Sunday 30 August 2020

Celebrating our trip to the beach with a coral reef motor skills and learning craft

Coral Reef Craft

Although the beach can be a challenge for us - it can also be great.  Quieter beaches are better and these can often be rocky.  This year we had a summer staycation and spent some of the summer up at my parents place on the North Coast of Scotland, stomping around the coastline, finding creatures in the rock pools and spotting creatures out at sea.   We weren't sure if we would make it there this year but managed to see them for a week as the lockdown rules relaxed.   

As autistic boys, both Anthony and David are very interested in what's going to happen or go over what's happened.  It's part of their learning routine to think about what happened today.  Many people with autism feel comforted by routine and this is certainly the case with both of them. 

We can go over simple words and signs with David, and also chat with all the kids about what you find near the beach or in the sea.  On the coast near my parents there are dolphins, seals a many all sorts of rock pool creatures and more.  Last year we were lucky enough to see sea turtles at the coral reefs around Maui.

Anthony in the rock pools

Thinking about what we did last year, our trip to the sea and the many topics they've had as part of their home learning about looking after the environment, we did this fun craft activity combines the thinking and using their fine motor skills too.

This activity requires some preparation - mainly the cutting out of any sea creature shapes such as fish or turtles.  We also watched Blue Planet about the Great Barrier reef and learned about what they were doing to save it.  

I did a similar craft activity with Jane at Skylarks about rock pools where the materials were pre-cut but if the child can and wants to do the cutting then you might find easigrip scissors may help them.  In addition to some printed cut-outs shapes you will need:
  • Egg boxes  
  • Glue stick and paint or we used paint sticks which are great because they make no mess!
  • Decorations - we used leftover bubble wrap, unused wrapping paper, card strips, kitchen sponges, wildlife magazines and a bit of glitter (we used the eco biodegradable glitter so it doesn't end up inside the animals and fishes)
To make your coral reef, cover the bottom inside of the egg box in bright colours - making the 'lumpy bit' the reef and bluey / sea colours on the inside of the top to be the sea.  Then glue and add your bubble wrap and sponges to make extra bits like coral.  This is your basic reef.  Then simply fill it with what you might find.

We had mostly fish - Anthony needs things to be right so they included clown fish and parrot fish like you might find on a reef.  We also cut out turtle pics for a wildlife magazine and stuck them on top of extra egg box section so they could hang on the coral. Then we stuck them all down with a little glue. 

When making the reef, place the items around the table. This will encourage the child to cross their mid line - stretching their hands across the middle of their body to use them.  All gluing will encourage bilateral motor skills (using two hands together) by holding the paper and then gluing with the other hand.

When you've finished with your coral reef, recycling it's various parts is another lesson to go through. It helps to use just a little glue so it can easily come apart again. 

We had great fun - what would you put in your reef?

This post is supporting the Makaton Charity #wetalkmakaton sign of the week 'to paint'

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