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Games and Activities for Special Needs Learners - Outdoors and Active

written by: Anne Vize • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

Being outdoors and joining in some active games is great for special needs learners. Physical and personal skills come into play with teamwork and communication activities for students, as your learners begin to work together to complete tasks and enjoy the fun.

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    Shadow Catching

    Everyone loves a good shadow game, and from a teaching point of view it has the added bonus of requiring absolutely no equipment. All you need is the sun! Get students to move around in a set area and try to touch each other's shadows. They may also enjoy trying to keep their own shadow away from everyone else - no small challenge!

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    Rolling Fun

    Some students lack the skills to track a moving ball, as it is simply too fast for their eyes to follow. Instead, sit them down on a flat, safe surface and roll a ball to them. By rolling it to either side of their body, you are encouraging bilateral skills and body awareness, as well as helping them anticipate and formulate a motor response to the trigger of the moving ball.

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    Swinging balls

    As a next progression from the above activity, try attaching a ball to a string and suspending it from the roof. The ball can be placed inside a string bag or you can buy ready-made balls on strings. This is a useful way of increasing activity time in your group, as you can leave a student in a wheelchair to complete a challenge such as doing 20 hits or pushes with each hand, while attending to another student. This activity is useful for students who have some gross motor skills and limited fine motor skills.

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    Clumps

    This activity works well if you have a group of students. Call out numbers and ask the students to form themselves into groups of that number. Start with easy numbers such as '2' so students begin by just making a pair with another student. This is a great activity to help you create a transition from one activity to another, as you can organize your groups into the number you require before beginning the next activity. For example, if you need groups of four for a dance you are about to teach, just call out '4' as the last number in the clumps game before you move on with your lesson.

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    Mirrors

    Pair students, then ask one to be the mirror. The job of the mirror is to copy every movement made by his partner. If the student raises his or her arms, so does the mirror, etc. This activity can build spatial awareness, an understanding of mirror images, left and right concepts, and an ability to track and replicate movement.

    Real mirrors are also fun for adding some shaving cream to spread about on the glass and creating interesting patterns and shapes.

    Experiment with a variety of teamwork and communication activities for students in special education, and discover the fun and satisfaction of getting outdoors and being active!

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