Outdoor activities for very young children with either a hearing impairment or a visual impairment. Please help!

Hi Folks


In a few weeks time I'm having around 15-20 3-6yrs olds visiting my school for a day outside. The area is a garden and grassy playing field. All the children have either a hearing or a visual impairment. There will be lots of adults to support. There will be an indoor space if needed too - the gym hall. 


Any advice or ideas over organising the day, activities and opportunities for free play are gratefully received.


Best wishes

Juliet






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What a fun challenge! I'd love to let my brain work on this tonight. In general, what are the kids and their teachers expecting to experience? Is this from 8-3, including lunch and a resting time? What are your resources and constraints - and what would you LOVE for them to go home with? Actually, I'd love to talk you through this (coach you) for a bit - no charge. If you're up for that, let's do it very soon. You can reach me at Ann at InnerOomph dot com & we can set up a time to talk on the phone. Just let me know what days/times work for you and what time zone you're in. I'm in eastern USA time.
I'd really be delighted to be of service in this way!
Hi Anne

The children and adults normally have a trip each year, but the principal of these schools felt the children could do with a more "wholesome" outdoor experience.

It's a very short time because the children are picked up from different places and bused in. The day won't probably get going until 10.30am. There will be a break for lunch at 12. After that there will be another hour or 1.5hrs max. No resting time!

Hope this helps and thanks for your thoughts.

Best wishes
Juliet
OK - 2 blocks of 3 hours each. Sense of touch, sense of hearing, sense of taste is working in both groups. So that seems like a starting point. Then there's movement.... How do their current teachers communicate w/ this group of young mixed hearing or visual impairment? Do they have enough teaching staff to communicate the instructions for what you can plan?

Juliet Robertson said:
Hi Anne

The children and adults normally have a trip each year, but the principal of these schools felt the children could do with a more "wholesome" outdoor experience.

It's a very short time because the children are picked up from different places and bused in. The day won't probably get going until 10.30am. There will be a break for lunch at 12. After that there will be another hour or 1.5hrs max. No resting time!

Hope this helps and thanks for your thoughts.

Best wishes
Juliet
Hi Juliet,
I am going to forward your email request to a member of our Network. Her name is Wendolyn (without the G) and she operates a nature pre-school in the San Francisco area. Wendolyn just did a training for a group of child care professionals in Tacoma, Washington that I helped arrange, along with a colleague Diane Gordon. Wendolyn works with the whole child and will give you great ideas, along with those already submitted. Her email if you want to contact her is tendertracks@gmail.com. Tell her I referred you. All the best. Am with Rich tonight in Bend, Oregon. He is looking forward to his visit to the UK. John
Juliet,

We did something similar to this. One activity we did was a sensory (touch) scavenger hunt. Since the kids have either hearing or visual impairments, touch can be a great equilizer. For example, "Find something soft and fuzzy" , "find something prickly". We had a certain area set aside for the scavenger hunt with flags to denote a "find" the students went to the flag, touched the object in the box to determine the texture, smell, ect... then they found the correponding box, with help, on their paper and noted the number on the flag.

It was a hit, especially the "slimy and gooey" flag. This was for Pre-K.
Hi John and Anne

Thanks very much for your kind offers and words of encouragement. It's an interesting situation in that the children who cannot hear, also have very limited language and comprehension. Clear visual stimuli work well for helping to explain new words - along with touching and tasting where possible. Their motor skills tend to be age appropriate. The adults tend to use sign language.

The children with visual impairments, tend to rely on hearing and touch and have many have less good motor skills, for various reasons (I work with several of them from time to time). The range of visual ability varies enormously from child to child: some wear colour glasses, some need fluorescent colours to identify key places and some are totally blind

The children who have hearing impairments work out of a different base school. So the different groups rarely meet - once or twice a year.

So we have a beautiful yin and yan situation. The total activity time is unlikely to be more than 2.5hrs. These are very young children, so within this time needs to be opportunities for free play and exploration. The staff tend to "helicopter" their children and within one session, this is unlikely to change as they will all be out of their comfort zone being outside.

In terms of resources, I have not been given a budget, so it's using the garden (with a lovely laurel hedge - one can hide in this) & playing field. I may get a digging area, if I ask the gardening club not to plant things there. I can import various materials and resources of various sorts and beg and borrow. The on-site nursery will be very helpful.

Some thoughts already are to include some very simple team games, such as stepping through hoops within a circle and getting everyone to stand on a mat, that gets progressively smaller. I want the adults to participate as much as the children.

I also think that a sensory trail may work well or a texture-based treasure hunt.

I'm going to look into getting some root vegetables put into soil for children to dig up, clean up and taste. As a souvenir, I think planting a seed in a pot might be good...suggestions welcome for a good one here!

I'm also wondering about building up a collection of snails, slugs and worms and seeing what happens when they move over fluorescent paint...or putting such paint on snail shells so they can be seen. I'm not sure though...got to think of the animals needs too here.

John - enjoy your evening with Rich. I hope the volcanic ash won't prevent his visit from taking place.

Best wishes
Juliet
Hi Everyone

Thanks to your ideas and suggestions, and along with your friend Wendolyn John, I've put together this draft programme. I'm sure amendments will be made by the teachers, but I thought I'd let you know my progress! Thank you all - nice ideas too Lyndsey - I'm sorry I didn't respond directly to you.

Best wishes
Juliet

Introduction
Pass around, in a playful way, different nature things such as cones, leaves and say your name along with an immediate word of what you felt.

Materials: selection of natural objects, sit-upon mats
Purpose: To get to know each other and learn about different natural objects

NB It might help to split into two smaller groups for this activity.


Find your partner
Hand out natural objects, one for each child. Next each child has to find the child with the same object as them.
(I’m not sure of the balance but this could be arranged to try and match a child with a hearing impairment to a child with a visual impairment)

Materials: selection of natural objects, sit-upon mats
Purpose: To get to know each other and to have a partner for the next activity.


A sensory circle of activities
In pairs, with adults to assist, the children undertake a sensory exploration of the school garden. There will be 10 stations each with a different mini activity, e.g.
• Sit quietly for a minute and feel the wind
• Explore the laurel hedge (it’s possible to hide inside it)
• Smelly plants place: (I can buy some herbs or dig up from my garden, e.g. curry plant, lavender, rosemary, etc)
• An edible plants place: (As above, but plants to taste)
• Whiffy cocktails – collecting leaves and other natural materials in a cup
• A texture palette – collecting leaves, petals and other tiny bits of material on a sticky bracelet
• Natural artwork – a place to make sculptures using clay and natural materials. This will be undertaken on light coloured cloth and mirrors so this may help some children see the materials being used.
• Seed fun – possibly even including planting a seed
• Minibeast zone – a collection of creepy crawlies to explore: slugs, snails, woodlouse, etc
• A water zone – a little place to play with water and stones.
• Digging for treasure – find buried objects in the soil. Re-dig them back in for others to find.

The idea would be that each pair of children would move around the different activities and try them out in the garden area. It can be quite flexible as the children will want and need to play freely.

Before going home, sing a friendship song, say goodbyes to everyone. It would be good to send children/staff away with a small “Nature Bag” of materials that were used on the day, so follow up work can be undertaken in children’s own settings. Staff could repeat the above experiences over time with their child to compare and contrast with the day’s activities.

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