Games with Karen!

If you’ve seen any of Countryside’s Monthly Activities Calendars, “Games with Karen” is almost always a part of the weekend lineup. For years, Karen has been a part of the staff at Countryside who doubles as our fabulous weekend game host. We interviewed Karen on the creative ways she keeps our residents entertained.


How and when did “Games with Karen” become a staple of weekend activities?

Before joining Countryside, I was a teacher, corporate trainer, and team-building facilitator. So, back in 2013 when Lynn asked if I would be interested in conducting activities with the residents every other weekend, I jumped at the opportunity. On my first weekend we started off with “Getting to Know You” team building activities, and the rest is history!

It sure is. How do you decide which games are played each week?

I plan activities around current events, seasons, or upcoming holidays.  This includes trivia, math, word games, geography, card games, exercising, story hour, and more.  On some weekends, I’ll get inspiration by looking at a “day of the month” calendar to see what the specific day is known for, and create games from there.  A couple of weeks ago, I tied 3 activities around one theme – the flower of the day. First, we had a group discussion learning all about the flower which was called “Snow in Summer”. Then we did a trivia quiz where I asked the residents questions about the flower, and followed it up with a word game where they had to find as many words within the phrase “Snow in Summer” as they could. The ladies found 105!

Wow, that’s amazing! What are some of the favorite types of games the residents like to play?

In addition to the more traditional games like Bingo, the residents love brain teasers like word games, trivia, and puzzles. They especially enjoy trying to find words within other words or phrases. To get moving between games, we’ll do the hokey pokey or chicken dance (in our chairs of course), which never fails to make everyone laugh! The residents also enjoy making flower arrangements to put in their rooms. I’ll bring in mini carnations that they cut and arrange, then put into vases and decorate with ribbons. We even have an official ribbon curler!

I guess the activities span far beyond games! Are there any new games or activities that you’re trying out?

We just began playing a game called “Loose Change” where each player is dealt a hand of cards, each with a picture of a nickel, dime, quarter, or 50 cent coin. The object of the game is to get your hand to add up to exactly one dollar. The game can get tricky so we’re still trying to master it, but the residents seem to enjoy it and we’re getting better every time we play. No calculators allowed!

Sounds challenging! I think I’ll stick to the chicken dance. Overall, what is your favorite part about these game sessions every week?

I love interacting with the ladies and seeing their faces light up when we do the activities. They have a wealth of knowledge that they love to share!


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