This month’s project is all about cutting skills. Because Autism spectrum disorder covers different levels, depending on where someone is on the spectrum, they may have really great fine motor skills, where someone else may not.
For children who have trouble with scissors and early cutting skills they have squeeze scissors that help get them comfortable using the motions of cutting without the frustrations of regular scissors. All children whether on the spectrum or not can benefit from these scissors when they are first learning how to cut.
Children love being able to accomplish something and if they see other children using scissors where they can’t it can be so frustrating for the ones who can’t. It makes them afraid to try things, afraid they will be picked on for their differences. Squeeze scissors are so nice for those little ones who may struggle some.
This project works better if you use card stock or poster board for your tree base. There is lots of cutting with this project, so it’s perfect for practicing those cutting skills.
Green poster board or white poster board paper
Green paint (optional, only if you buy white poster board and want to paint it)
Straws (you can use paper if you prefer, they work better when you paint them)
Twine or yarn
Star templates or cookie cutters to trace over.
Step 1- Trace out your star shapes using cookie cutters or stencil sheets. This is another great way to help kids learn how to hold pencils. Some ASD children get very upset if what ever they are working on doesn’t turn out exactly how they want. The pressure of perfectionism can cause melt downs. Kids get so upset if they try to draw something and it just isn’t looking like what they want. I started buying stencils for that. I always had a filing cabinet full of stencil sheets for kids to use when creating a picture to color. You will need several sizes of stars to create a tree shape.
Step 2- Cut out your star shapes. If using squeeze scissors make sure the paper isn’t too thick, otherwise you will have to cut out the shapes using sharper scissors because squeeze scissors don’t go through thick papers.
Step 3- hole punch a hole into the middle of your stars.
Step 4- Paint your straws green. After they have dried cut straws into smaller sizes.It is totally up to you to paint the straws or not.
Step 5- Cut a piece of twine or yarn to string your straws and star shapes through.Tie three knots in one place to make sure your pieces don’t go through the hole. Start stringing your star shapes from largest to smallest, making sure to add a straw piece between each shape.
Step 6-Cut strips of an old magazine. I used a ruler to measure out strips by tracing around the whole ruler, then folded that in half and cut that in half as well.
Once I had all my strips ready, I rolled them up and glued them in place with a glue stick. Glue sticks are perfect for little hands that struggle. This is a busy craft project so it is perfect to keep children entertained when you need a little break or are cooking something. With ASD children you will have to do this side by side and in some cases even hand over hand to help guide them in instructions the first time you do any project.
Step 7- Cut out several sizes of triangle from your green poster board or card-stock. This is the second craft project that you can work on with your children. Make sure to work in some attributes and shape lessons with this craft.
Step 8- Take your green triangles and glue one on top of the other starting with largest at bottom to smallest at top. Glue your rolled magazine pieces onto that tree with tacky glue or school glue. If your child is sensitive to certain textures then have toothpicks on the table so they can add the glue that way. Some kids can not tolerate the touch of certain textures. After every thing is dry, hole punch a hole at top and add some twine to hang it up.
Now your children’s art is ready to hang up. Always nice to showcase the art work our children make, just another dose of building up their confidence. For the star mobile you can give your children the hole puncher and different color scraps of construction paper to create tiny confetti ornaments to glue down. Lots of opportunities with these two projects to work on fine motor, cutting skills, and speech lessons on attributes and following directions. If you can, invite other kids over to do these table time crafts, that way you can work in some social skills as well.
Happy crafting everyone.
Some more tips with this project- these projects also include glue. Some children with ASD are hyper sensitive to certain textures. Glue may irritate them. I always left a small bowl of water on the table along with a dry wash cloth for any children that needed to dip their fingers in to clean between getting glue and putting their projects together. I always encouraged participating though.
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