Monday, December 19, 2011

Beautiful Art and the Child with Special Needs

First, I would like to introduce myself, I am Laura from over at PaintedPaper. I have been teaching elementary art for 15 years. I thought  I would give you some background on myself and my style of teaching and how I get great results from my students.

I have 2 precious children who keep me on my toes! My children really make me a better teacher.
I have had to really practice patience with my son who is Gifted with ADHD and my daughter who is an auditory learner with speech delays. It is amazing how I transfer my parenting characteristics to many of my classes in my own school. I have a diverse population of students but my most successful classes are the special education ones. 

Many children who have sensory needs must experiment with various items first to feel comfortable in the classroom. A couple of students I teach need deep pressure hugs as they are welcomed into my classroom. My young students do great at listening when they are close and sitting on a “Quiet Rug”. Some students need to rock to process information. I place those students toward the back so they can fidget or rock. 

Directions for my projects are written on a board, verbally given and demonstrated as well.
A key to any successful outcome is you must know your audience. Some children learn by demonstration (Visual). Some, like my daughter, learn through song or verbal directions (Auditory). My son had many sensory issues. I have worked with Occupational Therapists and acknowledge that what might work with him does not always work with others. I have helped develop a “Sensory Room” at our school for those students. I now have a greater knowledge of resources I can use with others.

After directions comes the studio time. When we use tempera paint I instruct students not to use water to rinse but paint any extra paint from their brush on a placemat. Placemats are 18"x24" tagboard. This process has eliminated a lot of headaches for me like spilled water and faded paint colors. We start painting from the lightest paint color then continue to the darkest one. If the colors mix on the paper “that’s ok!” I always fill egg containers from light to dark as well and the students just travel down the row. We use large, medium and small brushes and the students help themselves to a fresh brush if needed. Clean-up is very easy. Students take their brushes to the sink and put them into a container of water for me to rinse at the end of class. Egg cartons are closed up and placemats stored on a shelf. It works marvelously and the kids have more time to create.

This year we have expanded our school to include a Multiple Disiblities Unit. I have been able to help those students excel in Art. Since I am comfortable with using various mediums in my Art classroom and I have had the experience with my own children with their special needs, I have been able to help other students blossom into creative artists at a young age.
Yeah, they leave the room sometimes with a little bit of paint on their clothes or watercolored stained fingers but they are extremely happy to be expressing themselves through color.

So don’t be afraid to attempt a project or paint. Once you get the hang of it, it is FUN!

Editor's Note: This article has been added to our very own, first-ever Linkie PARTY, right here on PreK+K Sharing. All you have to do is click on our own button to get back to the master list of ALL THINGS PAINTING!
PreK + K Sharing


  1. Laura!!!! It is so awesome to read your first article here. Thanks so much for sharing your family/parenting perspective. How helpful to know your motivation for reaching every student.

    With your article following so neatly on the heels of Greg's yesterday, you'd think there had be some editorial insight in the aligning of your two articles. Hurray for serendipity!!!

    Debbie Clement

  2. Great info Laura... I love your general attitude of helping young children blossom into creative artists. I think a lot of adults underestimate children and their artistic potential. Thanks for sharing!

  3. HEY there! I am enjoying your blog so much, that I am passing along the Liebster Award to you! CONGRATS!

  4. I loved reading about your different techniques for helping children with special needs feel comfortable in the classroom. Great suggestions! I pinned your post to my Special Needs Pinterest board at I'm so glad you're a part of the PreK + K Sharing collaborative! :) Deb @

  5. Beautiful photos and message! Thank you for the inspiration. Love this! Carolyn

  6. Thanks for sharing so much with and empowering ALL of your students with art! I appreciate you taking the time to link up to the We LOVE paint linky party here on the collaborative blog!


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