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.
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!