Are you a special education teacher looking for some interesting ideas for your extended school year program?
Just like you, many teachers in the country offer their services for extended school year programs to help students with special needs. We know how crucial it is to provide a continuous learning environment to these students so that they do not lose track and regress from what they have already learned.
The last few days of the school year can get very busy and leave you with little time to plan for the extended school year. To make your task a tiny bit easier, we have compiled a list to give you an idea of which activities you can conduct in your extended school year class. You can modify these ideas as per your liking to suit your needs and that of your students.
So, let’s get started.
Ideas for a fun and engaging extended school year
In addition to reinforcing the knowledge, children have acquired during the school year, fun extended school year activities can be employed in order to engage children to utilize their maximum potential in learning and growing.
Since summer is the time when most students are enjoying their holidays, it is nice to have fun and entertaining activities lined up for special education students too, who come to school during summers.
So, let’s look at some enjoyable activities that you can add to your list.
1. Escape rooms
The idea behind escape rooms is to get the students into action and try to solve puzzles to unlock a box in the end. You can fill the box with something related to the activity or treats for everyone for completing the task successfully.
The beauty of an escape room is that it is a highly engaging activity. You can design escape rooms to encourage students to use a particular skill like math, art, or English or use multiple skills for the activity. Hide clues at various places for the students to push their thinking potential to work and find the answers in order to escape the room.
2. Task cards
Task cards are nothing but cards with a task written or printed on them. They are a great way to substitute worksheets that students often find boring.
Take some time to read the IEPs of your students and arrange task cards for each student depending on the skills they need to work on. Task cards are very effective for reinforcing and assessing learning in the classroom.
3. Social skills practice
The extended school year is a good time to improve social skills in students who find it a bit challenging. Since the extended school year program may not be as busy as regular school, you will probably have more time at hand to work with students who need extra help.
To make social skills fun, you can use task cards for emotion identification. Mini books with different emotions come in handy to explain the idea to students. You can also provide coloring sheets so students can identify emotions and draw or write things that create the specific emotion.
4. Summer recipes to try
Another great idea to bring in the summer to your classroom is summer recipes. No-kitchen recipes like S’mores and Greek yogurt popsicles are fun to make and delicious too. You can use visual recipes to prompt students on how to go about it.
5. Sensory activities
Activities that alert your senses are great for special education students as they are more comfortable learning through play. You can plan a few sensory activities for all students in your classroom once a week or distribute them throughout the week. You will find numerous sensory activities on the internet, but here we are sharing a few of our favorites.
- Making shadow puppets
- Use fingers to make numbers
- Sensory bottles
- Glitter and confetti
- Play dough fun
- Popping bubble wraps
- Shaving foam activities
6. Water play for gross motor activities
Summer is all about relaxing and having fun. So why not allow your students to indulge in exciting water play to get them moving and work those muscles?
To conduct this activity, all you need is two buckets and a sponge. Fill one bucket with water and keep the other empty at a distance of around 10 or 20 feet. Now ask the students to soak the sponge in water and run to fill the other bucket by squeezing the sponge in it.
It’s a nice activity to do on a hot summer day when kids can have some fun time together.
7. Science experiments
Children have curious minds, and what better way to get them thinking than an interesting science experiment? Ice cream in a bag, walking water rainbow, and mini volcanoes are a few awesome science experiments to conduct in your extended school year class. You will see those eyes lit up with excitement while doing these experiments hands-on.
8. Adapted books
Any book that is modified to meet the needs of a student is known as an adapted book. Adapted books are a great learning resource for students. These books are available for use in special education classrooms. However, some teachers also prefer using printed digital versions of a book along with its interactive pieces.
9. Summer-themed writing prompts
Writing is an important skill to have. To keep your students in the habit of writing short texts, you can use summer-themed writing prompts to get kids to write on a particular topic. You can be as creative as you can get for preparing these prompts for students. Some ideas for writing prompts are –
- What do you wish to do this summer vacation?
- Write a short story about Going on a beach vacation.
- Write a paragraph on the 4th of July.
- Create a list of summer activities you like to do.
- When is national sugar cookie day?
10. Life skill activities
Life skills are necessary for every person so that they can live a life with ease. The extended school year is a good time to learn and practice life skills. So make sure you incorporate a few activities in your schedule to help students learn necessary life skills. Some skills your students can work on include –
- Grocery shopping
- Counting money
- How to be safe in the kitchen
- Learning emergency numbers
- Setting up a table for dinner
- Baking a cupcake
A few more ideas to help you plan your extended school year
Planning activities for your special education students can be tedious but fun at the same time. There are so many lovely ideas out there that you can use to plan out activities for students. Below are a couple more ideas you can incorporate into your extended school year program.
- Interesting weekly themes
- Tracing and fine motor practice
- Simple comprehension
- Fry sight words with play dough
- Summer-themed math practice pages
- National day journal
- Reading comprehension with symbols
- Communication board activities
- Matching activities
- Tie and dye
- Paint rocks
- Woodworking project
- Make slime
Your extended school year class may have a couple of new students whose strengths and weaknesses you may not be aware of. This would call for a little more effort from your side to help the students refine their skills.
If you have everything planned out, it will take the last-minute stress out of your life. Feel free to use some of the ideas mentioned above to make your job manageable. All these activities are fun and easy to conduct. You may even take the help of your subs to direct these tasks in class.
The contribution of special education teachers is worth appreciating. Without your sound expertise and continuous support, students with special needs may find it hard to meet their educational goals. We hope the write-up has given you enough ideas to plan your extended school year successfully.
I am Shweta Sharma. I am a final year Masters student of Clinical Psychology and have been working closely in the field of psycho-education and child development. I have served in various organisations and NGOs with the purpose of helping children with disabilities learn and adapt better to both, academic and social challenges. I am keen on writing about learning difficulties, the science behind them and potential strategies to deal with them. My areas of expertise include putting forward the cognitive and behavioural aspects of disabilities for better awareness, as well as efficient intervention. Follow me on LinkedIn