Written by our guest writer, and special needs consultant, Dr. Melissa Liguori, Ed. D.
Hippity Hop Hop… Easter’s almost here! And, believe it or not, there are endless ways to reinforce some important developmental skills for kids with special needs in preparation for the holiday. In fact, children of all ages and abilities can enjoy getting ready for the holiday while working on key sensory, gross and fine motor skills.
Here are some recent projects my family enjoyed:
1) DIY Easter Cards
To start, we used some construction paper and stamp sets to make Easter cards for family and friends. This is a perfect way to practice proper pencil grasp, while working with markers and using stamps to decorate the cards is a great way to have children strengthen finger muscles while pushing down on the ink pad and then again on the paper. Without realizing it, children will be practicing essential skills and expressing their creativity at the same time! Children will be proud of their final product and even more excited to give their cards to family and friends while celebrating the holiday together.
Tip: While their artistic juices are flowing, children can also decorate a paper bag to collect eggs they may find on their Easter egg hunt!
2) Egg Decorating
Once the cards and Easter bags are done, the egg decorating can begin! We used a fine marker set which, as an added bonus have an edge, so they won’t roll off the table! Love that. You can also use stencils, and paints to create one of-a-kind-patterns on hard boiled eggs. Young children will love using finger paint with sponges to decorate their eggs too! Introducing the unique feel of finger paint is a perfect sensory activity. Children may at first resist the feeling (and mess) of finger paint. It is important to slowly introduce hesitant children to the material. At first, they may just be ready to dip in one finger. Have wet paper towels nearby for easy clean up. On a second attempt they may be more willing to dip in two fingers or even their whole hand!
3) Egg Hunts!
Hiding the decorated eggs provides children with an exciting gross motor activity. Hide the eggs and ask children to find, collect, and then carry their eggs. The weight of their bags is a nice heavy lifting exercise, building strong muscles. Having children run, jump, and search for their eggs is another great gross motor activity providing children with an experience that can be done either indoors or outdoors depending on the weather!
Parents may want to reward the participants of the Easter egg hunt with a soft, snuggly Easter bunny, duck, chick, or lamb. Stuffed animals are soothing, relaxing, and provide children with a sensational sensory experience. Don’t be surprised if it quickly becomes their new favorite friend!
Enjoy and Happy Easter!!
Visit our new Toys for Special Needs Website for top toys and trusted skill-builders that help boost developmental skills in children of all abilities, organized by therapeutic and skill criteria.
About Dr. Melissa Liguori, Ed. D:
After studying early childhood education at the American University in Washington, D.C., Dr. Liguori began her career as a classroom teacher in one of the nation’s top school districts, Montgomery County, Maryland. There she fostered an environment where play and learning were synonymous, and her reputation for thinking outside the box when it comes to toys began. Dr. Liguori completed her doctorate in Developmental and Learning Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, and worked at prestigious private schools in New York, New Jersey, and the surrounding suburbs before settling her family and practice in Westport, CT.