Chapter 5 – Games and Activities for Nursing Home Ministry

There are many enjoyable, wholesome things that a volunteer can do at a care facility to be a blessing to the residents and help the activity director too. If you see something here that sparks your imagination or interest, suggest it to someone in the activities department at a local facility and see if they think it would work with their residents. For youth groups and home-schoolers, some of these ideas would be entertaining and therapeutic to the elderly and, at the same time, educational and fun for the young.

Games and Activities List

Here is a list, though incomplete, of some volunteer activities needed in care facilities:

activities bulletin board helper
activity director’s helper (go-fer)
adopt-a-grandparent programs
art therapy
audio tape programs
balloon volleyball
beachball toss
board games
care packages (general/holiday/birthday)
celebrity impersonations
clothing mending
thrift store shopping
clothing donations
Christian ministry

Bible games
Bible trivia
Christian board games
Bible reading
Bible studies
Christian concerts

vocal (A Cappella)

“church services”
dramatic reading of Christian stories
Eucharist/Communion/Lord’s Supper/Mass
hymn and chorus sing-alongs
large print Christian reading materials
memorial services
pastoral counseling
prayer meetings
singing hymns
transportation to and from a local church




beads (of course)
holiday decorations
plastic model airplane and ship assembly
current events

dramatic reading
entertainment events (miscellaneous, in- house)
garden therapy
holiday facility decorations
hostess cart – distribute juice, fruit and snacks
large print reading materials
leading special body exercises
monthly calendar maker
music therapy
newsletter helper

Bible readings
board games
cleaning and straightening belongings
computer loans or purchases
computer training
“Christian devotionals”
doing chores for the bed-ridden
doing fingernails
doing makeup for ladies
greeting cards, preparing and sending
just being a friend
library materials

audio tapes
video tapes

making store runs
meal-time helper
outside walker/wheelchair strolls
pet therapy
reading and writing letters


museum trips
tours of local landmarks
shopping trips
walking outdoors

pass out fresh water and towels to residents
pet therapy
popcorn popping and delivery
quilting (simplified, if necessary)
reminiscence discussions
slide and video shows

family vacations
old home movies
local landmarks

snack time delivery
sports discussions
video tape programs

feature presentations
old movies

Ideas for Games and Activities

Ted Baehr’s Top 20 Movies of the Last Century

Everybody likes a good, decent movie; and just such a movie is a great past-time to help care facility residents get their minds off their troubles. But, you can wander through the lists for ages and have serious questions of the quality or the moral worthiness of most of what you see.  To help you, if you would like to furnish some superior movie viewing for residents in a facility, we provide the following list. These are the top twenty movies of the last century, in alphabetical order, rated by Dr. Ted Baehr, former actor, lawyer, minister and movie producer.  Dr. Baehr’s work now is focused on reforming the entertainment industry.


BEN-HUR (1959)




HIGH NOON (1952)








THE ROBE (1953)







Dr. Baehr’s comments: “These 20 movies represent the best-crafted, most-worthwhile movies of the past century. These movies have given people a deeper awareness as well as a better understanding of life. Most have imparted to the audience a heightened sense of devotion and love, and a great increase in either man’s love of God or in man’s understanding of God.”

MOVIEGUIDE® offers an online subscription to its magazine, at . The magazine, which comes out 12 times a year, provides articles and reviews that can help us to be media-wise consumers. Contact the editor: Dr. Ted Baehr at (805) 383-2000.

Some “Thinking” Games

Do You Remember?

Count how many you remember, then check the bottom.

1. Blackjack chewing gum

2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water

3. Candy cigarettes

4. Soda pop machines that dispense bottles

5. Coffee shops with tableside jukeboxes

6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers

7. Party lines

8. Newsreels before the movie

9. P.F. Flyers

10. Butch wax

11. Telephone numbers with a word prefix (Garfield 1-2323)

12. Peashooters

13. Howdy Doody

14. 45 RPM records

15. S&H Green Stamps

16. Hi-fi’s

17. Metal ice trays with levers

18. Mimeograph paper

19. Blue flashbulbs

20. Beanie and Cecil

21. Roller skate keys

22. Cork popguns

23. Drive-ins

24. Studebakers

25. Wash tub wringers

26. Outhouses and honey-dippers

27. Charlie Chip man

28. Returnable glass milk bottles with a wopping 5 cents refund

29. Getting a cheeseburger, fries and a coke for 78 cents at McDonalds

30. Gas wars with prices at 23 cents a gallon

31. Not having to lock your doors

If you remembered 0-5: Young’un

If you remembered 6-10: Whipper Snapper

If you remembered 11-15:  Just Startin’ Out In Life

If you remembered 16-25: Baby Boomer

If you remembered 26-30: Mature Adult

If you remembered 31: World Class Citizen

In the following “memory games” read the phrase or sentence leaving out the main word or words and let the residents fill in the blanks. These sayings go back a ways and will be a lot of fun for the residents as well as spur them to reminisce a bit. Ask if anyone can think of any other cliches that date back when they were younger. Write the new ones down and add them to the list for next time. (Special thanks to the Sonshine Society for the idea of many of these games.)

“Memory Jogger” Game

As fit as a fiddle.

As sharp as a tack.

As flat as a pancake.

As smart as a whip.

As slow as molasses in January.

As busy as a bee.

As plain as the nose on your face.

As fresh as a daisy.

As light as a feather.

As blind as a bat.

As high as a kite.

As hard as a rock.

As white as snow.

As sweet as honey.

As quiet as a mouse.

As clear as a bell.

As fine as frog hair.

As big as all outdoors.

Do’s and Don’t’s

The first set of these old sayings are “do’s” and the last set are “don’t’s.”  Read them randomly and see if the residents can call out correctly whether the saying is a “do” or a “don’t.”


…stand on your own two feet.

…pull yourself up by your boot straps.

…hold your horses.

…look before you leap.

…mind your p’s and q’s.

…roll with the punches.

…stand up and be counted.


…burn the candle at both ends.

…cry over spilt milk.

…count your chickens before they hatch.

…put the cart before the horse.

…toot your own horn.

…put all your eggs in the same basket.

…let the cat out of the bag. “Complete the Sentence” Game

“Complete the Sentence” Game

If someone is quite naive, we often say they are just a babe in the woods.

If someone is real warm and comfortable, we might say they are as snug as a bug in a rug.

If someone were to accuse us of something and it wasn’t so, we might say they are barking up the wrong tree.

If we want to refer to someone as being young or immature, we say they are still wet behind the ears.

An embarrassing situation is funny when it happens to someone else, but when it happens to us, it’s a horse of a different color.

Tom just got a raise in pay and the extra money is burning a hole in his pocket.

When someone undertakes more than they can handle, we say they have bitten off more than they can chew.

Young lovers aren’t in the real world, they are on cloud nine.

He made a verbal blunder. He’s always putting his foot in his mouth.

There’s no doubt about it, I got it straight from the horse’s mouth.

I may have heard it before, but it doesn’t ring a bell.

“Name That Hymn”

Using the hymns in the booklets produced by Christian Concourse called “Favorite Hymns of Grace” and “Hymns of Our Redeemer” (or any old hymn book, for that matter), hum or whistle or play on an instrument or CD player the melodies of one of these old favorites until someone guesses the name of it. Also, you can show one of the players the name of a hymn and let them hum it until one of the other players guesses the name of it. Then let the one who guessed it try humming the tune of the next one. Or, you can begin reading the first verse of a hymn until someone starts humming the tune or, alternately, until someone calls out the name of the hymn. Have fun!

Show Me

(Adapted from Creating a Successful Senior Adult Ministry, published several years ago by the seniors’ ministry of Thomas Road Baptist Church.)

Divide the audience by tables or small groups of individuals.  Give each a pile of newspapers and magazines.  Prepare in advance a list of pictures typically found in newspapers. Call out the name of one picture such as a house, a store, an office building, someone playing any kind of ball game, a car, a pickup truck, a boy, a girl, a man, a woman, etc.  The team that can locate that item first in their pile, tear out the picture with no more than a two inch border, and hold it high gets a point.  A variation of this would be to have a “runner” at each table to bring the picture to the leader rather than just showing it at the table.

“Complete the Verse”

Read the following well known verses loud and clear, leaving a main word or phrase out for the residents to fill in.  An alternative game would be to give everyone a Bible, then call out the passage and let them see who can find and read the passage the fastest.  All scriptures are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.  Words in italics are ours for clarification.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1: 1

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. Genesis 1: 31

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2: 7

And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? Genesis 4: 9

And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Gen 7: 1

And he (Abram, he was not yet renamed Abraham by God) believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 15: 6

And his (Lot’s) wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19: 26

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he make him a coat of many colors. Genesis 37: 3

And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Exodus 8: 1

For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. Exodus 40: 38

Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Deuteronomy 5: 7

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Deuteronomy 5: 11

Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Deuteronomy 5: 12

Honor thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Deuteronomy 5: 16

And David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. 1 Samuel 17: 37

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Psalm 1: 1

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalm 14: 1

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23: 1

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23: 6

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Psalm 100: 1 – 2

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111: 10

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. Psalm 118: 8

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119: 105

The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1: 20 – 21.

Let you light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5: 16

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Matthew 6: 9

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11: 28

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19: 14

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Matthew 25: 21

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26: 41

And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matthew 28: 19

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3: 16

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you. John 13: 34

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. John 14: 1

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14: 6

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5: 1

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6: 23

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God. Romans 8: 28

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Romans 10: 9

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10: 17

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12: 1

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; But righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Romans 14: 17

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6: 17

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10: 13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13: 1

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5: 17

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians : 2: 20

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2: 8 – 9

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4: 13

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 19

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3: 2

Rejoice evermore. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5: 17

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5: 18

Quench not the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5: 19

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all. 1 Timothy 2: 5 – 6a

Study (be careful) to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2: 15

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect (mature), thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11: 1

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11: 6

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1: 9

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

“God’s Love and Grace” – Christian Adult Coloring Book

This is another exciting resource for your nursing home ministry toolbox! Here are downloads for the pages of a Christian adult coloring book, to be sized at 8½” X 11″. This is 34 pages of scriptures and short, simple devotionals with large illustrations that are designed for coloring. A Christ-centered coloring book is a great gift to the many nursing home residents who are sequestered in their rooms – day after day – hour after lonely hour. It is helpful for them to have something like this to pass the time and simultaneously find encouragement for their faith in Jesus…..CLICK HERE….

For More:

(Ideas adapted from Creating a Successful Senior Adult Ministry, published several years ago by the seniors’ ministry of Thomas Road Baptist Church.)

Check your local public library and Christian bookstore for a variety of available books for children and youth with game ideas that can be adapted to senior adults.

Contact your local Christian bookstore for inspirational music and sound tracks on tape and/or CD.  A large local church library or the public library may have some music you can check out.

Obtain musical assistance for organizing residents into singing groups from your choir director or high school music department.

Contact your city recreation director or an elementary music teacher for ideas on starting a “Kitchen” Kazoo or Rhythm band.

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