Dec 9, 2013

Posted by | 27 Comments

Great Giveaway: Adapt-a-Cut and Adapt-a-Hold

{This giveaway is closed to entries. Congratulations to Chris Noel and Hester Dean Menier who are the lucky winners!}

There are two things we love here at AOE: Art teachers and innovation. Today our giveaway brings the two together in the coolest of ways. I want to tell you about an art teacher who saw beyond what existed and created her own art room tools. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Kathy Ruilen-Bareis, art educator and founder of B Able To, Inc. I thought her message was important to share, I want to tell you about it today.

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“As an art teacher my goal is to allow all of my students various opportunities to communicate their ideas creatively with independence. It is independent expression that motivates us to learn more.”

-Kathryn Rulien-Bareis, CEO

After years of working with a wide variety of students in the art room she noticed a few issues, which I am sure you have encountered as well. The first – Some students were not able to use a traditional scissors to cut paper using the grasping motion, but this didn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to cut paper independently! Using Kathy’s first invention, Adapt-A-Cut, students can easily cut using a simple push motion.

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This shows a student using the ‘Adapt-A-Cut’ and ‘Adapt-A-Hold’ together!

This video shows Kathy talking all the types of scissors she has used in the past and how her product solves so many of those solutions. (I didn’t know they made so many scissors!)

Her second invention, the Adapt-A-Hold solves the pesky problem of paper slipping out from under a student when the other hand can’t always successfully hold the paper down.

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We think you will love these tools in your classroom, and Kathy and the team at B Able To wants to give two lucky readers each a set of both the Adapt-A-Cut and the Adapt-A-Hold for their classroom.

Two Lucky Readers Will Win:

One set of the Adapt a Cut and Adapt a Hold Combo Kit!

To Enter: 

1. Comment below and tell us one way you have changed or adapted your classroom, lessons, or supplies to reach all learners in the art room. Bonus: How might you use these products in your art room?

2. NOTE: Be sure to sign in with your email address or social account when you fill out the comment form so we have a way to contact you if you are the lucky winner.

3. This giveaway will be closed Friday, December 13th at Midnight, Central Time. The winner will be chosen by This article will be updated announcing the winner on Sunday, December 15th.

If you are interested in learning more about these products, you can visit Kathy’s website right here for more information.

Good luck!  

Psst – AOE isn’t paid for giveaways- we just do it because we love our readers and want you to win some cool stuff! 


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  • Eileen

    I have used a clipboard in the past to help students hold the paper while they focus on their cutting skills…the “Adapt a Hold” would be a much more effective solution! Thanks for developing this product!!

    • Kathy Rulien-Bareis

      Clipboards are a wonderful idea too. I worked with several prototypes before designing Adapt-A-Hold as it exists today. It’s magnetic and really holds the paper tight. You could also use a regular scissors with it.

  • Shannon Lauffer

    I split my schedule between art and special education classes, so many of the learners I work with require modifications and adaptations to their projects! Some need as little as a bold line, some require hand-over-hand assistance. I have the squeeze scissors, but have had little success with them. I would love to have this product to help some of my students – particularly my preschool disabled class, which has a few students with motoric disabilities would definitely benefit from Adapt a Cut and Adapt a Hold products!

  • Kendall Gamelin

    This looks an amazing product that would be so beneficial to have my Art room. My school is an inclusion school, so I have special needs students in every class. Modifications I have made for those student have been using the easy spring scissors. Also, I’ve ordered larger handled paint brushes or added pencil grips to paint brushes. Those are just two of many things I’ve done.

    • Kathy Rulien-Bareis

      Full inclusion classes can be an enormous job. Have you tried to make your own brushes? If you take foam, the material you would use to line kitchen drawers, cut it 3″ by 18″, fringe one of the long sides and then roll it and wrap a rubber band around it, you could make a “funky brush”. This brush will stand up on it’s own which makes it easy to use for students with physical limitations. You can add a wooden dowel to make it more like an easel brush. It will create wonderful textures. All of your students may use it instead of just a few. This brush design is a universal. Every student will be able to successfully use it.

  • Vicky Siegel

    Oh, I would love one! I have an adaptive scissors where students can press down as a helper guides the paper, but the spring just broke! I also have a student who cannot use his hands, but his arms move. He could totally use this!! I do have the bingo dabbera, too, but didn’t know about the glue!!

  • Teresa Diaz

    Very cool products! I have organized the colored pencils into separate bins labeled by color family for my color blind students. The labels plus lessons on color theory enable them to create images with united color schemes.

  • Liz

    I would love to have these products in my classroom. I currently have 24 Kindergartners once a week for 30minutes. It is hard to have them do any cutting projects because of their age and not being able to help them all at once. I dont want to completely do away with cutting projects as it is very important for students to practice this from an early age and these products would greatly help in my class room so I can work with a few students one on one and have the others use the Adapt-a-cut.

    • Kathy Rulien-Bareis


      The photo of the little girl using Adapt-A-Cut was taken just moments after she used it for the first time. Cutting paper independently is really motivating. For children without physical limitations cutting with these tools is fine. It’s safe and motivating. But you are correct to continue working with scissor skills with your students. Great idea!

      Have you ever tried using address labels for a cutting station? Cut sheets of address labels into thirds the long way. (I get my labels from our office-doesn’t come from my art budget-pretend your mailing out something) Have students decorate the 1/3 of the sheet with markers. Cut in strips the long way. Peel and stick the labels onto colored paper. Here’s a link to a lesson idea for it. You could turn this into a fundraiser.

  • sarah

    I also have then entire scissor collection and still struggle to find the right tool for students. This tool would be a great fix. I have a group of self contained students who come up for a special “art workshop” time in addition to their inclusion time with class mates. Their teacher and I work hard to create creative opportunities for them. I find myself making tools or adjusting tools to work for them.

  • Chris Noel

    I teach a section of Special Needs students. These tools would be very helpful.

    I sometimes tape the edge of a paper down so students don’t have to hold it. I have used bingo markers for painting. Liquid watercolors are helpful.
    I have a couple of pairs of scissors that reopen automatically with one handle glued to a small board so that the student just has to push down on the top handle to make the cut. I use colored pencil sticks that never need sharpening.

  • marilynpeters

    I have a special story to share. Last spring a new student joined my painting class. Her membership in my class became the subject of a graduate Action Research Study that I conducted in my class. This student does not have a set diagnosis and they have tried everything to find out what went “wrong”. She is a 15 yr. old who is wheelchair bound. She is nonverbal except for cooing or whining or even crying. She has very limited motor ability at all. She could flail her arms but that was about it. She likes boys–they can make her smile on her crankiest days. She cannot feed herself or even reach for what she wants. I wanted so much for her time in my class to “mean” something to her. We first worked some hand over hand with a paint brush allowing her to make color choices between 2 colors. The paint brush was difficult for her to manage, especially on my tables so I clipped paper to my most upright easel and put the paint in spay bottles watering it down so it would spray easily. We would have classmates and various adults who wandered into our room stand behind the easel and interact with her while we worked hand over hand helping her spray the paint. She loved it! She burst out laughing. What a joyous sound. As we continued working with the spray bottles she developed the ability to squeeze the trigger by herself and guided the bottle where she wanted it. We found out that her favorite color is purple and that she does not like the color green–through the whole class she never once chose green. Her mother repainted her room since it had been painted green. Her mom came and visited my classroom and saw some of her work. She cried. It was the first time she would have work that was composed by her child to hang on her wall.

  • Jen

    I adapt my lessons all the time in different ways. One thing I have done is organized my supplies by color. I also use pictures to help my students know the order of directions for projects (something I learned from Kathy at a conference). The adapt-a-hold would be perfect for helping one student in my classroom to use with my perspective drawing unit.

    • Kathy Rulien-Bareis

      Hey Jen,
      You are correct. Since Adapt-A-Hold is magnetic, it will hold tight onto a metal surface. Would work great for perspective too!

  • Struggling!

    Interested to try them! Hmmm I feel I am very poor at adapting to my huge range of students. Mostly I feel I am underserved by the system I work in. Help! My most haunting thought is that public school will be the most focused instructional time for most of these students, for some the best time of their life. We are barely providing for them, sitting them in an inclusion classroom with 26 other kids some with high needs special needs (if that makes sense) and no paras.

    There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
    Nelson Mandela

    These children are being lost because of large class sizes, inclusion, and no para professionals. Other children are being lost because I spend my whole class period sitting with special needs students working on basic skills and making sure they are safe (not eating supplies etc.) It is a huge problem that I don’t feel like I can solve as one teacher in a classroom. Differentiating will only take you so far!

    • Kathy Rulien-Bareis

      There are so many tools and materials that you can adapt for your classroom. For me the obstacle becomes time. You are correct that some school districts create many other obstacles for us.

      This is what I would like you to try. Since it sounds as though you have no paras available to you, try contacting your districts OT, Occupational Therapist. If your district doesn’t have one usually your district contracts with a cooperative educational learning association. An OT can come in and help you with adapting tools. They can suggest tools as well. I work with our OT as much as I can! You can also involve your Speech & Language Pathologist. Art is communicating.

      Next, look for moneys available through your special education department. You teach kids that need special tools. There is SPED funding for tools. Be creative and spend others budgets! I do.

      Always take small steps. You will be redesigning your lessons and units. This takes time. Be patient with your self. Listen to your students. Watch the way they hold things. Ask them what works best for them. For our non-verbal students you will see it in their facial expressions.

      Have you tried bringing University students into your classroom as a volunteer/teaching assistant? I do advocate for all our students to have the opportunity for art within our school. But there is the question of safety. If a student is not safe within an environment, then something must change. I have pulled the “safety card” only a couple times within my administration. And usually we come to a satisfactory compromise.

      Keep your passion going. All of our students need teachers who care. If I can help you adapt a particular lesson, please let know. You can also check the B Able To website for free lesson ideas.

  • KeelinM

    I try to adapt tools by adding clay or foam around tools for students that can’t grasp a smaller item or might have a cast :). I have even bought larger oil pastels and chubby brushes for students to use. One my favorite things to use with my special ed students is a salad spinner that has a large knob on top. I love there reaction when they open up and see the cool pictures.

    I would definitely use the scissors right away with a kindergarten boy at my school.

    • Kathy Rulien-Bareis

      I’m so glad you mentioned the salad spinner. Kitchen gadget are the best! Have you ever tried using something like a “paint squisher”? Cut a piece of plexi 3″x3″ glue (super glue) a handle like a spool to the center. Use a dremel tool to cut a designer into the edge or edges. When a student squishes the paint he/she will be able to see the color mixing. If they drag the edge of “paint squisher” through the paint they will create an incredible design. All students can use this tool. Universal Design.

      • KeelinM

        sounds great!! thanks for the idea!

  • Julie Goode

    There is a young man on our middle school campus that is wheel-chair bound and only has one hand and only 3 fingers on that hand. He is currently enrolled in the percussion class as a 7th grader. However, as an 8th grader next year, he would have the option of 2 elective choices. These tools would make taking art class a real option for him. Of course, there are many more modifications I would need to make for him to be successful in art, but with these 2 tools, cutting would be one less thing I would need to worry about.

  • Suze

    I teach art weekly to several elementary students with severe special needs as well as a 2nd grade girl who lost her arm just below the elbow. This item would be so helpful with these students as well as with those with hand injuries from time to time. I have several of the other scissors that were shown in the video but they don’t work very well for some of my students who don’t can’t grasp an object.

    • Kathy Rulien-Bareis

      Grasping is part of an obstacle for some of our students and you are correct that with Adapt-A-Cut you really don’t need to grasp it one certain way. Whenever looking for tool and materials for our students with special needs also consider auditory feedback. Because of the wheels, students will hear the tire sound as well as tearing sound of the paper.

  • Hester Dean Menier

    I work in conjunction with OT/PT staff the adapt materials for my students. We have tried to create a variety of items from PVC with marginal success. I tried cutting a hole in tennis ball and filling it with expanding foam. We push a marker lid inside while it dried. Then we click mini markers into the lid to change colors. The student grips the ball in their fist. I have several students who see OT/PT regularly and use adaptive materials, these tools presented, especially the cutter, would be a great asset to my CP students.

    • Kathy Rulien-Bareis

      I agree about the PVC pipe. I’ve attended workshops over the past 30 years to find the best ideas for my classroom. Many people suggest using them, but I haven’t had good luck either. They seem to be uncomfortable for the kids. Listen to you students. Watch them. They’ll let you know if you’re on the right track. Have you ever though about using those pool swing noodles instead of tennis balls?

      • Hester Dean Menier

        No, but that could be carved to a better fit. Interesting idea.

        • Kathryn Rulien-Bareis

          Also, if you use an Xacto blade to cut an “X” through the noodle it will be a self healing opening allowing for any art material to be inserted with ease. Chalk, crayon, brush, pencil, marker. All of our art materials are different diameters. This works for easy changes for the student/teacher but also the fun colors and spongy texture are motivators. If the noodle is too big for little hands use pipe insulation from a hardware store. It’s smaller in diamter.

  • rsmelko

    I have chosen to have a one on one class with some on my multi-disability students in addition to coming with their regular classes. With this class i have create and adapted many tools and materials for the students. For example, to print a Styrofoam printing plate with a student that had very little ability to grasp, I glued a hair tie on the back of the plate so we could slip the hair tie over his hand and have him still push down on the plate to print. These cutting tools would be a great resource for these students and would help the students be more independent in the art room.