Promoting Awareness: Classroom Celebration Ideas

Awareness is the first step in promoting positive change. Once people are able to recognize the promise of inclusive education, they can begin to seek the knowledge and skills necessary to realize their goals. Consider the following activities to create awareness of the benefits of inclusive education. For even more learning and fun, team up with another classroom in your school to put some of these ideas into action!

  • Decorate your classroom with items that support academic development for all children. This can include learning supports such as pictures, large print letters, and clear directions to complete assignments. If there are children who cannot access this information from a distance due to a visual, physical, or other disability, make small copies of these items to be used at the child’s desk.
  • Expand your morning circle activity to include various modes of communication. Use sign language, foreign languages, and augmentative communication supports (including photos, pictures, assistive technology devices, etc.) to support those students whose communication systems might not include spoken English, along with exposing other students to the variety of ways that people can communicate.
  • Have students develop a list of the variety of ways that people can communicate. Help them expand the list by discussing different forms of communication, including sign languages, foreign languages, assistive technology devices, etc.
  • Establish a “Five Minutes for Friendship” ritual each day. Have students pair up with classmates on a rotating basis. Provide a topic for the pair to discuss for five minutes. Ask a few pairs to share their conversation with the class.
  • Invite students who are not generally included in your classroom for one of your daily lessons. Try to expand these opportunities in your room and throughout the school.
  • Ask students to create Inclusive Schools Week cards, including reasons why they like being a part of an inclusive school.
  • Ask related service personnel (occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language therapists, etc.) to include typically developing peers in the activities that they do with children who have disabilities in your classroom. Fun games that target the therapy goals of some students while including typically developing peers in the activity promote the inclusion of all students.
  • Develop a morning greeting routine so that all children, including those with disabilities and English Language Learners, have the opportunity to communicate with each other at the beginning of the day.
  • Assign all classroom tasks/jobs in pairs so that children who aren’t able to complete a task independently don’t feel that they always need a “helper.” This encourages children to collaborate with each other to get a job done.
  • Have students work in groups to come up with a blueprint or plan for an inclusive school. They can focus on areas including physical access, curriculum ideas, support strategies, etc. A poster session can be held during the Week for each team to highlight their ideas.
  • Ask students to write about a time that they didn’t feel included in a group. Talk about how it made them feel. Ask them how their experiences relate to anyone who is perceived as different and what challenges they might face in a school setting.
  • Have students keep journals to regularly record their contributions to an inclusive school environment.
  • Model ways in which students can approach and interact with others who may be different from them in some way. Role-play hypothetical situations in which the students may have the opportunity to interact with a person in a wheelchair, a person who is blind, someone who speaks another language, or an individual from another religion or culture.
  • Create art projects, such as “I am special” or “Great things happen in inclusive schools” buttons that the students can wear during the Week.
  • Invite a guest speaker with a disability to speak about his or her experiences. Be sure to include a question-and-answer time for students.
  • Invite students to write a list of all of their unique characteristics under a picture of themselves. Display student work during the Week.
  • Have the class plant a celebration garden, including flowers and plants with different characteristics. Ask students to describe how each is beautiful in a unique way. Students can write essays or journal entries on the ways the garden reflects the diversity of their community.
  • Ask students to write and perform a play about accepting differences in others.
  • Encourage students to write to Congress or a local elected official about inclusive education issues that concern them.
  • Design a classroom mural to depict the students’ perception of what an inclusive school and community look like.
  • Assign students to write an essay describing how to be a good friend. Have students share their thoughts on kindness, acceptance, and friendship.
  • Read and discuss poetry that focuses on creating and maintaining unity among different groups of people.
  • Develop a class motto or mission statement that highlights the inclusive nature of the classroom.
  • Implement a slogan contest: “I feel included when . . . ” or “I feel included because . . . ”
  • Involve support staff (e.g., counselors, nurses, office staff, janitors, and related service staff) in classroom-based activities to create an awareness of their roles in the school community.
  • Variations on a theme: Have students vote on a theme or issue related to inclusive schools that they would like to address during the Week. Integrate the theme into the major curriculum areas.

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