Doing Kids Activities with Arthritis

Did you know that one in four Americans have arthritis?

You might assume we are talking about grandmas and grandpas, but 2/3rds of the people living with arthritis are under the age of 65 including 300,000 children.

It is why we jumped at the opportunity to partner with the Arthritis Foundation for “Get a Grip on Arthritis”.

Since arthritis is the #1 leading cause of disability among adults, it touches us all.  In fact, 172 million work days are lost annually due to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions.  We either deal with this disease on a daily basis ourselves or love someone who does.

What is Life Like with Arthritis?

To get a deeper understanding of how arthritis changes lives, I got a firsthand experience of what arthritis might be like for just a few minutes.  The Arthritis Foundation sent me a pair of gloves that simulate the limitations known to those who live with arthritis.

Arthritis Foundation Gloves

The gloves are bulky and hard to move.  Like the gloves, many people with arthritis can’t move their fingers freely.

I chose one of my favorite activities for kids – paper plate roses – for the experiment.

Let’s Make Paper Plate Roses!

I gathered the supplies we would need to make paper plate roses and recruited my 12 year old son, Rhett.

paper plate rose craft supplies

Supplies Needed to Make a Paper Plate Rose:

  • paper plates
  • scissors
  • stapler

Then I got to work!

The first step is to cut the “crust” off the paper plate.  I put on the gloves, grabbed the scissors and started cutting…

Holly using Arthritis Foundation Gloves


What it actually looked like was I fumbled around to get the gloves on.  The first one is easy, but the second one is a challenge because it was hard to pinch my thumb and index finger together to grip the second glove.

It was like my fingers wouldn’t bend!

Once I got the gloves on, I had to figure out how to pick up the scissors.  I scooped them up using a bit of both hands and then awkwardly wiggled my thumb into one scissor end and my index finger into the other.  The way I would normally hold scissors was completely impossible.

Then I scooted the paper plate around the table for a moment or two while I tried to pin it down to grab it.

The motion of cutting seemed incredibly uncoordinated and I had limited control over where my scissors were headed!

It would be really hard for me to show you how to PROPERLY make a paper plate rose, so Rhett is here to the rescue to walk us through the steps:

Steps to Make a Paper Plate Rose

Steps to Make a Paper Plate Rose:

  1. Cut the raised edge off the paper plate.
  2. Cut in a spiral to the middle of the plate – the width of the spiral can be thick or thin, but you want to cut around the paper plate several times.
  3. Leave a little circle in the middle.
  4. Grab the “tail” (the start of your spiral cut) and hold it while you twist the spiral cut plate piece around and around until it forms a rose.
  5. Staple the “tail” to the circle you left in the middle to hold the rose secure.

And when he was done, it looked like this:

Rhett's Paper plate rose

I followed all the same steps (even more carefully than he did).

I also spent about twice as much time creating my rose.

And even though I have a lot of rose-making experience and put my best effort into it, this was my rose:

my paper plate rose created with arthritis gloves on

I was able to do most of the cutting in a way that would create a rose, but when it came time to twist the paper plate spiral winding it into a rose, my fingers just wouldn’t move that way.  I was able to staple it together (not in the desired place), but it didn’t matter…the rose form never took shape.

Let’s Get a Grip on Arthritis

I was able to take off those gloves and clean up the mess we had made.

I was able to take off those gloves and pick up my camera to take the pictures you see above.

I was able to take off the gloves to type these words.

But for 54 million Americans, there is no escaping arthritis.  Everyday tasks are difficult.  Everyday tasks are painful.  They may choose NOT to participate in simple crafts and kids activities like this one because they know how it will turn out.

Choosing not to participate in the things they once loved can make them feel frustrated, defeated…ALONE.

What if there was a way we could support them?

To get a grip on feeling better, a grip on happiness, a grip on living life to its fullest?

Arthritis Foundation Logo

Join the Arthritis Foundation Get a Grip on Arthritis by joining the #LetsGripArthritis on social media and learning more on their website.

And if crafting and doing activities with kids is something that they once loved, please share these tips from the Living with Arthritis Blog about Crafting with Arthritis.

You can learn more about the movement on The Arthritis Foundation’s FB page too.

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