Make It Fun Teaching Strategies
A key teaching strategy for new concepts with individuals with intellectual disabilities is daily repetition. The need to repeat in order to retain is essential not only when the concept is first introduced, but also frequently over time.
Constant repetition can become boring, not just for the student but the instructor, so it is important to keep the teaching strategies fresh and fun. There are many techniques you can use to help engage a student in new ways with old goals. Five strategies that can be very successful include; games, kinesthetic techniques, music, videos, and art. I will use as an example the goal of counting to three with 1:1 correspondence.
GAMES: This is an easy one and has endless possibilities!
- Beanbag toss. Students get 3 beanbags each. Set a box at an appropriate distance and allow each child to toss the bags in, counting as they toss. Afterwards have them count how many went in. You can help the students keep score using tally marks, which they would also count.
- Board games. Make a spinner with numbers 1-3. Use a board game you already have, such as Candy Land, or create your own. Students spin and move their pieces, while counting aloud. Click here to download a free sample board game and spinner.
- Go fishing. You will need: fishing pole, fish with numbers 1-3 written on them and paperclip attached, fish shapes and containers (one per student). The student fishes for a card, identifies the number on the card and, while counting 1:1, puts that number of fish into their container. Click here to download instructions and templates.
- Students can roll playdough into ropes and form into the numbers. (Visual guides can be used if needed)
- Using a coffee can or something similar, cut a slit into the top and then have the students pick a number from 1-3, and then push that many items (you can use anything; marbles, ping pong ball, Legos, coins) through the slit while counting along.
- There are so many counting songs that you can use, just stop when you get to number three! These are especially effective and fun if you include finger play, dancing, marching, or clapping. Examples: “Three” Little Ducks Went Out One Day, “Three” Green and Speckled Frogs, The Ants Go Marching, and “Three” Bottles of Pop on the Wall.
- Go to YouTube and look up counting/number clips. Be sure to use the specific numbers in the search bar. Here’s a good one for the number one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28ZTBzPZeHI (you may want to fast forward over the opening credit with the baby). This is a good one for the number two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkd-Vs_gTyc And here’s a good one for the number three: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU4pyiB-kq0 Be sure to preview all videos to make sure they are age-appropriate.
ART: The sky is the limit on this one!
- Using bubble print, write a large 1 (or 2, or 3) on a piece of paper. Using a variety of items (rubber stamps, beans, colored stickers etc.) have the student glue one of each onto the number one (two of each on number two, etc.). Encourage the student to count aloud as they put the items on the number.
- String beads in a pattern, one of each color followed by two of each color and then three of each color. Count aloud!
- Student can draw a picture and include 1, 2 and 3 of various things. For example, one house, with two trees and three people. For students who can’t draw, you could help them cut out pictures from a magazine and create their number art that way.
So next you want to review a goal that has been around for a while, don’t reach for that old file folder! Shake up their learning with something fun…art, music, kinesthetic, games, or videos!