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Fun Winter Activity for Those with Dementia - Making Stone Soup

Posted by Administrator on 1/28/2014

Making - or eating - soup is something most of us are familiar with. It is especially tasty on a cold, winter day. There are many steps to making soup, which can be adapted to allow those at different stages of dementia to help. Adding in the story of Stone Soup can be fun and add opportunities for communication and reminiscing about soup.

Creating a Sense of Accomplishment   

The old folk story of Stone Soup basically tells of hungry strangers who trick townspeople into contributing ingredients to enhance the flavor of the mysterious "Stone Soup" that they are making. One by one carrots, celery, potatoes, etc. are added.  Through cooperation, they are able to accomplish something together, something that is much better than the individual parts. 

Creating Opportunities for Communication

Telling the story of Stone Soup provides opportunities for communication with the person with dementia, as it may may spur memories.  Below are questions you might ask, with more specific breakout questions for each one.  The person with dementia may have a hard time with an open-ended question but may answer very well when given choices.

  • What vegetable do you like in your soup?
    • Do you add potatoes?
    • Do you add onion?
    • Do you add garlic?
    • Do you add seasonings?
  • What meat do you like in your soup?
    • Do you like chicken/beef/turkey in your soup? (ask about each, one at a time)
  • Do you like crackers in your soup?
  • Did you ever help cut the vegetables for soup?
  • Did you ever help stir the soup?
  • Do you have a favorite soup?
    • Do you like chicken noodle soup?
    • Do you like tomato soup?
    • Do you like beef stew?
    • Do you like clam chowder?

The Activities of Making Soup

The person with dementia can help with making soup, even those at lower levels.  Below are the steps of making soup that patients at higher levels and those at lower levels can help complete, with guidance, as needed.

Activities for Earlier Dementia

  • Get out needed spoons, measuring cups, etc. with guidance, as needed
  • Locate needed seasonings after given a written list and being shown where the seasonings are stored
  • Cut up potatoes, carrots, celery, onion (with supervision, as needed for safety)
  • Measure seasonings into measuring spoons, after given a written cue (ex. 1/4 teaspoon of basil). Help with interpreting abbreviations, as needed.
  • Open cans of beans, broth, etc. (again supervise, as needed)
  • Wash the dishes, after set up with needed items.

Activities for Later Dementia

  • Scrub carrots, potatoes, celery with a vegetable brush
  • Peel carrots, potatoes, onions (ensure the person can do this safely; supervise)
  • Dump in pre-measured noodles, seasonings, beans, etc.
  • Stir and stir some more (with vigilant supervision to avoid touching the hot pan)
  • Smell the aroma of cooking soup
  • Taste and enjoy the flavors
  • Scrub the soup pot clean after

**Note that those that handle the foods should wash their hands well (with supervision, if needed) beforehand and/or wear rubber gloves.

Making a Stone Soup recipe offers the person with dementia opportunities for communication and the mental stimulation of cutting or scrubbing, measuring, pouring, mixing, and more.  The eating of Stone Soup is the best part of all, providing a sense of accomplishment and, of course, the nummy flavors!

Want more easy activity ideas to do with the person with dementia?  Join our Facebook community and/or Pinterest board!

Follow MindStart - Alzheimer Activities 's board Alzheimer Activities on Pinterest.

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2 Comments

Nancy Rosenberg OTR/L
Date: 2/7/2014
I love your idea . As an OT, I often led meal preparation groups in mental health settings. We sometimes made full meals and at others made bread, jelly, or desserts. Cooking and food certainly bring people together in a very authentic and meaningful manner. Thank you for sharing this engaging and highly adaptable activity for those with multiple stages of dementia . Sometimes , in dementia units, the activities are juvenile and disconnected from everyday life.This one is perfect as long as sanitary and safety issues are addressed . Nancy Rosenberg, Aging In Place Solutions
Monica from MindStart
Date: 2/20/2014
Thanks for your comment, Nancy!

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