A St. Patty’s Craft for the Kiddos

Well as I discussed in this post, not all the art therapy I do is therapy in the traditional sense of the word. I work with several classrooms of kids whose developmental disabilities are severe enough that I have to rethink things. We usually end up doing craft-like activities and I try to throw in as much sensory stuff as I can. I get a lot of ideas off the internet and sometimes I make up my own crafts. I made up one this week on the fly that I thought turned out cute. Of course it looked much cuter on the kids, but due to confidentiality, I can’t show you that!

Leprechaun Hat/Beard


1. Hat: Out of green construction paper, cut out hat shape (Hint: Fold in half vertically to make it symmetrical).
2. Go through magazines and pick out pictures with green in them (at least 2-3 square inches or it’s not worth your time).
3. Cut shamrocks out of these green swatches.  (There’s a trick to this. I hated cutting shamrocks until I learned this trick.)
4. Glue black ribbon on hat.
5. Glue Shamrocks on hat.
6. Cut a U shape out of sticky paper for the beard. (That’s what I had on hand. I think clear contact paper would be even better. You could also use large labels).
7. Peel off backing on sticky paper. Attach to backside of hat (the sticky should face out so you can stick on yarn hair).
8. Cut 10 – 12″ lengths of yarn. Wad each in a ball and stick onto the sticky paper. Press all the loose ends so they stay.
9. Cut out 2 eyebrow shapes from the sticky paper and adhere with glue (so sticky side faces out). Follow same method to coat with hair (shorter lengths).
10. Cut out 2 ears with points and adhere.
11. Cut a 2 inch wide strip of green to use as a band. Staple to hat above brim.  (You’re going to staple backwards from what you think – you don’t want those pointy staple ends scratching your child’s forehead. ) Measure around child’s head and staple other side.

*I’ve given you the directions as if you’re the one making it. I always have the kids do as much as they possibly can. For some, that means everything from gluing to cutting to stapling. Even the kids that you might think can’t do anything, really can. We have some non-verbal, wheelchair bound kids with very limited dexterity. Of course they can’t cut or even handle the glue stick, but they can choose between 2 colors of green and communicate (whether by eye gaze or patting their tray). They can touch and feel the yarn as I wad it in their hands. They can look at themselves in the mirror while wearing the hat. I can get out a brayer for them to roll over things that have been glued (helps them adhere better).

I used to shudder a bit at crafts for kids….only because I’ve seen some teachers and moms do crafts with their kids in ways that make me cringe. Let me get on my art therapy/creative soap box and just encourage you to ….

1) Foster independence by letting your child do what they can – if they can’t stay on the lines when they cut, so what! Let them learn by doing and feel good that they made it themselves. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

2) Foster creativity. If they want to go off on a huge tangent with a craft project you have prepared, let them. Chances are they are way more creative than you. I’m not saying that to be mean. Kids in general are way more creative than adults. They tend to lose a lot of their confidence in their creativity as they get older and are told things have to be done a certain way. Don’t do that to them in one of the avenues that lends itself to the most creativity! So you may cringe when your little boy wants to turn your plan for a leprechaun hat into a costume for a 1-eyed blood-sucking space alien, but just be happy that your little genius is so creative!

3) Don’t let your lack of creativity (which is probably just a perceived lack of creativity) hinder your child’s opportunities. In other words, just because you don’t think you’re artsy, doesn’t mean you should hide the art supplies and hope the kids never ask for art time. You don’t have to have a structured craft. Just provide art stuff and get out of the way. And by the way, “stuff” could be empty cereal boxes, toilet paper tubes, or egg cartons (a good percentage of my “trash” gets taken to school).

4) Resist the urge to take over, even if your kids ask for a little help.  

Whoa! I’m starting to lecture. Sorry about that. I just feel strongly about encouraging kids to be creative. And I know that well-meaning adults sometimes do the opposite without realizing it.

~ by tawnyamarie on March 12, 2009.

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