Low-Tech Classroom Aids for Special Needs Students

Making adaptations for special needs students in your classroom does not always have to be high-tech.  In a blog post from last year, I shared several low-tech options for teachers to use in their classroom to make the curriculum more accessible.  There are many other low-tech tools besides special pencils and grips, post-its, and highlighters.  This post will focus on a few more pocketbook-friendly tools that you can use with your special needs students that can be found at your local craft and office supply stores.

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Soothing & Calming Tools

The school day can be a stressful time both academically and socially for all students and even more so for some students with special needs.  Offering students opportunities for soothing and calming experiences can help them to control or manage their stress and emotions.  Providing students with soothing sensory items that can be taped or stapled under their desk can be a creative solution.  At a craft store, you can purchase different items like feathers, felt, Velcro, or foam.  These different tactile feelings provide an outlet for students to calm emotions and refocus on classroom tasks.

Students with cerebral palsy or some students with autism may have difficultly controlling saliva.  Providing a sweat band they can wear on their wrist can help them to wipe their mouth area.  This can help the student to feel more confident about interacting with other students in the classroom and provide them with one less thing to worry about.

Accessibility Tools

One tool that I use a lot in my computer classroom is book rests.  This helps the students to lean the textbook up while completing their computer-based assignments.  This can also be very helpful in the regular classroom.  I’ve purchased actual book rests from the local office supply store, but you could also use frame holders that can be bought at the craft store for perhaps a lower price.  This provides a physical prop for their books to help raise them up where it may be either a better position for the student to read or more accessible for them to turn the page.

Even in my 7th grade classroom, some students are not tall enough to reach the floor when sitting in the chair.  Especially when teaching about computer ergonomics and keyboarding, I provide them with a FREE resource to help them be more comfortable when sitting – a phone book!  They can use this as their foot rest and helps them to be more comfortable in the chairs during class and helps them to focus on the academic lesson.

Academic Tools

Academically, there may need to be physical accommodations employed in order for students to be most successful.  Some low-tech strategies can be easy solutions for simple accommodations.  One example is if a student is struggling to keep their paper on their desk because of limited use of their hands or arms, you can use magnets or tape to hold down the papers on the desk.

During reading assignments (both silent or group), if a student has a hard time following along on which line they are one, they can use a clear colored ruler to use as a guide.  After each line the student would move the ruler down as they continue reading.

For math assignments, large key calculators may be more appropriate than the small scientific kind.  You can find these types of calculators almost anywhere including office supply stores or even the grocery store.

Students who have difficulty gripping art supplies can benefit from supplies that are larger in size and easier to grip.  Craft stores sell larger crayons, which are typically used for toddlers and pre-k students, however they work great with older students with difficulty gripping.  Thinking beyond just crayons, paint brushes, paint tubes, scissors, and glue all come in larger sizes and can be found at the craft store as well.

There are many low-tech cost-effective tools that you can use in your classroom to help students to be socially and academically successful.  Do you have any favorites that you use in your classroom?

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By Liz (perspicacious.org)

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon by MangoMon

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