Mar
02

You Will Need:

  • Sandcastle molds
  • 3 cups of salt
  • 3 teaspoons of Water
  • Liquid water colors or food coloring mixed with water
  • Thin paint brushes and small eye droppers

Directions:

Mix the salt and water well, until it appears damp and crumbly.

Pour it into the sandcastle mold a little bit at a time and press hard to compact it. Continue adding the salt mixture and press down until you get to the top.

Allow it to dry completely. (We left for one week based on our class schedule)

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Flip it over carefully.

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Paint it using watercolors or diluted food coloring using a paint brush or eye droppers. Be gentle and don’t paint over and over in the same spot. It will make the salt melt.

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Once painted, allow the structure to dry another 12 hours.

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The kids absolutely loved this project!

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Feb
06

You Will Need:

  • Washable Paints in blue, red and yellow
  • Sponge brush
  • Covered Table with paper or garbage bag

The Activity:

I wanted to do a messy activity with the children that allowed them full control of the paint. Many times, I try to get them to follow one or 2 simple steps to an activity but this time I wanted to allow the creative flow. We paired up children two by two and painted on 2 different primary colors on one each one’s hand.

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They then shook hands with each other to reveal a whole new color! The children loved it.

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Once that step was completed, they went wild painting freely on the covered table, mixing as many colors as they wanted, with or without paintbrushes. We had them place  a piece of white paper on top of their paint mix to make a stamp of their beautiful expression.

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Feb
05

I tried this activity that I found on http://www.refinery29.com/diy-paint-project with one of my 10 year-old students with ASD. The hardest part was putting the tape, however the rest requires minimal skills. It was an absolute success. It makes a beautiful gift just on time for Valentine’s Day!

You Will Need:

  • Canvas
  • Acrylic Paints in bright colors
  • White Acrylic paint
  • A paintbrush
  • Wide Painters Tape

The Activity:

You will need to do this activity in 2 parts since the first part has to dry completely before completing the second part.

First, begin by having children paint the entire canvas in stripes.

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Use different colored paints and let it dry completely.

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Then cut 2.5 inch pieces of painters tape and cover the dried canvas in a chevron pattern. Push down well on all corners.

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Paint the entire canvas with white acrylic paint. You can choose to do 2 coats and let dry completely. Next time i’d like to try this with silver or gold paint!

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Peel off the tape to reveal a beautiful art piece!

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Feb
05

You Will Need:

  • Plain Yoghurt
  • Liquid Kool Aide
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Heart Cutouts White Card Stock
  • Trays (optional)
  • Sponge Brushes (optional)

The Activity:

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Valentine’s Day is around the corner and we wanted the kids to have fun painting hearts and really not worrying about the final product. These hearts definitely have to be thrown out after the activity!

First prepare the edible paints by mixing yoghurt and a few drops of Kool-Aide. For brighter colors you can also add in a few drops of food coloring. If you use vanilla yoghurt, the children will most likely spend their time licking their hands and fingers. (it is what happened the first time I tried this activity). It’s great when you want picky eaters to explore a new food. This time I used plain yoghurt and most children did not even attempt to taste it!!!! It’s your choice.

You begin by placing a tray in front of each child, a heart cutout and a sponge brush. The children in my messy art class like to touch the supplies even before hearing the instructions so I only give out the paints once everyone is sitting.

The kids used sponges and their fingers to paint the heart. These edible paints were quite a success. It exposed the children to the scent of yoghurt, the cold touch of this medium and the smoothness on their fingers.

Jan
09

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I can’t begin to tell you how many times I hear teachers and parents who call me for advice to help a child that can’t sit still in the classroom. They ask me to create a Sensory Diet for this child (i.e a set of activities and tools incorporated several times a day in the child’s routine). I do believe in the benefits of a Sensory Diet however, I am VERY aware of its limitations as well. This is by NO means the magic bullet! A Sensory Diet is NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR AN ACTIVE OUTDOOR LIFESTYLE! One that provides children with the opportunity to run, jump, roll, climb, fall etc… (all important components of developing a healthy vestibular and proprioceptive system) I in fact believe that providing them with a Sensory Diet sets up these children for failure and greater frustration to the child AND caretakers! When a Sensory Diet falls short (which it almost always does), we then raise our hands to the sky and we say…”We’ve tried everything!” as though this child is now hopeless.

Children need to MOVE in order to LEARN and furthermore, they need to be OUTDOORS in NATURE, a natural environment where they touch, smell, taste, observe their world.They do not need to be entertained but rather learn to use what is out there in nature to play, create and use their imagination! Otherwise, what we begin to see are children that don’t know how to play alone, keep themselves busy, they fidget, tune out, disrupt the class by talking or getting up and they are singled out as having an issue.

When I observe classrooms, I often wonder  how is it that the children who “behave” are not the ones that are singled out! They ARE CHILDREN! They are SUPPOSE to move, test boundaries, become excited and express it with their bodies! What we need in the schools (and at home) is NOT more academics, more homework more sitting (or even standing) to learn. We do not need to incorporate a Sensory Diet 3 times a day for 15/20min (an added burden to teachers and busy parents). What we need is for children to play and learn OUTSIDE as much as possible! They have a lifetime ahead of them for academics but only a short time to be children!

I encourage parents to push for longer recess, more frequent PE, classroom lessons that incorporate real life experience such as going outside or field trips and hands-on teaching methods.

Dec
14

Living in Florida, many children don’t have the experience of playing with snow. Being that I grew up in Montreal, Canada, I know all about snow and would love to share that experience with my kids. Through the years, I have I have tried many Snow Sensory Bins. This is HANDS DOWN the best Snow Recipe! I don’t know the science behind it but it gets COOL to the touch!!!!

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This is one of my favorite sensory activities. The children can play for hours! Since everyone is obsessed with Frozen movie, they wanted to make Olaf the snowman! I have also used this recipe and had children spray the snow with a mixture of water/paint to make rainbow snow!

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You Will Need:

  • White Hair Conditioner (I used coconut scented, to make it “Florida Snow”)
  • Baking Soda
  • Dry spaghetti for arms
  • Mini carrots for nose
  • Wiggle eyes
  • pop corn kernels for buttons

Note: You can ask use Shaving cream instead of hair conditioner but I prefer the scent selection of hair conditioner.

Directions:

Mix 3 cups of baking soda to ½ cup of hair conditioner. You can change the proportions if you’d like.

Use wiggle eyes for the eyes, a carrot for the nose, spaghetti for the arms (some made hair) and pop corn kernels for buttons.

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Dec
14

I am always looking for easy to make activities for my cooking class. This one was easy and such a hit with the kids and with me….I can’t resist anything that has Nutella on it!

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You Will Need:

Sliced Bread
Nutella or Peanut butter
White icing
Red m&ms or Skittles for the nose
Brown m&ms for the eyes
Small pretzels
Heart Shaped cookie cutter

Directions:

Place to slices of bread in front of your child and use the heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out 2 hearts.
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Spread Nutella on one heart
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Place the second heart on top to create a sandwich

Place 2 pretzels on either side of the top of the heart to create reindeer antlers
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Use a dot of icing on the brown candy and stick it on the heart to make eyes

Use a dot of icing on the red candy and stick it on the heart to make a nose
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These are fun and delicious!!!! I love this one because it looks like my puppy <3
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Sep
30

This is a very messy activity. Be prepared for paint to splatter but the results are beautiful.

You Will Need:

  • 3 white card stock paper
  • Rubber bands
  • Tray
  • Tempra Paints
  • Paint brush

The Activity:

Place a dozen rubber bands around a tray. This works beautifully on your child’s thenar muscle strength as well as bilateral coordination.

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Slip in a blank sheet of paper inside the tray.

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Use a paintbrush to dab paint across each rubber band.

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Remove the blank sheet of card stock paper from the tray and replace by a blank sheet of white card stock paper.

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Use the back of a clean paintbrush (or pencil) to flick the rubber bands and splatter the paint! (If you wish to minimize the mess of the splatter, create a shield with a cardboard box.

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Carefully remove the painting and place another clean card stock paper ON TOP of the rubber bands and press down to create another painting.

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Three beautiful Messy masterpieces! Love it!

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Sep
27

I started a new cooking class  called Little Chefs as part of the Miss Mancy’s Fall Curriculum at the Social Mind Center. The idea is to expose children to a variety of foods, smells, textures and tastes. This is especially helpful for children that are picky eaters. Since our focus at SMC is Social Communication, we utilize this class to teach important social skills during the group interaction as well as teaching children how to host a play date!

For our first class, we made beautiful fruit pizzas!

You Will Need:

  • One medium size watermelon
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Melons (1/4 inch slices)
  • cookie cutters

Each child began by cutting out shapes from different melon. It helps if the melon is not cut too thick so that the cookie cutters can cut threw easily.

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We sliced the grapes and the strawberries.

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Each child got a one-inch ROUND slice of watermelon and they were then free to decorate their fruit pizzas with their favorite fruits.

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Therapy Corner:

You would be surprised to see how challenging this activity can be for children who do not enjoy getting messy. The wet texture of the fruit was a challenge to many but they went along with it and asked to wipe their hands several times. I placed paper towels next to each of them and didn’t make a big deal out of it but reminded them that it’s ok to get dirty, we will wash up at the end.

The aroma of the fruit was wonderful to some but overwhelming to others! This is great exposure to foods that they would otherwise never touch!!!

I didn’t want the children using knives for the first class until I get to see their safety awareness, so the use of cookie cutters makes this activity activity appropriate even for little ones.

The results are beautiful and the children enjoyed sharing their pizzas with staff and parents!

Aug
23

Once a week, I work at the Social Mind Center where I teach several classes of Messy  Art. The challenge is to find art projects for children with very different skill sets. The following activities were a great success with children at our center. I hope you enjoy and send me feedback and pictures!!!!

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1- Snack Painting

Who doesn’t love snacks?! For very young children that put everything in their mouths, I like to use edible paints but trust me, the appeal was just as great for older children. Just make sure to check with parents regarding food allergies and restrictions. Depending on the ingredients you choose, this activity can have lots of SUGAR!!!!

You Will Need:

  • White card stock paper
  • Condensed milk (For children that are Gluten Free use heavy cream)
  • Several colors of Food Coloring
  • Popcorn
  • Marshmallows (For children that are Gluten Free leave this ingredient out)

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 The Activity:

This is as simple as it gets. Mix a few drops of food coloring with condensed milk. Set out bowls of popcorn and marshmallows as well as white card stock paper and let the fun begin!

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Children dip snacks into the “paint” and stamp it on their paper…watch the snacks disappear in no time!

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Therapy Corner:

I love crafts that involve food. Many children (and especially those with ASD and SPD) are picky eaters. Using food and art is a great way to expose them to food that they would otherwise never even touch! This is a first step in the right direction.

2- Oil Pastels with a Twist

A new twist on a regular coloring activity!

You Will Need:

  • White Cardstock paper
  • Oil Pastels
  • 1/3 cup of baby oil (or any cooking oil will do)
  • 5-6 Cotton balls

 The Activity:

Place a tray or cover the working surface with plastic such as a garbage bag! Ask children to use oil pastels to draw a colorful picture. For this class I had them draw Kandinsky Circles.

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For some, this was difficult so they drew colorful flowers. The important thing is to have a variety of colors.

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Once the drawing is complete, children dip a cotton ball into a little bit of oil and spread it in ONE direction across the drawing.

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This will spread the colors and create a cool effect! Let it dry completely.

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Therapy Corner:

This activity is simple yet for children with tactile sensitivities, it can be quite challenging. It gets dirty, oily and slippery!

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3- Sticker Art

Here’s a really great way to create a beautiful project with minimal skills needed. I like to use this activity for holiday gifts.

 You Will Need:

  • Small Canvas
  • Variety of Foam Stickers
  • Acrylic/Tempra Paint
  • Sponge brushes and regular paint brushes
  • Blow Dryer/Fan (if you want the painting to be ready that same day)

 The Activity:

Ask children to peel and stick stickers on their canvas. You can have them create a theme ex: Ocean Animals or provide them with letters to create a message to mom for Mother’s Day or create their name for a cool painting they can hang in their rooms!

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Use a sponge brush and different colored paints to paint over the entire surface of the canvas (Paint over the stickers too, you may need a little paintbrush to get into the crevices of the stickers). Blow dry the painting on cold setting just enough so the stickers can be peeled off without leaving streaks. Tada! Beautiful Art!

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Therapy Corner:

Peeling stickers is a great way to work on neat pincer grasp i.e. thumb and index finger working to peel the stickers. This is an important precursor to an efficient pencil grasp and to improve dexterity.

4- Rainbow Oobleck Art!

Ready to get dirty?!! This is a fun twist on oobleck. This really gets messy so get ready for it!

You will Need:

  • White Cardstock paper
  • 2 cups of corn starch
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1-2 drops of food coloring
  • Large bin

The Activity:

I created several bowls of different colored oobleck. The ingredients are quite simple but you will find it difficult to mix. Just be patient. You may start out with a wooden spoon but eventually you will need to mix it with your hands.

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Note: I prepared this activity 30 minutes before my kiddos showed up, the oobleck hardens and looks like wet cement! All you have to do is mix it up once again and it liquefies!!!!

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In a large bin I had each child pour in one of the colored ooblecks. We gently swirled it with a spoon to create a cool pattern and each child had a chance to dip in a sheet of paper to reveal a beautiful rainbow creation! I did not send this project home! Instead, we took pictures of these beautiful masterpieces.

It was then time to have some fun with this fascinating medium! The kids looooved it!

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Therapy Corner:

Oobleck is quite a challenging medium to play with. For those of you who never felt it before, it’s a liquid that solidifies and then returns to a liquid consistency when mixed. It almost feels like wet chalk! For children with tactile sensitivities, this is quite the challenge. There are so many different sensations when using this medium. It feels wet but also can feel hard and chalky and if it dries on the hands it then feels powdery! Pretty cool!

Miss Mancy’s 2 Cents on AUTISM

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