St. Patrick's Day Crafts for Kids

By Laurel Martinez, TLC Teaching Assistant & After School Teacher

You won’t need the luck of the Irish to pull together these five easy and fun St. Patrick’s Day crafts with kids. They’re colorful, kid-tested-teacher-approved, and sure to be a hit with any preschooler when celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Pom-Pom Rainbow Craft

Puff Ball Rainbow.jpg

This craft is so simple and requires very little prep. Just find a printable rainbow with a pot of gold at the bottom or draw one yourself! 

What You Will Need:

  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple small pom-poms

  • Gold sequins

  • Glue

  • Black marker.

Directions:

Draw or print a rainbow with a pot of gold at the bottom. Use the opportunity to look at pictures of rainbows and talk about the order the colors go in with your child. Have your child place the pom-pom in the corresponding rows and glue them down. Add some gold glitter to the pot of gold and let them color the pot black! Voila - fine Motor Skill practice and color learning all in one!

Shamrock Slime

Shamrock Slime.jpg

This craft is for the preschooler who loves all things slimy. This ooey-gooey shamrock slime is tons-o-fun.

What You Will Need:

  • ½ cup of sater (divided in two)

  • 1/4 cup of clear glue

  • Glitter and shamrock confetti

  • 1/4 teaspoon of borax

Directions:

Get two small bowls and add 1/4 cup of water to each. To one bowl add 1/4 cup of clear glue and sprinkle some glitter and shamrock confetti. In the other bowl add 1/4 teaspoon of borax. Mix each bowl really well. Slowly stir the borax mixture into the glue mixture and watch the slime begin to take shape! Continue stirring until everything is mixed well. Keep your shamrock slime in a sealed container when you’re not playing with it. 

NOTE: Children should never have direct contact with borax! Never leave them unattended while playing with slime!

Beaded Shamrocks

Beaded Shamrock.jpg

These beaded shamrocks are a great parent and kid work-together activity as they are a little more involved. It offers great motor skill practice and the supplies can be used over and over again!  

What You Will Need:

  • Pipe Cleaners (I used green sparkly ones)

  • Pony Beads

Directions:

Twist two pipe cleaners together.  Leave them in a straight line. Work together to make your own unique pattern with the beads. Once the patterns are complete fold the pipe cleaners in half. Create one heart shape at the curved end of the folded pipe cleaner. Twist underneath that heart to help it hold its shape.  Fold the remaining edges up and twisted them in the middle. Form them into heart shapes as well. Then, finally, add another pipe cleaner to make the stem of the shamrock. This one is, again, great motor skills practice. Try making some with rainbow pony beads or green and white as well!

Melting Pots of Gold

Melting Pots of Gold.jpg

Preschoolers love to help, this we know. So how about letting them help the leprechaun find his pot of gold and all his coins. This one requires some prep time but it is worth the fun. 

What You Will Need:

  • Mini Black Pot/Kettle

  • Gold Coins

  • Gold Glitter

  • Jewels in Rainbow Colors

  • Eyedropper and Squeeze Bottle

  • Pennies

  • Container

  • Water

Directions:

To set up this St Patrick’s Day ice melt activity, I recommend you freeze the items in layers. In the first layer freeze the pot of gold (fill with pennies to sink), some jewels, and coins.  Make sure it freezes completely before adding the next layer. Top it all off with some glitter and coins. Allow your child to test which method works better to melt the ice, eye dropper or squeeze bottle. Both are great motor activities. This activity is an easy, fun, and simple science concept as well.  Want to add math skills? Just count the coins together! 

Quilted Paper Shamrocks

Mosaic Shamrock.jpg

What’s St. Paddy’s Day without some shamrocks? This easy craft is great for a variety of ages and is almost completely mess-proof. 

What You Will Need:

  • Paper in different colors and patterns

  • Green shamrock cut out (use cardstock or heavier for best results)

  • Glue

Directions:

Work on those motor skills once again and allow your preschooler to cut out pieces of paper that they like. Allow them to apply the glue to the precut shamrock (glue sticks work best) and then stick their cutout paper on to the shamrock shape. If some of the paper overlaps the edge of the shamrock just trim it once it is all dry and enjoy! 

These projects are easy and (mostly) no mess. You possibly already have most of the ingredients at home, too! So gather the lads and lassies and get crafting! Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Holiday Stress Reduction Tips for Kids & Parents

Happy Thanksgiving holidays to everyone from TLC! The TLC staff of teachers and therapists have pooled a few of their tips on how to have a happy, fun, and low-stress holiday break with your special kiddos.

Ashlee Andrews, TLC Teacher:

To help children adjust to the busy-ness and disruption from daily activities brought by the holidays, try to keep the daily schedule as normal as possible for children. Tell your child about the upcoming events so they have time to prepare for changes in their routine and schedules. With that, I think it’s important not to throw out ‘typical’ things just because it’s the holidays. For example, if it’s a routine for you to go to the library once a week or have a designated homework time, make sure to keep those designated activity times going. Priority lists are also great tools for making sure the most meaningful routines are taken care of, just in case you have to weed out a few activities and/or to-do's due to a time crunch.

Shari Karmen, TLC Occupational Therapist:

Help children prepare for unfamiliar faces and situations by creating a "family & friends" book full of family member names and information, or flip through a photo album that includes photos of relatives the child will see and remind them who each person is. Help kids stay in touch with far-away family throughout the year by helping the child exchange letters with the family they will see over the holidays. Teach children what to expect at holiday gatherings by practicing at home. For example, if the family meal will be a buffet and the child hasn't served themselves before, have a family buffet night at home before the event, and practice serving with special utensils and recognizing appropriate portion sizes. If a child is shy, help them initiate social interactions by letting them bring a toy, game, or other item they can show to family and explain the significance. The item can be both a conversation starter and a comforting presence for the child. Get more ideas like these at Sandbox Learning.

Amy Kuesel, TLC  Teacher:

During the holidays, it's important for kids to get enough sleep to help them stay happy and calm during the excitement of the busy days. Have a quiet time mid-afternoon even if children do not nap. Get cozy in bed and read a book or listen to music to help create a calming, quiet space. In addition to excitement, the holidays can entice both kids and adults with lots of sugary foods. To help kids stay regulated in their behavior, be sure to balance the extra sweet foods with plenty of nourishing, healthy food.

Christy Griffith, TLC Occupational Therapist

Help children engage in focused, fun, and helpful activities through sensory-oriented tasks like kneading and rolling dough, washing windows, carrying weighted packages, or playing on a playground to make use of their energy. If going to an event, let children know what to expect, and how many minutes they may need to sit still for. Sensory pressure can help some children feel calm when events become over-stimulating: wrap your child snugly in a blanket so they feel safe and secure, or help them roll up "like a hotdog" in a blanket. The pressure and warmth of the blanket can be calming to some children when they become overwhelmed. Find more ideas at ATeachAbout.com

Do you have any tips for helping children and families enjoy the most out of the holidays possible? Let us know in the comments! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Surviving Halloween & Having Fun With Your Child

By Lindsey Blechle, MOT, OTR

The excitement and anticipation of Halloween is building at TLC Learning Center, but for some children who are easily overwhelmed or with sensory processing disorder, this is a very stressful time of year. Halloween is a night that is full of novel and potentially over-stimulating sensory input, but it can be fun and successful for all children provided it is met with patience, planning and some creative thinking.

Below are some ideas to help you plan a fun Halloween, no matter what your child's threshold for sensory input, activity, and stimulation:

  • Plan your child’s costume in advance and practice wearing it often. Choose a costume that will not irritate your child (for example, costumes with itchy or hot fabrics, scratchy tags, heavy or full-face masks, etc.), and a costume that can be easily removed if needed at some point in the night. Have your child be an active part of this process so he or she feels comfortable and confident that their costume will work for them. Remember that less is more, and that it is okay if your child would just prefer to wear a Halloween shirt, a simple cape, or attach a tail to a pair of sweats.
  • Consider building sensory strategies into your child’s costume. If your child will have a hard time with auditory input, try building headphones or ear muffs into their costume. If your child is going to need deep pressure throughout the night to remain calm, try having them wear Under Armour beneath their costume for consistent proprioceptive input.
  • Create a schedule of the day’s activities with your child so they know what to expect. See previous TLC blog posts for great ideas on creating and using visual schedules.
  • Set expectations with your family to help your child prepare for the night's activities. Decide if you’ll be using walking feet (this is a term we use at TLC to positively discourage running in the hallways), if the family will go trick-or-treating together or if the parents will wait on the sidewalk, if candy can be eaten when received or if it has to be sorted first, how to ask for a break, etc. Setting up these expectations in advance will help avoid any meltdowns or power struggles in the moment.
  • Limit the number of houses you will visit, or stick to familiar houses if trick-or-treating. End the night successfully and when your child is ready. Honor any requests to go home and be observant of when your child has had enough.
  • Decide as a family if you’ll be out while it is dark or if you will be coming home at that time. The lights, noise, and a dark environment may be too much for your child to handle all at once. Know when to call it a night before things get overwhelming.
  • In advance, create a safe spot for a break with your child. A wagon, stroller or bike may provide your child with some quiet time and help them refocus for more activities.
  • Think creatively when decorating pumpkins. Your child may not be open to touching the inside of a pumpkin but may enjoy decorating with stickers, painting or attaching accessories.
  • End the night with some quiet time in a safe spot that your child loves. A snuggle at home with calming music and hot chocolate will help reset, calm, and end the night on a positive and peaceful note.

I hope these suggestions help make your night a Halloween success! Do you have other tips for a successful and happy Halloween?  Please share them with us in the comments!

Are you looking for a childcare center, preschool, or therapy services that are familiar with children who experience a sensory processing disorder? TLC integrates pediatric therapy for children with sensory processing disorder and other needs into our inclusive classrooms. TLC therapists see older children and non-TLC students in their homes and on our campus. Learn more about TLC's programs for kindergarten-readiness in all students by emailing Cindy Wickham at cwickham@learningwithtlc.org. Learn more about TLC's pediatric therapy program for children with sensory processing disorder and other developmental delays or disabilities by emailing Shari Karmen at skarmen@learningwithtlc.org