I’ve been asked in the past about art lessons for those with special needs, and just recently found this idea to work pretty well. I see a class every week that has mild to severely autistic kids, and it can be a struggle to find projects that cover the range of abilities. It seems their needs are more about adding creativity to things that are already familiar to them or at least, that is the approach I am taking for now.
1. I used 9 x 4 strips of watercolor paper for the students to write on in crayon. They could write the letters, words or numbers if they knew them, or trace them with the help of an aid.
2. Each student got a watercolor tray and water, and were shown how to wet the tablet and then spread the paint over each letter in just a simple circular motion. Those that finished the “A B C” strip got to go on to D E F’ and so on. Very simple, but the watercolor paper makes it very pretty.
Maurice Sendak's book Where the Wild Things Are is a natural intro to this project.
1. I recommend using large (15 x 22) watercolor paper as it helps the students make generous shapes that are really vivid when later painted. Drawing paper will look pale and curl up - trust me I found out the hard way! Have the students mark with a pencil the center of the paper, and then draw a circle from that which fills the top half of the paper. Explain that the students will be drawing a monster of their creation, but it must have a large head like those shown in the Sendak book.
2. Next, they should draw a body under the head. Legs and arms are to be added, along with a silly face. Lastly, details such as clothing lines and circles are drawn. Give each student a permanent black marker and ask them to trace all the pencil lines.
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