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Three Fun Valentine’s Day Crafts for Special Needs

Feb 12th, 2020 | by Mara Kenyon, MS, OTR/L
Mara Kenyon, MS, OTR/L

Mara Kenyon, MS, OTR/L

February 12th, 2020

Three Fun Valentine’s Day Crafts for Special Needs 

 

Every holiday provides a great opportunity for a little fine motor crafting fun, and Valentine’s Day is no different!  Sure, you can always buy Valentines (and let’s be honest – that’s probably the best option for your first grader’s class of 25), but there’s something special about getting a Valentine made with love by little hands.  So break out the glitter glue, tissue paper, and scissors, and let’s get cracking! 

 

#1: The Classic Card (with a pop-up twist)  

Valentine's Day Crafts for Special Needs - step by step instructions!

 

Great for:

School age children who are working on scissor use, sequencing multiple steps, and handwriting.

Supplies:

  1. Paper
  2. Glue
  3. Scissors
  4. Markers or crayons
  5. Embellishments (glitter glue, stickers, puff balls, etc. – go wild!)

 

Instructions:

Start by folding your paper in half then draw two lines about 1-2 inches apart on the folded edge of the paper.  Have your child cut along these lines, then invert the cut section. Glue a heart on the square and watch your card pop!  If you want to hide the cut out, glue the whole card to another piece of paper to cover it. Pop-up Valentines card craft for children with special needs

This is a great opportunity to work on a little handwriting.  If your child struggles to write without guidelines, you can have them write their message on the paper they typically use, then cut and glue the message into the card. 

#2: The Tissue Paper Heart

Try these fun crafts with your special needs child this Valentine's Day!

 

Supplies:

  1. Construction paper
  2. Glue
  3. Scissors
  4. Markers or crayons
  5. Tissue paper cut into 1″ wide strips

 

Instructions:

Draw a large heart on a sheet of paper, and cut it out if desired.  Write your message in the middle of your heart before breaking out the glue, otherwise you’re liable to get covered in tissue paper.  If your child is working on handwriting, the tips above apply here, too! 

Have your child squeeze a glue bottle while following the edge of the heart. This is a great opportunity to work on gradation of force – making sure they are squeezing hard enough, without squeezing the whole bottle of glue onto the page.  Finally, tear 1” squares of tissue paper and have your child crumple them up with the tips of their fingers and stick ‘em in the glue! If you want a challenge, have your child use 2 or more colors of tissue paper and follow a pattern!

 

#3: The Handprint Heart

This Valentine's Day activity is fun and engaging for children with special needs!

 

Great for:

Children learning to tolerate different kinds of touch, children with limited fine motor control who cannot grasp small objects. 

Supplies:

    1. Construction paper
    2. Markers
    3. Paint
    4. Other decorations (optional)

 

Instructions:

If your child struggles with grasping writing utensils and using their fingers to pick up small objects like craft supplies, they can still get in on the fun with a little help!  This activity is endlessly adaptable, so any child can make this cute heart with just their hands and a little paint. 

For children who may get uncomfortable with wet and messy textures, you can offer two different ways of putting paint on their hands – either using a paintbrush to paint a thin layer of paint, or sticking their whole hand in a tray of paint.  If they are still wary, have them paint your hands and push them into the paper. Whichever method you use, be sure to have a wet wipe or sink nearby for quick and easy paint removal! 

If your child presents with spasticity in their hands and arms making it difficult for them to open their hands flat, try using a handheld vibrating massager to encourage them to relax the muscles in their hands.  If this is still too difficult, you can modify this to apply paint on the pinky side of their closed fist and use this to make a print. 

We hope you had fun, be sure to check out more NAPA activities!

About the Author

Mara has been an occupational therapist at NAPA Center since October 2017.  She loves a good arts and crafts moment almost as much as she loves working with kids every day.
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