If you follow me on Instagram you probably know that I am absolutely head over heels in love with teaching adapted art! I love teaching and creating lessons that meet the individual needs of my students in order to provide them with their own authentic, enriching, and engaging artistic experiences. I am so excited to share some of my favorite art projects for adapted art class at the elementary level.
Muffin Tin Prints
Before I go any further with this post you must stop right now and purchase the book Art Workshop for Children by Bar Rucci. Bar has been one of the most influential art educators in my life regarding planning my adapted art lessons. In her book, you will find SO many incredible process-based art lessons that can all easily be adapted to students with varying needs. One of my favorite lessons of hers is called Muffin Tin Prints. The concept is pretty easy- paint the back of a muffin tin with whatever colors you like (I usually have an analogous color scheme available for students). Then place a small piece of paper over the top of the paint, creating a monoprint, pull up, and wa-la! You have pulled a gorgeous print from the paint! These are so fun for students and the products are gorgeous when displayed together! For more detailed instructions be sure to grab Bar’s book or head to her blog artbarblog.com.
2. Bubble Wrap Printing
Bubble wrap printing is so fun for any student, but my adapted students absolutely love the texture and process of bubble printing. It’s so easy, just use tempera paint to paint on the bumpy side of the bubble wrap, flip it over onto another piece of construction paper and lift to reveal a print! You could also take it a step further and wrap a piece of bubble wrap around a rolling pin so students can roll the texture onto paper. I love to use this printed paper for other projects, like paper weaving (as shown here) and as the texture for this rainbow cloud mobiles.
3. Sensory Bottles
For this project, we followed Especially Education’s blog post that you can find here. Plastic bottles were ordered from amazon, and all you need is water, clear glue, and random snazzy goodies! We filled the bottles 3/4 with water and then my students did an amazing job squeezing enough clear glue to the top. I had an assortment of water beads, glitter, sequins, beads etc available for students to pick and choose to add. Even though I bought funnels I found that styrofoam cups were the best way to pour the goodies in! We added a few drops of liquid watercolor (don’t add too much- a little goes a LONG way) and then once they were filled I hot glued the lids on justttt Incase! You can find the steps above. Disclaimer: Please make sure your students’ safety is your #1 priority. Any of my students who crave oral stimulation were not given access to water beads or anything that could potentially go in their mouth, or they were added by an adult in the room. Always always make sure your students are being closely supervised when using art supplies no matter what they are!
4. Scribble Monsters
For years I’ve done some version of this “scribble monster”‘ with my adapted art class but recently tied this project to the book The Color Monster. Here’s how you can make your own!
1. Using fluorescent oil pastels students used either warm or cool colors to scribble on a piece of 80lb drawing paper. 2. Using watercolor (or liquid watercolor) students painted over their scribbles. This technique is called “wax-resist”, meaning the water-based paint will not stick to the oil pastels which allows them to shine through the paint brightly. 3. Once the painting is dry, I lightly drew an outline similar to a chubby cat over the paintings in pencil. Then using a small piece of cardboard and black tempera paint, students dipped one of the edges of cardboard into the black paint and “tap tap tapped” along the edge of my pencil lines making the monsters look like they are covered in hair. 4. We glued google eyes on and tapped the black paint and cardboard across for a mouth and then also used it to stamp the monsters’ bushy unibrow 🤣 5. Teeth were cut out of white scrap paper and glued on my students. I encouraged them to add as many teeth as they wanted! 6. Monsters are then cut out, mounted, and matted. Bonus if you want to create a fun textured border with texture rollers!
5. Colorful Cardboard Village
Inspired by the gorgeous rainbow murals in the Village of Palmitas in Mexico by the German Crew, my adapted students love always love transforming old cardboard supply boxes into gorgeous colorful houses! To make the colors pop on the cardboard be sure to use higher quality tempera paint and mix it with a little bit of white to make it more opaque. I love to use fluorescent paints because they look so bright on the cardboard. Often times to get the students started I will draw a few doors or windows with a chisel tip sharpie or bingo dauber filled with black India ink (a Cassie Stephens hack you can find here) and I will even cut open a few parts with a Canary cardboard knife (the best tool ever) so they will get even more excited about their house/ building! One of the best parts of making huge cardboard houses is how they all look when you display them together.
6. Nature Mobile
The project comes from my friends Bar and Shannon over at The Creativity Project. You can find so many incredible ideas through their blog and website, so be sure to check it out! My adapted art students loved painting the leaves, pine cones, sticks, threading beads, and wrapping pine cones in brightly colored yarn. This beauty was then hung from the ceiling in the students’ classroom.
7. Flower CD Prints
I started this project a few years ago and it never ceases to amaze me every time I do it! Shout out to my media specialist for all the old CDs that were no longer used- perfect for printmaking! Starting with a little white for paint mixing (this makes the paint pop on the black paper- but not necessary if you print on white). Crayola premier fluorescent tempera is my paint of choice! Students could either paint some type of radial flower design or they could paint the CD solid and then use a Q-tip to subtract away paint with bumpy or curvy lines- or do both! Once the CD is painted just stamp it on the paper. I also love to have my kids do a ghost print right after to see how it looks! One thing I try to do is have my students use two analogous colors per CD and have multiple colors schemed CDs in rotation. If you mix too many colors on one CD they will definitely get muddy. To finish them up I cut a few leaf shapes out of styrofoam to paint and print as well. You could also add small dots of seeds/ details with Q tips at the end lots of possibilities for exploring! So easy and fun to do!
8. Contact Paper Sun Catchers
Using contact paper, small pieces of tissue paper, a smidge of glitter/ sequins and embroidery hoops these beauties are sure to make any space they’re hung in gorgeous!! All you have to do is give students one piece of contact paper with the sticky side up, have students place materials of their choice in the arrangement they would like. Once they are finished, cover with another piece of contact paper, piece sticky side down, sealing the tissue inside. Place contact paper in between two rings of an embroidery hoop, trim the edges, and hang in a window. For more fun, you can hang ribbon or DIY pom-poms from the bottom.
If you decide to try any of these projects be sure to tag me on Instagram (@artwithmrs.e) so I can see and share your students work!! Have fun!