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SOIL Exercise

Get your hands dirty with your group!

Belonging and Re-imagining your library: the soil exercise

This multi-sensory exercise worked well for a group of people with dementia; we used it at our final session as a way of reminding us of all that we'd done and then, we sowed the seeds for future growth.

You will need: 

  • A bag of compost  
  • Some bulbs that will grow well indoors
  • Plastic photo holder sticks
  • Tea cups and saucers  
  • Mixed materials in bright colours: - ribbons, feathers, buttons, glitter, etc. 
  • Quotes and messages written on paper 
  • Photos and other visual reminders
  • Latex / protective gloves gloves and a waterproof sheet to protect the table 

First things first: 

Set up the room by protecting the table and empty the compost onto it.  Mix into the compost the bulbs, mixed materials, quotes, messages and visual reminders. Create a heaped shape with the compost with materials poking through. Have gloves ready for participants.   


Invite the group to wear the protective gloves and explore the compost and the surprises contained within it. Encourage them to use their senses to explore it's texture and smell.

Give everyone a cup and saucer, invite them to decorate it with the items in the soil - ribbons, feathers, photos, poems or quotes. 

Use the exercise as an opportunity to reflect on previous activities and conversations, perhaps reading poetry or statements participants made or listening to some music.

Invite the group to fill their tea cup with soil and add some of the bulbs contained within the pile.

Invite participants to choose a photo or quote to put into the plastic photo holder and stand this in the soil. 

Add a little water to the soil and keep them moist in the coming weeks.