Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10 Simple Ways to Modify Children's Church Activities for Children with Special Needs

Bible Story time: While your 'typical' third grader can listen quietly to a story for 10 minutes and answer questions about what they just heard about, a child with a short attention span, developmental disabilities, or sensory processing difficulties may not be able to listen nor sit still that long.  Here are some ways to teach the Bible lesson to that child without stressing out the child or the volunteers!

1. Make cutouts of the characters glued on to cardboard that the child can hold and manipulate during the story time.  You could also accomplish this with stuffed animals or puppets if they are available for the child to hold.  You might find that a lot of your students would enjoy this!

2. Give the child a 'medium for creativity'.  Ask them to create a character or scene from the story with colored pencil drawings or play dough in an area nearby the other children.  

3. Provide an alternate storytelling experience in an area where the child is not expected to be still or quiet.  Tell the story to him while he jumps on the trampoline or rolls the ball with you. 

4. Create the scene for all of the children using a more dramatic skit, or video allowing interaction from the 'audience' and allowing those who need to 'keep moving' to do so during the skit (in a safe way with supervision, they can walk throughout the room, for example).

5. Give the child a purpose in the storytelling, such as being a character, saying a special phrase whenever it comes up, or holding on to props while not in use.

Songs and Worship: Most children love this higher energy, fun, move around, raise your voices time!  Those very things which are a great draw for many children can be overwhelming for a child with sensory processing difficulties.  

6. Anticipate this activity and provide a fun alternative where children who need to can have a lower-sensory experience.  Stepping out to the hall outside the main room may be a perfect place to hear the music and voices, but not be right in the middle of it all. Encourage hand motions, dancing, and singing, or just listening if that's what the child needs.

Crafts: Every child needs a token to bring home to remember their church lesson by, right?  Those fun creative projects sometimes require more motor planning than the child can do, or are not safe for their developmental level. 

7. Prepare-ahead and provide projects that are partially or totally completed and require only the parts that the child can successfully do on their own.  Then have an activity ready for the children that have finished their craft project.

8. Provide an alternate craft or project that is more developmentally appropriate or safer for the child that correlates with the topic at hand.  Remember: kids like to be the same! Providing a similar but different craft may mean you should consider making this an option to the rest of the kids to choose instead as well!

Games: It's time to follow verbal directions and run to the appropriate part of the room-- last one there is out!  Last one in the game WINS!  So what do we do with the boy in a wheelchair, the child that's deaf, and the little girl that can't understand the game rules?

9. Buddies can be a great way to incorporate kids without them having to fully understand or be able to participate on their own.  So can a little head-start.  "Suzie and Ben, GO!" as Suzie pushes Ben's wheelchair away from the crowd before they all get to run.  Ask a child to volunteer to buddy with a friend and hold hands to run together for those that don't understand the directions or cannot hear them.  Give a little grace so they can enjoy the game too.  

10. Find a special role for your special members.  Needing a very important helper to be the score keeper, to announce "GO!" and to help you decide who was 'out' each time may be a great job for a child that cannot participate fully otherwise. 

1 comment:

  1. This is perfect! Not only for church activities, but some of them would work great in a classroom too. Thank you much!