|THE ACTIVITY DIRECTOR'S OFFICE
|Silvana's Practical Insights
by Silvana Clark, Professional speaker, presenting keynotes and workshops
on humor in the workplace as well as ideas on creative activities.
Silvana Clark began her
activity/recreation career 20
years ago as a spotter for kids
on a trampoline. Every
Saturday, for four hours, she'd
watch kids bounce up and
down, up and down, up
and...you get the idea. Since
then she's written eleven
books and is a popular
speaker at conferences
around the country. She was a
keynoter at the British
Professionals conference and
recently gave a keynote for the
Her sessions are filled with
humor, practical information
and small group activities.
She is recovering from her
appearance on the Fox reality
show, Trading Spaces, where
she spent a week living with a
family that saw no need for
any kind of fun activities.
Contact her at
Since April is National Humor Month, why not look for extra silly ways to add humor to your
programs? Here are some ideas to make residents and their family’s wonder where you come
up with these ideas!
How about a few magic tricks? Don’t worry, you don’t need to cut anyone in half. These tricks
are easy yet have a big impact.
The Non-Popping Balloon: Ahead of time, blow up an ordinary balloon and tie the end shut.
Take about a 2” strip of ordinary tape and put it anywhere on the balloon. Now add another
piece of tape on top, forming an “X”. With great flourish, show everyone that you have an
ordinary balloon. Bounce it in the air, so people know it isn’t a trick balloon. Bring out a straight
pin. Make up some sort of magician-sounding patter and announce you will put the needle in
the balloon and it will NOT pop. Poke the needle right through the middle of the “X” with the
tape. The balloon will slowly loose air, but will not pop. Let everyone see that yes indeed, you
did stick the pin in the balloon without popping it. To show the balloon is real, remove the pin
and quickly pop the balloon on any other location. The crowd is guaranteed to burst into
The Amazing Appearing Name: Here’s a trick you can use over and over for different
occasions. Let’s say you want to honor someone having a birthday. Ahead of time, when no
one is watching, use clear chap stick to print the birthday person’s name on the underside of
your arm. Then stand in front of the group, announcing you have nothing up your sleeve.
Wave your arms back and forth so people see your arms look “normal”.
Again, in your best magicians’ voice, announce, “Ladies and Gentlemen. We’re here to
celebrate a very special person having a birthday today. That person’s name will now be
revealed to all of us. At this point, simply sprinkle some colored sand from your craft closet or
even some flour, over your arm with the Chap Stick. The flour sticks to the Chap Stick. Shake
tour arm to remove excess powder and the person’s name will magically be written on your
arm. Watch out David Copperfield!
After you’ve amazed everyone with your magical skills, it’s time to add humor with this
humorous type of talent show. This month, focus on every resident’s special talents. Set aside
an evening or two for a “Wild and Wacky Talent Show”. Residents and staff take turns
demonstrating their unique talents. One slight difference…the talent has to be something that
wouldn’t be seen at a traditional talent show. Oh no! These talents include skills such as your
nursing director balancing a broom handle on the palm of her hand or a resident
demonstrating how he can burp on command. (Now that’s a skill!) Can you regale your
residents by doing your perky high school cheerleading routine? One assisted living center
had two displays of “un-talent” each day at lunch. By the end of the month, the displays of
“talent” consisted of popcorn popping demonstrations and knuckle cracking contests!
Add some humor to your normal game of BINGO. Make up new cards with HALLELUIAH across
the top, and numbers down below. Play as you would the regular game, except the winning
person has to yell out “Halleluiah”!
Tell your residents they are all getting their own aquariums for their rooms. Go to the Dollar
Store and buy inexpensive jars of blue styling gel. Put a few Tablespoons of gel in a re-
sealable bag. Toss in a few small plastic or gummy fish. Seal the bag and reinforce with a trip
of duct tape. Give your residents their own mini-aquariums.
April 25th is National Penguin Day. Add humor to an ordinary day by:
• Dress in Black and White to look like a penguin.
• Serve a black and white smorgasbord of Oreo cookies, mashed potatoes, black eyed
peas, licorice, rice, chocolate pudding, milk, etc.
• Play penguin waddle with the staff as residents cheer. Put a foam ball between your
knees and race to see who can waddle over the finish line first.
• Tell penguin jokes. Why do penguins sit on marshmallows? (So they won’t fall into the
• Why are penguins popular on the internet? (Because they have web feet.)
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