The Magic Hat – Mid-Week Focus – Special Needs Kids

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus!

Mid-Week Focus is all about quick and easy ways to approach teaching to keep kids on task in any instructional setting.

Let’s share insight and practical ideas. Let’s blend fun with function, and LET’S GET EVEN MORE CREATIVE ABOUT HELPING CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS SUCCEED!

Every time I encounter the words, special needs, usually with reference to children in K – 5 classes, I find myself thinking this…we all have special needs. We’re all different, but none of us lesser than others.

At least that’s the ideal. Just ask Temple Grandin who I had the honor of meeting last year. (Read the post I published about her, Meet the Master for Teaching Children with Autism, on 08/20/12.)

What's under the magic hat today?

What’s under the magic hat today?

Temple works a special kind of magic every day!

Autism, as well as a wide spectrum of other developmental and physical disabilities, presents a huge challenge to teachers and parents.

If you’ve worked with children and families navigating life and learning with special needs, then you know that the ideal is often far from the reality of it…all the more reason to reach for more creative ways to help children with special needs enjoy success in school.

Browse under the Magic Hat for special tools designed especially for special kids…Read on…

TOOLS FOR GETTING ALONG – Trick for Grades K – 2

  1. Bury plastic toy tools in a sandbox on your playground, like you see in my blog pic below.

    Can you find the toy tools buried in the sand?

    Can you find the toy tools buried in the sand?

  2. Schedule time outdoors when the weather is expected to be sunny.
  3. Announce to your class that you’re going on a dig (opportunity to introduce the basics of archaeology if that fits your curriculum) to find special tools.
  4. Ask kids to name tools, such as a hammer or saw.
  5. Take the class outdoors and invite kids to take turns digging in the sandbox for toy tools, being sure to involve children with special needs. (Assign assistant diggers to kids with physical disabilities.)
  6. On your return to class, ask the children to hold up and name, if they can, the tools they’ve found.
  7. Open a discussion about how tools help people do things, such as building toy boxes.
  8. Explain that some tools come in different forms, not hammers or saws, but tools that help us make friends and get along in school and elsewhere.
  9. Offer examples of these “different tools,” such as shaking hands when meeting someone for the first time, smiling, looking directly at someone when speaking with them, etc.
  10. Read the poem, Getting Along, printed below. NOTE: I wrote this poem as part of a collection for children with special needs.

Getting Along

How will I get along in this world?

For some, the learning is easier.

The pleases, thank-yous and how-do-you-dos,

Covering your nose when you’ve sneezed, “Ah-choos!”

Understanding a joke, knowing when to laugh out,

Controlling your feelings when you’re out and about.

For me, there’s confusion, where do I fit? 

Frustrations add up; I can’t find the tools I need in my kit.

My mind works differently from most of my friends,

I struggle to fit in, goals can turn into dead-ends.

Teach me, please, but let me be me.

I’ll try to fit in; I must also be free!


TAKE IT OUTDOORS! – Trick for Grades K – 5

Speaking of being free, as I’ve written in the last line of my poem above, have you discovered like I have that children with special needs function much better when daily schedules allow “down time?”

"I'll try to fit in but I must also be free!"

“I’ll try to fit in but I must also be free!”

What better place to enjoy free time – time to “just be me” – than outdoors on a sunny day.

Playgrounds are where children can literally jump for joy, like the boy in my blog pic here.

Students with physical disabilities love playground time, too. Invite a child in a wheelchair to throw a ball up in the air with volunteer runners on standby to retrieve the ball.

I liken the life of many special needs students to that of people faced with living in a world where others speak a different language.

It’s an ongoing struggle for children with certain kinds of special needs to understand what’s being presented in class and also to learn effective and appropriate means of self-expression.

Creative attention-getting tools and tricks work triple-duty with “special populations”…

  1. help teachers teach
  2. help children learn
  3. show love and care for children’s welfare

Check out these related previously published Attentionology posts for more ideas: Helping Kids Cope (11/21/12); Prevent Bullying (08/01/12); Tricks to Manage Moodiness (07/16/12); Contract to Worry Less (09/19/11) and Re-focus Attention with Loneliness Busters (08/29/11).

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers, Mid-Week Focus
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Young students are getting noisy while you’re trying to teach.

Solution: Hold up "Listen Star," a toy magic wand that you’ve designated to be a cue for quiet. Tell the class, "When you see our friend, 'Listen Star' dance across the classroom sky, that’s your signal to HUSH for a moment."

Related Posts: Let "Listen Star" Work Magic for You