Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Poker game for older adults

This music activity is a variation on poker that is probably best for groups of adults or geriatric patients. Of course, unlike the real game, there is no betting or cash prize at the end.

Materials needed for preparation:

Standard 52-card deck with the jokers removed
Permanent marker
Poster board
Velcro strips
Winning hands pdf

1) On each playing card, write a song that is appropriate to your group of patients. It doesn't matter whether you prefer to write on the front or back of it, just don't write where the velcro strips are going to be attached.
2) Attach velcro strips to the center of the back of the card. When the card is stuck to the poster board, the number and suit of the card should face toward the patient. I prefer to attach the softer side of the velcro to the cards because the patients will be grabbing these and it is easier to the touch.
3) Draw a line down the center of the poster board and label the left side "Team A" and the right side "Team B."
4) Under each team side, attach five velcro pieces in a vertical line. Leave enough room for the height of a playing card between each strip. Remember that you are attaching whatever side of the velcro piece is OPPOSITE to that attached to the card. You should have 10 velcro pieces on your board altogether.
5) Attach the Winning Poker Hands pdf print-out to the back of the board as a reminder to you which hand wins. On the sheet, the possibilities are listed in rank order, with the highest hand (best combination) to the lowest hand (worst combination).

Materials needed in session:
Pre-made poster board
Pre-made playing cards
Bag/basket to place the cards in
Sheet music, if necessary

1) Briefly explain the poker game. No need to get technical, just help them understand that each card a patient draws has a song printed on it that the whole group will sing.
2) Split the group into two teams. Decide which team goes first.
3) Offer a patient the bag full of cards. Instruct them to reach in and grab one without peeking.
4) Read the song printed on the card aloud. To increase cognitive functioning, have the patients guess the song or artist by offering clues.
5) Stick the song on the board under that team's name.
6) Sing the song printed on the card.
7) Next move to the second team. Repeat steps 3-6, alternating teams until all 10 velcro pieces on the board are filled.
8) Have a conversation about who won the game (refer to the Winning hands print-out). Discuss how the patients enjoyed the experience of playing this game.

This game is great for increasing cognitive functioning and social interaction. After each song, you might talk with the patients about past memories or song meanings.

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