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Creative activities: ideas bank

Do you want to run an arts activity but don't know where to start? Check below for practical resources and ideas for you to use.

Caring Creatively logo You’ll find downloadable ideas for craft, dance, creative writing activities and more below. If you have any ideas, links or resources you’d like to add, contact us at Don’t forget to tell everyone about your experiences using these activities with those you care for, and we can add them to the My Story page. What worked? What effect did it have on the participants? Did you enjoy it? We’d love to hear about it, and who knows – you might inspire others! 

Activity Toolkits
Download below (at the bottom of the page) the City Arts Creativity in Care Activity Toolkits, for a wide range of ideas.

Art, craft and textile ideas

Download (at the bottom of the page) the packed and practical information sheet ‘Harlequin Arts Creative Activities Handout 2’. Here you’ll find a wealth of ideas and tips for printing, collage and textile activities suitable for a wide range of groups, from Karen Herrick of Harlequin Arts.

The Big Draw
The Campaign for Drawing has launched a new series of dynamic mini magazines loaded with ideas for running a Big Draw. You can find a range of family-friendly activities  or simple and easy ideas for all ages. You can also win up to £1000 with 1 of 12 Drawing Inspiration Awards. All Big Draw organisers can apply for an Award if they use the Big Draw logo in their publicity. Members may also like to read a wonderful case study from Nottinghamshire County Council's Arts Development officer, Helen Ackroyd at and read more at:

Creative writing and spoken word ideas

Download (at the bottom of the page) Sally Goldsmith: Words, Talk And Writing Ideas’. Here Sally gives you ideas about how to use words, poetry, song, stories or chat to stimulate memory, have fun and develop friendships. She gives tips to start you off, practical activities to do, props to use for stimulation, hints on how to involve music – even for the non-musical – and useful links. There are activities suitable for all, including those with more complex needs.

Also: Storytelling in Residential care settings - download this from the Related documents section at the bottom of the page (Story_workshop. Matt Laurie) 

Time Slips - see how to make improvised stories that do not rely on memory.  Suitable for use with people with dementia. 

Picture the Past is a searchable website containing over a hundred thousand historic photographs, slides, glass plates, postcards and engravings recalling the history of local communities over the last hundred years and more, taken from the libraries and museums of Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. A treasure trove of images great for using to prompt chat, stories, poems, imagination, improvisation… 


Dance and Movement

City Arts has produced three downloadable practical handbooks that carers, health professionals and support workers can use to develop creative activities with individuals and groups, including older people and people with learning difficulties:

Don't be Afraid to Dance - working with activity co-ordinators in care homes dance artist Jenny Edwards led a training day to build confidence in using dance and creative movement for older people. A toolkit of ideas was produced and disseminated.
The Art of Life and Movement - Salamanda Tandem's Isabel Jones led a training day helping care home staff look at the environment of care homes in a new light , helping uncover creative potential.  A toolkit of ideas was produced: A handbook for activity co-ordinators in residential homes.

Making Rhythms
. Although developed with care staff from adult learning disability settings, the Making Rhythms toolkit written by musician Emma Williams can also be transferred to older people. 

Music and singing

Singing for all. Anyone can lead group singing! You don’t need to be a confident or ‘brilliant’ singer. Singing meets all needs in your care setting – social needs, cultural needs, physical needs, and group needs. For some handy hints to get you started, download (at the bottom of the page) ‘Music in Care settings - Matt Laurie’.

More activities in dementia care

Creative Activity Workbook
(Produced by Aberdeenshire Council Arts Development in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland.)
A hands on guide to activities for carers and people with early to middle stage dementia written in a recipe format, with an activity for every week of the year. Activities are creative in the broad sense and include gardening, arts and crafts, writing, trip and games, and music and song. The overall aim is to improve well-being, self-esteem and help with cognition. And have fun. 

Chocolate Rain, by Sarah Zoutewelle: ‘Chocolate Rain, 100 ideas for a creative approach to activities in dementia care’ is a visually exciting and easy to use activity manual for caregivers and relatives. Sarah Zoutewelle shows how to apply creativity in order to reach the person behind the dementia and to approach them as an equal creative companion in discovering the best activities for them. Chocolate Rain offers practical advice as well as inspiration for improving the well being of people with dementia, and includes more than 100 successfully tested ideas for a wide range of new activities - and special attention is given to supporting and engaging those with advanced dementia.   

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