As I mentioned in a previous post, my brother Kris came for a visit in my last week. And he brought along two big suitcases packed to the brim with learning activities and toys for the special needs education program. Thank you so much to the friends and family who donated the money to purchase them!
Unfortunately, he also happened to come to visit during the two week Easter holiday for school children, so I do not have any pictures to share of the toys being used. (But I am hoping to get some in the near future from my friends still working in Dzaleka.)
Well, we managed to squish one of the suitcases and a bunch of loose toys under the benches and in unused seats in the Land Cruiser and brought it all in to camp on Thursday, and then unpacked it all onto one of the tables. The supplies were bought after consultation with special needs teachers in Canada, and some were bought with future students in mind who have greater disabilities than the currently enrolled students.
So that you get an idea of what the classroom is now equipped with, I am going to list the activities and some of the potential uses for them (working from top left in the picture above, across each row).
Wooden stack and count shape puzzle - 4 shapes with 4 pieces each in 4 different colours - each shape has a different number of anchoring pegs (1,2,3,4), so children can practice counting, sorting by shape, by colour, and work on their dexterity as well.
Rubber frog bean bags - virtually indestructible, these are a set of six and each is a different colour. They can be used for focussing distracted children, playing catch or other activities that require each child to have an individual marker object.
Wooden puzzle clock - each hour has a different shape and colour, so children can work on telling time, identifying matching colours, shapes, and number order.
Fastener box - various layers of fabric with different buckles, zippers, latches, and buttons to work on dexterity and develop their skills for self-care.
World icon shape matching pieces - mini puzzles that will help children learn to identify different animals, objects in nature, and other universal symbols.
Wooden lacing boards - various shapes with universal symbols (i.e. octagon stop sign) with laces to weave around the outlines and practice dexterity.
Purple texture matching ball set - ten balls with five different textures to work on senses.
Plastic locktagon building set - a more complex toy to work on creativity and dexterity.
Number bean bags - written numbers and numerals to practice recognition, reading and ordering of numbers.
Wooden activity boards - fasteners and latches to improve self-care skills and dexterity.
Weighted squishy stress balls - fidget activities to assist children with learning difficulties in maintaining focus during lessons.
Textured therapy balls - fidget activities, also good for working on sensory processing.
Rubber turtle bean bags - virtually indestructible, these are a set of six and each is a different colour. They can be used for focussing distracted children, playing catch or other activities that require each child to have an individual marker object.
Wooden beads lacing set - dexterity, identifying, and sorting activity.
Wooden mandala puzzle activity - precision and dexterity, shape identification.
Theraputty - a thick putty similar to plasticine, for sensory play.
Squidgie balls - ribbed flexible plastic, great for playing catch with children who don't have a wide range of movement in their hands.
Wooden puzzles - colours, alphabet, numbers, and sign language alphabet to work on spacial recognition and learning to identify those sets of information.
Wooden hammer and peg set - to work to improve hand-eye coordination.
Band in a box - for sensory processing and learning about rhythm.
Wooden shape sorter - spacial recognition and identification of shapes.
Shapes bean bags - to work on colours, shapes, and reading.
Alphabet and number building blocks in a rolling storage cart - development of dexterity, number and letter identification.
Wooden building blocks with screw fasteners - developing dexterity, creativity, and an understanding of basic construction.
Wooden nesting and stacking animal tower - learning to identify different kinds of animals and working on spacial identification and ordering by size.
Fidget Twidget Therapy Tracker - a concentration tool that works on sensory processing and focus.
Wooden building blocks - handy for sorting by shape, colour, size, and developing dexterity and creativity.
I then spent the morning talking through each of the activities with the two teachers, and giving examples of potential methods to use them when teaching the class. One of my co-workers is also trained in therapeutic play, and I am hoping that she will be able to spend some time working with the teachers in the future, to make sure that the donations reach their full potential for assisting in teaching these students.
The two teachers of the Special Needs Education Program were absolutely astounded. Their jaws dropped and their comments were "We are the richest resource classroom in all of Malawi", "No one else in Malawi has access to any of these teaching tools", and "Thank you so much to everyone in Canada! You must tell them thank you and God bless them!".
Welcome! My name is Katiana and I am a development professional pursuing my dream to live out Isaiah 1:17 to the best of my abilities. I am passionate about teaching and working with vulnerable families and children to improve their lives sustainably.
This blog is composed of my personal opinions, which do not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of institutions or organizations that I may be or have been affiliated with.