Craft activities are fun for everyone, but for children on the autism spectrum, the opportunity to explore color, shape, and sensory experiences can stimulate attention, foster calm, and create loads of fun! Here are 10 activities that teachers and parents love to do with their special needs children.
1. Create a Shredded Flower Bouquet. Who knew shredded paper could be so beautiful? This creative activity involves ripping and shredding paper to create a colorful composition that makes for a great gift or decoration. Kids with special needs will especially love the sensory experience of handling paper and manipulating colors and shapes! Go
2. Underwater I Spy Alphabet Bottle. Sparkly, glittery water is sure to attract curious eyes! This alphabet bottle is fun to make and a great activity to keep your child engaged and focused. The craft helps kids recognize letters in a creative way while enjoying the beautiful shine and sparkle of floating sequins!
3. Paint with Ice. Kids love to swirl the melting paint over paper, creating beautiful designs. They’ll practice their color recognition and observation skills while observing paint go from a liquid state to a solid state, then back to liquid again!
4. Explore the Senses with a Sensory Table. A sensory table is a place designed for squishing, sifting, sorting, digging and pouring! Children will relish the opportunity to get messy, discover, and play freely with engaging their sense of touch, hearing sight.
5. Practice Paint Chip Storytelling. Telling a story is like painting a picture, using words instead of paint. In this imaginative activity, your child uses paint chips and words to tell a story! Alter the activity according to the level of your child, and you can spark his imagination and narrative abilities while having a colorful good time!
6. Play the Matching Halves Game. This matching activity is a great way to introduce children to the concept of puzzles, and to satisfy many special needs kids who crave order and simplicity. Each craft stick will have only half a shape: find the stick with the missing half and place the sticks side by side to complete each one!
7. Sculpt Clay Snowflakes. You don’t have to brave the chill to enjoy the beauty of winter. Make sparkly snowflake sculptures and experience winter from the comfort and warmth of your home! Sculpting clay is a great way to boost fine motor skills, and kids with special needs will love the sensory experience of squishing, pulling and kneading as they work.
8. Set Up a Smelling Station. With the help of some small containers, rubber bands, scraps of fabric and lots and lots of fragrant ingredients, your child can create a whole collection of smells to tease his nose. Smell is one of the five senses, and kids will love learning about what role it plays while exploring the breathing and relaxation associated with good scents.
9. Oobleck Science: Solid or Liquid? Can something be solid and liquid at the same time? Experiment with this classic science activity that introduces kids to the mysteries of states of matter. Children will love the sensory experience of squeezing and splashing that comes with this gooey scientific investigation!
10. Make Number Rubbings. Kids love using crayons for just about everything. Put this art streak to good use by introducing them to “rubbings.” They’ll work the small muscles in their hands and improve eye-hand coordination. Plus, they’ll experiment with different surfaces while practicing shapes and numbers.