Nature Materials for the Seasons
Developing an art nook that engages the five senses can help draw children into the area. Sometimes children who are autistic may shy away from art. If the art area has crayons in a basket and some paper the child may just keep moving, ignoring it all together. Some children with special needs will also have strong reactions to the feel of certain art materials. Some children may not like the feel of gooey or sticky materials, so it is good to allow them to feel the materials, watching their reactions before using them.
Many natural items are available in your own backyard. Small different shaped baskets to hold the items can make the area look inviting.
Nature, according to Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences, is one of children's first gifted abilities. Gardner believes that children have many different abilities and talents. One that they develop early in life is the ability to learn about their natural world. Some children may show more interest than others may but by incorporating natural items into your art nook, you can gain children's curiosity about the world we live in.
For the autumn, you may want to add:
- strips of corn husks,
- seeds to allow the children to create their own collages
For winter, you some ideas to include could be:
- Pine needles,
Sprigs of evergreen (Caution: some evergreens such as holly, mistletoe and juniper have berries or plant parts that are poisonous.)
- Pinecones could be used to make Christmas trees
Pine cones could also be used as bird feeders. You can hang your birdseed and peanut butter pinecones right outside the classroom so the children can observe different birds.
- Snow could be used for an art sensory experience.
Adding snow to a sensory table and then spraying it with watercolors is always a fun time for the children. Children often need assistance as they spray with the bottles.
Discount School Supply sells small bottles with handles that are just the right distance apart for children's little hands to be able to spray. In addition, children can use bottles that hold only a small amount of watercolors, and then the child can grip the bottle, spraying to dot the snow with colors. This is a nice adaptation for children, who have difficulty gripping items.
- Drawing real flowers such as a sunflower or tulip displayed in a vase
- Create collages with real tulip petals
For summer items could include:
- Colored sand,
- Real shells,
Collage materials are always a neat way to make art open-ended. When students have the ability to control what they want to put on their paper, it will be original. Containers filled with large eyeballs, alphabet cutouts from cardstock large and small, large foam shapes with animals or shapes work nice also. Pompoms, sequins, and shredded colored paper are always a hit, also.
Some children may not have the ability to move their arms. In that case, the person working one-on-one with them can ask them whether they would like to use animal shapes or large eyeballs! Often, they can move their eyes in the direction of the item they want. Some children may touch the item with their hand or nose to communicate. Others may be able to hit a prompt button if you ask them how many they want. You may have an iPad in your classroom with a numbers program on which the child can push the button to share that they want eight eyeballs for their project.
Art tools stored in clear plastic bins or baskets are helpful. Not only you can label the containers,but also, you will know where to find items when you need them. As you are preparing the activity, you can organize the items in baskets and they are ready for children to use. Some items you may want to have are paint rollers with shapes on them such as hearts and zigzags. Stamps with grip handles make it more convenient for children to grip. Other tools you may want to have out are tongs so children can grab pompoms and add them into a cup to bring over to the art table.