ACTIVITIES for Developmentally Disabled Children
1) Blanket Ride- sit or
lay one participant on a blanket and pull the blanket around
the room.... wheeeee!
2) Balance Beam- set a two
by four on the floor and have participants walk on the 2x4
3) Do What I Say- play music
with catchy, rhythmic tunes, start with very simple everyday
movements.... walking, running, stretching, twisting, bending,
etc. First, just do the movements and have participants follow;
later on say, "do what I say" and don't move at all...
the participants must listen to your directions. So if you say,
"jump up and down," everyone must jump up and down.
(just like Simon Says).
4) Clapping to Music- play
music, participants and leader claps hand in rhythm to the music...
add toe tapping, etc.
5) Freeze- play a catchy
tune. Participants walk around the room. When the music stops,
the participants freezes and hold that position until the leader
releases them. No one is out of this game. Play for fun. Continue
the music and play more Freeze!
6) Circle Dancing- play
a tape, place the group in a circle and instruct the group to
move to the right around in a circle. Them move to the left.
Move movement and instructions can be added later.
7) Imitate a picture- show
a picture of a tree. Ask the participants to stand like a tree.
Show other objects and have participants imitate that picture.
8) Rock painting- find rocks
outdoors (yep, this can be an activity in it self). Return indoors
or to a picnic table and paint the rock.
9) Body Trace- tape several
pieces of large blank paper (or newspaper) and tape it to the
wall. Have participants stand sideways or with their backs to
the paper on the wall. Place arms and legs in various positions.
Outline the body with a marker and cut it out. Tape the cut-outs
on the wall. Everyone can draw their cut-out or leave it blank.
Guess who the cut-out are?
10) Litter Bug Collage-
give participants a variety of materials like cloth scraps,
felt, rug samples, yarn, string, buttons, computer disks, etc.
Give them glue and wrapping paper and make a collage of his/her
11) Wish Poems- in groups
or individually have the participants say or write a poem. Wish
poems generally begin with "I wish" in each line.
12) Color Poems- Ask the
group to state what their favorite color is. Begin the poem
with a favorite color. (Ex., Red is the sun setting at night
or Red is the color of love). If writing as a group, have each
member suggest a line.
13) Poems Written to Music-
play an instrumental piece and ask the participants to close
their eyes and listen carefully to the music. Ask the group
what the music makes him or her think of. What colors do you
see? What kind of place? A city? Mountain? Ocean? What time
of year is it? The poem can begin with "I hear music. I
see ______. I feel ______. I reminds me of _______.' Have each
member complete the blanks.
14) Collecting Things- collecting
hobbies are fun. They encourage participants to independently
work on their hobby. Begin the group by talking about collecting
things and what they may want to collect for a hobby. Suggestions
include bottle caps, stones, leaves, flowers, milk caps, baseball
cards, stamps, autographs, etc. Groups can collect similar objects
and spend group time on hunts and on showing what they have
collected from the previous week.
15) Tin Can Alley- set up
some empty cans or plastic bottles of various sizes in horizontal
row. First place them 5 feet away, then 10 and at increasing
distances. You can mark point values on them. Put higher points
on smaller objects. Give participants a ball and have them throw
or roll the ball toward the cans. The cans do not have to fall
over to count. Each turn consists of two tries.
16) Walks- on a walk, always
mix fun, challenges, excitement and movement. Play games as
you go (follow the leader, don't step on cracks, freeze every
time the leader says "freeze"). Tell stories. And
17) Back to Nature walks-
- a- Listen! How many sounds can
you hear? Can you tell what's making the sound.
- b- Feel! How does the pine needle
feel? Feel the brick. Feel the dirt. Does this leaf feel the
same as that one?
- c- Sniff! What do you smell?
Where is the smell coming from? Smell this flower.
- d- Look! Take a magnifying glass
with you. Look at leaves, pine needles, flowers, bugs. Take
along pictures of things to look for.
- e- Sssh! Take a silent walk.
Be as quiet as you can and you may see some shy animals
18) Scavenger Hunt- take
a list of things to find in nature and see if group members
can find it
19) Campfire Sing-a-long-
build a small fire outdoors and cook marshmallows. Sing campfire
songs. If meeting indoors, build a simulated fire with logs
and a red light underneath it.
20) Thumbfoolery- press
a thumb on a stamp pad and then press the thumb on a sheet of
paper. Draw a tail, ears, eyes on the thumb print to make an
animal. Make another with eyes, nose, antlers, etc.
21) Frisbee golf- play a
9 hole or an 18 hole course indoors or outdoors. Targets can
be simple to difficult depending on ability of participants.
Participants can choose the targets or the leader can pre-set
a course. Start the game by having each participant tossing
a Frisbee at a target. Count the number of times each player
tosses the Frisbee to hit the target. Lowest count wins that
"hole." Play as a team, play individually. Set up
a tournament. Play for fun.
22) Director Draw- choose
a "director" and give others a pencil and a paper.
The director's job is to think of something for the others to
draw. The only restriction is that the director can't tell them
exactly what they are drawing. Simple circles, squares, etc.
are suggested. He must give clear instructions verbally or physically
on how to draw the object he is thinking of. Show each other
the finished drawings.
23) Pass it on- sit or stand
in a circle. Leader starts a word, a phrase, a handshake, a
funny face, etc. and passes it to the person on his right. That
person then passes the word or motion to the next person. This
continues until all have received and passed on the original
action. Examples: "Hello","You're great","Sh-h-h",smile,yawn,
hug. As a variation, when passing words, ask each person to
use a different inflection or voice quality.
24) Information Please-
sit in a circle. Leader says, "My name is... what is yours?"
Leader looks directly at the person questioned and throws a
bean bag or ball to that person. The 2nd person repeats, "MY
name is.... what's yours?" and throws the bean bag to a
3rd person. Additional questions may include: "My hobby
is... what's yours?" "I'm feeling..... how are you
25) Conduct the music- play
a record on the record player. Close eyes to begin with and
have each participant conduct the music. Open eyes and conduct
the music. As a variation, give each participant a part in the
"band" by giving them an imaginary drum, guitar, piano
& other instruments that one can hear in the music. Have
a conductor lead the participants in playing their instruments.
26) Balloon or beachball volleyball-
play volleyball with regular rules or with modifications to
meet the needs of the clients. (additional taps may be allowed
by the serving team to get the balloon over the net; any number
of hits may be allowed to get the balloon over the net; same
player may hit the ball several times in succession, etc.)
27) Marching to music- play
a march music or any music with a strong beat. March to the
music. March together. March in different directions with everyone
going their separate ways.
28) Creative movement to music-
play a record that participants like. Participants may start
with simple movements. Leader may have others follow his movement.
Encourage each to be creative and move freely to the music.
Encourage large sweeping movements.
29) Guided movement- play
music. Guide the participants to the following movements:make
yourself small like a seed and slowly stretch yourself as if
you were growing into a sunflower.
- Grow leaves and stretch in all
- imagine a leaf falling slowly
to the ground. Settle down with a sigh.
- be silly and grin, then giggle,
and finally laugh uncontrollably
- make other movements.
30) Laugh a Olympics- what
makes you laugh? Do silly things to make each other laugh. Do
group laughs. Laugh different ways. Who's the best laugher?
Who's the funniest laugher? Who has the most contagious laugh?
Do a stare contest.
31) Parachute Play-
numerous games and activities can be played with a parachute.
Make up your own games.
32) Red-Handed- form a circle
with one person in the center. While the center person closes
his eyes, those in the circle pass a small item around the circle.
When the center person opens his eyes, he tries to guess who
hods the object. While the person is guessing, those in the
circle continues to pass the object. Others in the circle should
be pretending to pass the item in order ton confuse and mislead
33) Wear it!-
play music. Pass a box around the circle. In the box are various
items of clothing, masks, hats, etc. When music stops, whoever
has the box must pull one item out of the box and must WEAR
IT! If group cannot pass a box, pass a bean bag instead.
34) Circular art- give each
person a sheet of paper and pencil, crayon or paint brush. Each
person must listen to specific instructions of the leader.
- put your name on back of the
- draw an outline of a face. Pass
the sheet to your right.
- draw the right eye. Pass the
sheet to your right
- draw the left eye. Pass continue
with other parts of the face until the picture is completed
- Return the picture to the original
35) Circular art without specific
instructions- play music. Invite participants to begin drawing
anything. After a brief period of time, instruct everyone to
pass the picture to their right (or left) and add to the picture.
Continue the activity until the picture returns to the original
36) Rhyming game- one person
says a word and the group tries to see how many words they can
think of the rhyme with the original word. Simple poems can
be written using the rhymes.
37) Do you remember?- discussion
group... do you remember the first time you went out a played
in the snow... tell us about it. Ask other questions that stimulates
38) Name that tune- play
competitively or for fun. Play a segment of a song and participants
must guess the song title.
39) Twine Printing- wrap
a block of wood or a tin can with string or twine. Fasten the
ends of the twine with glue to keep it from unraveling. Saturate
the twine with tempura paint. On a surface cushioned with a
stack of newspaper, press the printer (the block or can with
twine around it) slowly and evenly onto a white sheet of paper.
40) Charades/Animal Antics-
charades can be modified and simplified; utilize simple charades
such as brushing hair, driving a car, playing baseball. In Animal
Antics, participants mimic animals for others to guess.
41) Fish Net Link- using
fish nets, groups can link together in a chain or in circles
and move creatively together... move together like a wave, like
a caterpillar, etc.
42) Kite Flying- with a
good kite and a good wind, kite flying can be exciting and enjoyable
for the participants and those just viewing.
43) Rope Whipping- with
a strand of rope 10-15ft long, pair up partners and give them
plenty of space. Each partner can whip the rope (each holding
one end) and make waves and other movements. Play music and
invite partners to move the rope in rhythm.
44) Fan making- on a hot
summer day, cut out some wall paper samples. Let participants
choose their own patter. Fold the paper in half and then fold
it accordion style. Tape the ends together and you have a fan
to keep you cool!
45) Table beachball- sit around
a table and bat the beach ball across the table. Try not to
let the ball hit the ground. For competition, teams are composed
of alternate seating of participants on a rectangular table.
Leave the ends open.... that's the goal. Ball going through
a goal is worth a point. With larger groups, add two or three
table length wise.
These are just a few of activity
ideas that I've used successfully with children with developmental
and MR disabilities. Do you have other ideas that worked for
you. Send them in and have it posted here for others to use.