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5 Easy Back-to-School Activities You Can Use in an SEN Class

We're half-way through the summer holidays - goes quickly, doesn't it? I'm currently in the process of planning my lessons and half-termly overview for when we return in September, and it got me thinking about some of the back-to-school activities we can do to ease the children back to school. Given that I'm a special education teacher, I'm excited to share with you my top five back-to-school activities that are specifically tailored for SEN classes. These activities are designed to create a positive and inclusive environment, helping students ease into the new year with confidence and excitement.

Name Cards/Exercise Book Cover Creations

Begin the year by fostering a sense of community and individuality. Provide each student with a blank name card (something that could be stuck to their desk) or an exercise book and an array of art supplies. Encourage them to decorate their name cards or books using colours, stickers, and drawings that represent their unique personalities. This activity not only lets students express themselves but also serves as an icebreaker, helping them learn each other's names and initiate conversations.

Bucket Time

I love Bucket Time and it's an easy go-to session to include in the first few days back to school. Children are still settling into school life after 6 weeks off and Bucket Time provides an interesting, exciting opportunity to have more structured sessions that they are familiar with without having too much focus on academic learning. I enjoy having a multitude of sensory toys in my bucket, and for the first few days, I may only do Stages 1 & 2. Bucket Time encourages active participation and empowers students to explore and learn in a way that aligns with their unique strengths and challenges. This approach not only enhances cognitive development and sensory integration but also nurtures a positive and inclusive classroom atmosphere where every student's journey is valued and supported.

All About Me Collages

Engage your students in a creative self-expression activity by having them create "All About Me" collages. Provide magazines, newspapers, coloured paper, and other crafting materials. Have students select images and words that represent their interests, hobbies, and dreams. This activity is a fantastic way for students to share more about themselves, reveal interests (these can definitely help you throughout the year!) and it can spark conversations about similarities and differences within the class.

Sensory Stories

Sensory stories emerge as a wonderful introductory activity as we step into a new school year, especially within the realm of special education. These narratives are carefully crafted to engage multiple senses, transcending traditional storytelling by immersing students in a rich sensory experience. This approach helps students transition back to the school environment by gently easing them into the learning process while addressing sensory sensitivities that might arise after a break. The combination of tactile props, auditory cues, visual elements, and even olfactory stimulants in sensory stories not only captures students' attention but also facilitates a profound understanding of concepts and emotions. By appealing to various senses, sensory stories enable diverse learners to connect with the content on a personal level, making the classroom feel like a safe and welcoming space from the very beginning. As we embark on a new academic journey, using sensory stories as an introductory activity can set a harmonious tone and establish a strong foundation for meaningful learning experiences ahead.

Creating Calming Resources - Sensory Bottles

Designing calm sensory bottles is a delightful and therapeutic activity tailored to the needs of students with SEN. These mesmerizing bottles are not only visually appealing but also serve as a practical tool for self-regulation. To craft one, fill a clear plastic bottle with water, leaving some space at the top. Add items like glitter, beads, and small objects that float or swirl when the bottle is gently shaken. Securely seal the bottle to prevent leakage. As students shake the bottle and watch the contents cascade and settle, they engage their visual and tactile senses, promoting relaxation and focus. These sensory bottles can be personalized by choosing colors and objects that resonate with each student's preferences.

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