Friday, October 17, 2014

It's The Most Boo-tiful Time of The Year!

Let's face it, Halloween is a really fun time of the year.  Not only do the kids love it, grownups do too.  The gym I work in is all decorated for Halloween right now and the kids have been squealing with delight when they see all the pumpkins and ghosts.  As a therapist who works with kids, I find this a great time of the year for fun craft projects.  Kids LOVE Halloween and all that comes with it.  Here are a few crafts that I have done and will continue to do with the kids at work over the next couple of weeks.  I try and choose ones that don't require a ton of supplies or time to complete so the kids can take them home and show off their completed project to their families.  

Pipe Cleaner Spiders-a few weeks ago, my daughter and I were walking around our Brooklyn neighborhood and saw a fence all decorated for Halloween.  The spiders that were attached to the fake cobwebs were so cute and upon careful inspection, we realized we could easily make these at home.  It's a simple project that only requires two supplies:  medium size beads (we have been using wooden circle and square shaped beads) and pipe cleaners (I LOVE the Eeboo pipe cleaners that come in all kinds of beautiful colors).  For each spider, you will need 4 pipe cleaners and one bead.  Decide on the length of the legs (we have made large mommy and daddy spiders and smaller baby spiders at home); if you are making a smaller spider, you can cut two pipe cleaners in half.  When the pipe cleaners are your desired length, put them all together and string them through the bead all at once.  Separate and bend the legs and your spider is done.  My daughter likes to put googly eyes on her spiders but you can use permanent markers (adult supervision required of course) to add details to your spider's face!  This activity is great for improving bilateral coordination skills, eye-hand coordination skills and improving grasping skills.

Paper Pumpkins-there are easily thousands of paper pumpkin ideas out there.  I like this pumpkin craft because it is great for working on cutting skills.
-orange paper
-scissors (regular or zigzag)
-pipe cleaner
-hole punch (make sure that it is easy enough for the children you work with to use this independently.  Some hole punchers can be very difficult to use)
Before the kids begin this project, I use a ruler to divide the paper into an 1 or 2" think lines (depends on the child's skill level) so they can cut the paper.  Make the lines thicker for kids who have a more difficult time with cutting.  Once the strips are cut, have the child use the hole punch and put a hole on either end of each strip.  I like to place an X or a dot on each end for the children to have a target.  Take one of the pipe cleaners and twist a loop at the end then thread one side of each strip of the paper.  After all of the pieces of paper are threaded, then thread the other end of the paper onto the pipe cleaner.  Twist the top of the pipe cleaner in a loop to trap the paper in place.  Take the paper strips and spread them out until they form a pumpkin.  Take a marker or stickers and add eyes, nose and a mouth.


Paint Chip Puzzles-I won't lie, I have gone into Lowes and
Home Depot many times for something for our house but always leave with paint chips to use at work.  They are great for working on color recognition.  They are also amazing for working on improving cutting skills.  The thickness of the samples are great for kids learning how to cut.  Take a look at this wonderful Halloween project...I can't wait to try it with my kids in the next couple of weeks.
-Halloween colored paint chips (square/rectangle shaped)
-permanent markers (adult supervision required!)
Depending on the age of the child you are working with, you can adapt how much or how little they do.  Make pumpkin, ghost or monster faces on the paint chips.  Once you are done drawing on the paint chips, cut the chips into your desired number of pieces.  If you are working on improving cutting skills with a child, turn the chips over and draw lines on the non-colored side and have them cut the puzzle up.  
This activity is great for working on visual motor and visual perceptual skills, cutting skills, drawing skills and can even work on color recognition.

Halloween Sensory Bags-the kids I work with love making sensory bags.  They are an easy project and inexpensive.  For many of the kids I work with, Halloween can be overstimulating and cause anxiety.  Have them make one of these bags and keep them in their trick-or-treat bag to use as a fidget when they start to feel anxious.
-Green, Orange and/or Purple hair gel
-ziploc freezer bags
-miscellaneous craft supplies like googly eyes, pompoms, etc.
-plastic spiders
I love this project because it is an easy one for kids to do all on their own.  Have the kids pick out the color gel they want to use and squeeze enough into the bag that it will cover fill the whole bag when laying flat.  Place the googly eyes, spiders, pompoms in the bag and seal it tight (parents, make sure the bag is completely sealed before letting them play with it to avoid a giant mess!).  If you want to add to this activity, grab a pair of kid's chopsticks and have them put the spiders, eyes, etc. into the bag to work on grasp strength.

These are just a few of the millions of Halloween projects you can do with your children over the next few weeks.  I look forward to any holidays because it gives me a chance to switch things up with the kids I work with and find new ways to work on their fine motor, visual motor/perceptual and other skills.  Kids love to take their projects home and show off what they are practicing at therapy.  I try and find projects that are easy enough for parents to do at home with the rest of their family.  For some of my older kids who are working on higher level skills (organization, motor planning, executive functioning skills), I like to send them home with the supplies they need in order to complete the project and have them teach someone else how to do it.  This is also great for building up their self-esteem and confidence which is something so many of the kids I work with lack.

Do you have any fun, easy and quick Halloween craft ideas?   I would love to have more ideas to test out over the next couple of weeks and I am sure my readers will as well.  If you have any great ideas, please share with us all!  If you have any questions or comments, I'm always a click away and love hearing from you all.

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