Inclusive Schools Week
Celebration Ideas Guide
Interesting, Fun, Learning Activities that promote Inclusive Practices
During Inclusive Schools Week and Anytime Throughout the Year
These celebration ideas serve as practical suggestions for facilitating the inclusion of all students in a general education setting. As the diversity of learners within our classrooms continues to grow, the need to structure curricula, lessons, and activities that not only meet the needs of all students but celebrate the diversity among those learners becomes critical.
Whether students in your school and community are already sharing a common learning environment or you are just beginning to create an atmosphere of accessibility and acceptance for all, these resources will help to encourage and inspire movement toward a more inclusive community. This Celebration Ideas guide includes activities and resources for educators, families, students, and community leaders who are committed to embracing diversity and providing access to learning for all students.
To assist you in planning for the Week, we have categorized the activities into 3 groups: for classrooms, schools and districts, and communities. Within the categories there are three levels of implementation:
1. Activities that Promote Awareness: Activities in this section can help create awareness of the benefits of inclusive education. 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.
2. Activities that Build Knowledge and Skill: Activities in this section reflect the importance of taking awareness to the next level—Action! Building the knowledge and skills of students, families, school staff, and members of the community increases the likelihood that inclusive practices will become integrated into the framework of the community.
3. Activities that Influence the System: Activities in this section reflect the importance of taking knowledge and skill to the next level—Change within the system! By changing the policies, procedures, and culture of our schools, it is more likely that positive advances in inclusive education will become an integral part of the community framework.
Classroom Celebration Ideas
The following ideas are geared toward implementation in classrooms. For even more learning and fun, team up with another classroom in your school to put some of these ideas into action.
Activities that Promote Awareness
Activities in this section can help create awareness of the benefits of inclusive education. 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.
· Expand your morning circle activity to include various modes of communication.
Use sign language, foreign languages, and augmentative communication supports (including photos, pictures, and 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 into 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 a class list of examples 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.
· Design a classroom mural to depict the students’ perception of what an inclusive school and community looks like.
· Assign students to write an essay describing how to be a good friend. Have each student 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.
Activities that Build Knowledge and Skills
Activities in this section reflect the importance of taking awareness to the next level--
Action! Building the knowledge and skills of students, families, school staff, and members of the community increases the likelihood that inclusive practices will become integrated into the framework of the community.
· Encourage students to study how the fields of science and technology have contributed to the lives of people with disabilities. Some examples are cochlear implants, assistive technology, wheelchairs, TTY, etc.
· Assign students to explore websites dedicated to Universal Design for Learning and technology in order to come up with ideas to improve access to information for themselves and others. One example is Teaching Every Student at
· Ask students to complete a Learning Style Assessment. Host a classroom discussion about the various ways that people learn and why it is important to know how each individual learns the best.
· Make a commitment during the Week to try some new teaching strategies aimed at improving outcomes for all kids in your class. Incorporate active learning into your language arts lesson, take the students for an observation walk during science class, or act out the events in history that you are studying.
Your hard work will pay off, because the students will embrace learning while having fun.
· Incorporate the teaching of study skills into the classroom curriculum. These supports serve to increase the achievement levels of all students.
· Have the class study the use of “person first” language when talking about people with differences in language, culture, and ability. The lesson includes a discussion of what personal characteristics you want people to emphasize when they refer to you. Each student can sign a contract committing to using person first language in their conversations and sharing this information with others in their family and community.
· Each morning introduce students to a new word in American Sign Language.
Encourage them to use the word at least five times during the school day.
· Teach students the proper way to provide assistance as a sighted guide to a person who is blind or visually impaired. They can take turns practicing on each other using a blindfold.
· Ask the class to design a chart outlining the features of a store, restaurant, or other public place that would make it more accessible to people with disabilities. Collect data on local businesses that have these accessible features.
At the conclusion of the project, present an award to the business that has the most accessible features.
· Instruct students to work in groups to assess the accessibility of the school and community for people with disabilities. What modifications can be made? Do the public buildings in the community offer access to people with disabilities?
How many restaurants in the community offer menus in Braille? Is there a text telephone or TTY in the school (also known as a TDD, which stands for telecommunication device for the deaf)?
· Ask student groups to study the elements of universal design, a principle of architectural design that focuses on accessibility for all people. How do the concepts apply to their school and community? How can the concepts of universal design assist in fostering an inclusive environment?
· Have individuals build a model (either three-dimensional or on graph paper) of a classroom, school, or community that provides access for all people. List the features that contribute to it being an inclusive environment.