Integrating art projects into classroom themes.

January 21, 2023

Crossroads does not have an art teacher, yet every single day, our special education teachers and teaching assistants empower their children to create beautiful art work. It adorns the walls of their classrooms, and the hallways and beautifies our school. Art is a way to tie in any theme you are teaching, to connect prior learning to current concepts, to add color and form to the abstract and freedom to the concrete. We love art at Crossroads, and here is the spot we share some of the art stories from the classrooms, as well as the themes.

Arctic Animals | 1.21.23

In Room 12, learning activities about arctic animals have been frequent, so today’s art project was to make snowy owls.

Paper plates, paper scraps, paint, glue, feathers… teachers help the students to follow the model they’ve provided. When they are done, they will be displayed in their hallway bulletin board.

Snowy Owls | 1.16.2023

This is certainly the time of year to learn all about animals that grace the winters. Here we have Room 4 fully engrossed in art making, as they create snowy owls out of paint and some paper scraps. The students are also working their motor skills using brushes!

Watercolor and Salt | 1.12.2023

Room 5 created snowflakes yesterday, with salt and glue. Once dried, the flakes are very hardened and form a raised relief on the paper. Today, they painted them with watercolors. The application of the watery paint allows the salt structure to soak up the color, in a spreading fashion, so a blot of color spreads down the arms of the flake in a beautiful way that is magical to the kiddos.

Fun and Free | 12.2.22

It’s Friday, and Room 14 has Fun on the menu. In Art Group, students are given their choice of one color, and a brush, and encouraged to free paint whatever they want to. What is even more exceptional than the beautiful splays of color and strokes, is the fact that the students are painting on the same surface without issue. Many times, troubles will arise with territorial aspects of group painting, and it becomes a goal to work through those challenges, but here we see everyone is happily painting together, very cooperatively.

Pinecone Painting | 11.2.22

One of the most fun things to do in the fall is pick up pinecones, and pinecones are prolific on our grounds. Room 7 recently had fun finding them and taking their haul back to the classroom, where, later, they used brushes to paint them. The somewhat prickly texture of the cones, along with the natural pattern of the scales arranged around a central axis, make them visually and tactiley interesting for all ages. This group is also doing a great job learning to wait for their turn at a table with a group of peers!


Making Fall Trees | 10.3.22

Along with several other rooms, Room 4 is working with a Fall theme lately. In the activity shown, they have cut and pasted their tree trunk, and are now adding texture and leaves with Q-tips.

Working with different materials and applicators allows students the opportunity to explore and create in nontraditional ways. Although they are working together in theme, each child is his or her own artist, and what is created is as unique as each student.

Art of My Own | 7.29.22

Ms. Annie loves art. In fact, she went to art school and does a lot of artwork of her own. To her, it’s important to give children the chance to just play with art materials without any specific purpose other than self-expression and exploration of the materials. So, ‘A”, “P”, and “Z” are each working on their OWN art, using markers and paper.

As you can see, these young artists are very engaged in their work, and proud of it.

Where do we get art materials? We are thankful to have several grantors who support our social skills development programming, one of the components of which is art. At  times, we also add specific art supplies to our wish list, and are grateful for all of the in kind help that our kind community offers.

Learn more here>>>  


The Interactive Nature of Art | 6.9.2022

“J” may not have a lot of words, but he does have a lot to say. The sharing of his thoughts can come in a variety of ways, but one seemingly favorite way to him is through art.

Here Mrs. Erin, Room 12‘s teacher starts a fun picture with chalk. You can see how interested J is, and how, soon enough, he begins to interact with her picture, adding his own elements.

This story might not be about Room 12’s classroom theme, however it belongs here in this blog spot, to share some artistry. It also shows that our team members go the extra mile to find ways to connect with their students, and provide reinforcement that is powerful.

Caterpillar Dot Art | 5.18.2022

Many of our classrooms are currently learning about the butterfly life cycle, as we are raising caterpillars right now. Room 12‘s cute project of making dot marker caterpillars was a perfect way to blend learning of this science subject, with fine motor skills which are being worked on this year.

4.4.2022 Experimenting with watercolors

If there’s anything that will always be unique it’s a watercolor painting. Kids can learn so much about color-mixing, color vibrancy and dilution, brush strokes, and being gentle by experimenting with watercolors, and that is exactly what these youngsters are doing in Afternoon Daycare. You can see they all have something different in mind as the subject of their work, and everyone is intently attentive to their painting.

3.28.2022 Rainbows

When you’re learning about weather themes, you’re going to be exploring the magnitude of rainbows, like Room 3 has been. Here are “D” and “T” working on fruit loop rainbows during their art time. This activity exercised little fingers for fine motor control, and required much focus to place the loops with their color in the band designated. Color-naming and counting skills were also applied.

2.6.2022 Astronaut Helmets

These Room 5  kids are “outa this world!” They’re heading for new galaxies in the helmets they created in art centers this past week.

Students have been learning about Space. The theme has led them to learn about astronauts and the exciting work that astronauts do.

When asked if he plans to be an astronaut when he gets older, 4-year old R says he wants to visit the moon and the stars. He’ll travel in a spaceship and see the earth’s people “like they’re ants.”

Teacher Mrs. Jill, describing the energy of her class as high and creative, notes that the topic of space has been a popular one for this group.

Awesome job, Room 5! It’s great to see what you’re learning and how you’re putting it together with your creativity.

12.29.21 New Year’s Shakers

Engaging with content about the various holidays that occur we celebrate throughout the year is not just fun, but also educational. Kids learn about social customs and expectations that will potentially be part of their lives as long as they live.

Take New Year’s Eve, for instance. In our country, it is a night of excitement as we say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new. We have hopes for betterment, success, health, and happiness, and we set resolutions to help achieve those hopes. Part of the ushering in is a count down, and noisemakers such as blowers and tambourines are often instruments of the fun. Here, Ms. Annie teaches these toddlers about the coming festivities as they make shakers from paper plates decorated with stickers and filled with rice.

11.10.21 Fall Colors

Learning about nature’s seasons is an important part of the curriculum in the classrooms, and the Fall season is a beautiful one to integrate art projects into. Here we have students in Room 4 enjoying leaf stencil painting, cutting, and pasting.

9.14.21 After School Art

Just because school is done for the day doesn’t mean that learning – or art – is over! Check out Ms. Taylor and one of her after-school daycare friends decorating the sidewalk. It’s never been so colorful!

8.2.21 Summer Olympics

The Olympics are going on, and Room 5 took the real-life event to make a classroom theme. They’ve learned about the sports and traditions, and they’ve also worked on art projects to go with the theme. Here we can see them with their torches, medals, and crowns. Our sweet Room 5 Olympians.

7.29.21 Drawing Success

It’s a big deal to make a person, especially when the artist is very young. “K” is a student in Room 8, which serves children 3 and 4 years old. Look how proud she is of herself!

7.26.21  A Refreshing Project

One early skill that our learners frequently need practice with is placing paper on a surface with glue, and this practice is usually addressed with art projects, such as collage. We were able to catch Ms. Lindsay and “A” working on their theme project – a refreshing beverage for the hot days of SUMMER!

You can see that “A” worked hard enough on this to feel pretty darn proud of himself!


4.26.2021 Earth Week

Last week, Crossroads celebrated Earth Week by planting, recycling, cleaning up litter, and creating. Students learned about protecting our earth’s natural resources, and about reducing the amount of garbage we create. Classes were part of a Recycling Sculpture Contest, which you can see all of here:

Here, some of the students in Room 5 are pictured engaged in the art-making process. Working in small groups, each child was an active participant in the sculpture their class entered in the contest. Using boxes, jugs, cups, toilet paper tubes, and bottle caps, they created a robot holding an inflatable earth!

4.8.2021 Crab Hats 

Room 7 has been learning about the ocean, and their art projects reflect it. Crab hats were made, decorated, and worn with crab pride last week, as the students learned about animals that live in the sea.

3.17.2021 St. Patrick’s Day

Holiday themes are always important because they give children opportunities to understand more about the customs we share as a community. All of our classrooms were using the St. Patrick’s Day holiday as a classroom theme at some level this month, and some of the art projects that classrooms created were as colorful and magical as the day itself. There were lots of other antics going on here at Crossroads for St. Patrick’s Day, too. Visit to see!



2.1.2021 Submarines in Room 4

It may be chilly outside, but Room 4 is staying warm by thinking under the sea thoughts. They’ve been working within the theme of aquatics lately because students are interested and engaged in the creatures of the ocean. Recently they made submarines, incorporating skills of sponge painting, brush painting, cutting, and pasting. Some of their other artworks from the theme are pictured below.

1.27.2021 Kindness in Room 2

Room 2‘s toddlers are just 18 months to 2 years old. Yet the concept of kindness towards others isn’t above them. These kiddos are chock full of kindness and joy towards others!

Recently the class theme in Room 2 was Kindness. One of their beautiful art activities asked them to think of what they can do to help spread kindness to the world. Their sweet ideas were written by teachers on the hands which were traced and cut from their own hands. Reading and dancing are always good ideas, right?

1.25.21 Little Sweethearts in Room 8 

Give a child their own big surface to work on, and some markers, and watch the creativity flow! That’s what Room 8 did recently! Hear directly from Ms. Shannon, TA:

Last week in Room 8, we did a fun free art project. We named it the “Sweetheart Bulletin Board Boxes”. Each child got their own individual board and they were able to create a board however they wanted. They were able to practice writing their names, practice creating shapes, practice tracing their hands, practice fine motor grasp, they were able to be creative with different materials and they all used their imagination to create stories on their bulletin boards. One friend drew a picture of himself falling off a snowbank. Another friend traced their hand with different colors and created different faces. Once they completed the boards each child was given different hearts that said positive words such as smart, kind, sweetheart, and so on. Once they were complete, we hung the pictures out in the hallway at their eye level so, they can see the amazing artwork that they completed.

— Shannon Faulkner

1.21.21 Identifying Emotions in Room 7

Teaching young children about feelings is an important piece of what we do here at Crossroads. When children can start to identify what a certain emotion feels like, what experiences trigger it, what our bodies do when we are feeling that way, then they can start to say when they themselves are feeling that way, and that communication is crucial in coping with the ups and downs of life. Learning feelings usually starts with happy and sad, and then typically moves onto scared and mad. From those four basic emotions, the others flow.

Here are the kiddos in Room 7 making an adorable craft, with one side of the plate being happy and the other being sad. The students used bingo markers, glue, markers, and googly eyes to create their masterpieces and the use of language was encouraged throughout. We all feel super happy to see these youngsters learning about feelings. Not to mention the marvelous myriad of fine motor skills the children were able to practice, to boot!

12.9.2020 Melted Snowmen in Room 4

A mixture of glue and paint makes a sensory wonderland out of this art project. The students in Room 4 began with a sheet of construction paper, a pile of snowman body parts, and, best of all, a blob of “snow” to create and play with. The finished works of art are just as delightful as the boys are when making them!

Students worked on labeling body parts, placing parts on their snowman, and using their fingers to manipulate the pieces. All of this in addition to doing a wonderful job with mask-wearing!

11.1.2020 Keepsake handprints in Room 2

Our students love using their hands and being creative. Last week, a project in Room 2 involved making a type of playdoh that when baked in a slow oven, will harden and become a keepsake for these toddlers to bring home to their families.

In between hand-printing with teachers, the children created beautiful pictures with crayons and coloring sheets.

10.19.2020 Pumpkins and paintbrushes in Room 2

Painting on a flat surface such as paper is one thing, but using a brush to apply paint to a curvy, bumpy thing like a pumpkin is downright tricky!

This group in our toddler room, Room 2, starts at 18 months old. You can see that they are focusing very hard on their task at hand: decorating their own pumpkin their own way.

Mixing colors comes into play, as each child has his/her own palette, intentionally or not. Their masterpieces turned out adorably and were a blast for the children as well.

Thanks and photo credits to Danielle!

10.7.2020 RainbowFish with pincer grasp placement in Room 2

Rainbowfish can teach children about color identification, an animal group (fish), social skills (sharing), and emotions (loneliness, happiness). The youngsters in Room 2 recently got to make their own rainbow fish and in addition to the benefits just mentioned, they also practiced using a brush and using their pincers.

Here are some hacks from Room 2’s Rainbow Fish project:

  • Provide pre-cut scales and fish background. Yes, it’s also important to work on scissor skills, but with this project’s focus being on giving the fish his scales, it’s best to have these pieces ready so that the child sees the task at hand from the get go.
  • Rather than trying to get a young child to apply glue to a little piece of paper, have them paint the entire surface area with a brush dabbed in glue and then apply the small scales.
  • Provide modeling and even physical prompting to help children get started and then let them do the work of picking up the scales and placing them where they want.
  • If your glue is too thick to paint on easily, mix a tiny bit of water in to thin it. Careful though: too much water will curl your paper.
  • Encourage and admire your young artist at work!

10.2.2020 Apple Trees with mixed art-making tools in Room 1

Students in Room 1 got to make beautiful apple trees in their art group recently. Wearing big old tee shirts as smocks to protect their school clothing, everyone had a chance to paint a trunk with a brush. Teachers in the classroom painted the students’ palms green and leaves were hand-printed onto the tops of the trunks. Red finger prints created apples ripe enough to pick.

Room 1 has been working with an APPLES theme; this art project gave the students a chance to think about apple trees bearing apples, colors and seasons. It’s a project that will tie into others that Mrs. Kathy, classroom Special Education Teacher, and her team will introduce throughout the course of the theme.

By experimenting with the various tools – brushes, hands and fingers – these young artists not only learned more about the classroom theme of APPLES, but also that colorful paint can be applied to a paper background in different ways. Experimenting with different tools and mediums is a wonderful way for children to learn about their environment and how things work.

As well, social skills are developing as children wait for and take turns, model the adults and each other, and practice transitioning from one activity to another. Further, with COVID-processes in check, each student has his/her own brush, and each is assisted with hand-washing before and after art group, as well as assisted to progress with mask-wearing, not only for this activity but throughout the school day.

We’re very thankful for the support we receive from donations and grants that allows us to have nice art supplies for projects like this one. Donations can be made to help our students learn and grow here:

Help students learn and grow!

8.13.2020 Art and Opportunities

Participation in art projects presents opportunities. Opportunities to see things in new and exciting ways, to work with new mediums, to engage with others – or by ourselves – within the art process and most of all to create! Creating is one of the things that sets us (human beings) apart from the other creatures of this planet.

Our classrooms have had several wonderful themes this summer. Classroom themes bring together academic and content areas such as literacy, math, science, and social studies. Art is a way to bind these subjects and more together for better understanding and engagement.

Room 4‘s Ocean Theme has given children lots to do. They’ve been adding projects all summer long. Here, below, we have some glimpses for you from their Jellyfish project. For this, they applied tissue paper to contact paper to create a multiple-colors collage. Then a bit of scissory created a final product. The videos show the magic of the art process; during this session, children were captivated by the accidental spillage of tissue paper pieces, which floating once bore the need for repeating. The children made it happen again and again, loving the dancing sprinkling onto the floor.

By watching, or better, participating with the children, we all can learn more about the project at hand, the themes we’re exploring, and the way children learn. Art is a gift that we all can grow from.


6.24.2020 This has been an unusual year to say the least, but some things have managed to stay on point, and one of those things is the social interaction that is formed through an art experience. During the school year, Ms. Melissa, one of the teaching assistants in Room 14 has doodled with her students all year long. When she had to move to an online interaction strategy, she started sharing her doodles with the kids each week on their classroom Dojo. Here’s her last doodle of the year,celebrating all of the beautiful people who make up this class. Happy end of the 2019-20 school year Crossroads. Thanks Melissa for sharing your talent with us!

5.5.2020 Today, thanks to Mrs. Rebecca, Room 5’s teacher for sending this project in!

Hi Everyone! Today’s art/science project is super fun. I made a video for the YouTube Channel for you to follow along if you’d like. I hope you have fun watching the water colors move across the paper. If you don’t have water colors but have food coloring, add a few drops to a small amount of water to create your own!

Video link:

Rebecca Oliver, Early Childhood Teacher

4.22.2020 A Coloring Book to download.

While school closure continues, Crossroads continues to deliver individualized and group instruction to students, remotely.  Look through our site and social media channels for some of the awesome resources our team members are finding and sharing.

Mrs. Kelly, Executive Director received this one from a colleague, and shared it this morning. It is a coloring book for wearing masks created by It is like a social story and art project all in one.

Click to download it here: WearingaMaskColoringPages

The  Autism Little Learners site has lots of freebies and there are other coloring books that might also be useful!

4.9.2020 Make your own Art Supplies.

While children and parents are at home, our teachers and therapists are doubling down on efforts to provide learning activities that align with students’ individual and curricular goals. There are many art projects and sensory input activities that are being shared on our Facebook page.

This one comes from Ms. Jena, Room 4‘s teacher. She writes, ” I know we are sharing a lot of projects and (activities) that require paints or markers and some parents don’t have those things so I found this. It may be an alternative that all parents would like to see!”

They are pictured here, and also ganged up on the attachment below, which you can print out. Thanks, Jena, for thoughtfully sharing these wonderful ideas from

Home-made supplies from


1.13.2020 An ARCTIC them is one that kids always love.

Can’t you just feel the icy breeze on your face, and hear the crunching of snow under your feet when you take in these chillastic projects created in classroom themes?

You’d think we were right in the Arctic!

Walking in the snow in your warm mittens, boots, hat and coat, meeting up with penguins and polar bears, and building snow people, along the way.

These are the types of images that come to mind for Winter for many people, and images the teachers in this classroom want their students to have in mind as well.

Looking at these masterpieces, you can see that the students got lots of practice of tactile and fine motor skills, opportunities for communication and interaction, and a reinforcing sensory experience too. Great job, everyone!

Help provide services to students with and without special learning needs!


12.31.19 A snowman craft gives students in room 7 an activity integrating art and language.

A theme of snow and winter gives students a host of activities to engage in to understand the uniqueness of the season as well as to learn about weather forms at a beginning level. Snowmen crafts are highly favored – children can translate the concept and teachers can integrate it with all subject areas as needed.

In Room 7 recently, a fun snowman project allowed students to build an ornament from a gathering of items, and to use words to talk about each step of the process.

One little boy is working on the language and conceptual understanding of hot vs. cold. Another has a goal of labeling parts of a body, so eyes, nose, arms, and mouth became part of the conversation. All of the students were engaged with feeling the sensory attributes of the items in the making, such as the hardness of the paint stick, the shininess of the buttons, and the softness of the scarf.

The class did a great job, not only with the project but also with sitting and working together in a group. Important for school-readiness, students in this room are young. Some have never before been in a daycare or school setting! The gains they’ve made since starting the school year is huge. Kudos to all!

10.17.19  Children learn in an endless number of ways.

At Crossroads Center for Children, teachers and therapists are skillful at using multiple modalities to give their students plentiful opportunities to learn and practice the skills and concepts they need. Integrating Art with other subjects works well with children of all ages because kids love being creative, just as much as teachers do.

Art projects are known to allow children of all abilities to access complex topics and concepts.

Engaging in art provides students with a connection to subjects and ideas, whether new or familiar. Art encourages attending, problem-solving and spatial understandings.

Projects are fun, simply by virtue of being opportunities for creative expression. They’re also experiences filled with chances to build social interaction and school readiness.

At Crossroads, students have a chance to do all of this and at the same time to practice fine motor skills.

For example, the students in Room 1 here are learning to use a glue stick. This requires learning to remove the sometimes sticky cap, twist the bottom just the right amount and direction, press it to paper with the appropriate amount of pressure, put the paper to the surface as desired, and return the cap with similar expertise.

Grasping small morsels of black construction paper, which have been cut out as apple seeds and placing them in the correct area of the apple shape, takes a bit of spatial attention and develops an understanding of size and space, too.

Picking up a paintbrush, wetting it, dipping it into the tiny spot of the desired color on the watercolor palette, and applying that same brush to a certain area on a paper, is a sequence of skills that sometimes need to be isolated for teaching, especially with young children.


It’s important that we appreciate the finer details of teaching art skills, as much as the art of using such projects to bring alive the awesome themes that have to do with other subjects, apples, pumpkins, water, and all of the themes being taught.

We’re so thankful for the grants and donations that we’ve been given to help with social skills development since art projects are one of the areas where teachers and therapists can target social skills with students. Some examples of goals that students might have been sharing materials, passing items to one another, attending to a speaker (the teacher), showing one’s project to peers in a group, or even sitting in a group for increasing durations of time. Considering that the overwhelming majority of our preschool students have never been in a school setting before, there are so many skills that their teachers will shape over the course of the school year.

If you love the art projects that the students make here, be sure to follow us on Facebook where we share frequently!

12.3.18 Science and Art Meet Again

Here are just a couple of recent examples of high-interest art projects that taught science concepts, too.

Here’s a finger paint and collage project that Room 7 did recently. As you can see, the children made snowmen – melted ones. They’ve been learning about snow, and their art wall is currently full of snowflakes, snow globes, and snowmen including melted snowmen. Learning about the water cycle, weather activities and the melting of snow are science concepts that are challenging in the abstract, yet graspable when introduced through a highly interesting art activity such as this.

Another clever activity was done in Room 4. Using wax crayons, the children colored their penguins. They then sprayed water on them. As they conducted this crayon resist art technique and experiment, they learned about the oily feathers that penguins have that helps keep them safe from cold and wind.  This serves as a basis for understanding how different animals are suited to live in different habitats.

A third example is found in Room 6’s recent pumpkin painting activity. Painting pumpkins is cool enough, but Room 6 took it a step further, and used mashed pumpkin to paint their trays with. The object was to describe the way the pumpkin feels to the touch, smells to the nose, and looks to the eye. Children were encouraged to paint with their hands if tolerated and to use a brush if that was preferred. Learning about the senses is an important area of science.

We hope you enjoy seeing what our classrooms are doing and how. Your comments are most welcome – we love seeing what others are doing.


Please read more about programming at Crossroads and help us share our mission and work with others who need us.

Students Benefit from Physical Education and ActivityLearning at Crossroads