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Gardening, horticulture, nature crafts and recreation therapy

bulletSand Art Workshop
submitted by Maysa Mazhar on October 13, 2010

Size of Group: any size

Equipment: You may need sand art rack for group event

Objective: It is a great sensory activity for most ages. It is also educational and designed to encourage creativity, confidence building and hands Ėon aspect of art projects in children. Kids love it.

How Sand Art Board work?
1. You peel the pre-cut sticker from the board surface to expose the sticky area
2. Apply colored sand producing a beautiful and colorful board with no glue, no water and no scissors How to set it up?

o You just need three items to set this up: 1. Various colors of Colored Sand 2. Sand Art Boards and 3. Sand Art Racks.
o Four lbs of colored sand is enough to create 25 small or medium sand art boards
o The Sand art rack is specially designed and holds six containers of colored sand with spoons attached for scooping the colors. The Sand Art racks are long lasting.
o plastic skewers to use to peeling off the pre-cut sticker from the boards.

Sand Art boards come in variety of designs. They are specially designed for school or any art projects or events.

You can also get Sand Art Pre-Packed Do-it-yourself Kit. It includes all you need to create the sand art masterpiece.

Please visit out website: to better understand the new sand art craft. We have a lot of pictures.


Horticultural Therapy Program Plans
submitted by Charles Sourby


submitted by christine ford of victoria house assisted living on August 3, 2007

Size of Group: 10 or more

Equipment: cardboard, glue ,sea ,shells ,colored sand spray varnish or clear coat

stimulate memory, eye hand coordination, creativity

Description: At the table give everyone a basket of shells. We pre-glue the card board leaving the center blank. every time someone picks a shell they share a story if they were at the beach. The bigger the shell the more detail they have to give. At the end of the project I write their name in glue and sprinkle with colored sand and let dry overnight and spray with a clear coat varnish. We hang them on the their door or wall.

Decorating Empty Plastic Buckets For Planting
submitted by Jose Figueroa of Buffalo Psychiatric Center New Beginnings Program on April 19, 2004

Size: 6 to 8

Equipment: Empty plastic containers 3 to 5 gallons

Objective: Horticulture. Creativity through imaginative art in decorating empty plastic containers for the purpose of using them for planting flowers, vegetables, etc. Increase self esteem and values.

Description: Collect empty plastic containers. Remove lids. Wash them well. Drill holes on the bottom of buckets. With paint (spray paint, oil base paint or acrylics) use your imagination and decorate them with hand painted pictures of favorite plant, flowers or vegetables. Let dry. Seal them with clear spray paint for a shiny coat. Fill them up with potting soil. Plant your favorite plant and watch them grow with love and tender care.

(Give participants ideas, but allow them to use their imagination) Works better with participants with low self esteem. Give praise for job well done. If vegetables are grown, allow participants to make salads. If flowers are grown, allow participants to photograph them. Enjoy.

Garden Club
Submitted by Dee Maust of Beverly Healthcare on January 29, 2004

Size: 6-10

Equipment: Small scoops, potting soil, pots, planters, watering cans, regular scissors or safety scissors, towels and patience.

Objective: To promote eye hand coordination, a sense of self worth and relaxation.

Description: Before bringing residents into the room and before activity program begins, bring any plants already growing into the room and place them on tables for attractive visual. This will be inviting to residents that are interested in gardening. Give each person a plant to tend and an empty watering can. Fill a large watering can with water if there is no access to water in the activity room. Some may want to just water the plants.(hint, for some people you may want to fill their watering cans with just enough water to water one plant.) Some people like to groom the plants with their scissors. Some residents enjoy putting new cuttings in their new pot with potting soil. Converse with residents about the different plants.

Last spring, we brought flowers from a local nursery. We put long planters on two chairs with one end of planter on one chair and the other end on the other chair. We had a large opened bag of potting soil in a wheelbarrow to make it easy for residents to scoop the dirt from the wheelbarrow into the planter while sitting in their wheel chair. Some of the residents planted Petunias, Geraniums, Marigolds etc...Some just liked scooping the soil, watering or just touching. We have gardening at least once a week in our facility and usually just groom and take care of the plants we already have.
Happy Gardening!!

Nature Prints
Submitted by Cathy La Prova of Providence Adult Day Health Center on October 22, 2003

Equipment: White foam craft sheets, various fresh natural materials (leaves, twigs, pinecones, etc.) and floral spray paint (at least two different colors)

Objective: Place mats or Artwork with beautiful natural images

Description: Have the person arrange his/her natural objects in a pleasing pattern on a sheet of white foam craft material (any size). Lay this sheet on the ground outside and spray paint it, leaving the objects in place. When the objects are removed, their images will remain in white. This creation could be used as a place mat or hung on the wall as artwork.

Flower Arranging
Submitted by Tonia McCormick on May 30, 2002 at 02:43:20

Size: 8

oasis block
cellophane gift wrap

Objective: sensory stimulation through sight touch and smell. Residents enjoy this activity as it is achievable for those with dementia, validating achievable skills.~ Promotes feelings of enhanced self esteem and fun. Reminiscence by talking of gardening and flowers~ prompted by discussions of events one would receive flowers for~ etc.

Description: soak oasis block in water. Cut to smaller size or leave whole. place ~ cellophane wrap on table with oasis block in the for each resident. Arrange flowers and foliage in oasis block. Draw cellophane up around block and foliage/flowers tie with up with water as required. We use curling ribbon as it gives a nice effect.

Gardening Club
submitted by Sonia Taylor of Gentlefolks Nursing Home, Pegwell ,Barbados on March 22, 2001

Size: Any

Equipment: Different types of seeds - fruits, veggies or flowers, bowls. A diagram of a plant,a bristol board, markers. Phase 4 - a garden spot, hoes pick, gardening tools - good weather!

Objective: The objective of this activity is to enhance awareness of the environment around them through touch and sensation. Most patients enjoy reminiscing about their gardens whether they planted flowers or vegetables long ago. This activity also enables those with Alzheimer's to recall past experiences through touch and smell. Social impact was phenomenal!

Description: Gather your group in a circle. What I did was prepare them beforehand with an overview of "how plants grow" . I showed them a diagram of a plant and asked questions about what makes plants grow i.e. water, sunlight, manure, etc. and wrote it down. Then I let them name the different parts of the plants root, stem, leaves etc. Although this may be difficult for some to remember, recall was fun.

I had collected different seeds and one by one let everyone touch and describe the seeds, rough, smooth, big, small, long etc. One resident kept saying" only plant two seeds at a time, no more. So I made her my Chief Agricultural advisor.

Phase two - the seeds were then planted in small pots and watered by the residents every two days. This encouraged responsibility as they had to nurture the plants to later be replanted.
I found that even my Alzheimer's patients enjoyed getting outside and staying active.

Phase Three - In about 7-10 weeks ( depending on growth of the plants) they were then transplanted to a garden area. Now, I ended up doing most of the work, bending over and planting but I had many "helpers". On another day I encouraged my gardening club to gather in the afternoons to sit and drink tea or lemonade and observe the plants in their various stages of growth. Residents talked about the gardens they kept long ago and were very happy to see their own accomplishments.

Phase Four - Pick and eat the veggies. Make flower arrangements have a sale, make preserves or make a nice salad!

Visiting Gardens
Submitted by Nancy Hahn of Sidney Square Care Center on Saturday, January 20, 2001

Size: 1-4

Equipment: 25 gallon bin, growing medium, plants, small gardening tools, small watering can, foam packing peanuts, a cart to move it on.

Objective: Gardening in room or shared area allows an appreciation of nature, raises self esteem through achievement, promotes fine motor skills, and allows social interaction.

Description: Fill the bottom of the bin with foam packing peanuts to about 6 inches. Cover with growing medium leaving about 4 inches from the top empty. Plant a variety of flowers and herbs your choice in bin (I prefer edible or at least non toxic). This bin on a cart can sit in a sunny window most days. It can be taken to the rooms of those who are not mobile. It is nice to use in a small group of consumers. The activity consists of watering, pinching of dead leaves, pruning, picking flowers, sharing herbs grown with others, and admiring growth.

Flower and Branch Arrangements
Submitted by Jorge Goldfarb of Regional Nursing Home, BrorHailon December 14, 2000

Size: about 10

Equipment: flat plastic potting pots;any firm granulated material;small secateurs;small branches and flowers, long lasting (about 10 days)

Objective: Expected to be a creative recreational activity. Opportunity for the patient to apply composition in order to make an (aesthetically) pleasing arrangement. To add in connecting the person with the world of plants.

Description: Members of the group are elderly disabled persons.

Each one is offered 3 or 4 pots (hard plastic, about 10 cm. diam, 5cm.height) filled with some wet granulated material. (I use crushed volcanic rock because of its low bulk density, but very small pebbles mixed with coarse sand are also suitable). They are also given small branches and flowers, previously cut to suitable size and with 2-3 cm of the basis peeled off from leaves. The idea is to make insertion of the plant material into the media as easy as possible.At the first meeting the persons are induced to do as they please; the attendants do not give any hints of what is "correct" or aesthetic.The arrangements are set in a display in the dining room, with name labels;the people is requested to water lightly their arrangements every two days,mostly as a "keep in touch" procedure; it's important to select branches and flowers which do not wilt fast and can stand at least a weak in good condition for at least 10 days(central heating accelerates wilting).

At the second meeting, after a week, more plant material is offered so as to replace what doesn't look good. Also some gentle hints are given about rules of composition, but only if people ask for it (most of them don't). In a third meeting more interesting or peculiar containers are supplied, but always small containers because people in the group have difficulty in handling larger vases and long stemmed branches and flowers. After the fourth meeting, we move to garden dishes and mini landscapes. (These will be reported in another communication).

I am very interested to share experiences with others doing similar activities. Please feel free
to ask for techniques and tips and more detailed reactions of the group members. I am also exploring a theoretical framework of the interaction between the person and his creation. (Jorge Goldfarb at jorgeg*

Adopt a Spot
Lorice Smith on Wednesday, February 2, 2000

Size: 6 to 8

Equipment: Garden shovel, plants or bulbs and patience

Objective: To improve social skills, allow clients to have an opportunity to take care and nurture. Promotes simple physical movement

Description: Gather 6 to 8 consumers who enjoy the great outdoors. Supply bulbs or plants, fertilizer, garden shovel and start working. When the activity is done, allow consumers the opportunity to discuss what they enjoyed about the activity. We call this act: Adopt a Spot and keep it beautiful all year long. Plant vegetables in the summer and offer them to friends and also make a nice salad. We did this last year at the our facility and the consumers immensely enjoyed this activity


Adapted Gardening Program
submitted by Kelly Gadowski of Hillview Healthcare Center

Size: small 3-4

Equipment: gardening shovel, rich soil, 12" pot in width and a 10" pot in width (and deep enough to plant flowers and roots to grow), interested residents in gardening, watering can, table and chairs outdoors.

Objective: Gardening enhances residents eye hand coordination. Increases their awareness of their surroundings, gives them a change of environment to be outdoors in the fresh air. Gardening also gives them great sense of self-esteem, seeing progress in the growth of their garden! Description: This program is currently going on at my facility with students from a nearby University. Pre-OT students that need to do volunteer work to enter the program are running the gardening program three days a week to ensure proper growth and care of the plants that would be difficult for staff to keep up with. First day: volunteers came to dig holes in the ground of our rock landscaping big enough to fit the 12" pots (there are 12 total) nice and snug and stationary so that it will NOT come out! The 10"(12 of them also) pots are then filled with soil and put inside the 12" ones.

The reasoning behind this is so residents can wheel up to a short table or chair, the volunteer grabs the pot out of the ground and brings it to the resident to prune and water and when finished, it can be easily propped back into the ground . The residents planted them the first week and then prune and water the weeks after. After they are finished they discuss what their flower gardens ! held, how they took care of them and so forth. Each volunteer was paired up with 4 residents. This was in case a resident wasn't feeling up to joining in the group we still had back up participants. The volunteers run this program on their own. One comes in on Monday to water, two on Wed (they do a big group) and one on Friday! The residents have great comments. The left over flowers were planted in tiny pots for resident rooms. We used Petunias: that seemed to be the most popular flower among residents and the pots were donated by a local nursery! GOOD LUCK! HAPPY GARDENING!

Pine Cone Bird Feeder Ornaments
Submitted by Becky Neeley

Size: 3-10

Equipment: Pine cones; sturdy string; plastic knives; peanut butter; cake decorating sprinkles (Editors note: use bird seed instead as sprinkles have no nutritional value for bird).

Objective: For participants to experience creativity and utilize fine motor skills.

Description: Distribute peanut butter on pine cone, then sprinkle with cake decors (Editors Note: use bird seed instead), such as sugar or confetti sprinkles. Attach string to pine cone, then assist participants in hanging their creations for the birds to enjoy! This activity is fun for any population, but can be especially valuable when working with Alzheimer's patients; they are sometimes prone to put non-edible things in their mouths, but this activity is safe for them in that aspect. If this activity is used for a more cognizant group, the ornaments may be made for use on a Christmas tree by simply using glue, glitter, sequins, etc.


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