Children communicate in a variety of ways. Some speak, some use sign language, some use gestures or eye movements, and others might use special communication devices or pictures. Sometimes it is necessary to pay close attention to how children communicate. You may need to give them extra time, or watch their facial expressions or movements. If you're a child, it's okay if you can't understand a friend at first. Let them know you need to get help to understand and find an adult to assist. If you're an adult, ask children to experiment communicating using sign language, pictures, or other communication aides to help hem them understand how all people communicate; they just might do it in different ways. Here is one inclusive game idea from our guidebook 2 Play Together to foster friendships and break down barriers.
Directions (Ideal for grades PreK - 1st)
This is a game of follow the leader. Children take turns being the leader, communicating what to do and where to go in their own way. Actions can include clapping, climbing, stomping, sliding, swinging, etc. All children can interpret and copy the leader's actions at their own ability level.
More Fun Inclusion Tips
- Provide verbal and/or physical guidance for places to go, movements to do, or for children that need reinforcement.
- Ask children to modify their actions to allow all children access to play. For example, if a child uses a wheelchair they might choose activities other than going down the slides.
- Encourage children to verbalize and/or make sounds during this activity, such as animal noises, singing a repetitive song like Row, Row, Row Your Boat as they act out the motions. or saying funny words like "Boing", "Zap", "Boom", "Zip", "Pow". If the child is nonverbal they can use musical instruments, vocalizations, communication devices, or picture symbols to participate successfully.
- Ask the leader to say a letter and every child takes a turn to say or sign a word starting with that letter.
- Pair children up in teams of two - a child with and a child without a disability. The pairs can move through the game together, helping each other along.
- Follow the leader but when the leader shouts out a piece of playground equipment, all children have to move towards it to play. This adds a sense of excitement and anticipation to play. A new child becomes the leader and play starts over.+
"I liked to play with the other children." - Emily, Age 5