Saturday, December 15, 2012

Winter Fun in the Classroom

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom is think of new ways to use old and normal things, making learning a little more interesting and a lot more fun. Of course, I work in a special needs classroom so I have a little more wiggle room for these activities than in a lot of classrooms, but for you moms, I thought this idea would be fun to do at home too.

I use our big breakfast table a lot. One of my favorite things to do is wrap a big dark blanket around the table (making it as dark inside as possible), have students crawl inside this make-do tent, lay on their backs looking up, and use the bottom of the table to display pictures or sight words. The kids get to use a flashlight to practice their words or tell me what they see. This activity can integrate OT (tracking and proprioceptive input), speech, sight-word/vocabulary drills, and many other concepts if you get a little creative. Most importantly the students are having fun learning, and every student in the class loves this activity (which rarely happens).

Recently I thought of a fun new way to use the table a relaxation station. I tried this out yesterday and will keep it up until Christmas break, and the kids LOVE it (and so do us teachers..we all took turns crawling inside for what we call mini vacation time:).

First, I turned the table over and covered the bottom in wrapping paper, then added some white lights. (Make sure lights are anchored to the legs/table rather than just the paper, or the weight may pull on and rip the paper when turned over.)

Next, I turned the table over and hung tons of ornaments and snowflakes, all in calming colors. (The table is standing on a mat to make lying down more comfortable and is pushed against the wall so kids won't trip over the cord from the lights).

This is how the table looks from the outside, once the blanket has been completely wrapped around.

We have been working on vocabulary words like snow, gloves, scarf, etc, and I constantly am working with our students on skills such as dressing themselves, buttoning, and tying shoelaces so it was easy to incorporate the calming station into what the kids are working on.

Before the students were able to enter the "Winter Wonderland" they came to my station where I had gloves, a scarf, hat, jacket, and snowboots for them to identify and then put on. I told them they had to put on their winter clothes because it was snowing inside. This was great incentive for them to dress themselves- zippers, buttons, and all. Once they were done, they were allowed to lay under the table for several minutes. I also had some calming Christmas music playing very softly just outside the tent. It was so cute to sit outside and listen as most of the kids would dialogue with themselves. Lastly, students left the Winter Wonderland, took off their winter clothes, and put back on their own shoes and sweaters.

Our kids loved this activity, and I am sure yours will too- at home or at school.

Let me know if you try it out!


Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

You are awesome! Too bad I won't get to witness their reactions...but I can imagine what they would be :)

annabelle said...

i love being under tables. I used to do my homework under my friends' dining room table ALL the time

Cathrine said...

How creative! I love it!