As some folks already know, I'm a former educator. Alice Jonas wrote a lovely article concerning the relationship between music and children. Music is therapy and this is one of its many uses. I urge you to take a few minutes and read this. Enjoy!
Try These Easy Art Activities for Kids With Learning Challenges
Though the arts encompass many types of activities, not all are accessible to children, particularly those with unique learning needs. These ideas from Andrea Goodman will help you get started with different types of art, each with unique benefits for kids with learning disabilities.
Turn Up the Music
Listening to music is enjoyable for nearly everyone, including people who are hard of hearing or deaf. But there are more benefits to music than the experience of singing along. In fact, research in neuroscience suggests that music changes the brain in amazing ways. Listening to music can reduce stress, help alleviate pain, and improve cognitive and motor skills.
It can also be fun to make music, though Understood notes that some instruments require high-level motor skills to play successfully. Drums, ukeleles, and hand percussion instruments may be the most accessible for children with varying abilities.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to take your child to a live music show; this could be anything from a local musical to a touring national act. Seeing live music together can create lasting memories and give you something to talk about and share. Additionally, it’s a great way to introduce your child to new genres of music and expand their musical horizons. If you’re a fan of live music yourself, taking your child with you is also a great way to support the musicians. Live music shows rely on ticket sales to stay afloat, so by bringing your child along, you’re helping to ensure that the musicians can keep doing what they love.
Break Out the Paints
Painting activities appeal to kids for a variety of reasons, including the messy aspect. Ideal paint projects for children with learning disabilities may be open-ended artwork that involves fun-to-use materials.
Open-ended art is ideal for younger children learning to experiment with paint, but it's also beneficial for older kids. With process-based art projects, there is no final product to aim for. Instead, artists use a variety of materials to experiment and create using fine motor skills.
Setting up painting activities can be as simple as equipping an easel with paper, brushes, and paints or providing finger paint and construction paper in an easy-to-clean area.
Spend Time with Sensory Bins
Learning disabilities lie on a spectrum, and no children are alike, even if they are on track with the expected standards. With sensory bins, all kids get a hands-on experience that accommodates their ability level.
Sensory bins promote imaginative play, notes Paths to Literacy, and can also support academic skills, depending on the contents.
Incorporating alphabet letters, measuring spoons, or numbered items can turn educational concepts into engaging activities.
Test Craft Materials
Nearly any material can become crafting fodder, so collecting and upcycling can serve a craft table well. Setting up basics such as glue, kid-safe scissors, tape, and paper is an excellent start.
Then, save and rinse out recyclable containers like milk jugs and set aside cardboard from cereal boxes and egg cartons. Other leftovers like wine corks, string, plastic lids, twist ties, and more can turn children's ideas into interesting finished projects.
Natural materials are another low-cost craft supply that's always readily available; leaves, flowers, and rocks can all become art materials.
Take the Leap to Teaching
Whether you're working with your own children or someone else's, you might find that teaching is right up your alley. Sharing your love of the arts with children who have special needs could even become a career path.
Setting up a teaching business may be an ideal way to capitalize on your innate abilities and interests. State regulations vary on licensing and business formation, but one method is to establish an LLC. Check your state's rules, then check out an LLC formation service to take care of the paperwork without pricey lawyer fees.
Make Space at Home for Arts
Designating a craft area in your home helps contain messes and centralizes all your materials. Updating a multi-purpose room in your home, like an office or den, makes crafting easier anytime.
Updating your home can also increase the property value, especially if you're adding more square footage to the floor plan. Keep this in mind while sketching out renovations and purchasing materials!
Sharing the arts with kids is rewarding, whether you're doing so with your own children or as a teacher of kids with learning disabilities. With these ideas, you can start building an arts program that promotes creativity and skill-building.