Activities Top Tips: Arts and Crafts for Seniors


The forum is filled with caregivers and experts who come together to share valuable information. We’ve compiled some of their best ideas for art projects and crafts to participate in with seniors.

Arts and Crafts Activities for Seniors

“For a veteran or someone who used to build models, try some model plane kits. They can build their own air force! This kind of activity is engrossing; someone could sit for hours assembling the miniature parts.” –GardenArtist

“Decoupage is very, very simple. It requires minimal effort, but the effect is lovely. Mum hasn’t cottoned on yet that we don’t need to do this, but I buy the very cheapest tissues and she decoupages the boxes before I use them. It isn’t at all that crafty, even if it sounds it. It’s just tissue and glue. Mum also cuts the pictures out from old greeting cards and I use them to make new homemade ones. Then she splats glue everywhere and dusts them with glitter. If you are going to do this, make sure you have put some plastic down. The glitter gets everywhere!” –PhoenixDaughter

“My daughter-in-law’s grandfather was in a wheelchair after both his legs had been amputated due to bad circulation. His wife took care of him at their house, and she enrolled him in some Hatchette Partworks series. She ordered a steam train that he has built, and he receives a book with some new parts every week. After that, she enrolled him in the next new series, which was a whole railway with tracks, trains, buildings, etc. Some of the projects are not too difficult. They currently have some model boats, and they just started a new quilting series. I have already subscribed to their crocheting series. You only receive one book per week with enough material/wool to make one square or crochet one block per week. With this setup, a senior might not feel overwhelmed with a huge project all at once, not knowing where to start and how to finish.” –Justashes

“I got my mom into scrapbooking. It’s something that she used to do years ago, so it is familiar. We copied old photos and she put a book together for each grandchild that explains their heritage—who their grandparents and great-grandparents were, what they did, and how they lived. It was a good way to get a lot of family history on paper, too. It made her feel good to do something that felt familiar and made her think of family.” –LynnPO

“My ma is no longer able to control her hands enough to do crossword puzzles, which she loved for years. I wasn’t sure what she would be able to do with coloring pens, but she really seems to like coloring. Coloring together is pleasant because we can hold a conversation at the same time, or just sit together companionably. During the most recent session, I was coloring a cow and I used that to start a conversation about my mother’s childhood on a farm. I think I’ll print coloring pictures in a format that can be folded into cards. After she has done a batch, I’ll bring in stamps, address stickers and envelopes so she can send cards to relatives.” –jeannegibbs

“Before my mom’s vision got bad (macular degeneration), she enjoyed working with mesh. They sell plastic mesh with larger holes that can be worked on with plastic needles and thick yarn. You can make baskets using rectangles and squares. One year Mom made small Easter baskets and we filled them up with candy. Check into some of the children’s craft toy kits, too. They would be simple, safe and easy for an elderly person who has a visual and/or dexterity problems to use.” –hair

“If your loved one likes to paint, go to a craft store and purchase sun-catcher kits. They are easy to do and look nice when done.” –terryjack1

“Get a box of assorted screws, washers, nuts and bolts, and give the senior an egg carton to sort them into. Get some assorted dried beans (several kinds or the 15-bean mix pack) and Elmer’s glue and have him/her make a design with the beans. You can even give them a pattern to fill in with beans of their choosing. For a backing, I like to use wood shingles that I get at the hardware super store. They usually sell me open bundles. Sorting and cutting coupons could be useful. You could even make a shopping list and ask them to find coupons for it. Get one of those ‘paint with water’ books that has the paint already on the paper, and all they have to do is dip the brush in water and paint away to see the design. Easy to do and very little clean up. Colorful paint chips from the hardware store can be cut into sections and arranged into designs or pictures like mosaics. Get some artificial flowers and vases to make arrangements.” –glasshalffull

“Art therapy has gained more prominence in helping people, but you can use art therapy in other ways—beautiful photography, for example. Some magazines have photos that are relaxing, and you can read the short stories or anecdotes that accompany them (if any) to your loved one if they’re interested. But for me, just seeing the photos is immediately soothing. There usually are photos of animals as well. Little puppies and kittens just seem to be the photographic equivalent of a Mozart masterpiece.” –GardenArtist

“You might want to try getting your loved one some Play-Doh. It would be great for improving their hand strength, and maybe they could get their frustrations out too!” –RebeccaLynn

Ashley Huntsberry-Lett

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Ashley is responsible for the planning and creation of’s award-winning content. As a teenager, she assisted in caring for her step-father during his three-year battle with colon cancer. Now, through her work at, she strives to inform and empower the caregivers who devote so much to helping and healing the ones they love.

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