Purposeful Motor String Art

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Purposeful Motor

String art is really simple but can be really effective. Using a just a few items, you can recreate this craft technique. This is a great purposeful motor activity for our nonspeaking, minimally speaking and unreliably speaking community, not just for purposeful fine motor but also for ocular motor. 

Below are a few variations of the activity that you can use depending on the level of the speller you are working with. We start out really easily with a paper plate and a simple cut-out – there are templates as well for you and your speller to choose from. From there we move onto a slightly more challenging version using wood, and wool, or thick string and again a simple shape. And you can then try an even more advanced level – you can do a more complex shape with thick twine, or you can keep the shape simple and use a thinner twine or thread (I use embroidery thread). 

No matter which variation you choose, the end project will be great! And best of all, your speller will be left with a sense of achievement. 

Have fun, and it would be great to see all your string art projects and hear how you adapted them for yourself or for a speller you work with. 

Paper plate and a simple cut out. 

This is probably the simplest one, and if you are working with a speller who has a complex body, this one is great.

What you will need:

  • Paper plate 
  • Template of the shape 
  • Hole punch
  • Some wool or thick string 
  • Scissors

How:

1. Choose the template, and cut it out

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Purposeful Motor

 

2. Trace the template onto the paper plate and carefully cut it out

3. Use the hole punch to punch holes around the template – try and space these out as evenly as possible. To make it easier, space the holes out further apart

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Purposeful Motor

 

 

4. Get your wool or thick string and you can start it by threading it through one of the holes, and tying it. 

5. You are now ready to lace your art – it doesn’t matter which direction you go in or how many times you do it. 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Purposeful Motor

 

 

 

 

6. When it is finished, simply tie your thread and you are done. 

 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Purposeful Motor

 

7. To make this a little harder, number your holes and get your speller to follow the number

 

 

 

Slightly harder with wood

Small piece of soft wood (In South Africa, Pine is our softest wood), simple shape and big spaces between the nails. Use wool or a thick string

What you will need:

  • A small piece of wood – I used 12 cm x 12 cm (5 x 5 inches)
  • A simple shape – you can use the S2C bird – template attached or one of the templates for the paper plate shape
  • For the S2C text, you will need a bigger piece of wood – these will need to be around 31 cm x 23 cm (12 x 9 inches)
  • Drill – this is optional, but it makes the hammering in of the nails a little easier
  • Nails, try get short nails – this will also depend on the thickness of your wood 
  • Hammer
  • Wool or thick string or if you are going with the most complex embroidery thread
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Paint

How:

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Purposeful Motor1. If you want to paint your wood first, now is the time to do this – wait for it to dry and then continue 

2. Print out your shape – templates are below 

3. Use masking tape to tape the template to your wood 

 

 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Purposeful Motor4.Use your drill, to drill pilot holes – these are very shallow and you don’t want to drill to the same depth as your nail. Once you have drilled all the holes, you can remove the template

 

 

 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Purposeful Motor5. If you don’t use a drill, place your nail in the centre of the dot, and hammer it in until it is firm – don’t remove your template until you are done. Once you have hammered in all your nails, remove the template. If you used the drill, you can simply hammer each nail into the pilot hole.

6. You can now tie your wool/string/thread to the first nail and begin to weave it between the nails. 

 

 

 

7. If a nail is a little loose, take your hammer and hammer it in

8. When you are done, tie up the loose end and cut off the loose strand

 

You can make this more complex if you need to:

  1. There are templates that are a little harder, and the nails are slightly closer together 
  2. Use a thinner thread, if you want to make it harder such as a strand of embroidery thread. 

Coaching the body tips:

This will depend on where you want to start with your speller, but here are a few tips (I have yet to do this with a speller, so I would love to hear more from you.) 

  1. Hammering
    1. Bend your elbow
    2. Lift your arm up (this might be tricky due to the added weight of the hammer)
    3. Bring your arm down, keep your eyes on the nail (watch fingers here)
  2. Tying the knot
    1. Paper plate
      1. Feel the thread between your finger and thumb 
      2. Push it through the hole with your fingers
      3. Pull it out with your fingers 
      4. Guide the thread over to the next hole 
      5. Push it through with your fingers
      6. Pull it out with your fingers 
      7. Use the end and take it over the long piece
      8. Bring it back through the loop
      9. Make a knot by pulling the loose end 
    2. Wood and nails (for starting and ending)
      1. Use your finger and thumb of your non dominant hand, place the thread between them
      2. Take the thread between your finger and thumb of your dominant hand
      3. Using the end in your dominant hand, loop it over the piece in your non dominant hand
      4. Hold the loop in place with your thumb
      5. Use your dominant hand and take the end, pull it through the loop
      6. Place the loop over the nail, pull the loose end to tighten it 
      7. You might want to repeat the process to make a double knot to ensure that it stays tight.
    3. Threading 
      1. Paper plate 
        1. Hold the thread with your finger and your thumb
        2. Move your eyes to the next hole (or number) 
        3. Push the thread through the hole 
        4. Turn the plate over 
        5. Thread through the next hole – move your arm backwards and forwards to get to the hole 
        6. Also use the put it in and pull it out prompt 
      2. Wood and nails
        1. Hold the thread with your finger and your thumb
        2. Move your eyes to the next nail
        3. Take the thread, and loop it around the nail – you don’t need to tie a knot
        4. Continue this until you have covered the whole shape. Tie the knot to finish off

 

(Lesson on Steve Jobs’ theory of connecting the dots to come soon)

Templates for paper plate string art:

 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Purposeful MotorVicky is a practitioner in training in South Africa, and currently, works for Autism South Africa, but will soon be joining the ranks of The Sisu Hub. She is happily married to a husband who helps her write lessons, and in her spare time, she is kept occupied by her cats, crafts and guide dog puppy in training.

 

 

 

The mission of I-ASC is to advance communication access for nonspeaking individuals globally through trainingeducationadvocacy and research I-ASC supports all forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with a focus on methods of spelling and typing. I-ASC currently offers Practitioner training in Spelling to Communicate (S2C)with the hope that other methods of AAC using spelling or typing will join our association

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