Visual Schedule for a Clay Turkey

In a larger class where students with special needs are included with their typically developing peers, having a visual schedule or flipped instruction (a you tube video) can be a great way to remind students or what step is next.  This is particulary great for those students that have poor working memory or cannot follow multi step directions.  This is also a great reminder for a para professional; they often have to redirect students during the instructional part of class and may not be able to remember all the directions themselves.




AENJ Conference 2017!

NAEA Presentation for Web


Hi!  If you are reading this post, most likely you stopped into my AENJ presentation!  Thanks for paying me a visit.  I attached my presentation for you to take a look at.  If you have any questions or just want to connect with me, send me an email, or leave a comment below!  Thanks again for stopping in!

Resources to Reach Art Learners with Different Abilities



Article list from SNAE 

Wonderful publication on the Intersection of Arts and Special Education


Books to consider purchasing:

Levett Gerber, B. & Kellman, J. (eds). (2010). Understanding students with Autism through art. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

Levett Gerber, B. & Guay, D.M (eds). (2006). Reaching and teaching students with special needs through art. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

NAEA Convention!

Chicago Postcard

Chicago Here I Come!

I am gearing up for my conference presentation titled “Meeting the Needs of ALL Learners using Adaptive Printing and Painting Techniques”.  I am really excited to share the things I have learned over the past 10 years teaching art to a very diverse group of learners in Southern NJ.

During the presentation, I plan on talking about using adaptive tools, lesson strategies to make all students successful, alternative approaches to printing and painting that make these art mediums accessible to all no matter what their strengths and weaknesses are!!!

Fabric Pouches and Personal Symbols

batik bag

My second grade students are currently working on a very complex project– fabric pouches.  I have done this lesson several times throughout the span of my teaching career, but this year, I am using this as one of my lessons that will be assessed for my SGO (student growth objective).  I figured with this project, there would be many dimensions to assess the student’s growth, and many new concepts and techniques to examine.

I introduced the lesson by talking about what fabric is– although this seems like a simple concept, I thought it was necessary to introduce the idea of fabric as an art material (as it is not something we use in the classroom everyday).  I showed the students some Kente Cloth from Africa to introduce them to the idea of patterning on fabric.  Although we are not create a “copy” of Kente Cloth, we used it as an inspiration for its bold patterns and colors.  I gave the students a strip of white cotton fabric (this works best if you tape the four edges of the fabric to a large piece of construction paper, because it stabilizes the fabric and makes it easy to draw on) and asked them to make a simple repeating pattern across the strip using lines and shapes (with a white crayon or oil pastel).  They then painted the fabric using liquid water colors and set them aside to dry.

The next class introduced my students to the idea of personal symbols and how they can be used to express yourself in your artwork.  I asked the students to sketch 5-7 personal symbols (to show various aspects of their personalities, hobbies, interests etc.) and then they worked to sculpt them in model magic.  When these little symbols are dry, they can be painted with watercolor paints.

After the strips of fabric and clay has dried, it is time to sew the fabric into pouches!  I call the students up to my desk one at a time, and fold their strip in half.  We sew two sides on the fabric on my sewing machine and leave the top edge open so we can insert our special personal symbol sculptures. Spending a little one on one time with each student is priceless.  I can make some important personal connections and sneak in a few informal assessment questions while I’m at it!

Lesson Plan:


Patternmaking in art and using personal symbols in art

Materials: White cotton fabric cut into approx. 6 x 16 in strips, masking tape, white oil pastels, liquid water colors, drawing paper, 12×18 in construction paper, needles and thread or sewing machine, model magic.

Preparation: Tape the white fabric onto a piece of construction paper to make it easier for the students to draw their designs. The paper will also act as a blotter when they are painting.

Day 1: We begin this project by discussing different types of lines, and patterns. Students are asked to sketch 2 different patterns using lines only. The most interesting design is selected and transferred onto the white fabric using the oil pastels. Students should make their lines large— small lines or complicated lines are difficult to draw with oil pastel.

Day 2: Students use liquid watercolors to paint their fabric strips. Encourage the students to create a pattern using color. Leave no white spots.

Day 3: Students can sew the bags by hand, or you can assist them with the sewing machine. I have the students come up to my desk one at a time to use my sewing machine.  I sit right next to them and help guide the fabric through the machine and let them work the foot pedals.  Having each student come up to my machine gives me a nice opportunity to do an informal assessment on the students progress– I can ask a few questions about the pattern on their pouch or about the personal symbols they are creating with clay.

Day 4: Students will create small objects to put in their bags. Discuss symbols, and have students sketch small objects to symbolize them. Give each student a small ball of model magic to create their objects with. Paint the object with watercolor or liquid watercolor and place inside of special pouches.

I will continue to update you on the progress of this project.  Students are currently painting their little clay sculptures to be placed in the bag and are loving coming up to my desk to use my sewing machine.