Activity cards

Tablecloth drawing

Shared tablecloth drawing – Storylines

This is an imaginative drawing and painting exercise. This activity can be especially good as an introductory ‘getting to know you’ session or as an interactive form of evaluation.

The idea: In the middle of a tablecloth write a question, such as 

  • How are you today? 
  • What’s your favourite recipe/food? 
  • What makes you sing? 

These can all work well as starting points but do experiment with your own.

Each person needs a pen to start, writing or drawing, in any size, their response to the question on to the tablecloth – start to incorporate the watercolour paints, painting into the shapes of words, elongating and extending letters and words to form new shapes and new tales inspired by what can be seen. 

Theme ideas: Favourite foods/places/activities

Materials Required:

  • One plain white cotton tablecloth or sheet (old bed sheets are perfect for this) over a wipe clean table, or on top of a wipe clean tablecloth
  • Black gel pens
  • Watercolour paints
  • Good quality watercolour brushes of varying size
  • Water in suitable pots – e.g. empty jam jars or non spill painting pots with lids

Step by Step Guide:

  1. Set the table – lay out the tablecloth and write your question in the middle to get the session started
  2. Hand out the pens to all your lovely participants, ask them to read what you’ve written, or read it to them
  3. Encourage your residents to start writing or drawing whatever they feel on the tablecloth, in black gel pen, in response to your question – this is also a good time to put some music on, maybe take some requests and build a shared playlist
  4. Break out the paints. Start to add some colour to your tablecloth with the watercolour paints
  5. Look at the words, shapes and images made so far, start to extend and add to them, drawing into words to turn them into animals, objects or whatever they can see.
  6. Start linking the different areas of the tablecloth together with stories for and from the residents writing, drawing and painting, making and adding new drawings and tales as you go, inviting the residents to help create the story together.

Ideas for Further Activities With This Idea: 

Try moving the tablecloth around to put different parts of it in front of different people to allow for collaborative drawing.

The cloth itself can be washed and drawn onto again, creating layers of images, as well as being stitched in to, if suitable.


Ways to adapt for less able residents:

Going straight for soft brushes and bright bold watercolours can be especially good for those who find it difficult to make marks with pens, and the use of vivid colours helps to make the marks more easily visible.

Ways to adapt from group to individual and vice versa: 

This method could also be used individually, on a small scale using handkerchiefs in embroidery hoops, which also lend themselves well for stitching in to where appropriate/practical.

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