Tasting Activities

The sense of taste and the enjoyment of food is something basic that we all share. Tasting activities are easy to share, don’t necessarily require language and conversation and can be a good way for people with dementia to participate as well.

Orange Juice Squeeze - includes video

Orange Juice Squeeze
This activity also helps with muscle strengthening.

Preparation

Find an old-fashioned (non-electric) orange squeezer.
Bring in a couple of oranges.

The Activity

  1. Cut an orange in half.
  2. Demonstrate how to put the orange on the orange squeezer and how to squeeze by twisting the orange backwards and forwards.
  3. Invite the person to continue.
  4. If the first half has been squeezed, hand them the second half.
  5. Continue with other oranges.
  6. Demonstrate how to pour the juice into a glass.
  7. Hand the squeezer to the person to continue pouring.
  8. Invite the person to drink the juice.
  9. If they are happy to continue, ask them to make a juice for you.

You may want to:

  • do the squeezing yourself and invite the person to smell and taste the juice
  • assist the person to squeeze the fruit by putting your hand on top of theirs and do the squeezing together.
  • Use an electric squeezer that lets you hold the orange still while the machine moves under the orange to squeeze out the juice.

You could:

  • let the person also cut the oranges
  • add a lime for some finer muscle exercise and to give zest to the drink.
Click to close

Food Tasting - includes video

Food Tasting
This could be a feast.
Think of some of the person’s favourite foods, and prepare tasting boxes. If the person really likes something less healthy, such as chocolate or cheese, prepare small portions and do it only infrequently.
The following example is a fruit tasting.

Preparation

Bring a variety of fruits. Select fruits that are distinct from one another in colour, smell and taste (e.g. strawberries, kiwi fruit, banana, mango).
Also bring some plastic forks and plates.
Cut all the fruit in small pieces, perhaps with the person’s help, and place in separate containers.

Tip: Take care that everything is ready to eat, and that the person does not have trouble swallowing.

The Activity

  1. Line up the containers with the fruits, well within the person’s reach.
  2. Place a plate in front of the person and in front of you.
  3. Using a fork, demonstrate taking some fruit from a container and putting it on a plate.
  4. Hand a fork to the person and invite them to take a piece of fruit from a container and put it on the plate.
  5. Continue with the other fruit.
  6. Once there are several bits of fruit on the plate, demonstrate and then invite the person to eat the pieces.

Tip: Many people will enjoy this. Try to sit a group of people around a small table and put a fruit platter in the middle.

You could try:

  • assisting the person’s hand when they reach for the fruits, or feeding the fruit to them
  • mixing the fruits into a nice ‘smoothy’ for the person to drink
  • doing a card sorting activity (Activity 1) with pictures of different coloured fruits or likes and dislikes.

You may want to:

  • bring pictures of the fruits you selected. After each tasting, show the pictures of different fruits and ask which one they just tasted
  • prepare a fruit scoring sheet and ask the person to rate each fruit. You can fill out the form for them
  • prepare a fruit salad together.
Click to close

High Tea

High Tea
The activity combines a nice ‘cuppa’ and some food tasting with the aesthetics of an elegant tea set.
Foods that may be good for a high tea are small sandwiches (without the crust), mini cupcakes,
scones with cream and jam, mini savoury pies, or any other food that the person really likes.

Preparation

Put a variety of food on a tea tray or dish.
Include teacups and saucers, a variety of tea bags and a teapot.

Tip: Many people will enjoy sharing a high tea. Sit a group of people around a small table and put the tea tray in the middle within everyone’s reach.
Consider having some music in the background.

The Activity

  1. Give the person a choice of types of tea.
  2. Make the tea of their choice.
  3. Put everything on the table.
  4. Start by taking one piece of food and direct the person towards the same type of food.
  5. Taste the food together.
  6. Choose something else and continue and enjoy.

You could try:

  • assisting the person’s hand when they reach for the food, or feed the food to them
  • present one food at the time; presenting a full tray may cause overstimulation
  • simply having a cuppa together.

You may want to:

  • prepare the high tea together with the person. Remember to give them simple tasks that you have demonstrated (e.g. crowning strawberries, spreading egg salad on sandwiches, pouring the tea)
  • try tasting different teas, then discuss the differences.
Click to close

Cooking - includes video

Cooking
Most people enjoy being involved in cooking activities, but you need to consider what tasks are safe for the person to do.
You may want to print the recipe in a large enough size that the person can read it. You could prepare labels describing each task in a few words and match the words with the pictures and possible numbers so that the order is very clear.

Preparation

Make sure the person can easily see what you are doing, either from a comfortable chair with a table tray where they assist with certain tasks, or standing with you.
Print the recipe.
Prepare labels describing each task (if you are using these).
Gather the ingredients together in one place.
Have the necessary equipment close at hand.

The Activity

  1. If you are using a recipe, look at the recipe together. If you are using labels, put them where the person can see.
  2. For each step in the preparation, think of something that the person can do (e.g. washing vegetables, taking pasta out of its wrapping, shelling boiled eggs).
  3. Demonstrate one activity.
  4. Encourage the person to do the same.
  5. Show them everything you are doing and invite them to feel the foods you are working with by putting them within reach.
  6. Invite them to smell or taste by demonstrating what you would like them to do.

Tip:
This activity will probably take double the time it would take you to do by yourself, so only do this on a day when you have plenty of time.

You may want to:

  • just let the person sit comfortably in your kitchen where they can see what you are doing
  • invite the person to feel, smell and taste
  • look at a well-illustrated cookbook.

You could:

  • ask the person to choose a recipe.
    Give two options to facilitate the choice. Or give them a cookbook if they are happy to look through it
  • give them one dish to prepare (e.g. a salad). Demonstrate each step, one after the other prepare an oven dish together. When the dish is in the oven, clean yourselves up and dress up for a nice dinner. Set the table together. Enjoy a lovely dinner.
Click to close

BBQ

BBQ

As with cooking (Activity 25), you need to consider what tasks are safe for the person to do.

Tip: Always be close at hand to ensure that the person stays safe.
Consider protective hand care, such as gloves, so the person cannot burn themselves.

Preparation

Make sure the person can easily see what you are doing, either from a comfortable chair with a table tray where they assist with certain tasks, or standing with you.

The Activity

  1. Unwrap the meat together.
  2. Demonstrate to the person how to put the meat on plates.
  3. Either ask the person to hand you certain pieces of meat (e.g. skewers) that you will put on the BBQ or reverse these roles and hand the person meat to put on the BBQ.
  4. Demonstrate how to turn the meat and invite the person to do the same.
  5. When the meat is cooked, demonstrate how to put each piece on a plate.
  6. Ask the person to bring the plate to the table or serve people that are standing around.

You may want to:

  • let the person sit comfortably near the BBQ where they can see what you are doing
  • invite the person to feel, smell and taste the food
  • look at a BBQ cookbook, with pictures.

You could:

  • go meat shopping together
  • swap roles and be the person’s assistant. Demonstrate the steps, but then just assist
  • invite the family and encourage some of the family members to work with the person.
Click to close

Fruit Sorting

Fruit Sorting
This activity involves sorting a mix of fruit into its various components.

Preparation

Bring a variety of fruit in a large bowl or basket.
You will also need a number of smaller bowls – one for each different type of fruit.

The Activity

  1. Put the bowl or basket of fruit on the table in front of the person within their reach.
  2. You could place the smaller bowls around the larger bowl.
  3. Demonstrate the activity by moving one piece of fruit to one bowl and a second type of fruit to another bowl.
  4. Invite the person to continue to do the same, with fruit being put into the bowl with other pieces of the same fruit.
  5. Finish when the person communicates it has been enough or when they seem to tire.
  6. You could then eat a piece of fruit together: let the person choose by presenting two fruits to them.

You may want to:

  • transfer one type of fruit from a big bowl to a smaller bowl (and back again)
  • peel a banana
  • invite the person to slice a banana with a butter knife. You could put lines of syrup on the banana to show where to cut, and demonstrate the first cut.
  • After sorting the fruits, you could make a fruit salad together.
  • You could use BBQ tongs to move the fruits. This will use different muscles.
  • To also train leg muscles, you could do the activity standing up.
  • To use even more muscles, the person could do the activity while seated but stand up to sort one particular fruit and sit down again.
    (You need to make sure that the person is steady on their feet; if you are unsure, just ask them to lift themselves once only.)
Click to close

Pasta Sorting

Pasta Sorting
This activity does not involve actual tasting, but is closely associated with cooking. It has been a hit with some people from Italian backgrounds.

Preparation

Provide different types of pasta. Select a variety in size, shape and, if possible, colour (e.g. tricolour).
Have each type of pasta in a different storage box.
Or you could mix some of the pastas together, if you want to sort by shape.
Have two extra (transparent) boxes for the actual sorting.

The Activity

  1. Place the boxes in front of the person.
  2. Present the first type of pasta to the person. Let them have a look and feel. Indicate to the person which box this particular shape should go into.
  3. Show the other type of pasta to the person. Let them see and touch it. Indicate to the person where this particular shape should go.
  4. Hand a piece of pasta to the person, and invite them to put it in the associated box.
  5. Continue with more pasta.

You may want to:

  • prepare labels with a picture of the pasta as a prompt
  • just look at and explore the texture of the pasta.

You could:

  • hand the box with the mixed pastas to the person and let them sort them without help
  • add a third sorting box to add an additional colour or shape to the mix
  • cook some pasta. Give the person structured tasks (e.g. ask them to wash the tomatoes for the sauce or stir the sauce). Don’t forget to demonstrate
Click to close
Previous page: Smelling Activities | Relate, Motivate, Appreciate | Next page: Resources

Leave a Reply