I am so happy to continue our series on Montessori-Based activities you can do with your loved one. If you didn’t get a chance to check out our previous post on cooking with your loved one, take a look at it and have some fun!

Either way, in this post, I would like to share another enjoyable yet straightforward approach to incorporate what we do here at Arbor Springs into your own activities. I’ll focus specifically on mixing these practices into another activity we like to do in our community: arts and crafts. And what’s great is that core Montessori concepts fit perfectly into creating crafts with your loved one!

Since there are so many arts, crafts, doodads, and all kinds of other things to do, I’ll leave exactly what you are making up to you and your loved one. I do have some advice on discovering the perfect craft and adding a little Montessori method along the way.

First off, talk with your loved one about what you are doing.

  • Make deciding what to do part of the activity – Ask your loved one about what they would like to create and keep in mind everyone’s time, focus, and ability.
  • Find or write down a list of everything you need – Make sure to include all the items you will need and maybe even where to get them. Your loved one can help with this if they want to!
  • Do the same for the steps involved – Break down the craft into simple, achievable tasks and make a plan. Having a plan with understandable steps is an essential principle in Montessori. Think of this as your game plan for success and for having fun!

Next, get everything ready.

  • Gather up all the materials – See if your loved one wants to assist. With this step and all others, make sure you ask them to participate. Inviting someone to an activity is a significant part of Montessori-Based Dementia Programming.
  • Make sure you have enough space – Find or create a clear area to work. Engaging with your environment is a meaningful tenet of Montessori. Small cleaning tasks are also beneficial for those with memory loss, so ask your loved one to join if a bit of tidying is involved.
  • Arrange and organize your workspace – Do this in a way that works for you and your loved one, whatever will reduce barriers and make each step of the activity easier to achieve. One suggestion is to lay out everything in order of when you will be using it.
  • Ask again if they are ready – Check in again with your loved one and make sure they are willing and still interested in doing the activity. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to get everything together only to delay, but understanding and accepting those struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia is vital.

Start crafting!

  • Take small steps – Make sure your loved one is sticking to tasks they can handle and that are achievable. This Montessori principle will help keep your loved one focused and engaged.
  • Check in and make sure they are having a good time – Always be attuned to how your loved one is feeling. It is easy to get frustrated, and we want to address this as soon as possible when it happens.
  • Take care of the more advanced steps – This allows your loved one to focus on the part of the activity they feel comfortable with and can complete.
  • Help them – If you feel your loved one is struggling or getting frustrated, offer a helping hand, but always ask before you do.
  • Talk through steps – Verbalizing what you are doing helps complete the activity. Say things like “okay, now let’s glue the googly eyes on” or “put those two pieces of paper next to each other.” This is also excellent for the mind and memory.
  • Remember to be safe – Making crafts can sometimes require sharp or otherwise dangerous materials. Be sure you handle these carefully and create a safe environment for everyone.

Once you’ve finished…

  • Celebrate a little bit – Congratulate them and let your loved one know how good of a job they did. The positive feelings around completing a task are fundamental to the Montessori Method.
  • Show off a little bit – Find a place to put the completed craft or use it together. Hang it on a wall or prominently display it somewhere.
  • Praise a little bit – Tell your loved one how great it is that they were able to help you with the activity. This will make your loved one feel good and open the door to possibly doing more future activities.

BONUS: Some extra Montessori steps!

  • Add some color – Incorporating color as much as possible is great for the mind and a valuable Montessori principle, whether it’s construction paper, markers, or whatever. Jazz it up a bit!
  • Let your loved one talk, too – Have them verbally walk you through what they are doing as much as possible. Talking out each step helps with memory and engagement. Ask them what they are doing and see if that helps.
  • Give your loved one freedom – Let them manage as much as they can. We want to support them, but having as much control as they want and are capable of is powerful. This is what Montessori is all about!

That’s it! Those are some great tools and ways to incorporate important Montessori concepts into your activities. We do things like this every day to help our community members stay active and engaged.

I hope you were able to see how using Montessori in our community can provide a great advantage. While it helps to have the well-planned activities and highly trained staff we do here at Arbor Springs, nothing is stopping you from incorporating these principles into your own activities with your loved one. Every little bit helps.

Please feel free to reach out to us anytime about our activities and any other questions you may have. We’d love to share more about how Montessori-Base Dementia Programming makes a difference in the lives of those we care for every day.