Children with special needs often feel excluded from participating in outdoor activities. Moreover, they require some inclusive playground equipment to adequately develop gross motor skills, social skills, sensory skills, and also to improve muscle response time.
Physical activity is a foundation of the healthy lifestyle, and children with disabilities should not be excluded from it. Fortunately, most of the beloved playground games can be adapted to the needs of children with disabilities to help them develop both physically and socially.
Often, when it comes to organizing playground activities and games, teachers don’t know where to start. Indeed, there are a lot of concerns regarding the physical/mental issues a child will struggle with. So before you do anything, it’s highly recommended to speak to the parents and make necessary precautions.
From our part, we would like to get you acquainted with the following playground activities that will help you get the kids with special needs engaged and excited.
1. Wheelchair Basketball
If some of the children are using a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean that they cannot enjoy playing basketball. Wheelchair basketball has been included into the Paralympic Games and is a professional sport your children will really enjoy. By introducing the kids to this sport, you might get them excited about becoming a professional IWBF player and participate in the championships.
Of course, professional wheelchair basketball requires specific wheelchair design to help players roll around faster. But you can slow down the game and adjust the rules to help the children keep up with the pace of the game. The basket goal should be lowered for children, who’re using wheelchairs, as throwing a ball requires significant arm strength. Bankshot's basketballs courts are an excellent example.
2. Word Games
You can use different playground activities to help the kids learn words. For example, you can take any ball game, like soccer (or if the children are using wheelchairs – use wheelchair basketball), and make it accessible. Let the children score a goal, and each time they do it, give them a letter of a word HORSE, for example. When they collect all the letters, they can make a word out of them.
Combining physical and verbal activities is a great way to engage kids with special needs on the playground. Professionals say that these activities serve as a kind of an assignment help for children, as they learn how to spell words, which will help them during the future writing activities.
3. Treasure Hunt
This playground activity is wrongfully considered to be for those children who do not have disabilities and affect their physical abilities, but it’s not. You can adjust the treasure hunt game for all children with special needs, whether they have autism or quadriplegia.
The best advantage of this game is that it involves both physical and mental activity, contributing to the development of gross motor skills and sensory skills. Jonathan Riverstone, a special needs teacher and a professional essay writing service contributor, claims that treasure hunt is a great activity to help children follow instructions and work as a team.
How can you do a treasure hunt on a playground?
- Use the space of the playground to turn it into a treasure island;
- Pick a theme, whether it’s a pirate treasure hunt or a princess castle;
- Get the kids to perform several kinds of physical activities, following a certain sequence. By performing these activities, they will be able to move forward with the game;
- Don’t make the game too long. At first, use a few steps the children need to follow, and then you can expand the activity more and make the game longer.
There are many health advantages of the treasure hunt game, including better navigational skills, decreased stress, and better social interaction skills. Moreover, it’s a rewarding experience the kids will definitely be excited about. A playground can serve as both a setting and a tool for children to play and do the tasks to win the game. It’s a great team building activity all the kids will enjoy.
When talking about playground games for children with disabilities, it’s hard to describe them in detail, as all the activities for children with special needs require adjustments and necessary additions. As a teacher, make sure that you base all playground activities on the preferences of the children for maximum engagement.