BY ANDREA BALIZET
Running a craft program with seniors can be a bit stressful for you, the person leading it, if you don’t keep a few things in mind and prepare well. I really love working with seniors, and I really enjoy crafts, but nevertheless there have been times when I have felt ready to pull my hair out during the class! Maybe you have felt the same way at times. The good news is that I do believe the more times you run a craft program the better you get at it, just like anything. Here are some great tips I have discovered along the way to make things go more smoothly, and to be more organized!
ALWAYS MAKE A SAMPLE OF THE CRAFT
It is super important to always make a sample of the craft first! This allows you to see if there are any aspects of the craft that you might need to modify to make it easier for your residents. Also, you can display the sample for your residents to see ahead of time so they can get excited about it. You may want to take it around at lunch and show your enthusiasm, which will hopefully be contagious! Plus, you need the sample for a visual during the program. Believe me, they will say, “can I see your sample?”
SET EVERYTHING UP AHEAD OF TIME
It sounds obvious, but I don’t think I always did this when I first started in Activities. Organization is so important in all aspects of Activities. At each place, have everything each person needs for the craft. This saves so much time and you don’t have everyone calling out that they need this or that! Don’t forget to cover your tables first though. I always used plastic table coverings and reused them.
PUT NAMES ON THEIR CRAFTS
Try to always remember to do this. If you don’t, you may very well regret it! I have found that the best time to do it is right before you start the craft if you can and a black Sharpie marker works great!
HAVE WET WIPES ON HAND
I think this is one of my best tips! Some residents do not tolerate glue or paint on their hands, and to be honest, I’m the same way! Having a container of them right there is the way to go. Picture me running back and forth to the sink wetting paper towels! Yes, I did that on more than one occasion. Our goal here is to keep things easy and to keep our residents happy!
REMIND YOUR RESIDENTS TO BRING THEIR GLASSES
If they can’t see they might just try to do it anyway, and end up very frustrated, so try to remind them if you can. Maybe a cute little memo would work the morning of the craft, like this!
GET A CORDLESS GLUE GUN!
To me this is an absolute necessity, and I was so excited when I first got mine!
Many crafts will need hot glue for a bow, a handle, or some other part of the craft. It is a lifesaver to be able to go around to each person and glue their craft instead of running back and forth. Just be careful using it so close to the person. Here is a link to the one I have that I love. Amazon.com: Cordless Hot Glue Gun, GoGonova 15s Fast Preheating Glue Gun, 5Ah Built-in Battery Hot Melt Glue Gun, Smart Power-Off, Kit with 25 Pcs Premium Mini Glue Sticks and USB-C Charging Port : Arts, Crafts & Sewing
HAVE DIFFERENT RIBBONS/EMBELLISHMENTS AVAILABLE
Have several colors and types of embellishments for your residents to choose from. This allows everyone’s projects to be individualized. An example would be to have different color ribbons for a craft that has a bow.
USE FOAM PAINT BRUSHES TO APPLY GLUE
Make applying glue or Mod Podge easier for residents by giving them a foam brush to apply it to larger areas. Just make sure to have a container of water to put the brushes in soon after or they will dry and get ruined. You can also give them a Q-tip and a little cup of glue for more meticulous projects. I also really like Elmer’s Craft Bond Precision Tip Glue Pens. The glue squeezes out easily and the precision tip is very helpful for seniors. Here is a link to them. Amazon.com: Elmers Craft Bond Glue Pen Value Pack -- Set of 6 Glue Pens (Presicion Tip, Clear, 2.12 Oz Total)
GATHER UP EXTRA PAIRS OF SCISSORS
For crafts where residents will be using scissors, bring as many pairs as you can find so they do not have to share so much. They can be very impatient, so this helps!
SET UP A SMALL FAN TO HELP DRY PAINT
Have a fan on a card table or counter to dry paint faster. This is so helpful, especially when multiple coats are needed. If you’re going to do this though, make sure you put their names on their craft ahead of time. You can have them work on other parts of the craft while paint is drying.
I really hope these tips are helpful! Feel free to share your ideas and thoughts and the helpful things you’ve discovered doing crafts! Thanks for reading!
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