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Early Childhood

Creating a lesson for children with mental disabilities

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Tamera Davis Tamera Davis 415 Points

Good evening, I have been preparing to do a lesson at the school I am student teaching at. My class has students who are non-verbal and I want to make sure I include them in my science lesson as best as possible. Do you have any resources or ideas I can use in my lesson that will allow the whole class to participate and explore the wonders of nature specifically Butterflies? 

Julia Shepard Julia Shepard 2628 Points

Hello Tamera,

            I think that it is great that you are looking to fit the needs of every learner in your classroom, its so important that teachers give students who are nonverbal opportunities to learn in a way that fits their abilities. While I volunteered at a school with half of the students being almost or completely nonverbal and half of the students being fully verbal, we did a lesson on butterflies that was differentiated for every learner. We began by reading a book with pictures that described the butterfly lifecycle. After the reading we had the students cut out the stages of the butterfly lifecycle. We had standard and specialized scissors available for those who had the motor skills to use them and for those who did not we assisted them in cutting with the specialized scissors. I am not sure of the motor skills of your students but some of the students in my class were unable to handle the paper without ripping it and glue it onto the sheet so we had the same worksheet laminated with Velcro that they were able to stick the images on to show their understanding. Music is also known to help students with disabilities engage in a lesson and I found a really cute song about the butterfly lifecycle called Butterfly, Butterfly! On YouTube that you may want to include.

Akeili Hawkins Akeili Hawkins 1985 Points

Hi Tamera!

I am currently attending UNI and have had a lot of experience with children that have differnt disabilities. With children that are non verbal, I try to first find out what their personal way of communicating is. Some have devices, some point or use sign language, some use pictures or charts and others have their own special way of communicating. Once you figure out what that specific child's way of communcating is it becomes way easier to plan lessons. You want to make sure they are always invloved even if it makes your work harder or takes a little more class time, it's worth it!

Chonita Clayborne Chonita Clayborne 915 Points

Hi Tamera, when I did my lessons for my special needs classes, I used a lot of classroom communication devices to give a voice for those kids that couldn't speak. Many of these students have a DynaVox communication device that you can add words, phrases, and sentences for them. Also, I used a lot of BIGmack switches that you can just record the words or phrases that you want the students to know and allow them to repeat it by hitting the switch. Take advantage too of all of the communication symbols and pictures used every day in special needs classrooms. I adapted all of the books that I used for my lessons with picture symbols that the students could take on and off and have even made my own adapted mini-games and pages to go with lessons.

Alexa Montas alexa montas 4335 Points

It is very important that as a teacher you include all types of students in class activities! I read this article 'Supporting Special Needs: Including Special Needs in the Classroom' by Kathleen Conn (found on this site) and it really helps answering the question 'how can I include students with special needs in my classroom?' The article highlights the importance of focusing on what the child specifically needs. It is important as a teacher to identify strengths and weaknesses of students, and what might you do to add to their stengths or help with their weaknesses. It would help if you met with the student's aid to see the student's capabiltiy. Once you find out what students are able to do, you can create your lesson plan off that! 

Anne Lowry Anne Lowry 8763 Points

TERC has created several science signing dictionaries available that might be useful also


Carla Torres Carla Torres 180 Points

Hello! im currently studying to become a teacher is there some resources in which I can learn more on lessons or activities that can be used for children with disabilities?

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