We’re all crazed this time of year and it can be a real challenge to find a fun, easy hands-on activity for children. My criteria for a craft project: 1) Minimal items required. I travel to three schools, so portability is very important. 2) No water involved. I’m located in the “back 40” at one of my sites with no easy access to water. 3) Versatile. It has to be open-ended so the child can make choices and have a chance to be creative. AND it has to be something that would appeal to many ages.
What to do? Craft stick Christmas trees! Perfect!
You will need: 1) Craft sticks. You can use plain or pre-dyed craft sticks. Head to Wal-Mart. 2) Glue-I like Aileen’s Tacky Glue, but you can use Elmer’s or even glue these ahead of time using a hot glue gun. 3) Decorative items to glue onto the trees. Sequins are a favorite! 4) Ribbon to make a loop at the top. 5) Brown construction paper OR cardboard from a cereal box for the tree trunk.
Begin by gluing together the craft sticks to form a triangle (ooh-there’s a basic concept word to teach, and a R-blend, too--now you see how I operate as a therapist). You will have to adjust the angle of the triangle before the glue sets.
Cut out the loop for the top. Glue the ends together to form a loop and glue it behind the top of the tree.
Have the child cut out a square for the tree trunk. Glue it behind the bottom “rung” of the tree. For young kids, help them find the center (there's another basic concept word!) of the stick. Apply glue. Let these set while choosing the decorations.
Next, select the decorations. You can use sequins, buttons, foamie shapes, natural items like miniature pine cones, feathers, ribbons, fabric scraps-I could go on and on. Apply glue and place the decorations. You can ask the the child to describe the items, tell you where they are putting the item (more basic concept words-below, above, next to, to the right of, to the left of, etc).
Voila! The beautiful tree is complete! Wait, I had another brainstorm…this would make a GREAT picture frame. See below. Trim the photo to fit the frame and glue behind the craft sticks. And who is that adorable little one? My oldest at the age of five. I was told more than once he could be a model. Um, NO way….(and sorry for the bragging). He’s now 24 and an electrical engineer.
A word about integrating your student's goals...I like to allow the kids to make choices about their activities. I then "follow the child's lead" and weave in opportunities to address their individual speech/language goals as described above. You would be amazed at how many opportunities there are to target their goals! What other speech and language goals/objectives can you find that could be targeted with this activity?