Making it together: Paper heart garland

A few weeks ago we made a heart garland as part of our ‘advent calendar of activities’. And as it was looking so nice hanging in our big window, I’ve not really wanted to take it down. But the colours were more Christmas than Valentines, so yesterday we replaced it with a new version, which is more seasonally appropriate. This time we used papers in two different pinkish/purpley colours, and we made the hearts bigger than for our Christmas version.

Paper heart garland for Valentines - Sensational Learning with Penguin

As you might know by now, I like to keep our crafting activities fairly simple, so that Penguin can take an active part, helping him feel confident and competent. At the same time, they are very much ‘together activities’, as they generally require an active part on my behalf too. Making these things together (rather than me just instructing) also makes crafting an opportunity for connecting, interacting and communicating, focusing together on a joint project. This means that we’re practising ‘joint attention’, which is something that doesn’t come naturally to many autistic persons, and in Penguin’s case is definitely useful to work on. Plus it’s enjoyable doing things together, and when it’s done it can be celebrated as a joint achievement, which works as a kind of ‘reward system’. Focusing on our joint achievement (rather than just his) also decreases task performance anxiety. For more on how shared activities and celebrating together can be a great thing when working with autistic kids, I suggest reading this post on social rewards, by Bill Nason of Autism Discussion Page.

If you too want to make a paper heart garland together, this is how we did it:

  • Take one of your A4 size papers and fold it in half lengthways, to make a line down the middle (this was done mainly by me, with some help from Penguin).
  • Then cut the paper in half, using the folding line as guide (Penguin did this bit.)
  • Fold your strip of paper backwards and forwards. To make three hearts per strip, there should be approximately 4,5 cm between each fold. (I took the lead doing this, with Penguin assisting in pressing the folds down.)
  • Draw half a heart on top of your folded strip of paper, making sure that the center of the heart is on the fold side, do that it’ll make three whole heartshapes when cut. (I did this bit.)
  • Cut along the lines you’ve drawn. (Penguin did the cutting here, but I had to help with holding the folded paper together and guiding it.)
  • Make a hole for the string to pass through, using a hole puncher. (We took turns doing this, and I was reminded that we should get a better hole puncher, as this one’s become too tough to work with.)
  • Unfold to reveal a strip of three hearts ♥️♥️♥️. Now make a few more!
  • When you’ve done enough heart strips to cover the length of garland you’d like,  just thread them all onto a piece of string, and hang your garland up. Lovely!

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Making it together: Paper heart garland Valentine's craft project - Sensational Learning with Penguin. Doing cratfs with kids is a great way to practise fine motor skills, scissor skills, colours, shapes, and joint attention! We do home education/homeschooling with our autistic son, and this kind of kids crafts activity works great for us!

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40 thoughts on “Making it together: Paper heart garland

  1. Ooh I love your ideas! Been starting to look for valentines themed ones for this month and this is perfect. Love what you said about how doing it together ‘decreases task performance anxiety’ – such a good point and one that I think is often overlooked.
    #thesatsesh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just noticed that my reply to your comment ended up as a separate comment instead of a reply… my clumsy fingers I think ☺️ So I’ll paste it in here now as well:
      Thank you! Yes, the performance anxiety aspect is really important to us (as to many others I’m sure). Do check out Bill Nasons text on it too (which I’ve linked to in the post) if you havent already. There’s also a slide show about it on his fb page, in photos. Might be time for me to share that again on fb later 😉x

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  2. Thank you! Yes, the performance anxiety aspect is really important to us (as to many others I’m sure). Do check out Bill Nasons text on it too (which I’ve linked to in the post) if you havent already. There’s also a slide show about it on his fb page, in photos. Might be time for me to share that again on fb later 😉x

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    1. Thank you Jenny! Yes, and in our case we really need to work on fine motor skills etc, so to choose a craft that’s to advanced would defeat the purpose, and would probably end up more frustating than fun. And keeping it fun is key, really, to keep motivation up and build confidence 🙂👍x

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  3. Your heart garland looks lovely. It’s great that you’re enjoying your time creating together, making memories and learning along the way.

    I’m a big believer in building confidence through art. I’m a fan of process art, where the focus is on the experience rather than the final product. It’s all about discovering, exploring and creating and is a lot of fun too! #MMBC

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Debbie! You’re making some very good points here. I too believe the process has too be enjoyable, and if it’s enjoyable enough in itself, there doesn’t need to be an end product.
      For my son’s motivation though, a final goal seems to be a good thing, helping to build a sense of competence/achievement. Unless it’s pure sensory joy which is the prime idea of the activity 😊x

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  4. This is a lovely post and is so much more than just the instructions for a fab Valentine’s activity (which I hope to do this half term). Your explanation of why doing the task together is important is really powerful – you make such good points. #thesatsesh xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Haley! I really appreciate your reading and commenting on this, and I’m so glad my points seem to get through, that’s lovely to hear! I hope you’ll have a great time together at half term, whatever activities you get up to! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this idea. So simple but looks really pretty. Some good skills there too, threading and cutting. I’ve got some coloured craft paper, I’ll have to give this a go! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

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