Activities For Special Needs Students

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During preschool, children spend structured time together that is both fun and educational. They learn to communicate with peers, follow directions and stick to a schedule; all skills that prepare them for school. For children with special needs, there are certain preschool activities that are especially good at helping them engage, focus, and actively learn. Here are five suggestions to help children with special needs, both in the classroom and at home, get the most out of their learning.

Activities For Special Needs Students

Sensory tables offer many benefits for children with special needs. Sensory activities, such as running your fingers over dried rice or pouring water on them, can distract and calm a child who is overly excited or anxious. This promotes self-discovery and encourages the child to explore new textures, which in turn supports social and emotional development.

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Textures such as dried beans, sand or cotton balls encourage hand-eye coordination and allow baby to pinch, grab and improve fine motor skills. When babies discover new textures and objects, they tend to have a verbal response. Getting them involved with the sensory table is a great way to work on language development.

Outdoor play stimulates children of all abilities, especially those who need extra help with gross motor development. When getting kids involved in outdoor play, organize special games like the classics, Simon Says, Tag, and Red Light Green Light. Games like this promote whole-body movement and balance, and teach children to follow directions and focus.

Providing plenty of free-to-play options is also important. When children are given sidewalk chalk and other sports equipment like balls and hula hoops, children begin to develop their fine and gross motor skills without even realizing it.

Yoga is a practice that balances the mind and body. Although yoga is usually thought of as a practice for adults, children can also benefit greatly from it. With practice, children who struggle to sit still can learn to self-regulate and calm themselves by using movement and breathing to calm themselves. It helps to develop self-awareness about the body and emotional state.

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Many yoga poses are named after animals, so it’s easy to add story books to the poses and make the practice fun. Children can slither like snakes or roar like fierce lions while learning to focus in a pose. Here is an example:

Lightbox is fun and exciting for all children, but it especially helps to increase the attention of children with special needs. Children can spend hours with the lightbox training their fine motor skills, creating light patterns and drawings with colored transparent shapes. Even better, this simple homemade version works great at home or in the classroom. Be sure to have plenty of colorful transparent objects on hand, such as decorative rocks, plastic blocks, and even colorful salt.

To assemble: Trace the inside of the pan lid and secure with tape. This will help create an even distribution of light. Drill a small hole in the corner of the tub and thread the light cords through. Spread evenly over the bottom of the tub. Place the cap on the tube and connect the light.

Music activates all subsystems of the brain, including areas that regulate emotions and motivation. Setting aside time to sit together and play music in a circle allows children to bond with each other and gives them a sense of belonging to a group.

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Music time can be especially helpful for non-verbal children. For them, music can be a way of self-expression and communication with peers. During the circle, give the children instruments such as shakers, bells or toy drums. Encourage them to make noise with their instruments and move their bodies to the music. Sing songs that have each child’s name on them so that everyone feels that they have a part to play in the activity.

Alternatively, you can incorporate music into other activities throughout the day. Sing songs as you clean up and move on to new activities, such as naps or snacking.

Sarah Peronto is the Director of Marketing at Penfield Children’s Center, a nonprofit organization in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that serves children with special needs through physical, occupational, and speech therapy, a behavioral clinic, and an accredited early education and care program. Sarah is the editor of, an online educational resource featuring practical articles, tips and videos for families. This website is part of the Kohl’s Building Blocks program, which helps provide Penfield children with access to early education and developmental services and equipment. Children feel better and become stronger when they experience the joy of movement. This is especially important for children who have physical limitations. Here are some fun ideas to help you start your day with physical play. Customize each activity to suit your child’s needs.

Create a dress up game of hide and seek. Add an exercise to a few items of your children’s clothing, such as flapping your arms like a bird 20 times, going up and down the stairs twice, or dancing around the room for five minutes. Hide clothes around the room and let your child find them, do exercises and dress up in the process.

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Grab a sturdy rope or a rolled up beach towel or sheet and let the kids play tug of war. Draw a line with tape and place pillows around it for the children to fall on. Start with a traditional pull-up, but mix it up a bit so that they pull to the left, pull to the right, pull high overhead, and drop low to the ground.

Create an indoor obstacle course. Here are some fun examples: have your child roll the dice in one corner to find out how many jumps they need to do while sitting or standing, in another corner let them pull out a playing card to find out how many times they need to touch their toes and in another let them roll , like a log, singing “Row, row, row your boat.” Other ideas include crawling through tunnels (you can use crates), wheelbarrow walking (you hold their feet off the ground and they walk on their hands), and teach them to crab walk (legs and arms bent with hands and feet on the ground, belly to the ceiling). A portion of the court may include a large ball that bounces, rolls, throws, or spins.

Start a pickup game. Bring some sports equipment like baseballs and bats to the park and find other kids to join in a winter baseball game. Start with bases close together and gradually move them apart to encourage walking/running for longer distances.

While focusing on fitness, use lunch to reinforce healthy eating. Plan a lunch with protein, fresh fruit, nuts (if your child can handle it) and don’t forget to sneak in those veggies.

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Get ready for the Olympic figure skating competition. Take some old shoe boxes and let the kids get on the “racer skates” and slide across the floor. Encourage them to swing their arms for full bilateral body movement.

When it’s time to rest, talk about the day and let your child set goals for the next play day. Learn their likes and dislikes so you can hone in on activities that reward them physically and emotionally.

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Free Play! Sensory Activities For Children With Special Needs

© 2023 Zoe Communications Group | 332 S. Michigan Ave., Suite #LL-M974, Chicago, IL 60604 | 708.386.5555 | PRO Online Publishing Website. How to start the first week in a special class? I’ve been getting this question a lot lately, and understandably so! I think every teacher, no matter how long they’ve been teaching, has some kind of nightmare or sleepless nights on their first day/week (am I right?!).

Schedule: I try to start with our regular schedule that I have planned so they get used to the routine and schedule BUT I keep the activities simple and fun so they don’t get frustrated. We don’t have to work on our studies and learn a new schedule/routine at the same time. We will come to the professional part later. It is extremely important that they learn this routine! It also helps me see their professional standing, which gives me an even better idea of ​​where to start.

School Scavenger Hunt: Go on a scavenger hunt to help them explore different parts of the school and different places to go. My colleagues have always been good at creating events

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