There’s a reason children are encouraged to draw and paint at a young age. One of the most important reasons for this is to develop the critical motor skills. Interestingly, studies have also shown that exposure to art at a young age can help children develop socially and emotionally and it teaches them analytical and problem-solving skills. For a child with special needs, art projects can represent much more than just some fun learning.
They can help specially-abled kids develop skills faster than other forms of teaching. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at five art projects for children that are simple, enjoyable, and promote learning:
1. Natural Art
One of the simplest art projects you will find, natural art is just as the name suggests. You will require very few supplies other than a plain canvas-like art paper or a cloth fastened to a piece of wood or cardboard. Gather leaves, flowers, pine cones, sticks, and shells and some non-toxic glue and then encourage inventiveness. Hang around to help your child with the glue, but let his creativity flow. You can even include some paint to add the finishing touches.
2. Ice Cube Art
The key to these projects is that they don’t follow a strict template. Ice cube art is straightforward and easy to make. Add some watercolors to water, and then pour into an ice tray. Make sure you choose colors that complement one another. Once the cubes are frozen, head outside or to an open area and give them to your child along with an empty canvas and watch him work some magic.
3. Play Dough Family
Play dough is one of the most familiar child’s toys you will find. It is easily moldable and is nontoxic. Try and give your kids a theme, such as: family. Instead of drawing the family, let them try and form them with the play-doh. Children who have ASD will find this particularly useful.
It can help them focus and help improve concentration. You can make the project more complex by making it more specific if you feel the child is not being challenged enough. Again, this can help with concentration.
4. Make Your Own T-Shirt
While this sounds a bit complicated, it isn’t. Get a few plain white t-shirts. You can encourage the kids to mix and match, get their hands messy, and have a whale of a time. Ask your kids to dip their hands in paint and leave prints all over the T-shirt. Once the paint dries, iron over the t-shirt for the design to stay on. You can even outline different images using a stencil and have them fill the colors.
5. Sand Paper Art
Get a box of multi-colored chalk. Crush each color individually to form a colored powder. Put some of the powder on a piece of sandpaper and let your child spread the powdered chalk around with a loofah. It’s as simple as that.
Too often, adults put limits on children with learning challenges and other disorders. They push them to focus on studies and other developmental work as they feel that they need this to catch up to their peers. However, often they benefit from just having fun and expressing themselves.
Art can liberate them, and some people have even excelled at certain disciplines like music, maths, and even memory without any prior inclination towards the same. A few tips to make sure they get the most out of the experience are:
1. Avoid giving instructions as much as possible. Let the child work and figure how to arrange it.
2. Don’t analyze the art or be too critical. Once the child has created something, leave it as it is.
3. Observe your child’s behavior and note how he goes about the activity. It will help you understand the process and will give you an understanding of what you can do to stimulate a child’s mind.
4. Be patient, give a child the tools and he will surprise you with just how capable he is.
This article was featured in Issue 52 – Celebrating the Voices of Autism