This month is about the importance of play and in my last blog post, I introduced Special Activity Time. To recap, Special Activity Time is something I established this school year with the upper grades cluster teacher. We created it as way to target those extra skills we don’t have time to teach everyday in a social setting. We have started it this school year and it’s been pretty successful. 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. Last blog post, I presented ideas for creating your own version of special activity time in your classroom. This post focuses on my college’s and my daily schedule of Special Activity Time and what activities that we do during those times…
1. Monday: Movement
Mondays are movement time. During the winter, we have movement inside the multi-purpose room. When we were inside, we would rotate between three stations: yoga, balls/jump ropes (like an organized free time) and scooters. Now that the weather is warmer, we are outside practicing for Special Olympics. Special Activity Time allows us to work with our students on specific techniques so they are ready for our track competition. We have coached our students on staying in their own lanes and running through the finish line. My much more coordinated colleague is coaching students on the softball throw-teaching them to point the direction where they want the ball to go and stepping forward.
2. Tuesday: Art
On Tuesdays we have art time. I am so lucky my colleague loves teaching art and takes the lead on planning the art projects (we switch back and forth throughout the week of who is responsible for the activity each day). During art, my colleague has a one page sheet explaining the art project with picture examples. Each week, the students focus on a different technique such as pointillism, mosaics or color seration. While we have all the students create the same art project with choices and differentiation, art could be ran as centers or rotations. Art can also be a good time to work on some of those ABLLS-R skills of copying a picture, drawing or tracing shapes and lines or coloring in an object.
3. Wednesday: Life Skills
On Wednesdays, we focus on different life skill sets. Recently, we washed dishes and many students seemed to enjoy it. We have also had students put together a life skills word wall, practice buttoning shirts and practice folding. Cooking and writing out recipes is also another skill that can be incorporated during life skills. We have plans to teach shoe tying and making sandwiches for an outdoor picnic.
For other ideas on teaching life skills, check out past blogs, including:
4. Thursday: Leisure Skills
Leisure skills are essential for all students, especially students in the cluster classroom. One way we use this time is to teach students specific board games or card games. For about 3-4 weeks, we play Don’t Break the Ice and Uno on Thursdays so that students learn the rules and game strategy. We have also done more simple activities such as drawing, Legos, Play-Doh , Floam and puzzles (including completing floor puzzles in a group with buddies). Other opportunities we plan to offer students is doing word searches and crossword puzzles. You could also have students read magazines or listen to music.
5. Friday: Technology
Our activity on Fridays centers around technology. We are fortunate enough to have iPad carts in our classrooms, so we end up using iPads most Fridays for free time or academic apps. Students are also taught proper iPad care during technology time-we have students make sure they close all their open tabs, clean their iPad screens and plug them in the cart for storage.
One of the original goals of technology time was to teach students typing. We have a computer lab at school and some access to laptop carts, but never had the opportunity (yet) to get it started. There are a lot of free sites that teach typing-all you need to do is register, fill-in the student information and manage your classes. One I would recommend is Typing Club– which includes accessibility options so that all your students are able to use the program.
I hope you are inspired to create your own Special Activity Time with your students! Feel free to post ideas below about how you incorporate leisure skills and play in your classroom.