge of the world and it’s people. That’s a pretty tall order but this channel is a great starting point for both. For an overview, take a look at this:

Create a cooking lesson for your kids.

Whether you create your own (using favorite recipes) or use a monthly kit like Radishkids.com, summertime has the best opportunities to find pockets of time for cooking with your kids.

I know it’s kind of scary for some of us, but it really is worth the time and the mess to do this with your kids. The key is: Don’t do try cooking lessons with your kids when you’re in a hurry. Seriously, a four-hour block of time will make you much more relaxed about the process and cleanup! Maybe you only do this a couple of times this summer, but that’s okay!

Resources from Bear Paw Creek

Bean Bags.

I’ve got a set of bean bags from Bear Paw Creek, which my kids love. They are great for tossing inside (or outside) into bowls, knocking over empty bottles, for practicing juggling (Yeah, still working on that one.) and with an oversized checkerboard (squares painted or drawn on a sheet or fabric).

We use them at church as a way to get busy bodies moving before or after the lesson. Every Sunday (I’m not exaggerating. EVERY Sunday!) the kids ask to get the bean bags out. These are a great tool for every parent to have in their Summertime Boredom Toolbox.

Stretchy Bands in Circle Time.

Another great tool to pull out when you prefer to be inside is the Connect-a-Stretchy Band. These stretchy bands can be used for Circle Time each morning.

What is Circle Time you ask? Here’s an example from a mom at home: Creating a Circle Time in Your Home, by Jamie Martin on Simple Homeschool gives an overview and links to her vlog so you can see them in action.

Below is an example of a singing and movement Circle Time using a stretchy band from Bear Paw Creek (with plenty of giggles included):

If you want more tips and ideas on doing Circle Time take a look at this recent post by Carol Stephens of Macaroni Soup. She gives very practical tips and has great songs to use on her website.

If you want to know the “why” of using the stretchy band during Circle time, take a look at this post, by Allysa Wilkins of Dynamic Lynks, to understand the benefits the stretchy with your kids.

Summer Snowball Fight!

Have you heard of the Instant Snowball Fight? 

It’s great for winter fun when you live somewhere that doesn’t get snow and it’s great for the summer! This is an activity you can do inside, outside, in the pool, at a lake, really, anywhere. 

Snowball Movement Prop Set+ Kids = Indoor Snowball Fight

Don’t even get me started on the scarves and ribbons!

 

Have you seen what kids do when you get dancing scarves and ribbons in their hands? Whether dancing on the lawn, or in your front room, your kids will have a blast! Take a look at the resources I have listed in Ribbons Dancing and Scarves, Oh My!

I hope your summer is filled with fun. That it has a good ebb and flow of activities and rest.

Be sure to check out all of the movement props that Bear Paw Creek carries. Be prepared with these low-tech, high-fun ways for your kids to interact and play. Be prepared when your child says, “Can I play on the computer?” for the 50th time in a row. 😉

 

Jenette is a freelance writer of web content, blogs, and podcast show notes. She is also a wife and imperfect mother, whose family mean the world to her. She’s looking forward to July, when you’ll find her carving out time for all of this fun stuff and more. Jenette’s business website is at www.mywordsforhire.com.

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3 Bean Bag Games For Thanksgiving

Games to Encourage Thankfulness.

Are you looking for a few low-prep games to inspire thanksgiving on the part of your students, your family and even yourself?

Well, here are three you can play with bean bags.

For two of the games, bean bags are all you’ll need. For the last one, you’ll need some buckets or a few bowls (or boxes… Whatever you have handy.) Each of these games can take up just fifteen minutes or can be played as long as you like.

active-games-to-encourage-thankfulness-1

Thanksgiving is good for the soul.

Autumn is a time to enjoy sweaters, cool walks, and baking sweets and bread without overheating the house.

It’s cozy.

Yet everything seems to speed up this time of year and we can find the holidays upon us if we dare to blink. In the stores we see Thanksgiving items laid out beside Christmas decorations before October has even closed her door. This used to frustrate me, but honestly, this year I’m filled with anticipation because Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite celebrations. 

grateful03-fb

Woven throughout my family’s history, is a struggle with various kinds of depression and anxiety. As I grew into a woman, my mom shared that history with me and she also shared with me the role thanksgiving can play in refocusing our thoughts.

My mom relied on three strategies when she was depressed:

  1. Focusing on her belief in the goodness and love of God and casting her cares on Him.
  2. Giving thanks for past graces and gifts in her life.
  3. Finding ways to bless other people.

Depression is no light matter, and these are not easy-as-pie strategies, in fact, body chemistry is often involved in depression. However, these strategies have played a part in keeping me going through my bouts with nonclinical depression. 

  • A spirit of thankfulness helps us and blesses other people as we express our appreciation for them.
  • Thanksgiving is an attitude we want to instill in our children as much for their benefit as for the benefit of others.
  • Memories of hard times and how we made it through, are especially strengthening (as much as those memories of good times.)

In the midst of the coming Thanksgiving season, these fun games can turn our hearts toward being thankful and perhaps spark some good conversations about memories of times past.

“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” -Henry Ward Beecher

[Tweet ““…but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” -Henry Ward Beecher”]

Here are three fun & simple bean bag games for promoting thankfulness.

These games can be played in or out of doors depending on the weather in your neck of the woods. They work great:

  • In a preschool with little ones.
  • For a rainy day recess at school.
  • In your living room for a circle-time homeschool activity.
  • For recreation time in a nursing home.
  • For Sunday school or youth group time.
  • For your family on Thanksgiving Day, when the kids are restless. 

Game 1:

You’ll need one bean bag for this game. 

  1. Have everyone sit in a circle facing each other (on the floor or in chairs.)
  2. One person has a bean bag in his hand.
  3. He tells what how he is thankful for someone else in the circle, then tosses the bean bag to that person.
  4. That person tells how she is thankful for someone else in the circle and tosses the bean bag to that person.

Make sure the teacher is also seated in the circle so that he or she can make sure that thankfulness can be expressed for each child in the circle. If needed the teacher start by being the one to express thankfulness for each child and having that child toss the bean bag back after she has tossed it to him. The teacher then repeats this until each child has heard what the teacher is thankful for in that child.

 

How long has it been since you've played with bean bags-

Game 2:

You’ll need one bean bag for this game.

  1. Have everyone sit in a circle facing each other.
  2. Start by saying something you are thankful for that starts with the letter A.
  3. Toss or hand the bean bag to the person beside you.
  4. That person tells something she is thankful for which starts with the letter B.
  5. Continue around the circle until you get to Z.

Don’t worry if this gets a little silly. The point is to have fun and get the juices going about being thankful. Another variation is to put on music and pass it around until the music stops, then have that person tell the thing that he is thankful for. Turn the music back on and continue around until it stops, then let the next person say what he’s thankful for.

 

Game 3:

You’ll need a dozen bean bags for this game and twelve sheets of paper.

  1. Put the sheets of paper side by side in sets of threes on the floor or on a table (no drinks, snacks or breakables on the table please.)
  2. On the papers write one of the following words, so that each set of papers has one of each word:
    • People.
    • Things.
    • Memories.
  3. Divide everyone into four groups (each group will have three bean bags). If you only have a few people, then just make two groups.
  4. When you say, “Go!”
    • The person at the front of the line says a person’s name for which he is thankful then tosses a beanbag in the bowl marked People.
    • He then tells something he is thankful for and tosses the bean bag in the bowl marked Things.
    • Lastly, he tosses a bean bag in the bowl marked Memory as he tells of something he’s thankful for doing.
  5. He then picks up the bean bags out of the bowl and passes it to the next person in line.
  6. The next person repeats steps four and five.

A few important notes: If you have a student in class who has trouble with speech, skip saying “Go!” and having the groups race each other. Instead, make it a turn-taking activity. You can still split large classes into four groups but have them go to different corners of the room to take turns.

This is a game which would be fun to play intergenerationally as younger people could share in the memories of their grandparents. 

A variation of this game which might work well in a nursing home would be to tape off the floor in the middle of the sitting area into four squares with a subject for each square which could be marked: Place, Person, Memory, Food. The residents could sit in the chairs and in wheelchairs surrounding the squares. If the bean bag lands on memory, the person tossing the bean bag can tell of a person they are thankful for. If the bean bag lands on place she can tell of a favorite place she is thankful for. 

 

 

 

Print out these bean bag games and take them with you.

CASEY w border

I know it’s handy to be able to file ideas like this, so feel free to print out this pdf of these games and take them with you to class, or wherever you’ll be using them.

If you’re looking for a great resource to buy fbean bags, Bear Paw Creek has got them for you. You can buy a dozen bean bags and they’ll come with a handy tote to store them in. Speaking of storage, have you taken a look at this post Julie Palmieri wrote about storing movement props and musical instruments? She has great tips and links for organizing. Take a look!

 

What games will you be playing to connect and get the “wiggles” out with your kids this Thanksgiving? Leave a note in the comments and share your ideas with us.

 

Hello, my name is Jenette Clay. I’m a freelance writer, but most of all a wife, mom, daughter and friend. I blog at www.mywordsforhire.com about how small businesses can improve their internet presence. I’m thankful for the inspiration and encouragement Janet has given me as a friend and client through Bear Paw Creek. If you’re looking for an example of how to build an effective small business website, Bear Paw Creek is a great place to start.

 

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Recreational Activities for Dementia & Alzheimer Patients

The Importance of Recreational Activities for Dementia & Alzheimer Patients in Nursing Homes and In-home Care.

 

 

Can caregivers of people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease interact with those under their care to help slow the progress of the symptoms?

This week I read an excellent article which addresses the frustration of experiencing Alzheimer’s. It outlines positive effects of daily mental stimulation from failure-proof activities.

Read more to find out what constitutes failure-proof activities and why they are so important for those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia.

Fail-proof activities for patients of Alzheimer's Disease

Therapy: moving beyond boredom, frustration, and isolation.

Autism, Lyme, Dementia, (including Alzheimer’s Disease)… the list goes on…

These are among the diseases which blindside families every day around the world. Each of these diseases strikes at the mind, body and emotions of the patient, and some have causes which are not completely understood.

We must continue to research causes and cures for these diseases, but how are patients and family members to cope with the impact of them now, in their daily lives?

How are they to move beyond coping, to enjoying life?

When children struggle with the sensory overload that often accompanies autism, more and more, parents are receiving support and seeing improvement through music and movement therapy for their kids. Occupational therapy is also helpful in building the child’s skills and confidence. This is good for the emotional wellbeing and health of the whole family.

There is also a growing body of professionals, who are addressing the need of various therapies for the elderly.

Therapists recognize the damage which feelings of boredom, frustration, and isolation inflict on the elderly who suffer from various types of dementia. They support family members who may feel equally isolated as they struggle to provide faithful care for their loved one.

  • Occupational therapists help patients figure ways to maintain daily routines which create a sense of dignity and control.
  • Music and movement therapists provide activities to stimulate the mind, promote stronger bodies and sustain healthier emotions.  

However, as these therapists know, not all activities are created equal. Some activities become overwhelming and lead to frustration which can increase the feelings of depression and isolation.

The objective is to offer simple activities, which help reinforce the patient’s self-esteem while relieving boredom and frustration. This, for the caregiver, involves being alert to the preserved abilities of the patient and helping develop and use the skills he or she still has. The more involved Alzheimer’s patients remain with the world around them, the more resourceful they will become at finding ways to keep their world from slipping away. AIGS.com

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Failure-proof recreational activities: Therapy that’s fun!

Eldergarden Adult Day Program

 

The most important aspect of a failure-proof activity is that it doesn’t frustrate.

Be open minded about any activities you present, if something doesn’t work, change it up or ditch it. It isn’t worth getting your feelings hurt over it. These ideas can be used (sometimes with modifications) nursing homes, or with in-home care. Keep note of what was a hit and what wasn’t.

Of course, that may change too, so be flexible and think of this as a worthy challenge and adventure. 

 

Here we go:

  1. Compile a track of oldies that are favorites to play, you are sure to get some toes tapping. 
  2. While they’re listening to some great music, why don’t you pull out a stretchy band! Use one long stretchy band for the group (you might want to have them sit), or a single band per person. Stretching in time to the beat is a great way to build up muscle and get the circulation going. 
  3. Hand out colorful scarves next, or beautiful ribbons streamers. I know, I know, we think these are for kids, but I’ll tell you, the times I sneak away with one of these to dance with, it makes me smile. That swirling color is mesmerizing.
  4. Speaking of oldies, some people love to play Corn Hole. Corn Hole uses bean bags which are tactile, soft and shouldn’t do too much damage if someone gets a little wild with their toys. You can build a corn hole using instructions, or use buckets or bowls or cardboard boxes for the holes.
  5. Watch old movies together. When you enjoy old movies together, you’re-not-doing-nothing. You are communicating the value that your loved one has to you.
  6. Walks are an excellent way to reduce stress for the elderly who able. However, if this is not a failure-proof activity for him or her, don’t agonize over it, move on to another option.
  7. Listen to stories. When you take the time to listen time and time again, you are allowing your loved one to feel connected.
  8. Have a reading time (this is good for a group or individual, as long as you have a way to make yourself adequately heard). Read old local newspapers, if you can get your hands on them, read magazines and classic books and poetry and the Bible.
  9. Have a sing time and take requests! Churches often are willing to come into Nursing Homes and sing hymns, find out if there is one near you that will send volunteers.
  10. Buy or print free from the web some beautiful coloring pages. It’s amazing what’s out there now! Provide plenty fresh crayons.
  11. Paint together and create a place on the wall to hang them using a long string anchored to the wall at two points. Hang the pictures using paper clips or clothes pins.
  12. Provide a piano, or a keyboard with headphones, whichever works best. Many people can still play instruments when other skills seem spotty. Need a guitar or other instrument? Ask around to see if someone wants to sell theirs, or will donate.
  13. Bring in someone who specializes in pets for therapy. Some people find pets very relaxing.
  14. Ask a school or homeschool co-op if they can send a choir, ensemble or instrumental group to come and play one afternoon. 
  15. Go for a drive on a beautiful day (I love doing this in Autumn).
  16. Play a board game or puzzle. If one is not the right fit, move on to another. Find inexpensive classics at garage sales second-hand stores.
  17. Cook familiar foods together and let your loved one do the parts she or he is comfortable with. 
  18. Create a calendar of local events that your loved one might enjoy. If outings are stressful, then don’t sweat this, do something fun at home.
  19. Have an ice-cream social with all of the toppings. 

Here is a link to the article which discusses the role of Failure-Proof Alzheimer’s Activities (I highly recommend it.) Failure-proof activities are beneficial:

  • For stimulating the brain.
  • Slowing progress of the disease.
  • Lessoning frustration.
  • Giving purpose, enjoyment and hope.
  • Preventing the spiral into isolation.

 

These are additional links which I found helpful.

 

To you who are struggling with Dementia-related diseases in your loved ones: My heart is with you.

To those who are researching, writing, providing therapy and creating tools for all of us who are caring for our loved ones, young or old: Thank you. You help us know we are not alone. 

The Songaminuteman:

Beauty in the midst of Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Mac McDermott shows us the perfect example of what a failure-proof activity can look like and the enrichment can bring to your family and others. Be inspired what he has to say on his Facebook About Page

Dad was a singer all his life – he was a Butlin’s Redcoat and then travelled around singing in clubs around the country. He worked in a factory after he got married and still did the bit of singing on side. His nickname is The Songaminute Man – simply because of how many songs he knows.

In the last few years his memory has deteriorated a lot – often not recognising family and with many aggressive episodes.

However, now when we’ve got him singing again he’s back in the room. It’s these moments that we treasure.

The plan is to share as much of Dad’s singing as we can and hopefully help raise money to fund the work of the Alzheimer’s Society – more specifically to go towards paying for a person at the end of the phoneline to help other people like us.

You can donate here: www.justgiving.com/songaminute

Janet Stephens, co-founder of Bear Paw Creek, is an important provider of movement props for therapists and activity directors. Bear Paw Creek makes colorful, high-quality movement props for use in stimulating and fun activities. You can get some today to use with your recreational activities in nursing homes or as part of a nursing home ministry in your church. 

What ideas or insights do you have about the topic of failure-proof activities? Let us know what you think in the comments!

 

I’m a freelance writer who enjoys writing content for small businesses. I am the wife of one and mother of many. Our family has dealt with issues in the last few years which have made me take a closer look at many diseases which affect the brain. My hope is that better relief will be found soon for so many suffering from Dementia and related diseases.
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