October 13, 2021

Small Group Activity Ideas for Activity Directors

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The need for small group activities in senior centers has never been higher. With the aging population, more adults than ever before could benefit from these types of programs, and a little creativity goes a long way! Activity directors know there are endless benefits to hosting small group activities to encourage socialization.

What is the benefit of small group activities vs. large group activities?

By including time for small group activities in your activities calendar, it's easier for the participants to make long-lasting connections and form close bonds even in a short amount of time.

In small groups, people engage in one-on-one interactions and have more significant conversations where everyone can participate. Participants can also keep to cohorts, and social distancing becomes easier when engaging in smaller groups.

Fun Small Group Activities for Activity Directors to Try with Their Members

Here are six creative and engaging small group activities that activity directors can use in their senior center or senior housing facilities that are guaranteed to cultivate connection, engagement, and most of all, smiles. Let's dive in!

1. Thumb Ball

This is a terrific ice breaker activity and helps get conversations started. Thumb ball not only encourages eye-hand coordination and physical movement but conversation and laughs! The idea is to toss a giant beach ball with various questions written on it! Once caught, look under your thumb and react to the word, phrase, or query found there.

There are many versions of this activity; for instance, you can have a word or a phrase and have someone create a charade around that word or phrase. Alternative to tossing the ball, you can pass the ball around a circle to music, similar to musical chairs or "hot potato" when the music stops, the player holding the ball must answer the question.

Great icebreaker questions include: "What do you like about yourself?" "Where did you grow up?" "What is your favorite song?" or "What was the best day of your life?" The possibilities are endless, but the conversation generated is meaningful and engaging.

Source: Unique Creations by Anita.

2. Horse Racing Activity

Bear with me here, as this activity is a crowd-pleaser but admittedly takes a bit of planning. If your facility includes a woodworking shop, you will thank me. And trust me, this activity will be full of laughs once the pieces are ready to go. I love to play this game in a room where you can have the "horse racing" on a screen as well.

The residents sit around the track and compete with each other while they watch people bet against one another as they play a horse racing game using whatever tools you have. This version will have quite an impressive layout and is sure to bring in spectators. Here is the link that best describes what you need to create a racing down that will be the "talk of the town."

Want to make it simpler? Print out pictures of horses, label them with numbers, and get to playing! The great thing about this horse racing game is that it can be adapted in size to be played on a table, a huge room, a small room: really any size! Make it an annual "Derby Day" celebration and encourage fun hats, drinks, and treats! 

3. Lego Table

Go back to childhood! Forget the traditional puzzles and instead solve problems and get creative with Lego! Using Lego is a fantastic way to stimulate creativity for your senior clients. The visual aspect of playing with blocks exercises participant's critical thinking skills. They build structures and patterns out the pieces while also advancing manual dexterity by placing individual bricks on top one at a time or entire buildings going up!

You can get the whole group involved by providing "jobs/roles" to the participants. Assign a "blueprint reader" or "manager," supplier (who can find all the pieces), and builders. Consider creating themed Lego (Halloween, Christmas) for extra fun. Bonus points when the grandkids come to visit, they will want to join in the fun!

4. Pub Night Activity

This is the perfect activity for people missing the going out days! Play pub music and invite your members to come to the activity room for an afternoon of fun pub games. Each week, teach them a new game (like corn hole using a beanbag toss) or host a "Family Feud" style game with prizes!

Consider hosting a "tournament" during your pub-themed activity. Cribbage, Bridge, Virtual Trivia, Bingo, or Dominoes are super social games to get them engaged and laughing.

5. Christmas Ornament Crafting

Christmas brings about a particular nostalgia for senior residents and creating beautiful decorations and ornaments that can be used throughout the residence, sold in the tuck shop, or wrapped up for gifts; this activity fosters festivities.

Make some Christmas ornaments or other holiday decorations.

Don't forget to have a hot chocolate bar or warm apple cider available, and of course, your favorite Nat King Cole Christmas album playing. There is plenty of beginner to more advanced crafting ideas that are sure to make your seniors smile.

We love the ideas found at Easy Christmas House Crafts; they offer creative ideas to repurpose items and on-trend ornament crafts that make for perfect gifts. Be sure to have Santa hats available and join in the fun.

6. Modeling Clay/Play-Doh Table

Modeling clay is a relaxing, gentle, creative, tactile experience that is fun for all ages! You can host an activity focussed on just about any theme or have an open forum where participants can create whatever they like.

There are hundreds of creative, colorful ideas using modeling clay on Pinterest, as well as step-by-step tutorials on YouTube to get you started. You'll be surprised how many seniors enjoy this small group activity.

Conclusion: Great Small Group Activity Ideas for Adults

Admittedly, there are endless possibilities for creating small group activity ideas for seniors, but time and creativity often fall short for busy activity directors. 

Need some additional help? Book your free demo with Televeda! You can supplement your activity calendars with all of our virtual options, we can help you digitize your own classes, and much more. 

Book your free demo with Televeda right now and watch your small group activities become the highlight of their day!

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