Winter crafts for severe disabilities

I want to catch you up on the activities we’ve done this winter with our intellectual disabilities classes during the last few weeks!

Sensory Snowmen!

We incorporated a TON of different sensory aspects, but the OT had some great ideas on how to adapt our equipment.  I love working with her, for that reason, because she thinks of things that would never even occur to me!

Here are all of our materials before we started:

shaving cream, glue, a suction bowl
a small amount of black paint and a pencil with a modified grip
light blue construction paper and snowmen punched from the ellison press
glitter, a paintbrush, and some prickly sensory balls

We kept the paper in the lid from a box of copy paper.  That cut down (but certainly didn’t eliminate) on the mess and made it easy to quickly remove the finished work before the student could smash their finger in the fun paints!

We started by putting some paint on the prickly ball and placing it on top of the paper.

Shaking the box lid and making the ball roll around was not effective.  When that didn’t work, we had the students hold the ball and “stamp” it onto their paper.  These tasks worked on following directions like “push” and “shake”.

This made a snowy effect on the paper.  Next, we glued the snowman onto the paper.  The students worked on squeezing the glue onto the paper – another great way to work on following directions!  We also added buttons to the snowman using the eraser of a pencil.  The OT added a long, wide bead to the pencil and held it on with rubber bands at either end.  This made the pencil easier to grasp and more like our weighted paintbrush.
The last step was to add our snowy ground.  I saw many pins on Pinterest describing the half shaving cream/half glue method.  I noticed that our preschool class made snowmen with the same technique, so I asked that teacher her ratio of shaving cream to glue.  She suggested mostly shaving cream with just a little bit of glue.  We mixed it together and used a heavy, wide handle paintbrush to apply it to the bottom of the paper.

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Here’s our finished products:

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Valentine’s Day Roses:

Did you know that if you stamp a bunch of celery it ends up looking like a rose?!  How cool!  I originally saw the idea on Pinterest and adapted it to use during Valentine’s day.

Here’s all of our materials before we started: red & green paint, stalks of celery, brown paper cut into flower pots, and a paint brush.

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We started by having the student glue the flower pot onto the bottom of the paper.  This is a great way to work on the concept of “bottom”.  Then, we dipped the bunch of celery into the red paint.  You can target vegetable vs. fruit, how celery feels, it’s long, it’s crunchy, smooth, etc.  TONS of concepts!  You can also target colors receptively by having the student identify red vs. green (or pink, purple, yellow, whatever color you want your flower).  They could even make a choice between colors!  We had them stamp 2 roses per page.  We talked about “above flower pot”.  Then, we used the paintbrush to draw the stems “between the rose and the pot”.  Great location terms here!  Last, we glued some sentiments to the flower pot: “Happy Valentine’s Day” & “I love you”.  I had printed these using Boardmaker.

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***This would also be a great one for Mother’s Day!!!  😉

Olympic Rings:

So, I know the Olympics are over but this was too cute not to share.  Maybe you’ll remember it in two years come the Summer Olympics?  🙂

Here were our supplies:

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We used hard plastic cups in trays of different colored paints: red, yellow, black, green, and blue.  With higher functioning classes, we used Styrofoam cups (so we could just throw them away when we were finished) but they would have easily been crushed by our intellectual disabilities students, so the hard plastic ones were best.

Next, we stamped them on the paper in the same order as the Olympic’s symbol.  Here we targeted identifying colors receptively.

Last, we targeted number receptively by having students identify Boardmaker symbols for the “summer” & “winter” & numbers 2, 0, 1, & 4 and then glued them in order at the bottom of each paper.  With some of the Autism groups, I printed pictures of different winter sports and the student glued them in each ring.

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With this group, we did not have the rings interlock, because we were afraid the paint colors would mix.  Later in the week, we ended up interlocking the rings and the paints did NOT end up mixing.  So, I’d say go for it and make it the real deal.  With the autism students, we worked on concepts like “where” does this color go, “I need blue paint”, and adding adjectives to nouns (eg. “red circle” vs. “green circle” etc.).  We also talked about what sports they’ve tried (ice skating, skiing) and which is their favorite to watch or do.

The Cat in the Hat!

Dr. Seuss’s birthday is coming up next week, so we made Cat in the Hat crafts this week.  This project requires:

red & white strips of paper, some longer red strips of paper, triangles & circles for the bow tie (whatever color you want), & small paper plates.

Seuss (2)

Seuss (3)

For some classes, in which we typically are short on time due to the level of support the students need, we glued the plate on the paper beforehand.  This is not necessary.  I’d put the plate somewhat toward the bottom of the paper, not the middle.

You can target short vs. long here; put the long red strip right above the plate.  From here, follow a red/white pattern with the shorter strips of paper.  This also targets patterning, which is a common skill targeted in the lower grades.

We teachers drew the face on the plate for the students.  Some students labeled what they saw while others told us what came next.  Then, we had students identify triangle vs. circle to make the bow tie.  You could also target adjective + noun phrases with this: red triangle vs. red circle. Put the circle between the two triangles.  The bow tie goes below the plate.  More great prepositions, here!

Here’s one complete:

Seuss (1)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in speech/OT, even with tons of snow days and delays!  I hope you can use some of these crafts with your students.  If not this year, maybe next!


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