Handprints and finger paintings are fun and messy and the activity can be adjusted to any ability. Art can be a powerful tool for emotional development, communication, forming positive relationships and social interaction. It can help to express thoughts and feelings and even to relieve stress and frustration. It helps with establishing and/or maintaining a sense of “flow” and achieving a positive state of mind. The main focus of this activity should be on the positive experiential process rather than a finished product.
What you need
- Non-toxic hand/finger paints either bought or homemade (which need to be safe to put in the mouth if this is a risk). Remember to check first for allergies.
- A bowl of warm water (preferably big enough to put a whole hand in) Remember to check the temperature is not too hot or cold.
- A container, or several containers for the paint (yoghurt pots and big ice-cream tubs work well)
- A few brushes (optional)
- Something to make handprints or finger paint onto, such as paper or cardboard, greetings cards, material, an item of clothing or a pre-printed picture
- Baby wipes or a cloth with which to clean hands
- Something with which to cover the table or floor where you are working (e.g. newspaper or a sheet)
- An apron or an old t-shirt to protect clothing (if necessary and tolerated)
Guidance and instructions
- Prepare the environment – remove any hazards, cover the work surface and get all materials ready.
- Cover both of you with protective clothing, for example an apron or an old shirt.
- Support the person to choose a colour (or a mixture of colours) using the person’s preferred method for making a choice, or if you know the person well, choose the colours the person prefers.
- The chosen paint can be either directly painted onto the person’s hand or finger with a brush, or decanted into a container and the person’s hand or finger dipped into it. Be aware of and responsive to the person’s touch preferences and how they react to touch and to having “dirty” hands.
- Support the person to make a print, or sweep their hand over the material and then when they have had enough to clean the paint from their hand.
- Look for signs of whether the person would like to do it again and if they do, repeat from step 3. Check throughout that the person is enjoying the activity and adjust or end as necessary. This can be repeated for as long as it is liked.
- Move on to painting onto different materials when the chosen item is covered.
- Let the person know when the activity is coming to and end. Support them to share their art work with others and celebrate their creativity.
What to observe, assess and record
- What is the person’s mood/emotion/state of mind like before, during and after the activity.
- Did you have to stop at any point? Why?
- What can be included or excluded to improve this experience for the person?
Dr Zuzana Matousova-Done PhD, BSc (Hons), PgDip Research, RNLD, Studio III trainer
New Beginnings – Autism and Intellectual Disability Consultant, South Africa
Email: new.beginnings.[email protected]
Created December 2020