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"A cognitive understanding of leisure, a positive attitude toward leisure experiences, various participatory and decision-making skills, as well as a knowledge of, and the ability to utilize, resources appear to be significant aspects of satisfying leisure involvement." (Gunn & Peterson, Therapeutic Recreation Program Design, Principles and Procedures, 1984).


“Leisure Apples to Apples”
Submitted by Paul Fink

Size of Group: 2+

Equipment/Supplies Needed:  Homemade Apples to Apples cards (with leisure activities/community resources/etc).

Activity/Treatment Objective or Expected Outcome:  To increase leisure awareness.

Description of the Activity:

Ask participants if they have ever played “Apples to Apples” before.  Explain the rules and the object of the game to apples to apples.  The red card statements will have various activities, community resources, and people to do activities with.  Provide a variety of activities to help increase their awareness of leisure activities, a variety of community resources to help increase their awareness of leisure activities, and add in funny activities, such as cleaning up dog poop to make it fun.   Also, add in people do activities with ranging from friends and family to famous people.  The green cards will have different topics related to leisure, such as “summer activities,”  “a place to go for a hike,” or “someone you would play basketball with.” 

To start each person will get a total of 5 red cards.  Then, one of the participants will draw a green card, and read the topic.  The other participants must pick one of their red cards that go along with the green card topic.  It can be serious, or it can be funny.  The participants will pass the cards in that they chose, and the participant with green card will shuffle so he or she does not know which card belongs to whom.  The participant with the green card will then select the card he or she thinks is the best answer.  It can be the one that relates most to the topic or it can be the funniest one.  It is up to the participant with green card.  Whose ever card is chosen that is the participant that will receive the green card. 

The person who gets three green cards first wins.  The number of green cards to win may be adjusted to fit the amount of time the group has.  Rotate which participant draws the green card.  After the game, close with asking participants about activities that they enjoy doing or like to try, and places in the community they would like to go or have gone.               

bullet Leisure Boggle
submitted by Kira Paran on April 6, 2009

Size of Group: 2 - fairly unlimited

Equipment: paper, pens, stop watch, alphabet on slips of paper in a container to draw from

Objective: Cooperation, communication, and leisure awareness

Description: In teams, have participants brainstorm positive leisure activities that start with that rounds letter. Each round consists of 1 minute, draw from the container, state the letter, and start the timer. Teams share their answers with the entire group. One point is gained for each answer that no other team wrote down. Note: Game can be played individually.

Debrief: Discussion around the diversity of leisure activities. Can you name one activity you had never heard of? Was there an activity mentioned that you would like to try? Was there an activity mentioned you used to participant in and would like to again?


bullet Got Rec?
submitted by Shari Burshtyn, CTRS of The Children's Village on July 16, 2009

Size of Group: 2-20

Equipment: Construction Paper, Pens, Markers, Colored Pencils, Glue, Paint etc.

Objective: Leisure Education, Teamwork, Leisure Skill Development, Increasing Repertoire of Leisure Skills

1.Have residents brainstorm together about the benefits of Recreation and Leisure, and who can benefit from it (people with physical and mental disabilities, elderly, children etc).

2.Break the group up into smaller groups of 2-3 depending on size of group (ideally two, but three can work as well)

3.Have the groups create a Public Service Announcement exploring the benefits of Recreation and Leisure. It can be a print ad, or a commercial.

4.Have the residents share their finished products, and have staff vote on the best PSA. The winning team will receive a special prize of the CTRS's choice, all participants receive a prize for participating 5.Have those who have drawn their PSA hang up their finished product around the day room.

Leisure and Feelings
Submitted by Joselyn Whetzel of UVA Medical Center / Adult Psychiatric on June 07, 2004

Size: 4-10

Equipment: papers, pens/pencils, chalkboard

Objective: To raise the awareness of leisure activities being effective as positive coping strategies.

Description: Pass out paper and pens and have each patient write down 2-3 leisure activities that they enjoy. Collect these papers in a basket and put aside.
Next, ask patients to brainstorm feelings or emotions they enjoy or like to feel (i.e. belonging, sense of adventure, love, happiness, sense of accomplishment, self worth, etc.). List on chalkboard leaving space under each emotion.

After you have listed about 8 or so emotions/feelings... pull out the basket you have set aside. Pull out the papers and read each leisure activity and ask patients how it makes them feel (i.e. How does walking in the park make you feel? relaxed, peaceful). List the leisure activities on the board under the appropriate emotions/feelings.

Lastly, explain to patients that when we feel low or depressed we are able to get back in touch with these emotions/feelings that we like through the magic of leisure activities!!

Leisure/Recreation Jeopardy
submitted by Claire Smith of Easter Seals on May 27, 2001

Size: 2-10

Equipment: Paper, noise makers, and maybe prizes

Objective: To gain an understanding of various leisure/ recreation activities.

Description: It is played like the game show jeopardy. Create categories that involve leisure activities. It is good to have the activities range from arts and crafts to more physical activities. Create clues (answers). Have "contestants" pick a category and then the first person to know the answer (or I should say question)rings a bell, honks a horn etc.

Alphabet Game
submitted by Jackie Daulton on June 11, 1999

Size of Group: 10 +

Equipment: A set of 5x7 cards with a letter of the alphabet written boldly on each card

Objective: To provide the clients an opportunity to self-discover various recreational opportunities. It is a group "brainstorming" session.

Description: This activity is best done with at least 10 participants sitting in a half circle with the facilitator sitting in front of the group.

Divide the group down the middle to equal or close to equal teams exist.

Show the 26 5x7 cards to the audience and explain the following:

" I have the entire alphabet printed on this set of cards. I will raise one at a time and show it to the group. The first group to give a correct, appropriate answer will get that card. At the end of the round, the group with the most cards will choose the next topic. Topics should be anything related to leisure/recreation, ie. things to do on the weekend. The first topic is "Things you do for fun...or leisure activities."

After a side gives an answer I ask for additional things that can fall under the category, which has generated literally hundreds of responses. I have found this simple back-pocket activity to be good with teens who are "bored and don't have anything to do."


Leisure Lists

Size of Group: 4-12

Equipment: Pencil, paper, and leisure categories

FOCUS AREA: Benefits of Leisure

Description: Break the group into 2 to 3 groups. Begin discussion on favorite activities. On a large sheet of paper or white board, list the participant's favorite activities. Then, beside each person's favorite activity, list the + benefits they obtain from their preferred leisure.

Following discussion, begin the game of Leisure Lists. Break the group into 2 or 3 groups. Give the groups one minute to list as many Winter Activities on their sheet of paper. After one minute, turn the paper over and have the groups list as many "things found on a picnic."

This game is reminiscent of "Scattegories." After the 1st round, have the group with the most items listed read their list. If the other team(s) have the same item on their list, that item is crossed off on everyone's list. If no one else has an item (e.g., snow boarding), then the team gets one point. After team one has finished reading their list, the next team(s) read their list. The team with the most listed items wins the round.

You can continue with additional round with different leisure topics (things related to football, names of dances, things people collect).

Complete the activity with feedback from participants on what choices they might make when feeling depressed, bored, etc. and tie it in with the benefits they listed earlier.

EXPECTED OUTCOME: Participants will better understand how engagement in preferred activities can positively affect their feelings, moods, and thoughts.

Playdough "Pictionary"
Submitted by: Amanda Cameron, Grand Valley State University

Size of Group: 10-12

Equipment: Playdough, note cards with leisure activities written on them.

Objective: To increase leisure awareness

Description: Split the group into two teams. Give each group a clump of Playdough. Show one person from each group a leisure activity from one of the note card. They then go to their designated group and form the leisure activity with the Playdough. You may suggest to the individual using the play dough to "use" the item once they shape the leisure activity idea to help the guessers determine what the activity is. The first team to guess the activity wins a point.


Send additional leisure awareness activities/protocols to Charlie Dixon.

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