ADHD, Art & Organization: 3 Simple Projects to Get Organized

What do ADHD, Art and Organization have in common? When you combine a highly creative ADHD brain with art materials, creative strategies for organization come to life!

Yes, it's true: art can be used to help all children get organized. In fact, it may be just what is needed to help your family get and stay organized.

For a lot of children (and adults), organizing is flat out boring -- and we all know that boredom mixed with an ADHD brain does not produce great results. On the other hand, you may be extremely organized and can't understand why your child isn't just like you! Either way, creativity may be the answer to your organizational woes.

Pairing art with organization is effective.

  • The creative process can be tapped into easily and includes all learning styles.
  • Art elicits genuine self-expression by accessing the imagination and eliminating boundaries.
  • Art also allows the ADHD brain to do more than one thing at the same time.
  • For some children with ADHD, using their hands to build or create allows their brain the space to focus on the goals, rather than get distracted by a verbal conversation.
  • Energy can be channeled into this creative outlet, finding success in an area that might have previously been a source of challenge.

Having your child create something to be used as an organizational tool provides “buy in” because she is creating a solution for her problem.

Using Art to Get Organized Takes 5 Simple Steps

Step 1: Determine what the organizational challenge is. For example, are school materials being lost? Are jackets being dropped on the floor?

Step 2: Determine what your child thinks might be a good solution. It's okay to share your thoughts and see how your child can use these ideas as a launching board.

Step 3: Decide what materials are needed and start creating!

Step 4: After the tool is created, discuss ways to remember to use the new tool with your child. Where will they put their creation? What time of day will they be using the tool?

Step 5: Start using it and monitor the results. You may need to tweak the tool, or even start again after some time passes. Keep in mind the ADHD brain loves novelty!

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Instructions for 3 “Organizational Tool” Art Projects

Not exactly sure what tools you'll be creating? To spark your creativity, here are our three favorite organizational tools.

Objective: Find a spot for the always-disappearing reading book!
Project: Create Independent Reading “Bookcase”
Materials: Empty Tissue Box, Construction Paper, Wrapping Paper, Recycled Paper, Glue, Markers

  1. Your child will need to figure out how big of an opening will be needed in the box, and to test out whether or not the book will cause the box to tip over (and what to do about it if it does)!
  2. Your child can decide how to decorate the tissue box and get started.
  3. Once finished, ask your child to consider:
    • Where will he keep the book case? Your child might want to consider his favorite reading place, and make sure it is close by.
    • How will your child remember to use it? Using a new strategy is the same as developing a new habit, so your child will want to think about how to remember to use it. Maybe a sticky note reminder on a bookmark or on the cover of the book? Just ask questions, your child will come up with some great solutions!

Objective: Alleviate messy floors (or provide easy access to regularly worn clothing).
Project: Colorful Hooks
Materials: Plastic hooks with adhesive backs, Sharpies

  1. Your child will have to decide what the hooks will be used for.
  2. Your child should consider if anything should be color-coded. For example, blue hooks for sweatshirts, purple for jackets, etc. How does your child want to label the hooks (with words or drawings) to serve as a visual reminder?
  3. Start decorating!
  4. Your child should decide on purposeful placement. Place hooks so that they function with the flow of a room. If your child always wears a sweatshirt, perhaps this hook should be near the door so it is easy to remember to hang it up.

Objective: Create containers for important items that tend to get lost or buried in clutter.
Project: Clay Pots
Materials: Crayola Air Dry Clay and Paintbrushes

  1. Decide what the purpose of the container will be so that size can be determined. Your child should determine whether it makes more sense to their brain to have one container for all related items, or one item in each container.
  2. Get started creating! Air Dry Clay is very easy to work with and the possibilities are endless. Your child can simply make the shape of a container, or roll out thin coils and make a coil pot. Your child can also decide whether or not to create a top for the container. Your child may prefer to leave the container open so it is possible to “see” what is inside.
  3. After the clay fully dries, 72 hours, the container can be painted. Your child will most likely want to paint it right away so remember to mention it needs to dry for a few days!
  4. Discuss with your child where to keep their container. Again, help your child consider the placement so that it is in an area where it will be used. For example, a container for a phone charger should not be far away from the outlet.

Using art as an organizational tool is a fun way to help your child develop executive functioning skills. The possibilities are endless, as your child's ideas will shape what to create. In order to continue the learning process, it will be important for you and your child to assess how helpful the creation is over time. Your child will have an opinion on how it is working, and so will you. Use this as an opportunity to make changes if needed, or to leave it as it is. Art can always fit in to any busy schedule, and there are no wrong or right answers here! Have fun!

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