Senior Daily Fun

Arts and Crafts

Safety Note:

Seniors – remember you are responsible for your safety.
Care givers – remember you are responsible for the safety of those in your care. Remain with them while they do any crafts.

Listed here are a group of crafts from simple to intricate that are updated monthly. They generally require inexpensive materials, most of which are found in the home. These are adult oriented and many are practical.

A few are best done as a team where idea and design planning can include all skill levels. Some are very easy and simple, while others can be elaborate or complex. There should be something for everyone.

This medium, also called salt dough, is like clay which can be made at home with flour, salt and water. It can be colored with poster paints. Poster paints are easy to find in craft sections of large stores or in craft stores. Each month has a variation to the recipe and recommendations for color. Various methods or suggestions of things to create are offered. Although baker’s clay can air dry, we recommend 3 hours in a 200 degree oven. This art form requires preparation, is very tactile and inspires creativity.



Coffee or Tea

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup fine salt (canning and pickling salt)

½ cup (or less) cool or cold brewed tea or coffee 

Follow directions for Baker’s Clay below. 

This makes a tan dough. It will lighten as it dries. (Feel free to make other colors too.)

Ideas for creations

Glove and ball, star fish, shells, bunny, sheep, camel, dog

Small hat idea (with or without a face):

pith helmet

Napkin ring (form it around a foil wrapped empty toilet paper roll):


Project idea:

Make an octopus sitting on a lid for a small terra cotta pot. Put a cover of aluminum foil over the top of a small terra cotta pot. Lay down a thin layer of dough and carefully let it drape down over the edge. The dough will contract so do not let it seal the rim. Create your octopus on top.

Baker’s Clay

Baker’s clay also called salt dough, or dough craft is a simple clay made of flour, salt and water that can be used to form simple figures, designs or even useful items. The item is made and then dried in an oven for 3 hours at 200 degrees. It can be painted after it is baked (poster paint works better than watercolors) but adding poster paint to create colored doughs is much easier. Separate pieces can be made and glued together after baking. This activity is creative and lets seniors use their hands. The following is the basic recipe with tips. This medium is not permanent, however it can last years, and even longer if it is varnished. Additionally, each month there will be variations to the recipe, project ideas and specific color suggestions with suggested designs.

Basic Instructions

Making the dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup fine salt (canning and pickling salt)

1 cup (or slightly less) cool water

Mix the dry ingredients; flour and salt together. Make an indentation and pour in half the water, mixing with your hand. Add more water to incorporate all the dry mixture. Once well mixed, scatter some flour on a flat counter or surface and knead the dough until it is a smooth, well mixed ball without any lumps. This should take about 5 minutes. If it sticks to your fingers, sprinkling the dough with flour and continue kneading. If it dries and cracks, add more water. 

To add color to the dough, break off the amount you want to color and put in a glass or ceramic bowl. The bowl should be about twice the size of the dough. Make an indentation in the dough, pour a small amount of poster paint into the dough and knead it by pinching and twisting in the bowl. Add more paint and knead in the bowl until the color is incorporated evenly. Paint will add moisture to the dough so you may need to add more flour during this process. Use rubber gloves to prevent the paint from coloring your hands during this kneading. However, the color will wash off.

Wrap tightly in plastic until you are going to use it. It is best used soon after it is made. It can be stored enclosed in plastic wrap, in a sealed container for up to 12 hours in a cool location, but preferably not in the refrigerator. 

Preparing to create

Set up a location with aluminum foil squares (6 to 8 inches square) for working on. Aluminum squares make it easy to move the individual item to a cookie sheet for baking. No specific tools are needed but many items can be improvised and used as tools. Use a rolling pin or a dowel to roll out dough. Silver or plastic ware, a pointed instrument, straws, textured items like bottle caps, items that can make texture such as combs can all be useful. Cutting instruments such as a pizza cutter, floss or string, or a plastic lettuce knife can all be used for cutting dough. Cookie cutters are easy shapes to begin with. Additionally, cardboard cutouts can be prepared if your seniors need this type of help or you are making many uniform pieces.

Useful items while creating are two sheets of wax paper to use under and over the dough when rolling out, a small (2-ounce) spray bottle of water and paper towels. The water spray can smooth the clay and help attach clay to clay to form a bond. It can also clean off hands between colors or when they get crusted over. 


Use aluminum foil to create a core for larger pieces. Crumple the foil and press dough around it. The aluminum will remain inside and help it bake. When joining pieces use water on your fingertip, or from the small spray bottle.

This dough is a very thick liquid and will try to return to a blob until it is cured (by heat or naturally dries out). Therefore exaggerate all details on it. You may also use a prop such as an aluminum foil cradle or an upturned bowl to hold up an upright item or for an extension. Remember the prop should be oven safe even though it will be at a low temperature. Anything over 2 inches tall should be propped up or laid down to prevent it from leaning over. Never use any plastics (Styrofoam egg cartons, etc.) that will be used in the oven as they often release toxic fumes and may melt.

Generally, items made from 1 to 3 inches work the best. Smaller are difficult to shape and bake, larger tend to crack over time. If making a larger item, it is less likely to crack if it is flat.

To prepare for hanging, bake a wire in it (a paperclip works well) or make holes (a drinking straw cuts a clear hole) to allow for a ribbon or fishing line.

After creating

Put all the pieces on aluminum foil squares on top of an aluminum foil wrapped cookie sheet which will protect the pan from the salt. Bake 3 hours at 200 degrees. After the first hour use oven mitts and a spatula to carefully turn the pieces by removing the aluminum foil squares so the bottom of the pieces can dry. Not all of the pieces will be firm yet so be gentle. Some larger creations may need to wait longer to be turned. 

At three hours, check if everything is dry. Thick pieces may need more time. You will know if they are dry by the change in color. If you are unsure, tap them with your fingernail. There is a difference in sound when the pieces are dry. If they are dry, it is preferable to turn off the oven but leave them in it to let them cool down slowly. Even if they are not finished, they can be removed and will continue to dry at room temperature. For truer colors let them air dry or cover the surface with aluminum before baking. If you covering them with aluminum they will need longer drying times. Baker’s clay can air dry or sun dry but it will take 2 days for every ⅛ inch of thickness of dough. Baking times will vary with the density of your piece. (If you need to use the oven, remove them and return them to the oven later to finish.)

If you wish to paint them, let them dry for at least a day after being in the oven. Use poster paint. Water color paints do not work as well as the water soaks into the clay. Projects can be left in their natural color. To make them long lasting and protect them from water or humidity thoroughly coated with a non-water based varnish. Small pieces can be brushed with clear fingernail polish. Never use for food as they will disintegrate if washed unless varnished. 

If you need to attach or repair dried dough use white school glue. A replacement part can be made and stuck directly to the dried piece. Then let it air dry. To just attach pieces or assemble a project, use hot glue from a glue gun. Always use caution using a hot glue gun.

Some General Creative Ideas and Suggestions

  • Make shoes, face or hat for a magnet or a pin
  • Make a plaque or letters
  • Make a frame
  • Make an ornament
  • Make a nativity set
  • Use props (can, toilet paper roll, aluminum foil, card board, glass bowl, cupcake flutes, etc.)
  • Make jewelry (rings will shrink in size, exaggerate holes in beads as they will shrink, also keep them threaded on a skewer, at least until they slightly dry)
  • Make a wreath
  • Use a garlic press, sieve or a potato ricer to create hair, fur, or a nest
  • Use cookie cutters
  • Use indelible ink to add details (eyes, teeth, etc.)
  • Add embellishments before baking (clean feathers, seeds, sticks, dried flowers, cloves, etc.) or glue to them after
  • Use texture such a knit (like a sock), ribbed (lipstick cap), cabbage, buttons, etc.
  • Make a napkin ring around an empty toilet paper roll wrapped in foil
  • Create a lid for a small terra cotta pot by covering it with foil and putting the dough on top but it needs to be loose over the sides as it will contract while drying
  • Create pieces to assemble after drying (out house, box, tissue box, bouquet, pinecone, petals, etc.)

This “craft” is free-form. It is simply a small scene interpreted from a given theme and created in a shoebox. Use cardboard shoe boxes. If you do not have one (or need many) ask at shoe stores. They often have extras. You can use a small cardboard box instead or even make an appropriate sized box. It simply needs to have one side open to showcase the scene.
This activity requires planning. An individual can plan and assemble a diorama by themselves, one person can plan and prepare for a group or a group can plan one diorama to be assembled.


Theme: Jungle

Ideas: Trees, river boats, tigers, African masks, Panama Canal, monkeys, The African Queen, etc.

Although expected at Easter, this craft can be done all year with creative results. We recommend that the eggs be blown: see instructions. This allows the egg to be used and the shell to be kept. The dyes are simple and from the kitchen, except at Easter when commercial dyes are easily available. There are two components: the dyeing and crafts using egg shells. Each require different levels of abilities and skills. Choose the project by the abilities of the seniors.



This month we will use Kool-Aid ® to make three rich colors.  Use Blue Raspberry for a vibrant blue, Grape for a deep warm brown, and Orange for a bright orange.  The eggs will have speckles which is a nice addition.

 In 1 ½ cups of water, add the individual packets and 1 teaspoon of vinegar.  Let sit ½ hour to 1 hour before submerging the eggs.  Keep them in the mixture for 1 hour.

 Glass containers are easy to clean and there is no concern with acidity in metal bowls or pans.  We use a 2 cup glass measuring cup for one or two eggs.  Jelly jars work well, providing a compact container which maximizes the amount of dye to the shape of the egg.  With either method, avoid overflow as surprisingly, the eggs do not easily fill up with liquid and usually require a weight to keep them in the bath.  We use gently placed juice glasses to keep them submerged.

 Egg Project

In preparation, get a small (3 to 5 inch) paper mâché box with a flat lid.  Paint it any color other than white.  Let it dry.  Collect large pieces of shell peeled from hard boiled eggs; dime size to as large as possible. Collect the box lid, the shells, white school glue, and paper towels including one damp paper towel.  Select a shell piece, glue the underside and place on the lid.  Press gently with enough pressure to crack the egg into small, fractured pieces and lay flat.  Glue and place another piece next to it without overlapping.  Repeating the process to cover the lid.

 (Variation – white box with shells from a brown egg.)

Egg Decorating

Today, eggs are often decorated at Easter time. There are traditions of decorating eggs that date back to early Egypt. Eastern Europeans decorate eggs with elaborate designs using wax. Even Faberge, the royal jeweler of the Czars imitated decorated eggs, creating ornate jeweled eggs.

By blowing the contents of the egg out of its shell, both the edible part and the shell can be used. Each month we will give two projects for decorating eggs. There will be a dyeing project which will use ordinary foods and spices, a few of which will need to be boiled on the stove so a kitchen is required. It is a basic project and will take little skill and can even be done as a demonstration. The second project is more of a variety of craft projects using eggs. These will vary in skill levels.

Basic Instructions

How to blow the egg out of the shell

  • Raw egg in shell
  • Clean push pin
  • New toothpick
  • Bowl or container to keep scrambled egg until used (preferably soon or they can be frozen)
  • Paper towel on which to set pin and toothpick

(optional: small scissors, basting bulb, straw, kit from craft store – see below)

Note: This process requires a good amount of breath. If your breathing is difficult or shallow, use an alternate method - see #5.

  1. Wash egg with soap and dry it. (You will be touching it with your lips.)
  2. Use a clean push pin to carefully poke a hole in the top, the pointier end. (Although not required, for ease of extraction enlarge this hole a little.)
  3. Covering the top hole with your finger, use the push pin to poke a hole in the bottom. Then with the pin, gently break away enough of the shell so that the egg can come out and into the bowl or container. Make the hole between ½ the diameter to the whole diameter of a pen or pencil. Avoid getting any shell in with the egg.
  4. While still inverted, use a clean toothpick to poke inside and break the yolk. Move the toothpick around in the egg to break it up a little while covering the top hole – now underneath.
  5. Over a bowl or container, put the large hole and blow in the small top hole. The egg will be forced out the bottom. This will take some time and you may need to coax the egg out with the toothpick. (A simple alternate to blowing is to use the bulb of a turkey baster. Being gentle, place the bulb on top, over the small hole. Squeeze, remove bulb from egg to allow air in, release baster, place over hole again and repeat. The baster will be equal to short breaths so you will need to squeeze multiple times.)
  6. Once the egg is removed, wash the interior by running water into the egg, shaking it around and then letting it drain or blowing it out. It can also be submerged in a bowl of water, drained and then dried.

(When planning a recipe, blow out the egg before beginning your recipe as blowing out an egg is slower than cracking it.)

There are alternatives to putting your lips on the eggs and blowing such as a baster bulb, an egg blower from a craft store or a clean ear wax remover. 

There is also an alternative to two holes. Create a larger hole on the bottom and use a straw poked up inside to blow air in. Bend the straw to avoid the raw egg from touching your face. Let the egg come out the same hole around the straw.

Drying the dyed egg

A simple drying holder is half an empty toilet paper tube. When drying remember that liquid will drain out both after washing and dyeing. I put a ½ toilet paper roll upright on a glass dish. Water or dye will likely seep through the toilet paper tube. Be particularly careful with dye. A more elaborate drying rack can be made with Styrofoam and bits of wire.


A simple stand can be made from a napkin ring, a candle holder or an egg cup. A couple of strands of cotton string or yarn mixed with white school glue can also make a simple stand (see Yarn in Glue for more details). A “nest” can be made from colored bakers clay pressed through a garlic press and baked (see Baker’s Clay for more details). A small strip of green craft foam sheet snipped and wrapped around the base can look like grass. A piece of felt folded and glued with a small hole cut out of the center also works. You can even glue the egg to the top of a thin dowel and anchor in a potted plant. They can be strung and hung. Hang eggs on a branch propped up as a tree to display.

How to hang – make a needle by folding in half a small wire, like florist wire, and carefully thread it through egg. Slip the thread or ribbon in the end that is poked through and draw back through the egg. Make a knot or glue a blob that will go through the first hole but not the smaller one on top. A large bead can also be threaded through the top portion of the thread or ribbon and glued to protect the top hole from cracking. An individual hole protector such as used with three ring binder paper can also protect the shell at the hole.

Glue ribbons to the egg in a variety of ways to create a method of hanging.

Felt is a medium that is easy to use, is relatively inexpensive, widely available and comes in many colors. Each month there will be three projects.
►The first project is a tissue box cover, for either a square or a rectangular box.
►The second project called landscape is a theme for a picture made by cutting and layering felt. I recommend it be only 8 by 10 inches picture. Photograph the final picture or display them at an angle. They should not fall apart if gently handled. Recycle the large pieces of the landscape for the next felt activity.
►The last project changes monthly. Most are simple and require cutting and gluing. A few of the projects require more skill.




Tissue box: Baseball mitt and ball

Box: rectangular

Felt: brown and white

Tips: Cover the box in brown felt.  Cut the mitt out of cardboard.  Glue the brown felt on the mitt and use Wite-Out®, the pen style to make the stitches.  Cut out a white circle and use a red pen to add the red stitching marks.


Landscape idea: Campfire


Project idea: cover for a small tape measure (lamb or bee)

Felt: …..

Instructions: ….


Creating with Felt Fabric

Felt is a simple medium that is very easy to use. It can be made from a synthetic which is very inexpensive or a wool which is expensive. Use synthetic felt for following projects.

This project is a seasonal tissue box cover. These require felt, cardboard and either a square tissue box or a rectangular box. This is relatively simple and requires following a simple design.

Tissue Box Cover

General instructions

Most of these projects require a 12 oz. cold cereal box (for thin but sturdy cardboard), white school glue, scissors and felt.

Open the cereal box flat and cut down a corner. Using one of the folds as a base line, draw a design on the cardboard. For a rectangular tissue box, the base line should be from the side of the box. For a square tissue box, use the bottom or top. (Most designs are helped by keeping a folded flap for stability, so orient the design to the folded edge, either top/bottom or side.) Cut out the design (retaining the fold if needed).

To cover the tissue box, use a piece of felt 5 ½ by 28 ½ for a rectangular box and a piece of felt 7 by 19 inches for a square box. (Measure your own box as boxes vary in size, particularly rectangular boxes in height.) Line one long edge to the bottom of the box and wrap the felt around it leaving the extra felt at the top. Using a small amount of tape, tape the felt to the box. This will just help keep it in place for the gluing. (Note the direction of the oval hole on top of the box as related to the design.) Overlap the felt and glue the seam – this will be the back which will be glued to the design. This will need to dry so weight it slightly with a book. (I place a plain sheet of paper between the book and the project to protect the book, just in case.) When dried, fold the top flaps down like you are wrapping a gift box, and glue. Glue the two interior areas of the flaps per corner, i.e. glue felt to felt, not to the box. Again, weight and let dry. Once dry, cut the extra felt out of the hole area to access the tissues. (I use the extra perforated cardboard piece that was removed as a template.)

If attaching a tall back design, glue the covered box to it, weight it and let it dry.

Additionally, cover the back if the box will be seen from the back side.

When using white felt on the kraft cardboard, I usually first glue a sheet of white paper to the carboard to make the white seem brighter.

Still Life

General instructions

This project is about making an 8 by 10 inch picture with felt on felt.  Begin with one color for a base and add cut out pieces of felt to create the desired picture. 

Craft Project

Each project will be different and the instructions will be shared.

This project is a simple painting project using poster paint and a 6 inch terra cotta saucer as a ‘canvas.’ The idea is to follow one of two general themes provided. Additionally, there is a novelty suggestion. There are instructions on how to make a simple easel using an empty cereal box. Practice designs on squares of paper grocery bags. Then repeat the best design on the saucer. (There are optional ‘canvases’ suggested, i.e. bakers clay tiles and others.) This requires some mastery with a paint brush and may be difficult for seniors with poor dexterity.


Theme: Fruit

Ideas: Strawberries, a bowl of fruit, apple, orange with leaf, lemon with leaf, watermelon, cantaloupe, kiwi, banana, grapes, etc.

Alternate theme: Summer

Ideas: Flip flops, picnic baskets, sun hats, car with load on the roof, trailer, campfire, tent, canoe, backpack, corn, watermelon, ice cream cone, etc.

Novelty: Use a sponge and paint a tree.

This is the simplest of the crafts. Many seniors have been quilters or have memories of family members who quilted. This requires colorful papers (at least 2 pages of different colors however more are better) cut into simple patterns to be laid out in any design on a flat surface. We recommend scrapbook pages which can be purchased individually or in books and are found in craft sections of large stores or in craft stores. Monthly, we make suggestions for colors, patterns on the pages and the patterns to cut out. This can simply be a repetitive activity for those with memory loss, or an elaborate design created by seniors who are very clear.


Paper colors and pattern are:

  • Bright: yellow
  • Pale: lavender
  • Other: dark purple
  • Pattern: celestial (clouds, moon, sun)

Shape: hexagon – 3 inches point to point, 1 ½ per edge

Note: Try circles of color, stripes of color, diamonds of color, groups of 2, groups of 3. Build out in rings.


Paper Quilts

Quilts have been a part of America since its inception. Initially, they were created to recycle good fabric which had taken effort to make or cost to acquire. Later they were designed to showcase creative designs, sewing skill and use valuable fabric scraps. Often they were an excuse to be productive while sharing comradery in communities where getting together required effort. Recently, with fabric being so readily available, they showcase the design and the skill of the quilter.

There are many wonderful, simple patterns for quilt pieces that can easily be replicated in paper. This project lets seniors design paper quilts using the beautiful patterns and colors of papers that are available today. Seniors can be creative with the design and active with their hands. Cut the patterns out of a couple contrasting colors or patterns. Then let the seniors lay them out on a table or flat surface to make a quilt design. An alternate to a table is a foam core board which is relatively inexpensive and works well to make a firm, flat, background, however it tends to be slick and pieces can easily fall off.

We recommend using scrapbook pages (12 by 12 inches) which are available at most craft stores singly or in books. I recommend 3 scrapbook pages per person (i.e. 1 page of each of the 3 colors). Old wallpaper sample books may work too but may curl. Choose a firm paper which makes the individual pieces easier to hold and lay out. Some scrapbook pages are even double sided which doubles the pattern options.

When choosing papers for patterns select papers that have contrast such as dark and light, shiny and matte, busy and solid. They make a clearer design – particularly for those with vision difficulties. 

Print out the template and cut out the pieces. There are simple paper cutters available, but scissors can be used too. Use a zip top bag or envelopes to store the pieces. Combining different piece shapes and colors from different months can create unusual new quilt designs.

When laying out, let each senior be creative. Some will want each piece to be in a proper spot and an exact relationship to other pieces. Others will leave gaps or overlap pieces which may be intentional and dynamic. There is no “wrong” way to lay out this quilt, even if the original page of paper is reassembled. If keeping the laid-out pattern aligned is difficult use pencil lines as guides or elastic ribbon to anchor them.

To use a table with a quilt design laid out, carefully place a clear vinyl tablecloth over it. To keep a quilt design more permanently, use a glue stick or short pins to anchor the pieces to a foam core board. Then cover the edges with a ribbon and hang the finished quilt on the wall.

This craft is simple but can be messy. It requires yarn or string (preferably cotton), white school glue and usually school construction paper. If there is only white yarn or string, the glue can be colored with poster paints which are easy to find in craft sections of large stores or in craft stores. This is very tactile and requires little skill or creativity.


With yellow yarn make a beehive. To color white yarn, the spice turmeric can be added instead of poster paint. Only a small amount (about a pinch) is needed to color the glue. Make simple bees with an indelible ink pen or make bees with black yarn and yellow yarn. (Using two colored glues at the same time is very messy. Try to use at least one colored yarn instead.)

Alternate: Wrap thick yellow yarn around a small, upside down terra cotta pot to create a beehive.

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