When I first started teaching in my special education classroom, I learned the hard way that visuals are a necessity. Without them, our jobs are exhausting. Our students benefit greatly from looking at something versus us repeating directions over and over again.
Of course I’ve always done art activities with my students; however, the cute art activities I found on Pinterest my first few years of teaching my special thinkers were never appropriate for my students (which meant 90% of the activity was done by an adult), and the behavior challenges that came with art group were extreme. Out of my own frustration, I started created my own simple art activities with step-by-step picture directions for my students to complete as independently as possible. The picture below is from my very first easy art pack in 2014!
Thus was born my Easy Art packs. I’ve set these activities up several different ways throughout the years depending on my students’ needs. Sometimes, I have a group of students that can do the activity at a center completely independently. In the art center, we prepped the activities ahead of time and organized in bins for the week. Students used the picture directions to complete the projects as independently as possible – hence, it’s their work, NOT OURS (you know what I’m talking about).
To read more about how I set-up our Easy Art center, click here!
This year, I ran an art group with my class and the older special education class at my school (3-5 kiddos). All of my easy art packs come with whole page picture directions that are easy to pull up on any device, so I would display these on my smart board and we completed the activity together. I really like doing this as a group because I could squeeze in communication and social skills while we completed the activity.
I know when it comes to completing an art activity with a student, it can be suuuuper hard to step back and try to let them do it independently – even if they aren’t putting the pieces EXACTLY where they are supposed to go. This is such an important skill though, and it gives our students ownership over their artwork. With the crafts in these packs, many skills are covered with one short activity, such as color identification, following directions, requesting specific colors/shapes, fine motor skills, cutting, matching, recognizing different attributes (big/small, long/short, etc).
I love displaying student art work all over the class and in the hallway. Here are some photos of our classroom displays, as well as some displays shared with me on Instagram. They are so proud of their work!
Another thing I added this past year was a writing component. Now all of my easy art packs come with differentiated writing pages for your students to work on. The different levels include errorless cut and paste, sentence stems with fill in the blank, or just blank pages for students that are able to either copy the sentence stems or students that are able to write their own content. I love how these writing pages add even more dimension to the art activities and they help YOU address those writing standards that can be tough to fit in and complete with some of our students.
Art is one of my favorite ways to incorporate whatever theme we are reading about during our whole group story time, and I love how beneficial it is for my students.
I also love seeing how beneficial it has been to other teachers! Thanks to all who share their classroom successes with me on Instagram. It warms my heart to know you love these activities as much as I do!
Don’t worry, I still do art activities from Pinterest, I just complete the project ahead of time and take step-by-step pictures for my students to follow. It makes art group go WAY smoother!
Want some Easy Art Activities for you own classroom?