This week in therapy we made apple trees. We used apples to paint/print with and they came out adorable! This craft was so simple to do! Here’s a look.
To prepare, I cut out a “tree” shape from green construction paper. I also found some cool corrugated cardboard paper stuff in our art supply room, so I cut that in longs strips for the trunk. This gave us some added texture and ability to talk about “bumpy” vs “smooth”. I found some fake, decorative apples at the dollar store, so I used those to pre-teach vocabulary and to illustrate how apples can be red or green. (The dollar store didn’t have yellow pretend apples…) We put green and red paint in small, shallow tubs and I cut an apple in half. Make sure to use a sharp knife; the dull, flimsy plastic kind from the cafeteria will make the cut uneven and they won’t print well on the paper. Not that I know from experience or anything.
We did this with our 3 intellectually disabilities (ID) classes back to back. We did one big tree per class so we wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the number of turns each student needed, since they all require hand over hand. With the first class, we just had the students using their hands to grab the apple halves out of the paint trays. This was a BAD idea. I could barely grip the apple to get it out of the tray (that was just slightly bigger than the circumference of the apple), so how did I expect these students with fine motor deficits to do it? To fix this problem, we took some adapted forks, with wide, rubber handles, and jammed them into the apple halves. It worked WONDERFULLY after this! It’s important to scrape or blot the excess paint off the apples – either using the edge of the paint tray or a paper towel.
With the ID rooms, I had PCS symbols printed out. Each student made a choice of which color apple they wanted to stamp.
After each student had a turn, we went around and had each one smell some cinnamon. Then we sprinkled some on the still-wet paint. Last, we glued on the corrugated trunk and our tree was finished! As a little reward and motivator, we had extra apples, sans paint, for the students to snack on! I also had a comprehension wh- question, fill in the blank activity printed (using BoardMaker) but we didn’t have time to complete it.
I think they came out really cute!
I did the same craft with my high-functioning language group of students with autism. These students made their own, individual trees because they’re more independent. I used the same materials. The students noticed that, although I was holding what looked like a whole apple, it actually had a slice down the middle. One asked, “How did you cut that apple?” I used this opportunity to talk about object functions. We also discussed what you do with an apple and that today we were going to break from the norm and actually paint with an apple!
Next, I laid out the two halves we’d paint with and my fake, green apple. We talked about ways they’re the same and different and the concepts of “half” and “whole”. We used multiple attributes to describe the apples: half a red apple & a whole green apple.
I went around and asked who wanted to paint a red apple first. Here we worked on manners: raising hands, waiting our turn, asking politely for a turn, being patient, etc.
I let the students stamp as many or as few red apples as they wanted.
We talked about concepts like: more, less, some, etc. Then we moved on to green.
Once we were finished painting, we talked about why we couldn’t eat any of the apples on the table (even though they mentioned wanted to eat the real apple before we started) – two had paint on them and one was pretend.
We talked about where the students were putting their apples using a variety of prepositions. We also touched on some green apples, some red apples, more red than green, more green than red, who had the most total apples, the most green, the most red, etc. TONS of quantity concepts!
With this group, I stapled the the trunks to the tops of the trees for the students. Turns out, one of my students didn’t know what a stapler was! I told her, “Stand up, look on the shelf behind you, and hand me the stapler please.” She stood up and had NO idea what to do after that. I repeated the direction, she turned around and looked blankly at my shelf with a tape dispenser and a stapler on it. I really had no idea she didn’t know this common school object. I did a LOT of repeating the words “stapling” and “stapler” and I attached their tree trunks. We also worked on the concept of “together”.
For 4 of the 5 students’ trees, I stapled the trunk to the short side of the green paper. For the last student, I decided to do it on the longer side. Here we talked about how one of the trees on was tall, the other was short, one was narrow and one was wide.
This activity had way more basic concepts than I even thought of when I first started it! I hope you enjoy it with your students! 🙂 If you’d like to see my OT colleague’s spin on this, check out HER blog here. 🙂