When it comes to special education, teachers and parents often struggle to engage students in meaningful learning activities during the afternoon hours.
After a long morning of focusing on academics, afternoons can be especially challenging for children with special needs. That’s why hands-on activities are such a great way to break up the day and help students relax while still learning.
They offer an engaging way for students to explore new concepts in a calming environment that encourages creativity. Here are some calming hands-on activities that you can use in your classroom for an afternoon of learning!
Calming Hands-on Afternoon Activities
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Using playdough as a calming hands-on activity is a great way to engage special education students in learning. Playdough allows them to explore their creativity while building tactile motor skills.
The wonderful thing about playdough is that it can be used for so many different activities, from sculpting, counting, and teaching shapes and colors to encouraging imaginative play.
Plus, the texture of the dough provides sensory input for children who respond well to tactile stimulation. This makes it an excellent choice for calming down and focusing on more structured activities during the afternoon hours (or keeping it an afternoon of quiet play!).
Kinetic sand can be a calming hands-on activity for special education students at any time of day. It stimulates tactile motor skills and encourages creativity. It also offers sensory input to children who respond well to tactile stimulation.
Kinetic sand provides an engaging way for students to explore new concepts in a calming environment. Best of all, it can be used for activities such as sculpting, counting, teaching shapes and colors, and more.
Shaving Cream on Tables
Writing and drawing in shaving cream on a table is an excellent way to engage special education students in a calming hands-on activity. Not only does it provide tactile stimulation, but it also offers a creative outlet for students to express themselves through art.
Writing and drawing with the shaving cream encourages imaginative play while teaching fine motor skills, which will help with holding a pen or pencil correctly and forming letters and shapes. It provides visual and tactile stimulation that can help children focus more deeply on tasks. Plus, it’s easy to clean up after use — just wipe away the shaving cream with a damp cloth leaving no mess behind!
Task Boxes and Work Bins
Task boxes and work bins are another great way to engage special education students in calming hands-on activities in the afternoon. Task boxes provide a structured environment that encourages exploration and learning.
They typically contain items such as sorting objects and mats, counting items, or matching shapes and colors. Work bins are similar to task boxes but can also contain manipulative items such as pieces of fabric or threads for weaving, puzzles to put together, or tools for measuring.
These kinds of activities provide a way for students to explore their creativity while building essential skills like problem-solving and fine motor control. Working with manipulatives also helps children focus more deeply on tasks by providing visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation.
One of the best parts is that these activities can be personalized to each child’s individual needs and interests, making them even more exciting!
Individual puzzles can be a great calming hands-on activity for special education students. Puzzles provide visual stimulation and encourage problem-solving skills, helping children to focus.
They can also provide tactile stimulation, as well as auditory feedback, when children click the pieces together or talk about the items they are building.
Puzzles come in a variety of sizes and levels of difficulty, making them an ideal activity for individuals with different needs. For example, simple puzzles are great for younger children, while more complex puzzles are perfect for older students.
Puzzles offer an entertaining way for students to learn shapes and colors, practice problem-solving skills and motor control, and develop fine motor skills like holding a pen or pencil correctly. Plus, the satisfaction of completing the puzzle successfully is sure to bring a sense of accomplishment and increase self-confidence!
Building with LEGOs can be an incredibly calming hands-on activity for special education students. This type of tactile exploration encourages fine motor skills, creativity, problem-solving, and spatial awareness.
The pieces of LEGO provide visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation that helps children focus on the task at hand. By building with LEGOs, students can develop basic construction and engineering skills while exploring their own imaginations.
Felt boards provide another excellent way to engage special education students in calming, hands-on activities in the afternoon. This activity is great for teaching shapes, colors, numbers, and letters in an interactive way.
Felt boards are also a great tactile experience as children can move and manipulate pieces of felt on the board. These activities help kids develop fine motor skills as they work to properly hold the pieces of felt with their fingers.
Best of all felt boards can be used for imaginative play and storytelling, giving children an outlet for self-expression. Felt boards provide an engaging experience that encourages concentration and focus on the task at hand — all while having fun!
From sorting objects to building with LEGOs and constructing felt boards, there are a variety of calming hands-on activities that special education students can engage in for afternoon learning. These activities provide visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation, which helps children focus more deeply on their tasks while also providing them with an outlet for creativity and self-expression. With the right tools and materials, you can create a fun environment where your student’s natural curiosity will be encouraged to thrive – even in the afternoon!