Field Day is one of the most exciting events in a school year, and often a favorite event for teachers and students alike. A whole day dedicated to having fun and participating in physical activity is a great way to engage all students. Use these activities and ideas to make your field day more fun for all students, including those with special needs.
Field Day Inclusion: 5 Ways to Plan for Students with Special Needs
Make field day a memorable and enjoyable experience for all of your students. These tips may help to make field day less stressful and more successful for students with special needs.
Prepare Students by Pre-Teaching the Field Day Schedule
Giving students a chance to look forward to, and plan ahead for a change in schedule can help to prevent overwhelm and meltdowns on field day. Staff should take the opportunity to pre-teach the field day schedule so that students know what’s coming. Use a picture schedule when possible. Research indicates students on the autism spectrum in particular exhibit better engagement and follow through and makes for good universal design.
Organize Small Groups & Scheduled Rotation
Students with special needs are likely used to going through their day with a small group of classmates. Organize familiar small groups to participate in field day activities together and structure the rotation. The consistency in time between activities help to keep students on track and the field day experience will be smoother for everyone involved.
Be sure to include a visual timer at each station and/or with each small group which may help reduce anxiety and promote smoother transitions from one activity to the next.
Create a Regulation or Calm-Down Space
Even with pre-teaching and a scheduled rotation in the mix, some students may become overwhelmed and need some time to calm down and regulate. Create a plan for students who may need to step out of the rotation to participate in self-regulating sensory based activities.
Try to create this space far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the activities, but not so far that students begin to feel left out. Sensory calming tools such as noise hearing protector headphones, oral motor chewies and weighted stuffed animals should be included as part of the calm down space to promote self regulation.
Offer a Mix of Active, Sensory, and Creative Activities
Traditional field day activities like relay races and balloon toss can be modified so that students with special needs can participate by practicing the necessary skills. They can still experience success and learn by completing a task without having to compete with others. Backward chaining which initially involves the student to participate at the end of the task/activity vs. completing a series of complex steps can reduce frustration and promote feelings of success.
Mix some of the active games in with time for sensory exploration and creativity. One great way to inject some creativity is to have students decorate their participation award or a field day t-shirt to take home as a memory of their successful field day.
Consider Some Indoor Activities
For students who may struggle with the change in daily schedule as well as the added time outdoors, consider setting up some stations or activities indoors. Indoor time may help to calm students who are feeling over-stimulated by the group activities outdoors, and the more controlled environment may make it easier to complete creative projects.
Check out how this school district came together to provide a fun and active day for students:
Field Day Favorite Products & Supplies
These classic field day favorites make it easy to set up activities for students to enjoy. Check them out and be sure to visit the Field Day tag page to find more activity ideas:
More Tips & Ideas for A Successful Field Day
If you’re looking for more ways to engage students and get them moving on field day, be sure to check out related blogs on the Physical Education and Field Day topic pages.
Also be sure to head over to the online store to find all the products and supplies you need to make your field day activities fun and exciting for all students. Teacher Favorite Sportime products offer value and a wide selection, all available in one convenient location.