Making Art Special - Helen Goren Shafton 

 Helen Goren Shafton is an art teacher and author. Born and raised in the United States, she currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago where she teaches art to elementary children. When her art teaching responsibilities grew to include two self-contained, special education classes in 2006, she researched, experimented and developed lessons that would provide authentic art experiences for these children. 

 Art is a uniquely valuable means of communication and personal expression for children who may not otherwise be able to share their thoughts and feelings. Art also provides an opportunity to develop self confidence, motor skills, decision-making skills as well as a personal aesthetic. After working with children with a range of developmental disabilities in her art room for more than thirteen years, she has written a book for parents and teachers of children with disabilities. Making Art Special – A Curriculum for Special Education Art includes fifty illustrated, step-by-step lessons, as well as helpful tips for designing lessons. For more information and many great resources on the subject of special education art, please visit

Helen Goren Shafton is a 2010 Rauschenberg Foundation Power of Art award recipient. She has published articles in School Arts Magazine and Teaching Tolerance Magazine. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction from North Central College in Illinois

Customer Review: "This book tackles the challenging and rewarding experience of teaching special education art and helps make it a better experience for students & teachers alike.These lesson plans are not only thoroughly enjoyed by the students but are a great starting point for creating more successful lessons. Highly recommended for regular art teachers and of course, special education art teachers." - Jeremy

“This student work is from a favorite lesson of mine from my book. Old, unwanted, hardcover books are turned into works of art. This type of art is called altered books.  In this case, we created books about color using a different monochromatic collage on each pair of facing pages. The end result is educational, highly sensory oriented and beautiful! 

A keepsake to be shared and treasured by my students.  Half of the students who created these books are completely dependent on the assistance of a wheel chair and instructional assistants.  The joy they experienced while making these books was visible in their smiles.  They especially enjoyed the sensory nature of the various materials, such as feathers, sand paper and glitter paint.  The steps are detailed in my book.”

“Cityscape by Danny, a boy with autism, was chosen by the 2010 VSA All Kids Can Create exhibit to represent the state of Illinois in a special celebration of the arts in Washington DC.  

This is from a lesson in my book focused on connecting art with the real world, an important experience for children on the autism spectrum, who thrive on order and routine.”

The book can be ordered from here


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