Example Activities Schedule and Google Calendar

One of the simplest and most important things that an activities or recreation department needs is a functional calendar. This can also be an incredibly time consuming task. I scoured the internet for a free calendar that I could easily customize to fit the activities in a facilities schedule. While it’s not perfect, Google Calendar does a pretty good job. And while this is just an example schedule done for my class, I think it does a good job of including a large variety of activities that a department might have, as well as many options for viewing and printing.

A few pros of Google Calendar:

1. FREE

It’s free. Use it as much as you want, as often as you want, as long as you want, and you’ll never pay a dime. That’s a big bonus for departments with a small/non-existent budget.

2. Web Based

Google Calendar is online, so you can access it from any computer: work, home, activities office, nursing office, company’s website, whatever. It’s also easy to collaborate and share, invite people to attend or contribute, and you don’t have to worry about losing all your work when one computer goes down.

3. Does a lot of work for you

You’ll see that I have several events scheduled on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Google Calendar has a great feature that lets you repeat an event, every day, every Monday, every other Saturday, or every third Tuesday. The only thing I wish it had was a way to exclude days. For example, I have resident council scheduled for the first Thursday of every month, but I don’t want to have Snack Club repeat every 2nd Thursday, every 3rd Thursday, and every 4th Thursday, and so on. So I just have Snack Club set to repeat every Thursday. I could schedule a volunteer to cover Snack Club while I’m at resident council, but an easier solution might be to simply not have Snack Club at the same time as resident council. I want to set Snack Club to  repeat every Thursday EXCEPT the first Thursday, but Google Calendar doesn’t have that option, so I just go in and delete it once a month. Not a big deal, but it’s an extra step I wish I didn’t have to do.

4. Customizable

Not only can you color code events as I’ve shown, assigning certain activities to certain groups of people or certain locations, but it’s easy to add other calendars to your schedule. Built in to Google Calendar are several calendars for things like holidays and phases of the moon, or even sports schedules. And I found a few fun calendars online which I’ve subscribed to. Look at Google’s built in calendars by clicking the drop down next to “Other Calendars,” and selecting “Browse Interesting Calendars.” To add a calendar to your Google Calendar, click the drop down next to “Other Calendars,” and select “Add by URL,” then paste the subscription URL into the box. Below you’ll find the website to each calendar linked, and the url to subscribe to the calendar in parentheses behind it.

Funny Holidays (http://www.webcal.fi/cal.php?id=50&format=ics&wrn=1&wp=1&wf=4&color=%23FF00FF&cntr=&lang=en&rid=wc)

Bizarre American Holidays (click the button in the bottom right hand corner)

Historical Birthdays (apple: webcal://americanhistorycalendar.com/peoplecalendar?format=ical, PC: webcal://americanhistorycalendar.com/peoplecalendar?format=ical)

Historical Events (apple: webcal://americanhistorycalendar.com/eventscalendar?format=ical, PC: http://americanhistorycalendar.com/eventscalendar?format=ical)

Cons of Google Calendar

1. Printing is not always perfect

This is the major downfall of Google calendar: printing is not always perfect. Event titles are cut off, and it’s pretty hard to read. I would suggest exporting this to another calendar program, but you could also transfer this to excel or word (because I am not working full time in a department, I don’t have a budget, and can’t buy the software for myself, but many professionals would have access to better software to transfer events to before printing). But that’s it. That’s really the only thing I can find that I don’t like.

Example Calendar Views

Monthly Calendar (PDF)

Monthly

Perhaps the most important view, is the monthly view. This is what you would print and distribute to residents and staff, as well as post around the facility advertising the months activities.

Weekly Events (PDF)

Weekly

This could also be posted around the facility. It just gives a more visual schedule of events.

Daily Events (PDF)

Daily

Even more specific, the daily view. I print these for myself for planning and organization purposes. I keep a clipboard with the weeks daily pages so I can see exactly what I’m doing everyday. I use the large spaces to plan the specifics of each activity; while Craft Circle is a regularly recurring activity, each week, we’ll have a different craft, and I use the space to write details, include a sketch of the final product, and list materials needed. I’ve also used this view in past positions to post on the office door exactly what is going on each day of the week.

Monthly Agenda (PDF)

Agenda

This view is great for planning. it’s a great way to print out a list of everything you’re doing for the next week/month/even year for referencing, just to see what you have coming up and what you need to be ready for.

Now, a list of all the activities I included in my example calendar and a brief description, the facilitator of the activity, and the purpose of each activity. Regardless of who facilitates the activity, it should be supervised by the Activity Director or someone appointed by the Activity Director who periodically checks in with them.

Active Games Activities Wii sports, ladderball, bean bag toss, balloon volleyball, any activity that is fun, engaging for the whole group, and requires more than sitting. requires physical activity to strengthen muscles and prevent clotting, encourages teamwork and competition, involves socialization
Bible Study Residents resident run activity that meets each week to study scripture and supplemental texts, provided by Activity Director who checks in with group periodically encourages socialization among residents with common interests, provides outlet for spirituality and strengthens faith
BINGO Activities good old fashioned BINGO, prizes are BINGO Bucks to be used at monthly auction encourages socialization among residents, provides cognitive stimulation, encourages residents to leave their rooms
BINGO Auction Activities monthly auction to buy prizes with BINGO Bucks allows for more costly BINGO prizes
Birthday and Holiday Party Activities a party to celebrate the monlthy resident birthdays as well as any monthly holiday celebrates the residents as people, allows social interaction
Book Club Residents resident run activity that meets each week to discuss monthly/weekly book selection, provided by Activity Director who checks in with group periodically encourages socialization among residents with common interests, provides cognitive stimulation, encourages residents to leave their rooms
Cards and Board Games Activities dominoes, crazy 8s, scrabble, checkers, whatever the residents are interested in. encourages socialization among residents, provides cognitive stimulation, encourages residents to leave their rooms
Church Service Volunteers volunteer run church service encourages socialization among residents with common interests, provides outlet for spirituality and strengthens faith
Communion Volunteers volunteer run communion offering encourages socialization among residents with common interests, provides outlet for spirituality and strengthens faith
Craft Circle Activities A weekly craft group. Can make crafts for decoration, as gifts, or simply color or paint encourages socialization among residents, provides artistic expression, encourages residents to leave their rooms
Devotions Residents resident run activity that meets each day to do a daily devotion, provided by Activity Director who checks in with group periodically encourages socialization among residents with common interests, provides outlet for spirituality and strengthens faith
Funny Friday Staff a family friendly comedy offers evening activity, provides comedic entertainment
Gaither Gospel Hour and Lawrence Welk Staff 2 local programs shown each Saturday at 6 pm on public television offers evening activity, provides outlet for spirituality and strengthens faith
Happy Hour Activities social time with snacks, refreshments, and music/entertainment encourages socialization among residents and stress relief, encourages residents to leave their rooms
Hobby Hands Activities knitting, crocheting, cross stitch, quilting, and other hand-based hobbies- based on resident interest, will include volunteers to help with specific hobbies encourages socialization among residents with common interests, encourages residents to leave their rooms, offers medium for personal hobby practice
Karaoke Activities Hymn Sing, Piano Sing-along, karaoke, any activity that gets participants singing/playing along encourages socialization among residents, provides musical expression and cognitive stimulation, encourages residents to leave their rooms
Library Cart Activities weekly event where a library cart is available for residents to check out and return books encourages personally driven cognitive stimulation, provides larger selection of books for those who may not be able to travel to the library
Mail Staff room to room mail passing for those who do not have a mailbox, opening and reading to residents interested to ensure each resident recieves their mail and is able to open, read, and understand their mail
Manicures Volunteers Weekly, volunteers go room to room grooming nails and refreshing polish encourages socialization among residents, encourages relaxation and personal care, aims to raise resident self-esteem
Mealtime Music Staff staff (or residents) will choose music from a provided selection to play in the dining room prior to mealtimes encourages socialization among residents, provides relaxation and leisure time
Men’s Social Group Residents resident run activity that meets each week, organized by Activity Director who checks in with group periodically encourages socialization among residents with common interests, encourages residents to leave their rooms, offers activity specifically for male residents
Morning Social and Current Events Activities discussion group that simply socializes over coffee and goes over what’s going on in the world (this can help to keep individuals oriented) encourages socialization among residents, encourages residents to leave their rooms, offers insight into outside world to help residents stay connected with their environment
Musical Guest Activities includes Merry Makers and local childrens groups, any musical program from an outside guest provides entertainment
Musical Monday Staff a musical movie offers evening activity, provides musical entertainment, studies show that musical theater is linked to higher cognitive function
One-to-ones Activities one-to-one visits to encourage personal interaction between staff and residents to ensure proper care planning and adequate care offers companionship and social interaction for those who may not be able or wish not to leave their rooms, offers entertainment to residents
Outdoor/ Facility Walks Volunteers volunteer run, take interested residents outside for a walk, weather permitting, or around the facility offers fresh air and companionship, gets people out of their room and gives them some social interaction
Outing Activities a special bus trip to shop or visit local exhibit/event allows residents to leave the facility while under adequate supervision
Pet Therapy Volunteers volunteer run dog or cat visit to the facility and visits each resident who is interested provide an opportunity for comfort and companionship to residents through the use of pets, provide sensory stimulation to the cognitively impaired and low response residents
Poker and Bridge Club Residents resident run activity that meets each week to play poker and bridge, provided by Activity Director who checks in with group periodically encourages socialization among residents with common interests, encourages residents to leave their rooms, offers activity specifically for male or higher functioning residents
Reading/ Music Room Visitis Volunteers volunteer run, one-to-one visits including reading or singing/playing to residents offers companionship and social interaction for those who may not be able or wish not to leave their rooms, offers entertainment to residents
Reminisce Activities a simple, quiet discussion group. I choose a theme and some conversation starter questions, and we remember things from our past. encourages socialization among residents, encourages residents to leave their rooms, offers a means to remember and connect with past, offers cognitive stimulation
Resident Council Activities a requirement in Iowa policy, this is a simple meeting that lets the residents to make suggestions and voice concerns in a safe and productive environment encourages open communication between residents and staff, allows the residents to make suggestions and voice concerns in a safe and productive environment
Sensation Session Activities sensory activity including aromatherapy, lights and sounds, and physical sensory like playdoh, water, and massage encourages socialization among residents, encourages residents to leave their rooms, provides sensory stimulation to the cognitively impaired and low response residents and therapy for dementia behaviors, especially anxiety and agression
Snack Club Activities a simple activity where residents can bake, cook, or create a snack to share. encourages socialization among residents, encourages residents to leave their rooms, offers an activity for those who may like to cook or do things with their hands, gives residents some purpose
Sunday Night Cinema Staff a classic or family movie, shown with popcorn or snack offers evening activity, provides entertainment, encourages families to visit and share an experience with their loved one
Think About It Thursday Staff a biography or documentary, any educational film offers evening activity, provides entertainment, offers cognitive stimulation and encourages conversation
Travel Tuesday Staff a travel video showing information about a foreign place offers evening activity, provides entertainment, offers cognitive stimulation and encourages conversation, offers virtual travel from facility
Trivia Time Activities trivia contests, Jeopardy, Who Wants to Be a Millionare, and other trivia games encourages socialization among residents, encourages residents to leave their rooms, offers cognitive stimulation and encourages fun competition
Wake-Up Wellness Activities morning exercise routine, stretching, yoga, tai chi, etc. Just something to get everyone up and moving. requires physical activity to strengthen muscles and prevent clotting and falls, encourages socialization, keeps residents informed of step they can take to stay healthy
Wheel of Fortune Staff on TV each weeknight from 6:30-7, this is a program we can’t not show to the residents. They really enjoy watching, regardless of age or cognitive function offers evening activity, provides entertainment, offers cognitive stimulation and encourages conversation
Word Games Activities Group word game- Wheel of Fortune, Boggle, Scrabble, Word in a Word, Beginning and End, Add a Letter, Scattergories, etc. encourages socialization among residents, encourages residents to leave their rooms, offers cognitive stimulation and encourages fun competition
Worship Wednesday Staff any faith or religious based video: Gaithers, gospel music, bible stories, recorded sermons, etc. offers evening activity, provides outlet for spirituality and strengthens faith

I hope you’ve found some information you can use here, and I hope you didn’t get too overwhelmed! Once an efficient calendar system is set up, this becomes a regular part of your routine and it doesn’t seem so daunting. Let me know what you use to schedule your events, and if you have any suggestions or tips for me or other readers!

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3 thoughts on “Example Activities Schedule and Google Calendar

  1. good, good, good for you! i also embarked on a new career path a year ago, after 18 years on a continuum-of-care campus where i served as activity director for the last six of my years, leading a team of ten. your ideas are wonderful! putting everything in one place — terrific, and actually my idea as well. when not directing the team, my main activity was providing music therapy on campus. i would pull together other activities that supported the music — reminiscing themes, movies to watch, etc. i would spend HOURS gathering activity ideas and when i retired (i am much older than you — 63) i decided to record singalong DVDs with a theme and provide activity ideas for each theme (crafts, recipes, movies, puzzles, games, reminiscing, etc.) — please visit my website for more information (and hopefully a better explanation!) — http://www.jeannelintner.com. i just wanted to congratulate you on this endeavor!

    1. Sounds like you had a wonderful career!! Thank you so much for your support and encouragement! I’m excited to see your website to see what a wonderful resource I’m sure you’ve put together. Thanks for reading and sharing!

      edit– Upon further inspection, your website will be a WONDERFUL resource!! I plan to have weekly sing alongs because I think music can be a wonderful form of therapy for everyone, but especially those with dementia. I will visit your site again as I plan some of those sing alongs! Thanks again!!!

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