Updated: Nov 30, 2018
Including children with disabilities in the classroom can be scary and challenging for general education teachers; while at the same time, with the right support, it can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor!
I am thrilled to introduce to you my friends from CLC Network who will be sharing their wisdom on inclusion with us today on the blog! I had the privilege of student teaching under CLC Network special education expert, teacher consultant, and author, Barbara J. Newman. I was also blessed with the opportunity to work along side several CLC Network staff during my time as a resource room specialist.
Don't miss the AWESOME giveaway at the end of the article! And now to the article...
Including Kids with Disabilities in the Classroom - A Lesson Plan
Imagine your life without friends to call, visit, or enjoy. Our own lives would suffer deeply if we had no friends. Picture the excitement of placing a group of energetic, vivacious general education friends around a child with a disability where there were none before. Lives are being changed as we emphasize and enjoy one gift that God gives us – FRIENDS. (excerpt from Circle of Friends by Barbara J. Newman)
But how do we create an environment where children of all levels of ability and disability are included?
A wonderful place to begin is with a lesson on the importance of including and valuing each member of the classroom – each member has something to contribute and areas where they need assistance. Reflect on your own life: what are your strengths? Where do you need others help? You may be an excellent speaker or have a knack for organization but cannot cook an edible meal or sing in tune. Before beginning the following activity, assess your own strengths and weaknesses to use as an example for your class.
By asking each member of the general education classroom to think of their own strengths & weaknesses, you can help them see that each person – regardless of their abilities or disabilities – has something to contribute & something to learn from others. This activity helps students of all levels understand that persons with disabilities are not that different from those without and they too have strengths to contribute to the world.
For this activity you will need: - A large, white puzzle piece for each student - Green and pink markers or colored pencils - Markers, pens or pencils for writing
Lesson Plan Instructions: 1) Talk with the class about how God created each person with a plan – his plan included your personality, how you look, your strengths & your struggles. Each individual is a one-of-a-kind special creation, designed by God.
2) Hold up the green and pink markers to explain strengths & weaknesses. Part of God’s plan is that each person has things that are both easy & difficult for them. Our green parts (hold up green marker) represent our strengths, and our pink parts (hold up pink marker) represent our weaknesses. Everyone has both green & pink parts. Ask the class why they think this is.
3) Hold up a puzzle piece that has been covered half green & half pink. Explain that part of God’s plan is that we each have things that are easy for us and things that are difficult – we each have a green & pink puzzle piece. Ask the class to think of their green & pink areas and perhaps share them with others. Use this time to share your own strengths & weaknesses.
4) After the class has brainstormed their green & pink areas, provide each of them with a blank puzzle piece to fill in, along with the colored pencils or markers. Instruct the class to color half of the puzzle piece green and half pink. Following this, have the class (including persons with disabilities) write 2-3 items on each half of the puzzle piece. Finish the activity by writing their name on the front of the piece.
5) Lastly, use the puzzle pieces to form a wall display. When this is complete, explain to the class that while it may not be fun to have pink pieces, this is God’s design for humans. He made us to fit together. If one person had a completely green puzzle piece, they would not need the others. How would you feel if you weren’t needed to contribute your strengths? God made us fit together like a puzzle. When one person is strong, they can help another’s weakness. In living our lives for Christ, we give Him our entire puzzle pieces – our areas of strength and weakness. He uses both pieces for His glory. He loves our entire piece and treasurers us each because He made us, not because of what we can or cannot do.
This lesson plan was adapted from the “Inclusion Awareness Kit” by Barbara Newman. To
order the complete lesson & puzzle piece materials, visit CLC Network. Additional resources for welcoming students with disabilities into your classroom include “Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities” and “Circle of Friends”. CLC Network promotes the development of people with a variety of abilities and disabilities to live as active, integrated members of their communities. Learn more about how you can create an inclusive environment on our website or by following our blog.
Join my free resource library! Click here!