Off-screen activities for students in the special education classroom are incredibly valuable. They provide much more than just a break from technology and allow students to gain important skills such as problem-solving, communication, and collaboration while also providing meaningful opportunities for physical activity.
These off-screen activities also offer an opportunity to practice executive functioning skills like organization, goal setting, planning, and self-monitoring that can be transferred into the world beyond school. By engaging in these kinds of activities outside of the digital realm, students build on their social-emotional development while having fun! In this article, we’ll discuss why off-screen activities are so beneficial and explore some great examples you can implement in your own classroom.
One great activity is cooking or baking. This can involve anything from making simple snacks or desserts to full-scale meals. Teaching children about food safety and nutrition can be extremely beneficial, as well as helping them understand basic kitchen concepts such as measuring ingredients and following instructions. Depending on the student’s age and ability level, they could even do some of the shopping for ingredients!
Our monthly visual recipes work so well for this as they empower children to be successful while learning how to make treats and meals with limited assistance.
Board games are another classic activity that can be highly engaging for all students. Depending on their needs, there are games available with different levels of rules and complexity. Cooperative board games are especially beneficial because they promote teamwork skills such as communication and cooperation. Additionally, board games provide an opportunity for socialization with peers in a fun environment.
Art projects can also be an enjoyable off-screen activity for students in special ed classrooms. These could take the form of painting, sculpting, constructing models with clay or cardboard, etc., anything creative! Art supplies can easily be found at local stores or online, so this activity is relatively low-cost compared to other activities which require specialized equipment/materials (e.g., board games, puzzles, etc.). Art projects give students an outlet to express themselves and also teach them important concepts such as problem-solving and fine motor coordination.
Directed drawing can be a great off-screen activity for older kids. It is an engaging and educational way to help students practice their fine motor skills, creative problem-solving, and spatial reasoning. Directed drawing involves having the student follow step-by-step instructions while they draw a picture of something like an animal or landscape. This type of activity encourages students to focus on the task at hand while developing their artistic abilities. With some guidance from teachers, directed drawing can be a fun and rewarding experience that helps build confidence in children with special needs.
Check out our Directed Drawing Activities here to get a head start on this fun activity!
Build with LEGO
LEGOs are an amazing off-screen activity for older kids as they offer a fun and creative way to engage them in learning and play. With LEGOs, students can improve their fine motor skills and problem-solving abilities, as well as foster teamwork and collaboration amongst their peers. For example, students can work together to build a large-scale structure or model from the instructions provided, such as a castle or an airplane.
LEGO bricks also encourage them to use their imagination and explore different possibilities in building something unique out of just blocks. Because there are so many different sets available at varying difficulty levels, it is easy to find something that caters to each student’s individual skill level. LEGO sets can also come with tools such as wheels or gears, which help teach students about engineering concepts such as force, motion, and momentum.
Listening to Music
Listening to music can be an enjoyable and beneficial off-screen activity for older students in any classroom. Music is a powerful tool that can help children learn, express their emotions, and develop important skills. Listening to music encourages students to think critically about musical elements like rhythm, melody, harmony, tempo, dynamics, etc., which helps them understand how different sounds interact with each other. It also provides an opportunity for self-expression through creative activities such as songwriting or playing instruments.
Listening to music has been linked to improved academic performance since it helps stimulate the brain and increase concentration levels while studying. Engaging with different types of music from various cultures can also help broaden students’ perspectives while teaching them more about the world around them!
Off-screen activities for older kids in the special ed classroom can greatly benefit their learning experience by providing different types of stimulation than what you would find on devices such as computers or tablets. Things like cooking/baking projects, board games, art projects, and listening to music offer exciting alternatives that are both educational and enjoyable!