Do you have any super easy crafts/art projects or ideas for kids ages 2-4 with special needs?

Do you have any super easy crafts/art projects or ideas for kids ages 2-4 with special needs?
I work at a great preschool for special needs children. Most of the kids have autism, Down syndrome, or developmental delays. There are several typically developing children as well, most who have a special-needs sibling. We have no more than 10 kids per day with 4 staff members. When we do art projects, there are usually only 3-5 kids involved (the group is divided). We are always looking for quick, simple projects that are not too messy. Right now we are especially looking for something for Valentine's Day and Groundhog Day. Any ideas?


krissylyn:  Take a photo of them and have them paste them onto foam hearts (pre cut from Michaels). For Groundhog's Day you could help them make tear groundhogs. See link for tear bears - very forgiving and no cutting
2010-03-09 08:20:46
Diane B.:  You might want to check out "clay" of some kind (you could use a cheap or even homemade air-dry clay** to keep expenses down). Someone I know in Singapore has had wonderful results with using clay (in his case mostly polymer clay) in his "school" with kids who are autistic or have other problems, and even talks about why it works well, etc. You can find links to Garie Sim's projects and ideas on this page of my site, along with various other links and ideas for "things to do" with kids or those with limited physical or developmental or even emotional difficulties: on categories like Kids with Special Needs, and even some of the categories dealing with others with disabilities (for ideas and other links) ...for example, here are some things from Garie's site about Garie and using clay with these kids: pics and full article: (middle of pg) one kid: **all kinds of "clays" can be made at home (and some can be bought cheap, or other purchased clays can be used for *small* things or used as a "cover" over scrunched aluminum foil/etc, and those clays can even have various textures and looks after shaping and drying... some will take a lot of detail, some can't but can still be a lot of fun (and variation on the more traditional clays) ...some of the ones you can make at home would be salt dough clay, and even bread clay: ...but also clays made from papers in various ways, or sand (+cornstarch + water), or other materials, some of them even edible: homemade paper-based clays (sometimes called papier mache pulp or paste or various other names)...these can also be used as sheets to make "fancy" paper but I'm talking about the clay-like recipes: (this is a good introduction... scroll down about 5 paragraphs to the paragraph that begins: "The second technique is paper pulp. This technique is unfamiliar to most people and involves taking (broken up) paper fibers, mixing them with some form of glue, and using it in the same manner as clay. . ." Cheap air-dry clays of various textures you could buy would be Celluclay (add water to that one), or perhaps Crayola AirDry Clay or Model Magic. The cheapest polymer clay would be original Sculpey (white or terracotta) in boxes of various sizes...that's a smooth clay but must be heated in a home oven to harden (and don't use original Sculpey for thin areas of items unless they won't be stressed much--or have an armature under them) I've used various kinds of "clay" with little kids from 2 on up, and they all love it. They don't all want to do the same things *with* it though... the little ones are happy just to squish and maybe roll logs or use plastic cookie cutters or press things into the clay to leave impressions, etc. (they just like the manipulation process more than making some "thing") HTH, Diane B.
2010-03-09 11:06:02
meenakshi:  I definitely agree with Diane - clay-modeling is a great activity for kids - it is not only fun, but good for developing proper eye-hand coordination & fine motor skills and is multisensory too. These, as well as kinesthetics, sound & smell will provide the child with a complete fun learning experience. Try to incorporate as many as you can. You could have them roll out lengths of clay into ropes or strings or ribbons, with the base of their palm or between both palms. Then lay the 'string' on any flat surface & have them join the ends to make any shape - eg heart, groundhog, etc. Or you could use it to make a bracelet, necklace, anklet, etc. If you give them tiny bells or some shiny beads, they can 'embed' these into the clay jewelery, albeit temporarily. But it will provide sound, light, texture. I like the first poster's idea of photo in heart. In similar fashion, they could make Valentine's cards for their parents or to exchange among themselves too. If possible, you could have them string large beads into jewelery & gift to their Valentine. But do add a few 'bells' so that sound is incorporated. Have them draw [or give them outlines] of a heart, groundhog,... Also provide with either glitter paper, colored paper, crepe paper, foil, or sequins, etc. in desired colors. Let them apply glue within the figure, then tear out pieces from the papers & drop them on the glue [or sprinkle sequins, seeds, beads, ....]. Voila! they have a nice heart/hog shape. These can be cut out & glued to a card or used as a wall-hanging. Roll paper 2-3 times around pencil or dowel. Glue the edge & remove. Make similar tubes. Glue these to a sheet of cardboard/construction paper in parallel, along the edges, to get a photoframe. The color, glue glitter, use tube glitter paints, etc. When dry, they can take this home & add a photo of self or family within. Or, instead of paper tubes, they can just use uncooked spaghetti or ribbon noodles. Sand art is also something kids will love since it has texture too. Make any design, spread glue & sprinkle sand over the area. You can use different color sands or color the sand after it dries. Or you can also mix some glitter with sand to give it a shimmering effect. Draw any shape/design & using diff color pencils/crayons, ask kids to fill with wavy lines / straight lines / curvy lines / circles / dots ,....... Or one a paper, let the kids just doodle. Let them fill with as many colors & shapes as they like. Then, using a stencil or template, outline & cut out heart shape or any such shape. You could also do this by just getting them to make/poke/punch holes in a paper & then cutting into desired shape & gluing over a contrast-colored paper. Teach them to make simple hand fans - simply fold a colored/patterned paper in parallel lines, fold the entire piece in the centre. Hold at this folded centre & fan out the rest of paper to make a cute fan. Let them make hand &/or foot prints on a sheet of rolled/flattened clay. Make simple 'musical' instruments. Collect some empty tic-tac containers (or anything else) & half-fill each with something different such as tiny beads, pebbles, bells, seeds, rice, cereals, pulses, beans, etc. & seal. Each will make a different sound when shaken & you can have quite an orchestra if all shake together ;-) We've done some of these crafts & activities with my niece who is autistic too Further, "The out-of-sync child has fun" by Carol S Kranowitz has a lot of activities that cover all areas of a child's development. Do check it out. Hope these help All the very best & enjoy :-)
2010-03-09 18:03:32
Chosen Answer
Ash:  ......has lots of great ideas. Some are super simple and may also yield variations on projects that aren't specifically listed in this book. This author also has The Toddler's Busy Book and The Children's Busy Book. For Valentine's Day: Construction paper chains in reds, pinks and white to decorate your room. (I know this is really simple--but I can remember doing this as a kid and it being a big deal to see how long of a chain we could get---) Cut various hearts for stencils and tape to windows. Spray with artificial snow. Remove paper hearts to leave shape on window. Cut heart out of heavy construction paper/cardboard. Punch holes around outside edge. Have child thread/lace ribbon though holes and tie ends in a bow. Have child decorate heart. No specific ideas were given for Groundhog Day. However, I am confidant that these books will give you ideas.... Hope this helps =)
2010-03-11 10:37:49