Friday, December 17, 2010

"Decorate and Celebrate"

I am in the middle of the insanity of preparing for the holidays, dealing with the insurance company and body shop after my husband mutilated my poor little Kia, and finishing up all of this semester's final exams.... So, until I have some actual time to write, enjoy this fantastic article with ideas for holiday fun!

Decorate and Celebrate Together

Make a special day more memorable, or build a lasting family tradition, by creating a decoration or gift together with your child. Even if you’re craft-challenged, don’t give up - we found an inspiring web site filled with ideas –! We’ve included a few of our fav offerings below from that site, and added some other great sites, all with projects easy to enjoy with children of different abilities.

FamilyFun is chock full of inspiration! You’ll find craft projects for every season and even back-to-school ideas. Planning a birthday celebration? Check out their “Birthday Parties by Theme”, where unusual ideas abound. Would your child adore a birthday party with a music theme? How about bugs, a cooking party, or a complete guide to creating a birthday carnival? You’ll find it there, and so much more!

Time Capsule Ornament

A clear plastic ornament (the type that comes in two halves) filled with memories from the year. Write accomplishments on thin, colorful strips of paper, include photos, small mementos or charms and … voilà … you have an ornament your child can open every year. This is not just a holiday idea; consider using it at other times during the year too, to capture memories or accomplishments associated with events like the end of the school year, birthdays, or summer vacation. How about using the ornament to enclosure different positive thoughts about your child, what makes him special, her remarkable talents? Attach the ornaments to a tree branch you discover together, making a mobile that can hang in a child’s room?

Beaded Ornaments

Simple, colorful, and delightful! Let your child’s creativity blossom! These beaded ornaments are perfect for decorating your holiday tree, but equally wonderful as handmade gifts for teachers, family and friends. The idea is straightforward: string beads on pipe cleaners, then twist or connect into fun shapes, resulting in one-of-a-kind ornaments. For young children this provides fine-finger and eye-hand coordination exercises. For the child who is a little older, it’s a way to practice perspective taking while expressing creativity. “What colors does Aunt Marge like the best?” “What animal does your brother love? Let’s shape the ornament to look like that!”

Count Down

Intended to count down the days until Christmas, this clever idea can be used to keep track of time for any approaching special occasion. Create a garland of colorful kids socks and put one small goodie (candy, game, note, gift) inside each sock. Depending on your child’s ability to track time, you could add a number or day of week on each sock with an erasable marker. Each day the child removes a sock, counting down each day with a little gift. You can accomplish the same concept by placing small gift bags on the mantel, or attaching small brown paper pages to a wide ribbon that can hand on the wall. It’s a great visual tool for kids with autism – as they take down a bag or sock they “see” the days remaining until Christmas or the special event.

Gift Box – Perfect for Mom and Dad

This idea was developed for Mother’s Day, but it’s perfect for any other celebration, from Father’s Day to birthdays or Christmas. Decorate a shoe box, fill it with a variety of small, inexpensive, wrapped gifts, write a fun schedule for the day that includes when or where a gift can be opened. Simple yet appealing on so many levels. The entire day becomes special! It’s an easy-to-do gift that most children can manage and creates special memories from the child to mom, dad, family and friends.


What could be more fun than turning your child’s art and creativity into a real book? This kit comes with everything you need to do just that, including “Story Web” that helps children plan their story. (Great for honing executive functioning skills!) Once your work is done, submit it online or in the mail and they’ll turn it into a professionally typeset, hardbound book with a title, dedication and “About the Author” page. Use it just for fun, to motivate creativity, improve your child’s verbal and written expression, to preserve memories, or to make a unique gift for family and friends.

Creations by You

The same company that delivers IlluStory has a variety of kits for making treasured keepsakes using your family photographs and children’s art, including clocks, mugs, calendars and watches.

Hand Wreath,default,pd.html?start=11&cgid=projects-kidsteachers-seasons-fallautumn

They call it a “fall” wreath made of hand prints you fashion from foam, but if you take this concept and change the colors to reflect the holiday or season, you’ll end up with a wonderful craft that makes a great gift for parents and grandparents. Add embellishments for sparkle and fun.

Paint Chip Photo Frame

So easy and so colorful…just pick up paint chips in your favorite colors and use them to create mats for photos. Use the matting that came with a frame as your base, or cut your own cardboard base to create an entire frame.

Snow Globes

They’re a favorite for the holidays, but are perfect for other occasions too! One creative teacher made snow globes for each student as an “end of school year” gift, using digital photos taken during the year of the student and one of their friends together. What a great way to preserve memories! We’ve included links to two web sites that offer ready-made kits.

This article is taken with permission from, where readers can go online and, by signing in, can access free copies of the magazine’s eGuide, which is packed full of more information on holidays and gift giving for children on the spectrum.

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