Last week, the fifth grade went to a park made for children with disabilities. It had play equipment that tailored to wheelchairs, autism, and other sensory needs. We paired our students with a special education school to let them play together. We are reading the book “Wonder” in class, and this definitely helped our kids be more open-minded with how to act around their buddies.
It was amazing seeing them all interacting in positive ways! They were very respectful and stuck with what their new friends wanted to do. Having our kids paired up with each other, and then paired with the student from the special education school, made sure that everyone felt comfortable. They were all smiles, and many of them held their buddies hands if it was more difficult for them to walk on their own. It really showed me as their teacher how grown up they are becoming 🙂
I think overall it went very well, however, it was too long for many of the children. Since many of the buddies had severe autism, they were more non-verbal and wanted to stay in one place. The field trip was for about 4 hours, which is a very long time to play on the same play structures over and over. BUT The next day, the children had great insights to say about the interactions and it really made an impactful difference in their lives!