Holiday or seasonal craft activities can target many cognitive and language skills, while giving both the SLP and the residents a break from workbook activities, paper and pencil tasks, and lists of questions and directions. I have a favorite coloring activity that I have used for several years that targets receptive language, memory, sequencing, descriptive language, attention and more.
To begin, I draw a black-and-white outline of overlapping leaf shapes. I have made two versions of the basic drawing, one consists of four simple leaf outlines and another is more complicated and incorporates more leaves. I explain to the patients the purpose of the task, which will vary based on a individuals long and short term goals: the patient is to color each shape made by the overlapping leaves a different color. The color cannot be used in any adjacent shapes
Some patients catch on immediately; for others, I have an example ready. Still others required me to break down the task step-by-step. I am always amazed, though, at how each patient approaches the task differently, yet I had no patient who could not complete the project with some assistance give.
I have patients who relate the task to their love of artistic projects, and others who describe how it reminds them of modern art. Some readily identify the picture as made up of a group or "bunch" of leaves; still some only see the smaller shapes and do not recognize the larger design. There are patients who become quite talkative, and others who concentrate in silence. I enjoy seeing some patients who are often withdrawn and do not participate in "arts and crafts" work meticulously to complete the design. Of course, I do have reluctant patients, and I always the residents to opt out of any task and work on another activity. Many times, the patients simply need some encouragement if the say "I'm not artistic" or "I've never tried this before."
If the patient makes a mistake, I redirect them to the task and the repeat the directions, and I always observe them closely and provide breaks if there are any signs of frustration.