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Christine's Activities
by Christine Jennings
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Christine received her North
Carolina State AD
qualification through
Rowan-Cabarrus Community
College, Continuing Education
Health Occupations Program
in November 2007. She has
been volunteering at living
assistant and adult care
facilities since 2007. Christine
writes for The Rec-Room and
compiles fantastic monthly
theme-related activity ideas for
Christine's Column found on
the Re-Creative Resources'
Christine Jennings
Holiday/Celebration: Alaska Day
October 18th (yearly)

Overview: In celebration of the anniversary of the formal transfer of the
territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States. Make this day a fun
learning experience for your residents as you explore the great state of
Alaska, pan for gold, hunt Moose and end the day dancing under the
Northern Lights.

Object: Promotes:
  • Continued Education
  • Sensory skills
  • Cognitive skills
  • Socialization

Activities: (Activity name suggestions)
1.        North to Alaska
2.        Gold Rush
3.        Moose hunt
4.        Northern Lights

Activity 1 – North to Alaska (Continued Education)

Since there is so much to learn about Alaska you can break down this
activity into three different activities or just pick one that will work best with
your residents.
•        Learn about Alaska by reading books from the library or visit Alaska.
gov and click on “visitor” to get history, industrial, state facts, maps, and
photos on Alaska. Share your new information with the residents during a
morning discussion group. Stop by a travel agent and ask if they will loan
you some posters of Alaska to display for the day.
•        Get a DVD on the state of Alaska to show to your residents. The
library, a video rental store or a travel agent will have a DVD that you can
show so your residents can experience seeing Alaska from the comfort of
their chair.
•        Another suggestion is to get a guest speaker that has either been to
Alaska or has extended knowledge of the state. Ask residents, staff, family
or friends if any of them have traveled to Alaska that would like to share
their experience. If they have pictures or slides encourage them to bring
them to show as part of their presentation. During this time let the residents
ask questions to the guest speaker. If no one is available then ask a local
travel agent if they could give a presentation. Having a guest speaker that
has been to Alaska or has extended knowledge about the state makes for a
better learning experience.

Activity 2 – Gold Rush (Sensory skills)

In 1897 gold was discovered in Alaska and the gold rush era began. Let the
resident experience the thrill of sifting for gold like they did on the beaches
near the Alaskan city of Nome. Set up an area so your residents will have
sand to sift in their search for gold.
•        2 long plastic storage containers (like the kind to store things under a
bed) or large long boxes. A blow up kid’s pool will work too.
•        Several large bags of sand to fill the container or boxes half way full
of sand
•        Gold spray paint
•        Small rocks about the size of a pea or bean, in fact you can use dry
beans instead of rocks (about two cups full)
•        Small screens or sifting pans (like the kind you find in the children’s
toy section) or let the residents use their hands.
•        Fill containers/boxes with sand half way to the top.
•        Spray paint rocks or beans completely with gold paint.
•        Once the gold nuggets are dry, then toss and mix into the sand
making sure to cover them up.
•        Let residents sift for the gold nuggets just like they did during the
Alaska gold rush era.
•        When residents find their gold nugget give them a treat and let
another resident take their place. This is to ensure all residents attending
the activity will have a turn at finding gold.

As an option instead of using gold painted rocks purchase the gold foil
covered candy coins to mix in the sand for the residents to find. You could
also do a combination of the gold rocks and a few gold coins to make it
extra fun for the residents.

Activity 3 - Moose hunt (Cognitive skills)

This is a matching game where residents must match the names of famous
Alaskans which are printed on the back of the moose circles. Play it just like
a picture match game.

•        Color construction paper
•        Moose shape cut-outs or printed picture
•        Tape
•        Marker
•        Display board (or you can use wall or floor)

Instructions for making the moose circles:
•        Cut out a round solid color circle out of construction paper.
•        Glue a moose shape cut-out or picture on the front of the circle.
•        On back of circle write one famous Alaskan name.
•        Make sure you do two with the same name so they will have a match.
•        Mix the moose circles up and then on the front write a number on the
•        Place them in several rows to form a large square on a board or if
they are large circles you can place them on the floor.
How to play the game:
•        Ask each resident one at a time to pick two moose circles by calling
out the numbers.
•        Turn them over to see if the names match. If they don’t match, turn
them back over in the same spot.
•        If they found a match the resident can take another turn. (only allow
two correct turns until everyone has had a chance to play)
•        If the names don’t match then next person gets a turn.  
•        The resident with the most moose wins a special treat, but everyone
who attends should get a cup of Moose Tracts Ice Cream.

Below are names you can use in your matching game along with what
makes them famous:
•        John Luther Adams, composer
•        Marty Beckerman, author
•        Irene Bedard, actress
•        Mario Chalmers, professional basketball player
•        Matt Carle, professional ice hockey player
•        Daryn Colledge, professional football player
•        Mike Gravel, former U.S. Senator
•        Walter Hickel, former two time Governor and Secretary of the Interior
under President Richard Nixon
•        Jewel, singer/songwriter
•        Sarah Palin, former Alaskan Governor and 2008 Republican vice
presidential nominee
•        Elizabeth Peratrovich, civil rights activist
•        Sean Rash, Professional Tenpin Bowler

There are many more you can use on Wikipedia under the information on

Activity 4 - Northern Lights (Socialization)

Have a social dance for residents, staff, family and friends. Let there be
music, dancing and fun under the northern lights. If you can hire a band or
DJ to provide the music, great, but CD’s will be just fine as long as it is loud
enough for all to hear and enjoy. You can serve light refreshments or see if
the kitchen staff can come up with a dessert to fit your Alaska theme, like a
theme decorated cake or an easy Baked Alaska. A frosty punch would be
fun along with coffee and tea to drink.  There are not a lot of iceberg punch
recipes; however I did find one on called “Iceberg
Eggnog Punch” you could try. If you don’t want to try a new recipe, then
chip a large piece of ice into the shape of an iceberg to float in your usual
punch recipe.

Set up your facility room to reflect the name of the social activity “Northern
Lights”. String lights around the room or from the ceiling to use as the stars.
To increase the illusion of the northern lights you can use iridescent clear
wrap or tulle to cover the lights which will give them a special glow like the
Aurora borealis (the northern lights of Alaska see info and pictures on under “things to do”). To add to your room add small pine trees
in the corners of the room and Forget-Me-Not flowers (Alaska state flower)
on the tables. If you don’t have small pine trees you can either contact a
local florist to see if they will loan you some potted trees for the day, or use
small artificial pine trees. Since we want to keep your residents safe from
falls wait until everyone is in the room to turn off the regular lights so the
residents can enjoy the star lights. Afterwards turn the regular lights back
on and enjoy the party.
Other suggestions for this theme:

•        Check out the great information from to use for game
activities such as word search, city name scrambles, or crossword puzzles.
•        For a cooking activity let your residents make a super easy Baked
Alaska Pie which can be found on and enter in the
search box “Baked Alaska Pie”. Or you can let them make a Chocolate
Mousse instead and the has an article on how to prepare this
•        Instead of playing Bingo, play Moose. Create moose cards and play
just like Bingo.
•        Have a dog sled race just like you do the Kentucky Derby race.
Purchase small wooden sleds at the Dollar Store (or make them from
Popsicle stick) and a toy dog. Attach the dog to the sled and let the race
•        Cut out moose tracks (they look like deer hoofs, just a lot bigger) and
make a trail for the residents to follow to get their daily walk in around the
•        Let the residents build an igloo with sugar cubes and icing to display
as center pieces for the Northern Lights social tables. No sugar cubes, then
use Marshmallows instead.