Event planning is a great way to incorporate literacy and the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) into student-led activities! While this particular example was done at Easter, there are many opportunities throughout the year to practice reading, writing, problem solving and critical thinking skills.
I always find it interesting to observe how the mind of a student works. Two months prior to Easter, my 4th grade student approached the PPCD (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) teacher to ask if she could do an Easter egg hunt for her class. The teacher eagerly said yes! Two months of planning…lots of planning.
She interviewed the teacher several times asking about dietary issues the students might have. Then we needed to plot how to do the eggs since one young man couldn’t have chocolate. Her solution was to use different eggs. The students would be given one egg and then they’d have to find the matching eggs. There were 6 in all. That problem was solved. Then there was the student with low vision. She immediately remembered I had beeping eggs and wanted to use them. That problem solved. Then there is a student who is in a wheelchair. He wouldn’t be able to get in the grass and find his eggs. Then she remembered my “grass tray”…cookie sheet with outdoor carpet hot glued on it. She immediately thought of using that tray and having the student “find” one egg at a time. That problem solved.
Oh! And the Easter baskets? She asked the teacher if she could make those…that was a yes. Another problem solved.
The next problem was where to have the event. She and I walked all around the school. She took my camera and took pictures of the different areas for us to review later. Some areas wouldn’t work because the amount of noise from the highway would make the beeping egg useless. Then there was the area by the playground…too distracting. The soccer field….too big. The area by the trees….too easy for the kids to fall in the creek. Area in front of the school…might work. Problem possibly solved. We wound up using this area.
Volunteers might be needed. She wanted someone to take photos, so the students could have photos to take home of them in the hunt. She also wanted one-on-one assistance for the 8 students…she didn’t want to overwork the teacher or paraprofessionals! Asking speech therapist, two parents, an OT, her Blind Children’s Specialist from Health and Human Services, and of course me. My role was to be her assistant. And what does an assistant do? Fix problems. As a thank you, she embossed thank you letters and stapled them to Ziploc bags of candy. There were given out immediately following the hunt.
The week before the event, we learned the two parents would be bringing the siblings of the two students. She felt they couldn’t come and not be included. Since one sibling was a year old, she bought him a small stuffed animal and filled one egg with some candy. The other sibling, got to hunt for eggs as well.
The next problem was that it started raining early that week and every day that week for a little bit. So she had to go to the front office and solicit assistance in finding a backup in case of rain or if the ground was too wet. After viewing a couple rooms, a back up was deemed “okay” by her. The day of the event it was damp, but we were able to continue outside.
Her event was a success! All the students had great fun and she was exhausted. She was thrilled it was over. Following the event, she completed a self-evaluation. Once that was complete, she read over her evaluations by several of the volunteers.
We reviewed two possible careers out of what she just did. One was an event planner and the other was a teacher. After spending time researching the two careers, she decided event planning was not for her, as it was “too stressful”. She is still interested in teaching, but admitted that “8 kids were a lot of work”.