December marks the start of the holiday gift giving season. It’s very important that our students with visual impairments get to take part in the joy of giving to family, friends, and teachers alongside their peers and siblings. One of my favorite holiday activities with my students and my own child is making cinnamon applesauce ornaments. Making these simple ornaments is a wonderful way to teach a variety of valuable skills in a multisensory way. As a bonus, this activity can be done with very few items, which can even be purchased at the dollar store.
I researched some different recipes and found the one I liked best. It can be found at the following link: Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1.5 cup ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp white glue
- Mixing bowl
- Drinking straw
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
- Plastic Wrap
- Baking rack or sheets
- Sand paper (optional for smoothing edges)
- Glitter, puffy paint, beads, gems, other decorating materials
- Ribbons or hooks for hanging
- Measure and mix the ingredients as directed by the online recipe.
- Roll dough and cut shapes using cookie cutters.
- Use the straw to poke holes in the top of each ornament to attach a ribbon or hook after drying.
- Decorate wet or after the ornaments have dried in the oven.
- Package the ornaments to give as gifts, or use them to decorate your own classroom or home.
Variations and Extensions
- Offer hand-under-hand support as needed.
- Allow students who are tactually selective to wear gloves to participate.
- Provide the recipe in your student’s preferred literacy media so that they can facilitate the process and practice reading.
- Ask students to write a procedure for the activity they’ve completed to share with peers or family members.
- Create cards to represent each step of the activity, and ask students to put them in sequential order after the activity is complete.
- Build self-determination and social skills by asking the student to lead a group of peers or family members in completing the activity.
- Produce gift tags in print, braille, or with tactile symbols to label each ornament.
- Include math skills by focusing on measuring, converting ounces to cups, counting beads or gems used to decorate the ornaments, or counting the number of ornaments made out of each batch of dough.
- Teach techniques for accurate measuring such as leveling off ingredients.
- Discuss concepts like cold, wet, gritty, smooth, dry, sticky, and label the different smells.
- Create DIY Cinnamon Applesauce Ornament bags to send home with students as a holiday treat. Include 2 applesauce cups, bottles of cinnamon, a bottle of glue, a straw, and some items for decorating.
As I mentioned above, this is one of my favorite activities to do with kids. I have enjoyed making these ornaments with students of varying ages, access needs, and visual impairments. For my students with complex access needs, I provided hand-under-hand support through the process, documenting their participation with pictures. We then used the pictures to create a book showing their families how they had participated in making their gifts. With tactile adaptations to each page, students could retell the story at home as well.