10 Life Skills Activities For Special Needs Students

Aren’t we always willing to put the best foot forward? May it be a cooking competition or simply dressing for dinner, we tend to do it all perfectly. While many of us prefer discipline with timings, some of us are more concerned about organizing things. Do you wonder where this comes from?

Students get exposure to different life skills during their schooling years and that’s how they learn to plan, schedule, organize, and solve problems. However, teaching life skills to special students is indeed challenging as they need time to process things and teachers might have to look for alternative ways to conventional teaching to make things easy for them to grab and practice.

To lead a better future, students with special needs should be given a good amount of training in the area of life skills. It is significant for them to understand the basic functioning in everyday life that enables them to perform better in academics and future jobs. Just like there are handwriting tools for special needs students, there are activities to teach life skills too!

Through the usage of innovative activities that focus on life skills, teachers and parents can better groom these children in a fun manner. Right from fundamentals of everyday life to controlling emotions and being creative, the below-mentioned activities offer a comprehensive learning experience. Check these activities that are easy to conduct and result in the successful implementation of life skills.

Crucial Life skills activities for children with special needs 

Life skills are significant for growing children as these skills impact overall child development. The below-mentioned activities focus on offering the right skill to enhance knowledge and learning experience for learners.

1. Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

The knowledge of reading a calendar comes in handy in every area of life. Gaining this knowledge can help students learn the important skills of planning and scheduling various day-to-day activities on a regular basis. 

  • Divide students into teams of 2 or 3
  • Distribute 1 calendar amongst each team
  • Ask students questions. For example: Which day is 10th November?
    • Which date comes on the second Monday of February?
    • Which is the third month of the year?
  • Students have to search through the calendar to answer the questions

Through this activity, students can learn a lot about how to read a calendar clearly and gain insights into a very significant life skill!

2. What’s the Time?

 What's the Time?

Time telling is an essential skill for learners to understand and alight their tasks. It is necessary to know how to convey the right time as it nullifies confusion and miscommunication in various domains of life. 

  • To conduct this activity, ask students to draw a clock on a blank sheet of paper
  • Guide them to write numbers with colorful sketches
  • Once they have a clock ready, teach them to tell time using table 5
  • After this, ask them any time and let them show it by drawing dials. For example, if you say 5:30, let them draw the dials representing the time 

This activity can help students learn easily by telling time. Learning becomes easier and faster with a supportive team. It can help students gain clarity on the various ways that time is represented on clocks and watches. For further guidance, know how to teach time telling to special students in a creative way.

3. Cleanliness Act

Cleanliness Act

Cleanliness is next to Godliness. While cleanliness is an important part of life, kids with special needs need to understand it with practicality.

  • Show a video of how to promote cleanliness in the house and in public spaces
  • Put chits with various situations in a bowl. For example, Sneezing in a public place or at home or throwing food wrappers 
  • Act in two ways, one in a correct manner and the other in a wrong manner. For example, sneeze without your hands covering your mouth in one scene and sneeze with your hands or handkerchief covering your mouth in the second scene
  • Ask students to judge which is the right method to maintain cleanliness
  • Correct them if wrong

Through videos, students can learn and remember the ways of cleanliness for a long time. When the teacher acts, it becomes an interactive activity that further strengthens learning. Seeing the teacher act in the right manner models or shapes students to act in a similar manner

4. Personal Hygiene

Personal Hygiene

Maintaining personal hygiene is a necessary life skill that can promote good health and vitality. The importance of personal hygiene needs to be inculcated right from a young age to help young learners understand, “Health is Wealth!”

  • To conduct this activity, ask students to choose a habit that defines personal hygiene 
  • After this, each student needs to talk about its importance. For example, a student may choose to talk about brushing teeth twice a day and how it is important to prevent cavities and other dental problems
  • Similarly, all students should have different personal hygiene suggestions and tips for the class 

Such an activity promotes personal hygiene and also makes students aware of adapting different habits for their betterment. This activity can help students learn how to develop a routine that contributes to their hygiene. Asking questions with options can encourage them further to instill the act in their daily life.

5. Dining In

Dining In

The knowledge of good table manners is important for every individual. Having good table manners helps in maintaining good health and also contributes to creating the right impression in any social gathering.

  • Give students spoons, forks, table cloth, plates, tissue paper, and the necessary cutlery on their desk
  • Show students how to eat with the help of spoons, forks, and other cutlery
  • Show them various videos
  • Encourage them to imitate you when you are showing them the way to eat food
  • Guide them if they have doubts

This activity promotes learning through experience. Experiential learning is the best type of learning as it can help students learn effectively.

6. Groceries and Essentials

Groceries and Essentials

Knowing how to buy groceries and essentials that are required daily is an absolutely important skill that cannot be overlooked. This knowledge can help students gain confidence, feel empowered and give them a sense of independence to a good extent. 

  • Set up various simulated stores in the classroom
  • Let every store have a name and different essential objects
  • Divide students into groups of 3
  • Give them a specific amount of artificial money 
  • Give them a list of what they have to shop for
  • Ask them to go to various stores and shop for the things on the list
  • Guide them throughout the process

This activity is based on incidental learning concepts as it helps students become responsible for the tasks that are assigned to them. Through this activity, students can gain great exposure to some real-life situations!

7. Conversation Time!

 Conversation Time!

Communication is an essential life skill as students with or without special needs need to know the basics of striking up any conversation. This activity is simple and focuses on conveying emotions.

  • To conduct this activity, make different chits containing topics of everyday life. For example, you can have chits with the topics – dinner, shopping, or homework 
  • Now, call 2 students and ask 1 to pick a chit
  • After this, they need to talk on any topic with each other and learn to respond as well
  • You can act as a guide in between the activity 

While communicating with other students or friends seems easy, students with special needs might find it a challenge. Hence, this activity tries to break the resistance between two individuals through everyday conversations.

8. Create an Art

Create an Art

Creative thinking is a significant part of everyday life because that is the way where individuals learn to creatively solve problems. This activity focuses on mixing elements and waiting for the final creative output.

  • To conduct this activity, make a set of different items including crayons, clay, sketch pens, stickers, and other decorative items
  • Make sure everything is divided equally among students
  • Give them a blank sheet of paper and let them create any art they wish to
  • They can choose to draw, color, stick, or even paint on the paper 

Any art activity conducted in free form leads to an enhancement in creative thinking. Such an activity promotes learning and also helps students to understand the importance of utilizing available resources.

9. Copy My Cooking

Copy My Cooking

Food is one of the crucial elements for survival and also an important life skill. Students with special needs can better lead a good life with the basics of cooking and understanding some kitchen ideas. 

  • To conduct this activity, ask students to bring the ingredients of a sandwich
  • After this, start instructing them on taking the bread and apply butter
  • Now, show them how to put vegetables and other required sauces or dips in the sandwich
  • After this, ask them about their experience with the process

A sandwich is an easy option but with just a sandwich, students with special needs get exposure to different techniques and placement of vegetables. You can always enhance the learning experience with an open discussion.

10. Vocations!


Children with special needs also have a space in different vocations in the future. One of the life skills to teach is to acquire an understanding and interest in a preferred vocation. 

  • To conduct this activity, ask students to choose from different vocations 
  • They need to dress and act the way the profession suits the position
  • For example, a student may dress like a chef and discuss how chefs cook or serve different types of food
  • Similarly, other students may choose different vocations depending on their interest

As students act out and also dress up like professionals, they get exposure to various vocations. They also understand how different professions have different work and responsibilities. It also helps them explore job opportunities for people with learning disabilities

Other significant life skills for special needs 

Just like humans have different phases of life, different life skills are needed for the same. Life skills can be better understood when used in different situations including social surroundings, personal life, academic journey, and other life events.

  • Self-management is one of the crucial skills for kids with special needs. Students need to know how to manage their time, efforts, and tasks in an efficient manner.
  • Empathy also is a must-have skill as it helps individuals understand the emotions of other people. Empathy makes them more humble towards different situations.
  • Problems in the academic journey might be common and that’s when students should be backed with problem-solving skills. It helps them understand the core problem and its various solutions.
  • Decision-making skill also plays an important part in life as students need to be decisive to decide the course of action in any given situation. It helps them gain clarity and confidence.

Wrapping up

Life skills are an integral part of everyday life and they sure need to be taught to students at an early age. With the inclusion of activities, students with special needs get an opportunity to instantly connect with the skills. It also helps them create relatability making it easy to apply each one of them. Apart from activities, teachers can also use special education needs quotes to create inspiration in the learning process. Know that every special child is different and it needs patience to get through the process.

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