Spring is in the air! Warmer weather, blooming flowers, gentle rain, baby birds — it’s enough to inspire anyone. You can share the magic and beauty of the season with your child by making these delightful spring-themed crafts together. As an added bonus, all of these crafts are perfect motor skills activities for children with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
In fact, all of these crafts can be used as occupational therapy opportunities whether they take place at home, school, or daycare. If you are seeking occupational therapy for children with disabilities in Little Rock, you can supplement those treatments with one (or all!) of these engaging, creative activities. Help your child develop their fine motor skills, cognitive capacity, and creativity with common household items and crafting materials.
What Is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is a holistic therapy intended to help people with disabilities (or injuries) recover or strengthen speech skills, motor functions, and cognitive abilities through the performance of tasks and skills (“occupations”). This can take the form of everyday tasks — brushing teeth or working buttons and zippers — or include speech therapy, role play, and writing.
Manipulating scissors and glue bottles, coloring, sprinkling glitter, bending pipe cleaners: All of these crafting activities stimulate the sensory system, build neural pathways, and encourage motor function and muscle memory. Crafting is also calming for many people with disabilities. It allows them to focus, express themselves nonverbally, and feel the pride of creation.
Integrity Inc. provides resources for occupational therapy for children with disabilities in Little Rock along with other personal care services for children and adults. Out EIDT daycare incorporates occupational therapy into your child’s everyday play and learning.
Large Chalk Pastels
Large chalk makes an excellent free-form art apparatus for children who struggle with fine motor skills or have limited hand mobility. The large chalk sticks can be grasped with a clenched fist or stuck in between fingers, depending on what is easier. This is a fun activity for children of all ages and abilities. It promotes both gross and fine motor skills.
Get messy and encourage your child’s sensory stimulation by blending colors with the sides of their hands or with a large, dry sponge. Have them try coloring while sitting, kneeling, or lying on their stomach. Alternating the view encourages a shift in perspective and creative problem-solving.
To encourage communication skills, have them describe what they do and why they choose certain shapes, colors, or patterns. Just remember, there are no wrong answers in art!
Holding a paintbrush can be difficult for some children with disabilities. Stamps can be easier to hold and much less frustrating. Introduce different textures and shapes by using familiar objects as stamps. Cut an apple in half, dip it in paint, press it to paper, and voila: Art!
This also works with leaves, egg cartons, and sponges. Cut them into different shapes and let your child choose the paint colors and paper they want to stamp. After the paint dries, you can add glitter, googly eyes, or pipe cleaners to finish the masterpiece!
This is a great way for your child to flex their creative muscles while developing their motor skills.
Leaf by Leaf
This a collaborative project that can be done with a group of children. Cut out or paint a paper or cardboard tree trunk and have the kids create leaves. These can be construction paper cutouts, colored-in print outs, stamps made with real leaves, or painted leaves. As each child completes their leaf, add it to the tree.
Mixed media provides extra visual and sensory input while the layering of leaves facilitates collaboration and discussion. While everyone is working, try asking the group about their favorite kinds of trees and flowers. Ask them what inspired their choice of medium or color. Encourage collaboration by praising the tree as well as the individual leaves.
Flour, salt, water, and food coloring is all you need to make homemade playdough. Have your child help you read the instructions, measure the ingredients, choose the colors, and mix the dough together.
Kneading the dough together is a fun, squishy sensation that children with limited muscle control can enjoy. This engages multiple senses. Expand the sensory experience by throwing in a few drops of essential oil to make scented playdough!
After it’s made, your playdough can be played with multiple times (or until it is inevitably left out and hardens). Build sculptures, make handprints, or just squish it for hours of engaging play.
Torn Paper Art
Tearing paper is a great activity to practice fine motor skills. Tearing paper exercises the strength and endurance of the small muscles in the hand. When the paper is torn, your child’s hand forms a “tripod” grasp — the same grasp used when writing and coloring. The nondominant hand assists in tearing, encouraging bilateral cooperation for assistance-based tasks like holding paper while cutting it with scissors or holding a paper in place while you write or draw.
If your child is unable to hold scissors, this can be a great alternative. Have them try easy shapes or make confetti they can throw in a “Spring Celebration” parade.
Vision boards are a great way to help your child visually express their goals. Have them make a multimedia collage out of newspaper or magazine clippings, paint, glitter, construction paper, washi tape, coloring materials — anything they can glue or tape will work!
Have them decide on some goals or dreams based on the season — something they want to accomplish, see, or do. For instance, maybe your child wants to plant a flower and watch it bloom. Put together a vision board of flowers, watering cans, people gardening, and whatever else they feel expresses their vision.
This encourages critical thinking, creativity, and fine and gross motor skills. It’s also a great way to facilitate communication with your child. Taking the focus off the interaction itself and putting it on the art can make expressing themselves easier for a child with a disability like autism spectrum disorder.
Occupational Therapy Schools Near Me
If you are looking for occupational therapy for children with disabilities in Little Rock, Integrity, Inc. can help! We offer daycare for children with special needs as well as in-home and community services for the intellectually and developmentally disabled.
Our daycare services include occupational, speech, and physical therapies for children who need it. Call us at (501)406-0442 with any questions or to start the enrollment process.