Education, Consulting & Mentorship for Aging Service Professionals


Budget Friendly Programming Purchases

As we can all attest to, budgets are always tight and programming ideas are forever in need. I compiled a few of my favorite budget friendly programming “must-haves” recreation/activity related books that have aided me through my work in long term care on a meager budget.


1. Scratch and Solve Hangman – $5.56
Get it Here
For a little over $5 on amazon, this Hangman game is a huge hit among my residents. The game is a “guess and scratch” set up – where you guess a letter, then scratch off to see if the letter is indeed part of the word that has already been set up by the game! No “thinking of a word” or “trying to remember what letters you’ve used!”. As most know, you can play hangman on Smart TV’s if you’re lucky enough to have them at your facility – but this little gem aids the residents in smaller group programs, and allows them to even work on hand dexterity and motor skills in relation to picking up the coin and scratching off their own letter. I find the little goals within the bigger picture!


2. Tai Chi in A Chair by Cynthia Quarta – $19.50
Get it Here
A how-to book that has been worth its weight in gold! Physical exercise is a part of our scope of practice, but seems like the most agonizing to program for. Whether it be constantly playing simple games like ball toss, or doing the same “simple stretches” over and over each week…its’ time to change it up and learn something new in the process. Tai Chi in A Chair is a simple how-to book of various Tai Chi movements that literally ANYONE of any ability can master. The book delves into the benefits of seated tai chi, followed by an array of routines that can be completed in 15 minutes. Talk about not losing your focus!! Each move within a sequence is shown with a picture, detailing its benefits, what you can share with your residents to visualize and step by step instructions on each specific step! You’ll become a Tai Chi Masters in no time for just under $20.00!


3.  Mind Joggers by Sandy Minor – $16.95
Get it Here  
Mind Joggers is an incredible source of trivia that is tailored to keep our elders on their toes, with an array of questions, subjects and riddles. There are over 50 different topics within this book, and this is just volume one! You can invest in three different editions of this book, with an incredible array of trivia questions and cognition stimuli.
“Stimulate minds with Sweet as Candy, Cross Over the Bridge, Say It With Color, Nutting, The Whole Truth, For the Birds, One for the Money, Buttons, Fairs and Carnivals, Cherries and Berries, and more.” My residents absolutely love the “finish the phrase” or “complete the song” trivia within the book and with so much content you can engage your residents in programming without having to worry you’ll run out of trivia ideas! 


 4. I Love To Draw – $ 6.72
Buy it Here
I know what you’re thinking upon seeing the cover – uhg this is for KIDS. Why do we insist on treating our elders like children?? Well, I for one am on my soap box ranting about that more often than I care to admit. So, here is why I absolutely adore this drawing book. It engages my elders in STEP BY STEP instructions on how to draw simple, but meaningful doodles, drawings and landscapes. Many times, our elders (and people in general) do not participate in certain leisure pursuits because ‘they’re not good at it’ or ‘they’re a terrible artist’. This book has allowed me to show them that – they ARE an artist! The book was drawn by an artist and you created something that looks so much like it! The books step by step instructions allows you to help residents who need it, and leave those who don’t need your help alone! Secondly, the book is a jumping off point – you drew a flower? GREAT! Now what can we do to add scenery? What’s your favorite part about gardening? The talking points are endless!! The drawings within the book range from animals, to flowers, to mountains, city skylines, cars and more. Engaging my residents in a “drawing class” has NEVER been easier all thanks to this book.


5. Dover Masterworks Coloring books
Prices range from $4-15 depending on the book
Buy it here
Showcased is the Dover Masterworks “Color Your Own: Monet”, which is just one coloring book in their painters series of coloring books. Remember how I was on a soap box about not treating our elders like children? That especially goes for coloring. Why do we insist on purchasing dollar coloring books filled with cartoon characters and no value or significance to what is on the pages? With Dover Masterwork coloring books, your residents can LEARN  about art history while they  color in a relaxing/therapeutic/artistic manner. These books have enabled me to create programming such as “Art Appreciation” and “Virtual Museum”. Each coloring sheet has the actual paintings description on the back, which is a wonderful way to start a dialogue for residents who are interested in art and history. Printing off colored versions of the painting – laminating them and passing them around is a great way to also learn about color, talk about what they like or dislike, and even take a virtual tour of a museum that the painting is in via YouTube or a museum website! This coloring book company has a plethora of painters, and even certain painting eras like abstract art and modern art. They can bridge a gap in what we give our residents to engage in artistic expression, and become meaningful and mindful of the content they are given. Coloring is a great form of self expression, relaxation and motor skill building – but giving the time and effort into WHAT coloring materials we are giving them can make all the difference!

What do you think of these budget friendly programming books/tools? Do you have any of them already? Comment some of YOUR favorite low-cost programming must-haves and get the conversation started.

Recommended Articles


  1. Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one
    and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam
    feedback? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you
    can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving
    me mad so any help is very much appreciated.

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for reading! I do get a lot of spam. I don’t have a plug in, but I made it so all comments need to get approved by me before getting posted on to my site. If I figure out a good spam plug in I will certainly let you know.

  2. I think this is among the most vital info for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on some general things,
    The web site style is wonderful, the articles is really nice : D.
    Good job, cheers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.