Homemade cardboard puppet crafts for special needs students

Hands-on, no-fail craft projects work best for all children but especially those with special needs. Here are cardboard puppet crafts that are easy for kids and free to make using simple supplies and recycled materials. For homemade puppets, you will need:

4-6 brads (also called paper fasteners) per child
assortment of recycled cardboard scraps in many shapes and sizes.

You can use scraps from projects. There should be some plain geometric shapes and also some more complicated shapes. Each piece should be no larger than 6-8 inches across and no smaller than two inches. There should be long, thin shapes as well as broader shapes. Cut some inch-wide strips of cardboard and keep those separate.

You'll also need decorations: (these are all optional; use whatever you have available). Suggestions include wallpaper sample books, recycled bin paper scraps--gift wrapping paper scraps, tissue paper scraps, recycle bin construction paper scraps. recycled paper tubes, ribbon, crepe paper and yarn scraps, faux feathers and gems, glitter or glitter glue, markers, paint, silk flowers, pipe cleaners and buttons.

Procedure: Children will assemble a puppet from found scraps. Found means children must use recycled cardboard scraps as they are, no cutting or reshaping. The idea is to teach creativity using whatever is available. Puppets may represent people, animals, fantasy creatures, aliens or even non-living things like vehicles.

Lay out puppet pieces before assembling. Puppets should have at least two body parts, preferably 3-5. Cover or decorate each individual piece before assembling homemade puppets. Children should trace and cut paper or fabric to fit puppet pieces and glue paper on. They may paint or color puppet pieces. Feathers, gems, flowers or other embellishments should be attached after puppets are assembled.

Assemble puppets in this way: Attach moving parts--arms, tail, head, legs--with brads. Punch holes through the fixed and moving part of cardboard. Push fastener through and fold metal prongs back. Attach stationary parts with tape or stapler. Attach embellishments with stapler, glue or tape. Attach two recycled cardboard strips, sticks or rulers to use as handles to move the puppet. Children should work together in groups to create a story using incorporating each of their homemade puppets into the plot.

Snowflake patterns to print and cut for special education, OT, PT

Paper snowflakes make great educational tools for science and math lesson plans. Cutting paper snowflakes is also fun! Here are free printable snowflake patterns, templates and stencils. 

Snowflake cutting is a great activity for special needs kids. Children learn math skills by exploring symmetry, shapes and geometric patterns in six-sided snowflakes. Students explore art concepts by cutting snowflakes. They learn pattern, line, shape and design. Children learn about earth science by creating snowflake patterns that simulate ice crystal formations. Students improve motor skills by cutting paper snowflake patterns. They improve perceptual skills by folding paper to create the six-sided snowflake patterns.

Get free snowflake templates  here. Marcel's Kid Crafts has free printable snowflake patterns and paper snowflakes to print and color. Easy folding and cutting instructions printed on snowflake pattern. Use these patterns for ages 9 and up. First Palette has more free paper snowflake templates to print.

Paper Snowflakes has free printable snowflake stencils and templates. Directions are more complicated. You can find free printable snowflake games, puzzles and patterns on this site. These patterns work well for younger children or special needs children. They are easier and less frustrating.

While students are cutting their snowflake patterns, explain the water cycle. Here are free printable water cycle worksheets, plus snow and crystals lesson plans. Use the printable water cycle poster to teach the three states of matter, using steam, water and ice to demonstrate.

Read "Snowflake Bentley" by Jaqueline Briggs Martin. This beautifully illustrated Caldecott Medal winner, tells the story of Wilson 'Snowflake' Bentley, photographer who first captured snowflakes on film and showed their unique hexagonal patterns. For a great closure to your snowflakes lessons, serve fruit juice snowcones as a classroom treat!

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