Tips For Adapting Your Art Lesson Plan For Students With Special Needs

Adapting art lessons for kids with disabilities can be difficult in day to day busy classrooms.  It can be challenging and discouraging to find a way to adapt existing lessons and give students with special needs inclusive experiences.  Many times the art experience for kids with disabilities consists of kindergarten art projects and stays on this level.  These simpler lessons are a good place to begin and observe things your student may struggle with or excel at.  However, they may not easily fit with the lesson you are teaching and may not help your special needs students participate on an age appropriate level.  Try some of these ideas for adapting your lesson plan.

Choose one process that you have observed your student doing well at.   This could be drawing, painting, dropping collage items etc….  Focus on taking this and finding a way for your lessons to include that medium or process.

Add this process to your art lesson.  Find a way for the student to always get to do this “process” in any lesson you teach.  You may not need to spend a large amount of time altering your lesson plan and can teach it like you always do to your students.   Just find a way to “add” the process for your student with special needs to the lesson you are already planning on doing. This will help the student to continue to build skills.  It will also be repetitive which can help them learn tasks.

Example #1:  For a drawing lesson adapted for a student with limited fine motor skills or short attention span who likes dropping items for collage. Add an element where the student can drop and glue some collage items (This could be torn or cut shapes) and then have them experiment with drawing on or around items.  Show them how to experiment with drawing lines darker or lighter, or how to use the pencil to shade areas darker and lighter. (It doesn’t have to be something representational)

Example #2:  For a lesson for drawing something representational that includes shading.  Adapt for a student with fine motor skills or short attention span. Let the student experiment with filling a piece of paper with light, medium, and dark shading.  It doesn’t have to be anything representational.  The student can then tear or cut the paper into interesting pieces and drop and glue pieces for a collage. 

Your student may be able to grasp some of the age appropriate concepts you are trying to teach.  It also can help with the students who refuse to try new things.  They get to do what they “know” but might be willing to also try something new outside of their comfort zone.

Do your best and realize there will be times things did not work at all!  Your best options are to move forward and keep experimenting and observing.

 

 
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