Not only do children love art projects as part of a classroom activity, young children in particular gain a great deal from participating in art projects and using artistic skills in their work. Fine motor skills and hand eye coordination are two major physical benefits of art projects for students. Mentally, art creation encourages confidence, creativity, and exploration. For some students, the concrete action of creating an image in some form can help them develop understanding of concepts such as letters and numbers. In older students, image and art construction helps solidify concepts and imagery in a variety of subject areas.
Adaptive art specifically refers to the use of art for children or individuals with special needs. For these students, art is a means of therapy, expression, and development even more so than general education students. Students with special needs may be in critical need of ways to express themselves or of developing better motor control. Art is an excellent way for them to achieve these goals while enjoying themselves.
Adaptive art projects can include explorations of color or simple shapes, drawing letter forms or number forms, or drawing simple pictures with paint and crayons for more physically able students. For students who excel at more tactile tasks, sculpting in modeling clay and dough or manipulating collage shapes may be enjoyable and will help develop motor skills. For some students, movement set to music can help encourage physical activity and development. Some adaptive art students may require the use of special tools to complete art projects such as larger crayons, large handled brushes that are easier to grasp, or the use of tactile mitts, sponges or other tools for painting.
One excellent idea for an adaptive art project is for students to create a spring collage using paint, crayons, and textured paper or tissue paper. Pieces may be abstract or more realistic depending on the student’s ability. Explore the vibrant colors of spring with this project, or let students create pieces that reflect the change of seasons for students with more fine detail skills. For students trying to master letter forms, consider adding spring-themed words to the piece. Whether you want to encourage younger children to explore creatively or want children with special needs to better access a concept, adaptive art is an excellent way to kick off spring.