Inclusive parties feature games and activities that engage all children, regardless of their individual needs or abilities. When planning a party for special needs children, consider games that provide targeted physical and intellectual stimulation. Provide a wide variety of activities to allow all children to access entertainment throughout the party.
Craft games offer children with disabilities the freedom to be creative while reinforcing key motor and intellectual skills. During the party, set up a craft station with paper plates, glue sticks, markers, pieces of yarn and other kid-friendly craft supplies. Ask each child to choose her favorite animal; each child can have a unique animal or several children can choose the same animals. Each child then uses the craft supplies provided to create a mask that resembles their animal. For children who struggle, provide visuals (printed photos from the Internet, images from a book, toys) of the animal and offer adult assistance. Once the masks are done, help children poke holes where the eyes and mouth are located and tie the masks on loosely with yarn. An adult then leads the group in a story that involves all the animals doing different activities; prepare the story beforehand or make it up as you go along. When the child hears his animal called, he comes to the front of the group and does the action the narrator describes. Include a wide variety of silly motions like hopping on one foot or spinning in circles to keep kids laughing.
Physical games promote motor skills and provide kinesthetic therapy for children with special needs. Host a round of freeze dancing with children to get kids moving and practice listening skills. Play upbeat songs and instruct kids to dance however they wish while the song is on. When you press pause, kids must freeze in place for three seconds; any child who moves is eliminated. Start the music again. Continue eliminating players until one child is left. Play several rounds to give all children a chance to learn and understand the rules.
Help build social skills with a mingling scavenger hunt. Print out several game sheets with various categories about people at the party. Some categories might be "birthday this month," "has two siblings" or "loves the same food as I." Give each child a game sheet and host a 10-minute mingling session in which children try to find other guests who fit in the categories on the sheet; some children with reading difficulties may need the assistance of an adult. After the mixer, the player who has correctly filled in the most categories wins a prize like a silly party hat or horn.
- Photo Credit party cup ctreamers and party banners image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com
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