Re-Creative Resources
By Kimberly Grandal, BA, CTRS, ACC, Executive Director
Kimberly Grandal,

Kimberly Grandal, Founder
and Executive Director of Re-
Creative Resources, Inc., is a
strong advocate for the field
of Therapeutic Recreation
and Activities, with over fifteen
years of experience working
with the elderly in numerous
management and consultant
positions.  She is an Activity
Consultant Certified and a
Certified Therapeutic
Recreation Specialist. Kim is
a member of the New Jersey
Activity Professionals
Association and the New
Jersey/Eastern Pennsylvania
Therapeutic Recreation

In 1990, Kim graduated from
William Paterson University
with a BA in Sociology and
later studied gerontology
courses at Union County
College and Therapeutic
Recreation courses at Kean
University. Throughout her
career, Kim has been the
Director of Therapeutic
Recreation for several long-
term care facilities, including
one of NJ’s largest.

In 2006, Kim founded Re-
Creative Resources Inc. She
is a speaker for various state
and local activity associations
such as NJAPA, MOCAP, and
NJACA, as well as the Society
of Licensed Nursing Home
Administrators of NJ. She
also offers lectures for Re-
Creative Resources Inc.,
local colleges, and
community groups, and
provides consultation and
support to numerous
facilities in the state.

Kim is the editor and writer
for the “The Rec-Room", a
monthly newsletter published
by her company. In addition,
she writes monthly articles
for the Activity Directors Office
newsletter, and has
contributed articles to
Creative Forecasting
Magazine, and The
Continuing Care Insite

Kim is a recipient of the
Kessler Institute of
Rehabilitation 1997 Triumph
of the Human Spirit Award.  
Her passion is to promote
the field of Therapeutic
Recreation and Activities and
to unite Recreation
Therapists and Activity
Professionals. Kim currently
serves on the NJAPA board
as the Chairperson for the
Legislation Committee.
Providing Internet Resources
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

Copyright 2004-Present
The Activity Director's Office
All Rights Reserved

Resources Inc.

Re-Creative Resources, Inc.
is committed to enhancing
the lives of long-term care
residents through the use of
Therapeutic Recreation. We
provide a variety of services
such as Therapeutic
Recreation seminars,
in-services, resources, form
development, program
analysis and development,
consultation, and support for
activity professionals and
recreational therapists. A
selection of downloadable
training materials and forms
are available for your
convenience as well as a free
job posting site.
SOS: Success-Oriented Sensory Stimulation
Part 2 - Kits and Themes

As stated in the last issue of the Activity Director Today E-magazine, sensory stimulation
programs are a critical component of an activity program in long-term care facilities. To have the
greatest impact on your residents, sensory stimulation programs and interventions must be
individualized and meaningful. The two easiest and effective ways of developing successful
sensory programs is by creating individualized sensory boxes and theme-related sensory kits.

Individualized sensory boxes can be one of the most effective ways to elicit responses from lower
functioning residents, or residents with Alzheimer's’s disease or related dementias. The important
thing is to gather items that are of greatest interest and importance to the resident and utilize
these items during sensory sessions. Once a sensory box is created, label it with the resident’s
name and determine the appropriate location to keep the box (resident’s room, nurses’ station,
day room, etc.) Maintaining these boxes takes commitment and organization, but is well worth the

The most challenging aspect of creating these personalized sensory boxes is gathering the
appropriate materials.  One way is to purchase items based on the resident’s initial activity
assessment. The dollar store is always a good option, however, some of the greatest sensory
boxes I have created came from items provided by family members. Not only is it a wonderful way
to gather unique and specific items of interest for a particular resident, but it is also a method of
informing family members that the activity department is providing specialized programming for
their loved one. The following is an example letter that you may send to the family members:

    Dear Family Member,

    The Recreation Department of (name of facility) offers sensory stimulation programs, one
    of the most common types of activities found in long-term care facilities. Simply stated,
    sensory stimulation is a technique that provides meaningful and common smells,
    movements, feels, sights, sounds, and tastes through the stimulation of all six senses.
    There are many benefits to providing sensory stimulation such as increased
    communication, environmental awareness, relaxation, cognitive stimulation, opportunity to
    build a rapport, enjoyment of a leisure experience, increased quality of life and much more.

    We would like to offer a personalized sensory stimulation program for your loved one by
    creating a Sensory Box.  The Sensory Box  will be filled with your loved ones favorite items
    and is generally used with those residents who are in the later stages of Alzheimer's’s
    Disease or other Dementia related disorders. The box will be utilized by the staff but are
    also a great tool for you to use during your own visits, making your visits more meaningful.  

    We really need your assistance in organizing these personalized Sensory Boxes in order
    to increase your loved one’s quality of life.  The more personal, the better! We ask that
    you please take a few moments to gather some of your loved one’s favorite items and bring
    them into the facility so we may begin this very important project.

    Some suggested items include but are not limited to:
  • Personal family photos
  • Favorite poems, stories, quotes or books
  • Favorite music
  • Knick-knacks
  • Awards or achievements
  • Favorite perfume or cologne
  • Religious items
  • Pictures or items related to their favorite color, recipes, season, food, hobbies etc.
  • Holiday memories
  • Items or pictures related to their former occupation
  • Items that identify your loved one as a special, unique person
  • Recorded voices of family members on a CD or cassette tape
  • Family videos or DVD

    We really hope that you can help us create a very individualized Sensory Box for your
    loved one.  Please bring in items at your earliest convenience. It is important to remember
    that items may be lost, or damaged, so please do not bring in items that cannot be
    replaced. You may drop them off with the receptionist or ask for me personally.  I am here
    (available times).    If you have any questions regarding this project, please feel free to
    contact me at (phone number).  Thank you!


    Your name and credentials
    Your title

Theme-related sensory boxes or kits are another creative way of providing a success-
oriented sensory program. Themes may be based on just about anything: holidays, seasons,
cultures, religions, gender, hobbies, colors, celebrations, and so on. Most activity calendars
reflect a theme or several themes throughout the month and it is very simple to incorporate
theme-related sensory into the monthly calendar. There are many ways in which to gather items
for these sensory kits:

  • Ask for donations (advertise: “Your junk may be our treasure!”)
  • Look around your office and storage areas
  • Look around your own house
  • Dollar store
  • Or you can purchase kits from Nasco, S & S etc.

An important aspect of creating these theme-related sensory kits is to ensure that each kit is
meaningful and appropriate for the residents. For instance, men’s sensory programming is often
challenging for activity professionals. The following are some examples of male-oriented kits:

Men’s Kit (a general kit)
  • Olfactory-cologne, shoe polish, shaving cream, woodchips (cedar, hickory, mesquite) etc.
  • Tactile-sandpaper, necktie, pocket watch, comb, work gloves, paintbrush, etc.
  • Auditory-marching or military music or favorite genre, sounds of nature/animals, etc.
  • Visual-nostalgic and family photos, personal memorabilia, etc.
  • Gustatory-various food and drinks in accordance with the resident’s diet
  • Kinesthetic-simple jigsaw puzzles, variety of balls, blocks of wood for sanding, etc.

Tool Box-fill a plastic tool box with items such as a paintbrush, tape measure, large nuts/bolts,
sandpaper, different types of wood such as oak or hickory, leveler, wood chips, etc.
Backpack-fill a backpack with camping/hiking gear such as a mess kit, canteen, compass,
flashlight, binoculars, pine cones, pine aromas, etc.
Tackle Box-fill a plastic tackle box with items such as fishing lures, reels,  small rod, bobbers, etc.
(remove all hooks), vanilla extract (often used on hands to cover-up fishy smell)
Cooler-fill a small cooler with sporting event items such as: water bottle, binoculars, pictures of
sports teams, sunglasses, vintage beer ads, baseball cap, a variety of small, soft sports balls
(soccer ball, baseball, basketball, hockey puck, etc.). smell of popcorn, peanuts, etc.

The most creative kits are created in advance and incorporate all of the senses. The following is
an example of a Sensory Planning Form

Title/Theme: Fruit

Recommended supplies, props and techniques for the following senses:

Olfactory (smell):  fresh fruits, fruit-scented aroma oils, fruit-scented hand lotion, fruit scented

Kinesthetic (Movement): fruit-shaped shakers, squeeze a lemon to make lemonade, pull
grapes off of the stems, etc.

Tactile (Touch): variety of plastic fruits, fresh fruits (peaches especially), familiar objects with
fruit designs (towels, oven mitts etc.)

Visual (Sight): pictures of fruit, plastic fruits, fresh fruits, familiar objects

Auditory (Sound): music (In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries),
fruit-shaped shakers

Gustatory (Taste): fresh fruits, fruit juices, lemonade, fruit Jell-O, applesauce, sherbet, fruit
smoothies, fruit pies: fruit-flavored lip balm or lemon glycerin swabs for NPO

Sample Questions:

  • What is your favorite fruit?  
  • Did you ever have a fruit tree? (Cherry, Peach, Apple, Pear, etc.)
  • Did you ever have a grape vine?
  • What is your favorite way to eat fruit?  
  • Have you even seen an orchard?  

Fruit Sayings:
  • There’s no comparing apples and oranges
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away
  • You’re a peach
  • Life is like a bowl of cherries
  • The apple of your eye
  • She’s some tomato
  • That’s a peachy idea
  • Nutty as a fruitcake
  • Peachy glow
  • You’re bananas
  • American as Apple Pie
  • That car is a lemon
  • The fruit of thy womb

Save the day by creating these fantastic sensory boxes and kits based on the residents’ interests
and various themes. It takes some planning and organization at first, but if maintained and stored
appropriately, less preparation will be needed in the future. The residents will benefit from your
SOS (success-oriented sensory program) more than you can imagine!

Copyright Kimberly Grandal, 2008.  All rights reserved.  - END