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Labor Day Activities for Students

Today, many schools are already in session before the Labor Day Holiday.  Students look forward to Labor Day as their first long weekend of the year, an official ending of summer, or even as the beginning of the football season.  This signifies the end of breaks and that school is back in session for a long stretch, without breaks.  However, many students don’t know the origin or meaning of Labor Day.  This week, it would be great to include a lesson on Labor Day, sharing the history and original meaning of the holiday.  There are many craft ideas, projects, and historical lessons explaining and importance of Labor Day.

labor day

Adaptations for the activities below for special need students would include providing reading material at the student’s lexile level, providing assistance for project activities like cutting, pasting, drawing, or providing direct instruction or easy to follow instructions.  For inclusion classrooms, pairing a helpful student with the student with special needs can help both students to be more successful with the activity.

Reading Passages & Articles about Labor Day

Education World has created an annotated list of educational Labor Day resources.  The site also contains a short explanation of the history behind Labor Day.  The first link they provide has a short article about unions, teamsters, the government involvement in labor legislation, and the American workers.  This article can be printed out and used for a guided reading activity in class.  The article is written for children, which makes it easier to understand than some sites written for adults, like Wikipedia.  The fourth resource provided on the list is more for high school students.  It provides a series of lessons about freedom, political struggles, strikes, legal rights of laborers, unions, and women entering into the workforce.  The 6th resource provides information and photographs about child labor.  This would be a resource where each child could receive one picture and write a story behind the photo.

Activities & Projects about Labor Day

The Labor Day activities on the Apples 4 the Teacher site include reading and writing lessons, but also fun hands on activities to learn more about Labor Day.  This includes coloring sheets, word searches, worksheets, and other printables.

Enchanted Learning has a page full of fun-filled Labor Day activities.  Crafts include a labor collage, building a town out of recycled materials including paper towel rolls and tissue boxes, printable activity books, puzzles, vocabulary worksheets, alphabet games, and coloring pages.

Incorporating Technology with Labor Day Activities

Other activities that students could complete about Labor Day while infusing technology into your classroom include:

  1. Watch a YouTube clip from the History Chanel about Labor Day and having students write a blog post or short response using a word processing program.  You could then upload their papers to Wordle and visually see the important facts and main ideas in a visual representation.
  2. Have the students use Art Pad to create a before and after drawings of what they through Labor Day was before they read the page on Wikipedia on Labor Day and then again after.
  3. Create short video clips about Labor Day using Flip Cameras, edit them on Movie Maker (comes free with Windows), and then upload their videos to Teacher Tube to share will other classrooms.
  4. Have the students play one of the popular online games that involve labor related activities, like Diner Dash, Lemonade Stand, Nanny Mania, or Fish Tycoon.  After they play, and advance to more difficult levels, you can discuss multi-tasking, taking breaks, and how challenging that job may be in real life – and how all workers deserve a day of rest.  Link to Games

Article By: Laura Ketcham

Picture By: Robert Couse-Baker

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Back to School: Ice Breaker Activities

On the first day back to school, energized students will enter the doors with their new bookbag, lunch box, school supplies, and a renewed excitement for learning.  Many students are also nervous as the meet a new teacher, new classmates, or even start at a new school.  One way to make the transition easier is by starting off the first day is with an ice breaker activity.  This initial need for connections is especially important for special needs students. This allows the student to begin a trusting bond with the teacher and is a starting activity to feel acceptance and fitting in with classmates. This is especially important for special education students, whether taught in the general education classroom or in pull out models.

ice breakers

Ice breakers can range from games, worksheets, getting to know you activities, or what you did this summer sharing.  There are many different ways to start the process of getting to know your students and for them to get to know each other.  I have found some great online resources that have a variety of activities for different grade levels and abilities.

A to Z Teacher Stuff:  Teacher Tips with Ice Breaker Activities

The site A to Z Teacher Stuff has annotated list of ice breakers and getting acquainted activities.  Teachers have added their activities which include an explanation, and a description of the activity and the appropriate grade levels.  Ideas include puzzles, crosswords, collages, and poetry.  Some of the suggestions included activities that can be setup ahead of time when parents and students come in for a “before school” open house.  These include having students bring in pictures of their family or activities from the summer, or filling a small brown paper back with a few items that represent who they are.  Many of the suggestions on this site are easily adaptable with students who may have learning or mobility impairments.

KinderArt Ice Breakers

KinderArt has a list of 29 different ice breakers for elementary level students.  They range from very simple activities like having students draw a picture of their family, to very intricate like planning a classroom scavenger hunt.  There are also many active ice breakers including tossing bean bags to learn names, parachute games (various ideas on the site – great for PE teachers), and matching and order games (same shoe size, same color shirt, same color eyes).  A few of the activities on this site are specific for special needs students including the bean bag toss activity where students are arranged in a circle and toss the bean bag to different students and share facts about themselves.

Some Ice Breakers I have done in the past:

  1. Toilet Paper Game: Students are asked to take as many or as few pieces of toilet paper and pass it to the next student.  At this point, no other explanation given.  After the last student has taken their pieces of toilet paper, you explain to the students that they need to come up with one fact about themselves based on each of piece of toilet paper they took.  The students laugh and enjoy this activity as some students will choose many sheets and others may only one.  If you teach multiple classes, many students will hear about it before the end of the day – so it doesn’t work as well.
  2. Fact Web: Arrange the students in a circle.  Holding the ball of yarn in your hand explain the activity that the students will share one fun fact about themselves and then they hold on to the end of the string and throw it to anyone in the circle.  The next student says a fact, holds on to their end of the string, and throws to another student.  When all students have had a turn they will have created a web.  Be sure to remind the students throughout the activity to hold on to their end of the yarn.  This web can then be displayed on a classroom wall or board (move it very carefully) to discuss different topics like working together, and building relationships.
  3. Collages: As an assignment for the first day of school, my students are to go home and make a collage including pictures of their family, friends, favorite activities, foods, TV shows, musicians, or any other appropriate pictures that help to show who they are.  The next day they come back and share them with the class.  This can be done digitally or with scissors, glue and construction paper.  I’ve also done this activity in school using magazines instead of online or personal photos.
  4. Clock Buddies: Students will receive a clock with blank lines next to every hour.  They have to go around the room and find one other student to pair with at each hour.  Bring the class back together and then tell them that you will give them 12 different questions to ask their different buddies on the clock.  You can create questions that would help the students get acquainted.  Students will need a signal for when to move on to the next hour and buddy.  This is also an activity used to help pair students for future activities (ie. This worksheet will be done with your 2pm Buddy).
  5. Pair & Share Introduction: This is a very simple and straight forward ice breaker.  The students are placed in pairs and then given a set of questions they need to learn about the other person.   You then come back as a group and the pairs will introduce each other to the rest of the class.

Feel free to comment your best or most memorable ice breakers or links to great ice breaker idea sites!

-Article By: Laura Ketcham

-Picture By:lori05871

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Be a Real Whiz! – Special Needs Resources

Finding resources that are specifically aimed at special needs students can sometimes be difficult. What’s great about these resources, once you find them, is that they can be used and applied to all children. WhizKidGames is a useful site that features free online games and activities that are designed for children with autism. Researchers from the Swinburne Autism Bio-Research Initiative (SABRI) and many teachers from Bulleen Heights Autism School came together with 80 multimedia design students to research and create the site.

whizkidgames

The games and activities that are found on the site are aimed at helping autistic children develop their independent living skills. The games and activities focus on topics like coping with changes and recognizing emotions and non-verbal communication.

The site has a total of 16 games that have everyday themes and activities that kids experience and participate in everyday. From going to school to following a schedule, the activities are real world applicable. Themed activities like “Ted’s Ice Cream Adventure” and “Eric Goes to the Airport” will engage and motivate students.

Because children with autism sometimes face challenges when placed in the traditional classroom settings, working on a computer is often times easier and more preferred by them. The graphics on each activity are very clear and look almost like a cartoon television show or movie. The colorful games with engaging and cool characters will help students enjoy the site and build meanginful life skills.

By incorporating fun games and characters with independent living skills, Whiz Kid Games will help students build skills that will be useful later in life.

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Switch Games & Activities | Special Education

To increase user-friendliness of computer games and activities, software and hardware developers have worked together to create an easily accessible system for users with disabilities.  The hardware, called a Switch, is used as the selection device instead of a keyboard or a mouse.  Several Switches can be used together to complete more complex commands.  The use of the switch along with online and software-based games and activities makes them accessible for all users.

Help Kidz Learn

Help Kids Learn is a free website of games and activities that are all Switch accessible.  Their games are directed for Pre-K and elementary students to use along with an adult to help them to learn computer skills along with many functional and educational skills.  The topics of the games include brushing teeth, how to dress for different types of weather, how to do the laundry, cooking, making choices, day-to-day travel, and the different rooms of a house or school.  There is also a game called BSL (British Sign Language) Alphabet that teaches and quizzes the students on sign language.  Most of the activities can also be used with a standard keyboard and mouse.  When using these as the input instead of a Switch, they limit the number of buttons the students have to use in order to make it accessible to all students.

CBeebies Games from the BBC

CBeebies is a television channel for young learners broadcast by the BBC.  It provides both educational and entertainment shows.  To compliment their television shows, it also created a companion website.  The website has games, songs, coloring online, and story time all related to the various shows.  Users can also view the shows online.   The games section has fourteen online games that are specifically created for use with Switches for special needs learners.  The games vary from ‘educational’ to ‘just for fun.’  Topics range from matching games to learning sign language, transportation, noises (fire truck, fire alarm, bells, etc.), and animals.

CBBC Switch Games

CBBC Switch Games is a television channel for children also created by the BBC.  Its companion website has five Switch-enabled games.  These games are for older elementary and middle grade students and are purely for fun and entertainment.

Switch-Adapted Guitar Hero

I know Guitar Hero isn’t exactly the most educational game on the market; however, I feel this is a must for a blog about Switch games.  During my research about Switch games, I came across a site where you can buy a switch-adapted guitar hero controller.  How cool is that!  This allows students with motor impairments to play and jam out to Guitar Hero!

For more about Switch Games check out these sites:

  1. http://oneswitch.org.uk/4/games/0index.htm
  2. http://www.arcess.com/
  3. http://www.spectronicsinoz.com/article/single-switch-software-from-simtech-publications

 

Article by Laura Ketcham

Photo By:bvalium

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