Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Accessible Group Games


Hi friends,
I've updated my accessible group games/ice breakers/team building activities list with some of these new favorite games. A lot of people ask what my secret is to these games. It's really simple actually. I just watch a lot of YouTube group games/ice breakers/team games (or group games websites) and look for games that can easily be modified for our kids. I'm posting some of my favorite ones so you don't have to watch hours of YouTube videos.

I always like to think about how the ECC supports these games. For example, during the holidays I will look for popular holiday minute to win it games and teach those games to my students. The way they can participate more in holiday parties.

Social themes, nonverbal body language, communication, etc. are all big things I look for to incorporate. These are all areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum. I also love games like Human Ladder where you can put yourself out there and really accomplish something (really builds that self-determination!). So many of my students have been so proud of themselves after they have gotten across the ladder. They have to incorporate so much communication, body awareness, etc. with these types of games. I have posted on Human Ladder before (look for my outdoor ed posts).

I stay away from messy games or games that really require you to be overly silly. I stay away from really messy games because they can get easily complicated. The same for games that require really silly body positions (like the empty tissue box on your bum and you have to shake out the tennis balls). Those type of games, although fun, can easily go another way and become a little bit more humiliating rather than exciting. Now I am sure some people play them just fine but it is my experience that they "toe the line" with making people feel really awkward. Many of my students already feel awkward and the point of these games are inclusion so it is my personal choice to steer clear of them.

Here are some of my favorite games that require little equipment and get a lot of ECC bang for my buck while playing them:

Five minute handshake game
Objective: teach different handshakes; personal space; how to give a good handshake (teach the difference between silly, business and friend types of handshakes)

Ritz cracker down your face
Objective: use your face to get a cracker from your forehead (down your face) to your mouth

Chocolate unicorn:
Objective: balance as many chocolate donuts on your forehead (player tilts head back to while partner places donuts on forehead)

Bowl on head game:
Objective: scoop marshamellows from a bowl (on table) to a bowl on your head.
Watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgNWpnxRBGI&list=RDWgNWpnxRBGI&index=1 (speed up to 2:37 to see this game)

Pass the wooden spoon with your feet group game
Objective: Pass the wooden spoon using your feet only around a circle.
Watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgNWpnxRBGI&list=RDWgNWpnxRBGI&index=1 (speed up to 4:48 to see this game)

Zip Zap Zop
Objective: helps with attention and voice intonation. Modification: I always have students say name + zip, zap or zop. For example, Zip-Monica, Zap-Chandler, Zop-Ross….

Hot Seat
Objective: Get to know someone by asking questions. One student sits in front of the group in the “hot seat” and everyone asks questions. You cannot repeat questions. This game is great because it teaches students to listen to each other and learn to ask meaningful questions to get meaningful information.

Wrap the present using potholders with a partner! (Doesn't have to be for just the holiday season!)
Objective: This is a twist that I made on the popular Christmas present game. Instead of trying to open the present with potholders on both hands, we paired up students with each wearing a pot holder (on one hand) to try to wrap a present together. Winners were determined by who had the best looking present.

Human ladder:
Objective: students all hold ladder rungs while one person walks across. Great team building game!

I also love to play popular PE games like Four Corners and Step Tag because they have the fun of chase games without the complication of chasing and running. I've also done a lot of relay games using scooter boards (check my other posts for those types of games).

I love to peruse these sites for ideas too:

Please share with me other great games with me! 




Friday, April 7, 2017

DIY Braille ABC Cards

Hi friends, this week I am sharing another project that was a collaboration with my awesome teachers. One day while I was hanging out in one of our preschool classes I noticed that are future Braille readers were left out of the ABC cards. This wasn't anything to be mean to our Braille readers. Our teacher just didn't have anything like the print ABC cards that our low vision students were using. 
Many print readers have large print letters and activities to help them learn how to recognize and print letters. Annie, our preschool teacher, wanted to include all of her students in the letters center but was a little stumped on how to include her Braille students with the same type of cards her low vision students have. We put our two heads together and came up with these easy DIY Braille cards. These cards are just one idea of many brilliant Braille ideas. 
These are simple to make but a tad time consuming. 
We made a template of the Braille cell and then copied them so that we would have one for all 26 letters of the alphabet. Then they were laminated and cut out. I bought buttons in black and white colors (for contrast). All the buttons were hot glued into the different Braille dot configurations to make 'Braille letters'. Kudos to our amazing paraprofessionals who helped make these sets. They were all hole punched and put on a book ring to keep them organized and easily managed. 
The contrast between the buttons and the paper was meant to be fun for young students. You could easily switch up the colors if you like. Contrasting colors may not always be relevant to future Braille readers. The colors help with appearance with other children in a classroom.
You could also make one Braille cell template, add velcro to both the dots and the buttons so that students could arrange Braille letters (or match to one of the Braille cards) similar to how print students trace or match print letters. 
These ABC Braille cards are part of the Expanded Core Curriculum. Braille instruction is part of the area of compensatory skills. Now don't go thinking that compensatory is the only ECC area covered by these cards! The implementation of the cards can also cover other ECC areas such as career education and independent living skills.
We use these cards in our preschool and with our primary grades (that have children with some additional disabilities). However, feel free to use them with whatever grade or ability of student you would like.