Friday, December 9, 2011

Do You Have Special Needs Artists Too?

Now, as art teachers we've always had to work with every child in the building. They all get to come and enjoy learning about art. It's that one subject that seems to be the least stressful for those children who have attention problems or dyslexia and struggle in their classes. There is movement, they can stand up, there are "No Mistakes, only New Opportunities". Creativity seems to be their strongest point!

Adaptive Multistep, Pre-cut Homes
Then there are those very low functioning students. Do you have them too? I have them about three times  a week- each.  Since they can't learn a new language, as they are still learning their native English, and they can't research or follow in the Media Center, and they cause more distractions in Music as they don't speak or sing but play- they are left with art and P.E.!

Adaptive Snowman

Now, I want them to feel successful and participate in class. However, they
are very low functioning. They are at a Pre School/ Special Needs Kindergarten level. They don't have the ability yet to develop their own drawings to go with topics, and they need hand over hand scissor cutting. The ability they have is mostly learning to color in the lines and following one step at a time with mixed media. So what do you do with kids that are in a class for the benefits of inclusion but you can't really modify the lesson enough for them? Well, give them an experience, with their own curriculum though.

Follow Directions Mixed Media
I set them up away from distractions but with other kids from the mainstream class. They have one aide for all of them that follows them around. I set up all the materials with written directions for the aide to start them while I get the mainstream class begun.  Then as the mainstream class is working, I visit the inclusion group.  They have all the materials labeled and placed around them easy to follow and do on their own with my example as a guide. While they continue to work I cycle around the room- running two classes in one.

It's worth it though. They socialize with the inclusion kids, they love being highlighted having their art held up as they finish, and they help with clean up or passing out materials.

Some days don't go as well as others though. Sometimes things are thrown, or tantrums are noticed. Sometimes they interrupt my directions. However, to see them get the experience of creating art is worth it. To know that their art will be in the show for their parents to be proud of them like all my mainstream kids is worth it.

Some Simple Tips to get started: 

  • Simplify
  • Think Experience
  • One Directive at a Time - Even in Written form (Stick it notes for directions! Only show ONE at a time!)
  • Connect the dots helps their fine motor skills, draw on their own, and learn control
  • Pre-Cut as much as possible- lets not overwhelm when cutting is not easy
  • Crayons get boring-they use it all the time and can cause loss of motivation leading to misbehavior- minimize their use
  • Paints are fun! Sponges, Brushes, Watercolors
  • Cut out whatever they paint to make clean edges and make for better presentation for parents
  • Give Jobs 
  • Keep a Routine!! No matter what- it stays!
  • Offer Controlled Movement Breaks! Walk to go to the bathroom or clean a brush constitutes a movement break
  • Praise! Praise! Praise! 
    Pre-Drawn Color Match with Words
    Adaptive Scarecrow
    Painted Autumn features, Cut, Paste, and Glitter Glue
    Practiced Cutting, Pasting, and Painted Dots
    Practiced Printing, and Cutting

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