If you are a parent of a child with special needs, crafting and arts can be a great way to keep them engaged and working on their skills. While parents and children are social distancing, and in many instances, homeschooling or E-learning, keeping their brains stimulated while continuing to practice their skills is more important than ever. Many parents and children may be struggling with these, but don’t worry - we’re here to help!
We sat down with Victoria, BCBA and Manager - BYS Academy (South), and discussed the importance of keeping your kiddos engaged at home. BYS Academy is BY YOUR SIDE’s school readiness program that mirrors a real school day for kiddos on the spectrum to prepare them with the skills needed for the classroom. “It is important for our clients to continue to develop their skills outside of BYS because we know that some of them have a difficult time generalizing skills at home.” In the same light, Victoria emphasizes the importance of children being able to take the skills they learn during therapy and apply those in real life, outside of the classroom. “BYS Academy utilizes arts and crafts every day, and it’s during those activities that our clients work on requesting items, sharing, waiting, and fine motor skills,” Victoria said. These skills taught during crafting can accurately translate to real-life skills at home, including building their tolerance and persistence to get tasks completed.
We've provided some fun Arts and Crafts projects to do at home with your child.
Feel free to comment, share, or offer your ideas as well!
This activity not only feels soft and light to the touch, but it smells great too! Play Dough helps stimulate your child's sense of touch, smell, and sight. Not only is the end product fun for your kiddo to play with, but the process of making the dough teaches patience and waiting. Once the dough is fully formed using only a few simple ingredients, the resulting consistency is the perfect tool to help build strength in your child’s hand muscles and to develop fine motor skills. Click here to learn how to make Kool-Aid Play Dough at home!
Rain Sticks are a great way to invigorate your kiddo’s auditory senses. With the use of a leftover cardboard roll, such as a paper towel roll, and some common household items, this activity is easy, fun, and inexpensive. Not only will your DIY Rain Stick be pleasing to your kiddo’s ears (and probably yours), this craft can relieve your child’s stress and anxiety. By using light items such as buttons, beads, rice, and corn kernels, this activity is sure to keep your kiddo engaged. Click here for directions on how to make a Rain Stick at home!
String painting is a fun way to help your child engage their visual and sensory input. By painting and dragging a string coated in your child’s favorite color across a piece of paper, your child can create something beautiful with ease. And what’s the coolest part? Painting activities are perfect for young children since there is no such thing as a masterpiece; everyone wins and your child continues to learn. Not only is this activity engaging and teaches focus, but this activity strengthens your child’s fine motor skills and hand muscles. Click here to learn how to create String Paintings with your kiddo!
Just in time for autumn, this mess-free leaf painting activity is the perfect way to engage your child’s senses and to get them excited for the changing seasons. Children are always fascinated with the changing colors of the season’s trees and now they can watch it happen before their eyes. Materials for this activity are as simple as some kid-friendly paints, a couple of zip lock bags, and some leaf cut-outs. And don’t worry - the paint will be sealed away within plastic bags, so your child’s hands won’t get messy! Seeing the colors change will stimulate your child’s visual sensory input and not to mention, the softness of the paint within the zip lock bag will feel soft under your child’s hands. Lastly, since the paint will be in a plastic bag, the paint will stay moist and won’t dry up so your kiddo can play as long as they want! Click here to learn how to create your Mess-Free Autumn Leaf Painting at home!
Assist, Rather than Lead
In the end, the goal of doing these activities is for your child to learn, strengthen skills, and have fun while doing it. Although it is important for you as a parent or guardian to be with your child during these tasks, it is equally important to let your child engage and learn on their own. Since each child is different, they all learn in their own ways, and doing Arts and Crafts is a fantastic way to let your child learn and explore as creatively as possible, without limitations.
Currie, Jackie. “Rain Sticks – Kids can Create the Sound of Falling Rain”. Happy Hooligans, https://happyhooligans.ca/rain-sticks/. Accessed 22 September 2020.
Marcos, Leigh. “How Low - Budget Art Projects can Enhance the Lives of Children with Autism and Other Learning Differences”. The Art of Autism, https://the-art-of-autism.com/how-low-budget-art-projects-can-enhance-the-lives-of-children-with-autism-and-other-learning-differences/. Accessed 22 September 2020.
“Mess-Free Sensory Autumn Leaf Painting”. KidsCraftRoom.com, https://kidscraftroom.com/mess-free-sensory-autumn-leaf-painting/?utm_medium= social&utm_source=pinterest&utm _campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=1029400456_34776246_32373. Accessed 24 September 2020.
“String Painting”. CraftFox.com, https://www.craftfoxes.com/how_tos/string-printing. Accessed 23 September 2020.
Thayer, Angela. “Kool-Aid Playdough”. Teaching Mama, https://teachingmama.org/kool-aid-playdough/. Accessed 22 September 2020.