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Activity Sheets for Kids with Special Needs

December 6, 2012

Activity Page Picture 120412

Learning pages may provide an alternate activity for a student who is otherwise struggling in a typical ministry setting.  And activity sheets can also reinforce a Bible lesson for higher functioning older kids and teens participating in a special needs ministry environment. In order for the student to be successful, it is important that the activity sheet have a logical starting place and ending place, as well as achievable exercises.  Generally speaking, providing a blank sheet of paper and crayons is not ideal for the student for special needs – and for several reasons:

1) A more labored effort to manipulate crayons is common among the kids with disabilities.  If and when activities are provided that require coloring, offer tri-write crayons or dot-markers to increase the likelihood of success.  For learning pages that require handwriting, provide jumbo triangle coloring pencils.

2) A blank sheet of paper without an achievable activity may be a road map to nowhere for the child who requires specific instruction.  Concrete learners may better participate when an activity sheet offers short, doable exercises preprinted on the page.  The following exercises are good choices so long as they are short and easy:

  • Dot-to-Dot exercise (outline a Bible story character with numbered dots)
  • Fill-in-the-Blank (Bible verse or statements about the Bible story)
  • Maze (path for David to find the sheep, wise men to find Jesus)
  • Matching game with simple graphics from the Bible story
  • Word search

3) For many kids with special needs, it is important to be able to work on an activity that provides a sense of completion or being finished.  In the above activity sheet example we show three separate sections.  This allows a child to experience a feeling of completion and success three times.  It also provides logical breaks if a child only has a few minutes to work on their activity sheet.  It is not uncommon for a student with a neurological disability to struggle if they are pulled away from a task or exercise before achieving completion.   This way, if a child needs to stop before finishing their entire worksheet, they have options for break points.

Note: This example page is “rough” (created on the fly by yours truly).  Ideally a worksheet would have at least one activity with a simple graphic related to the Bible story. **UPDATE** Yes, I know the example picture shown above wouldn’t work with a struggling reader.  This was just the best example I had on hand.  And better examples with activities utilizing graphics are all copyrighted, as they should be.  (Sorry folks..I know I upset a reader or two who just saw the picture, thought the activity sheet wouldn’t work for their son or daughter… and probably didn’t read the entire post.  Keep in mind that not every suggestion on this blog is intended to work for every child.)  Ideally, the activities on a learning page would offer more intuitive exercises with graphics – e.g. maze, matching game, or connect the dots.

I owe great thanks to Kelly Holland for the idea of providing activity sheets to preteens and teens with special needs.  Kelly is the Director for Access, the Special Needs Ministry of Grace Fellowship Church in Johnson City, Tennessee.  Each week the Access team creates a simple activity sheet that relates to the day’s Bible lesson.  Participants with special needs are provided the learning page and can take it as they go to their respective typical ministry settings (large group, small group, etc).  The kids are free to work on their activity sheet as they desire.  Oftentimes a student with special needs will have a peer assigned to help them complete their page.  This tool keeps preteens and teens with special needs engaged and learning, when they might otherwise become bored even disruptive. ~ Amy Fenton Lee

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6 Comments
  1. Pamela Hofer permalink

    Amy, will you have this fall trial curriculum from Orange available for us to purchase? Would love to have access to a couple of sample pages with activity pages to preview if possible. Thank you so much, along with the many who you are involved for all you provide and the support to us in teaching these dear ones, all to His glory.

    Pressing on with true HOPE within me in union in Him, as eyes are kept focused upon Christ Jesus, Author and Perfecter of our faith,
    Pamela

  2. Pamela –

    I talked a little more about the curriculum (and anticipated questions) in the post from Tuesday about the Orange Conference.

    The short answer to your questions is “I don’t know.” We still have major meetings internally to figure out all the logistics of a curriculum launch. But we are aiming to introduce the curriculum at OC13 and then launch it to subscribers in September 2013 (Don’t be shocked if some part of that plan changes…Orange operates on a very short plan-to-launch time frame, as a result, goal dates are prone to change.)

    The longer answer is that I anticipate providing a sample set of curriculum that churches may register for and access prior to purchasing a subscription. This preview material may or may not be available by OC13. But we will show various components of the material and address the details of how it is set up in the bonus session I referenced in that earlier blog post (The Orange Conference 2013 – Special Needs Track Update).

    The draft curriculum was admittedly rough because we wrote (or well…I wrote) the material days, sometimes minutes, before it was released. Our wonderful speech pathologist did more than one middle-of-the-night review! We tried a lot of different things to see what was useful and what wasn’t. We would change the direction of some activities and stories minutes after receiving feedback and before releasing the next month’s set of curriculum. So the trial set of curriculum is frankly too rough to sell to anyone (and what was done in September changed significantly by December). Also, the example activity sheet shown here isn’t as professional as what I’d hope to see in a polished set of curriculum. In spite of the crude aspects of the activity sheets and the lack of graphics, the churches appreciated having something like this to offer older/higher functioning kids.

    Hope this helps!
    Amy

  3. This is awesome! Thanks! We have a page for children each Sunday designed around the theme of the service at A Restoration Church (Pittsburgh PA). These suggestions are so practical! They will help us be more effective with some of the special needs families we serve! Thanks!

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