Special Activity Time is something I established at the beginning of last school year with the upper grades cluster teacher at my school. We created it as a way to target those extra skills we didn’t have time to teach everyday in a social setting. Special Activity Time is a lot like specials or specialty classes, but within our classrooms. We have a set schedule of types of activities we do each day of the week. I have previously written about what we did for Special Activity Time in-person (check out Focus on Five: Special Activity Time, Part 1 and Part 2). We decided to continue Special Activity Time, but we are doing it remotely, with some new ideas and adaptations. Special Activity Time follows the same lesson structure each day (Mantra, Warm-Up, Activity and Share), but with a different topic or theme each day. Here is an overview of our weekly Remote Special Activity Time…
1. Special Olympics Practice
Warm-Up: We have a consistent physical warm-up that we do each Monday of seven exercises.
Activity: Our activity each week for Special Olympics Practice is a cardio routine and the Movement of the Week. The cardio routine is the same, but we try to increase the time that we do each cardio exercise each week to build endurance. The Movement of the Week is an exercise our Special Olympics division sends us each week to teach students. Past movements have included jumping jacks, squats, sit-ups, push-ups and burpees.
Share: For share time, students will do the Movement of the Week for 30 seconds individually and share the number of times they were able to do the movement. While waiting their turn, other students will watch and cheer on their teammates.
Cool Down: No good workout would be complete without stretching and a cooldown. We do a yoga sequence to end our Special Olympics Practice session.
2. Life Skills
Warm-Up: Our Life Skills curriculum currently centers around chore-based homework. Our warm-up each week is sharing about the previous weeks’ homework as a way for students to “turn in” or get credit for doing their homework.
Activity: Our activity each week is different chore demos for the week’s homework. My co-teacher and I always demonstrate the chores during our class time, in our homes. We also have related service providers and paraprofessionals also demonstrate the chore. This is a great way to get multiple staff members involved and for students to see several variations on a chore. Plus, I notice that students seem to be amused to catch glimpses of where we live and us doing everyday chores.
Share: Usually this is a quick share, since everyone shares about their homework in the beginning. We usually do a thumbs up, thumbs down series of questions that have to do with the chore (e.g. “Thumbs up if you have a Swiffer mop like Ms. Bueb.”). We also like to sneak in another round of cardio from our Special Olympics Practice because having an exercise routine is part of functional life skills.
Warm-Up: For our science warm-up, we usually do a movement activity because we are currently studying the human body. This could be the cardio we do for Special Olympics practice, our Movement of the Week or a specific exercise video from GoNoodle, based on the body system we are studying that week.
Activity: Activities for science vary depending on the topic. Since we are doing the human body, we will review the systems and focus on more movement based learning to learn about each system. We might also do simple experiments. For example, when we were learning about the cardiovascular system, we tried different exercises to see which ones would make our heart beat faster.
Share: We use the share time in science as another opportunity to practice the Movement of the Week we introduced During Special Olympics Practice on Monday.
Warm-Up: We actually try to do an “active” warm-up, usually featuring a video from GoNoodle. This is to incorporate movement (especially because they will be sitting during art) and to also teach students that dance and movement are both forms of art.
Activity: My co-teacher took on the planning and leading of art class. We did a supply pick-up before remote learning started so that students would have all of their art supplies at home. She has a curriculum that she follows with a different project each week. Art projects we have done include “cave” drawings, Egyptian art and mosaics. Another art activity we have students do is either creating art or enjoying art. For 15-20 minutes, students will stay on camera but choose an art project to do or enjoy art (listen to music, dance, look at a book of art).
Share: Students will use the script on the slide below to share about their art project they created or about art that they enjoyed. The script is really helpful in getting students to develop and practice public speaking skills.
5. Drama & Movement
Warm-Up: We have been learning family-friendly, simple Tik Tok dances for our warm-up. It’s great for motor imitation and incorporating movement when they have been sitting at a computer all day. They seem to really enjoy learning the dances and sometimes their family members even join in!
Activity: Drama Time is our main activity for our Drama and Movement day. For Drama Time, we sing the Drama Time Song, do a short body warm-up and have students participate in a game that helps with certain skills. We are currently playing “Emotional Spinner” (“Emotional Dice” during in-person learning), which everyone is able to have the spinner spun for their turn and they will act out and explain a time they feel the emotion that the spinner lands on. We are focusing on different emotions from the Zones of Regulation. We are also planning to do another supply pick-up so we can incorporate more games such as Car Wash (students can use the water sprayer, sponge and pom-pom to mimic a “Car Wash” sensory experience).
Share: Depending on timing, we may count the game as the “Share” or we might have the students do the Movement of the Week again and record the number of times they did each movement.
I hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration for co-teaching or establishing a time of day to teach more social, functional and life skills during remote or in-person instruction. As always, share your ideas below for ways you teach secondary subjects in your classroom. Stay healthy and safe!