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Activities Home | Index of Activities

Active Games for Small to Medium Sized Groups

Physical Education Activity Guide - The Web's best selection of
board games, brain teasers and puzzles.

submitted by Grady Tezeno of Leisure Alternaitves on November 4, 2006
Size of Group: 2 to 6 clients
Equipment: Ping pong  balls or checkers, one/two tables and 20 ounce hard plastic cups 
Objective: To increase hand and eye coordination and socialization
Description: Place the cups on to a the midpoint of the table and have a player at each end of the table.  Players alternate by taking turns.  Set distances away from each cup, leaning close to the cup is permissible.  The objective of the game is to bounce the balls in the or toss the checkers within a predetermine time. The person who scores the most ball/checkers is the winner.  This activity also can be play outdoors by using PVC pipes which should be bolted to a flat square shape woodsurface (which provides support) and using light weight washers instead of ping pong balls and checkers.  In addition, this activity can be use as team sport activity and can be set up like a golf course.  Rules can be adapted to meet the needs of others.

Wacky table bowling
submitted by T.J. Shovein of The Lingenfelter Center on December 27, 2006
Size of Group: 1-10
Equipment: Small plastic cups, medium weight ball or water filled small beach ball, and tables.
Objective: The activity is designed for geriatric residents to help with range of motion and fitness.  Works great with wheelchair residents.
Description: Align three small tables in a row. Stack the plastic cups at one end of the table either in bowling pin line up or we like to make a pyramid.  Fill a small beach ball part water and part air.  At the other end of the tables have the residents use the ball to roll down the tables to knock down the cups (pins).  The water will make the ball move in different directions and some of the residents find it funny to watch the ball.  You can also use a regular ball or shorter table length


Big Buck Hunt
submitted by Dianna Alderman of Heartland of Ann Arbor on September 30, 2007

Size of Group: 5-20

Equipment: construction paper, markers, glue, and deer hunting magazine

Objective: To increase fine motor skills, enhance sense of well being, and encourage socialization and reminiscing.

Description: Two part activity. First have group gather and pick deer out of a magazine. Cut and paste onto construction paper. The next day on opening day of deer hunting have patients gather for a BIG BUCK HUNT. You will hide the deer all over your facility with numbers. You will instruct the patients that they will win a prize for the most deer found. This is a scavenger hunt. Assist patients around facility and encourage staff to walk those who can walk. You can conclude activity with a social and chili for the snack. Encourage patients to reminisce about hunting or sending husbands off to hunt. This is a great group activity and many staff will be delighted to help. You can encourage staff and patients to wear flannel shirts on the day of the hunt.


Leapin' Frogs
submitted by Joanne McAulay of Edgewood Park Nursing Facility on July 15, 2010

Size of Group: 12

Equipment: Rice filled frogs or turtles or any other animal, lily pad with flowers

Objective: Physical exercise and friendly competition. Craft was also involved with the residents helping to stuff the frogs first with filling and then with rice.

Description: I made a lily pad out of an old doona cover and put 11 lily flowers on it. On some of the flowers I put numbers...3 on the middle one, 2 on some of the others and 1 on some of the outside ones. The object of the game is to toss your frog on to the lily flower and gain the most points. The winner is the one with the highest points...they of course won a Freddo Frog!!

Hanging Ball
submitted by penny dyer of ben on November 25, 2008

Size of Group: 2 to 6

Equipment: inflated beach ball, string, hook in ceiling

Objective: arm and trunk exercise, socialization, attention span, fun

Description: the participants sit in a circle around the hanging ball and push it to each other. This is almost a reflex action and is always enjoyed by our residents.

Balloon bop
submitted by Kimberley McGowan of Issaquah Nursing & Rehab Center on December 24, 2008

Size of Group: 2-20

Equipment: 1-Bright balloon-For slower moving residents add very little helium and blow the rest up it causes the balloon to fall slower.

Objective: Eye/Hand coordination-Hand-arm/Feet-leg workout

Description: Place in a circle OBJECT is to have them hit the balloon with feet or hands without it touching the ground. Put a twist in it have them count hoe many times it is hit. You could add extra balloons. This game will last about an hour.



End of the rainbow coin toss
submitted by Jen Johns of Golden Living Center -- Riverdale on February 25, 2010

Size of Group: Small group

Equipment: Chocolate coins to toss and Pot of gold container for coins

Objective: Group socialization and hand-eye contact

Description: similar to bean bag toss but use chocolate coins.... The winner gets the pot of coins!


Penny Toss
submitted by Barbara Konuszewski of Huron Woods on September 23, 2009

Size of Group: 12-20

Equipment: Container of 50-100 Pennies. 30 various small prizes. A full-size white sheet with about 12 various-sized plate circles traced with marker on it-circles should be towards the center of the sheet, not near the edges.

Objective: Social Interactive Activity To Promote Eye-Hand and Spatial Coordination, and FUN!

Description: Need a roomy place to do this activity (dining rooms work great). A sheet is spread out and small prizes are placed in each circle. Prizes can be candy bars, snacks, small stuffed animals, Kleenex, socks, can of nuts etc. Make sure prizes do not cover the circle. Players are seated around the sheet on all sides. Each person is given 5 pennies to toss. THE RULES: Only one person tosses a penny at a time. The penny must land inside the circle or at least touch the circle-line in order to win.


Seated Soccer
submitted by Amy Wakley of Benevolent Society on May 2, 2006

Size of Group: 5-15

Equipment: Large exercise ball, chairs

Objective: Promotes team spirit, enjoyment, exercise and reflexes

Description: Chairs should be arranged in a circle in a large room. Allow residents/clients to gently kick the ball across the room to one another.


Submitted by Victoria Whitehead of Avonleigh Gardens Residential Home on June 11, 2006

Size of group: any size

Equipment: medium size soft football and large washing basket

Objective: socialization. Hand-eye coordination. Exercise for the hands and arms

Description: the individuals have to throw the ball into the basket. Depending on individuals abilities this can be easy or really difficult. They have as many goes as they need to get the ball into the basket. It is up to the organizer to put the basket at a reasonable distance for each individual (not everyone will do the same distance)the organizer encourages the individual to keep on trying and also encourages others to encourage them. You move around the group until every one as been able to throw the ball successfully in the basket. Then you start again but this time you move the basket a little further away. The organizer may need to give verbal assistance to some such as throw a little higher or harder in order for them to get the ball in the basket.


Keep it going Volleyball
Laura Smith on Tuesday, January 21, 2003 

Size: 4+ (larger the area, the more people who can participate!)

Equipment: Beach Ball, chairs

Objective: To increase physical activity, improve problem solving skills, and increase team work.

Description: This is great when patients are unable to leave a unit, or have to stay indoors.

Start by having all participants sit in a chair scattered around the room.

The object is to count every time the beach ball is hit by a hand (or head). If the beach ball at anytime rolls flat (no bouncing) on the floor or a table, the count starts over again at 1. The ball can bounce off the walls, tables, floor, ceiling etc., but just cannot roll flat.

Added Rules are:
1. no one is allowed to stand up as long as the ball is in play.
2. No kicking, spiking
3. No monopolizing the ball only 2 hits in a row by same person count (higher functioning groups figured out it was easiest to monopolize to get a high score)
4. Not allowed to have just a small group pass back and forth to each other over and over

The final goal is to see if the team can break the record. This activity works great with ages 12-17 in patient's. My first group's record was 25, it's now up to 1,017! You'll see natural leaders blossom, and problem solving comes in play especially when there are holes the ball keeps falling flat into. Great for teamwork, because not one person can fail, since everyone is on one team.



Circle Volleyball
submitted by Amy Jaroszewski of Glenwell on October 18, 2006
Size of Group: 10+
Equipment: Chairs and Beach Ball
Objective: This is a activity to get everyone involved
Description: Everyone sits in a circle and tries to keep the ball in the air by hitting it to another person. Even the people watching get involved because the ball always gets hit out of the circle and they like being the gofers but they never want to play but as long as you have them watch from the outside they will be involved.

Balloon Volleyball
submitted by Jo-Ann C. Kedzierski, RPS of Mercer Geriatrics, Trenton, NJ on October 10, 2001

Size: Two or more

Equipment: Large sturdy, brightly colored balloon and sturdy string , ribbon or yarn.

Objective: Exercise, improvement of eye/hand coordination, socialization, self esteem, FUN!

Description: Hang balloon from ceiling with string, ribbon or yarn. I prefer yarn. It gives more bounce. Place residents at a table or in a circle. Have them hit it to each other. They love it and will play for quite awhile. Coordinate the balloon color to season. I like to draw with a marker on them, ie. orange for Autumn with a jack-o'-lantern face, white for winter with a Santa face, light blue for Spring with flowers etc. Use your imagination. Play music that is appropriate and fun, ie. Polka, Rock-n-Roll, Patriotic for holidays. Simple but fun!


Variation by Lorie Antonelli (November 11, 2002): you will need a balloon, preferably a colorful one, and a volleyball net. You may designate teams, for competitive purposes but it is not necessary. Just begin playing ball. The benefits are obvious and it is fun for the RT's to play also. We sometimes vary the game a bit by playing with music. Kind of like musical balloon, whomever has the balloon when the music stops, that person has to say something positive about their day. Makes for some great conversations! have fun!


Variation by Frieda Jones, Activities Director of Appling Nursing Home on January 28, 2002 Equipment: table net, like a ping pong size net, punch ball balloons, couple of tables, music like hokey pokey. Description: make two teams. put one team on one side of long table and other team on other side. blow up 2-3 punch ball balloons. Play tape like hokey pokey, and let fun begin. Players just keep hitting balloons back and forth over net like volleyball.


Variation by Carolyn Shrimplin of Pines Of Sarasota on May 12, 2004. Sit 4 or more residents in a circle ..Must be enough room so they won’t hit each other. Balloons need to be pinch of helium ..and the rest lung air, so that the balloon will float without hitting ceiling. Residents are the encouraged to hit balloon with racquet to any resident they chose and so forth. You can keep score for fun. Use music that is not too fast paced. Activity person plays along too. This activity has proven to be a lot of fun for residents.


Note by Kris Tina on July 13, 2005. My resident's love this game. We take a balloon and just hit it in the air back and forth. if you have children at home they often refer to the game as don't touch the ground.


Variation by Halley Stringham. Place an equal number of residents on both sides of net, give them all a fly swatter and play! Residents will use flyswatters to pass the balloon to teammates, or hit it over the net. Follow normal volleyball rules. Great for individuals in wheelchairs.


Balloon Toss Variation submitted by Daphne of Gem Health

Size of Group: 1-20

Equipment/Supplies Needed: one balloon

Activity/Treatment Objective or Expected Outcome: Increase upper body movement.
Promote social interaction with leader and other residents

Description of the Activity: This activity is very simple - our dementia residents absolutely love it. At our facility residents are usually sitting around the common area already, so we just show up with a balloon and toss it to a resident. It's not long before nearby residents are smiling and reaching out to bat or catch the balloon as well. We move around the room engaging groups of 2 or 3 at a time. You could also arrange residents in a circle, but for us, the beauty is that it is not necessary to move anyone - residents can stay where they are and get some exercise and socialization. This is also something that nursing staff can do during quiet times



submitted by Clarissa Groenevelt

Size: various number

Equipment: Snow and imagination

Objective: Great outside activity.

Description: Make a "pie" shape in the snow and cut pieces in it (like eight serving). The size of the circle could be as large as the group would like. It could depend on the age - smaller circle (8 - 10 feet across) for the little kids and larger (10 - 15 feet across) for the bigger kids. 

The center where all the cuts come together is the"free space." Now play tag! The center is the only place you can rest for awhile.

Places I've Been
submitted by Dennis Klenow CTRS of Havenwych Hospital on March 15, 1999

Size of Group: 8-20

Equipment: One chair for each participant, arranged in a circle, the leader will start off standing

Objective: Socialization, Reminiscing

Description: Each participant sits in one of the arranged chairs. The leader starts off by naming one place that they have visited in the past, for example on vacation. All the participants that have visited that location, must rise out of their chairs and find a new chair somewhere else in the circle. The leader finds himself or herself a chair and now there is a new person in the circle. This participant now must name a place they have visited. This continues until everyone has had a chance to be in the center of the circle or until time expires. The leader makes sure that on the last turn, he or she is left in the circle in order to bring the group to a close with discussion or processing.

Snowball / Marshmallow throw
submitted by Pat Snyder of North Woods Nursing Center on July 9, 1999

Size of Group: 8 to 10

Equipment: large plastic mixing bowls
3 to 4 bags of marshmallows dusted with flour to keep from getting sticky.

1) Interactive social contact and exercise
2) promote social interaction, release aggression safely
3) participants learn to cooperate for successful outcome and lots of laughs

Description: Seat persons seated in a circle
Give each person a bowl to hold on their lap and put 10 marshmallows in each bowl.

First players throw marshmallows into each others bowls as leader counts down time ( 2 minutes )

Player with the most marshmallows in their bowl wins. Or you could play this game so the person without ay marshmallows wins. Use your imagination and let me know your ideas. We have had a lot of fun with this, everyone is covered with white spots in the end!


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