Using well-known sayings for reminiscing and a bit of fun–

Sky blue pink with a heavenly border ~ that was my Mom’s answer one day when I asked her to name her favorite color. I was six or seven, at the time, and just tickled by this “saying” that Mom loved to repeat just to see me pause to try to imagine the color and then grin from ear to ear. A lifetime later, that delightful saying brings back vivid memories of my mother, including the curve of her smile, the brightness in her eyes, and the character of her voice.

Hearing a well known saying, idiom or proverb can trigger conversation and reminiscing for older adults. These figurative expressions can have a history that dates back a century or more, and they are usually just a few words in length making them suitable for those living with dementia.

A game can be made of “finishing the saying.” As an oral language activity a care partner can read the first part of the expression and ask the older adult to finish it. You can easily adjust the format to suit different abilities, leaving off a number of words or just the last word.

As a reading activity, this works best when each saying is printed on a separate piece of paper in large type. We’ve collected and prepared common expressions relative to our Stories for Older Adults™ as 3 free templates that you can download below.  Follow the directions  to create a companion “Finish the Sayings” activity to accompany each of our stories.





  • Download the template.  Print two copies, one for control cards and one to cut into sections.
  • Cut the first copy into strips.   These are the control cards.
  • Cut the remaining copy into strips; then cut each saying into two sections. The second section can be just the last word or a few words. Note: There is extra spacing between words to allow for ease in cutting.
  • Laminate the control cards and the sections for durability.

Individual Presentation:

  • After reading the Story, invite an older adult to play “Finish the Sayings”
  • Separate the sections of each of the 6 (or fewer) sayings into 2 piles at the top of the work area
  • Place one section at a time on the table for the older adult to read
  • Place the answers in a column and ask the older adult to read and find the answer
  • Place the two sections together and re-read.
  • Alternatively, ask the older adult to read the control card and find the two sections that match

Group Presentation:

  • After a group reading of the Story, gather a small group to play “Finish the Sayings.”
  • Hand out the first section cards to players
  • Have players take turns reading out a card and ask others to call out the answer.
  • Alternatively, hand out first section cards to half the group and second section cards to the other half. First section players read in turn; person with the answer reads card.
  • Encourage conversation and reminiscing

Magnetic strips could be put on the back of control cards and sections so the game can be played on a white board.

Download Links: