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Activity and strategy

Integrating Emergent Literacy into Adaptive PE

This activity integrates adapted physical education, speech therapy and emergent literacy for students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities.

The speech-language pathology and adaptive physical education teams collaborated to adapt and retell The Mitten by Jan Brett.  We set up an obstacle course to simulate the events of the story. For each of the animals in the story, we researched or used descriptions from the story to describe animal sounds and movements, and then we set up an obstacle for each animal to practice the movements and sounds.  At the end of the obstacle course, all the students crawled inside our “mitten” (a parachute) before it was sneezed off!


  1. Book plus audio for warm-up

Screenshot of The Mitten

  1. Object cues (animals, mitten)
  2. Poly spots to indicate each station
  3. Tunnel
  4. Mats
  5. Mini-trampoline
  6. Towels
  7. Parachute

Animal sounds and movements

Cover of


The students came into PE class and during their warm up listened a sound recording of The Mitten.  As we encountered the animals of the story, the students acted out a movement and a sound the animal makes as they moved toward the mitten (parachute).  After the story, we gathered in the center of the gym and tried on the pair of mittens and discussed why we wear mittens in the winter. We explained that there were some other animals that wanted to keep warm in the mitten too.  



  1. First we introduced the mole, the students made a “sniffing” noise like a mole and then crawled through the tunnel obstacle.  
  2. Next came the snowshoe hare in the book.  “We made a thumping noise” and then hopped over to the next obstacle.  
  3. Then came the hedgehog came along.  In the book it says the hedgehog made a snuffling sound.  We made our best snuffling sounds and then curled up into a ball like a hedge hog and did a forward roll with assistance on the mat or did a log roll on the mat for a modification.  
  4. Then came the owl.  We made a “whoo, whoo” sound and flapped our arms as wings.  To swoop down as the owl did in the story, the students jumped on a mini-trampoline and then “swooped” off.  
  5. Next we introduced the badger.  Wikipedia says badgers make a gargling sound so we made our best noises like badgers and dug through towels as badgers dig through the dirt.  
  6. Next was the fox and they make high pitched barking or yipping sounds as they prance.  We modified this by galloping.  
  7. Next is the bear.  We all roared and then bear crawled around the gym.  
  8. Last is the mouse.  We squeaked like mice and scammpered into the mitten and then everyone sneezed as the bear did and the adults pulled the mitten (parachute) off. 

To wrap it up we showed the students one of the mittens they looked at in the beginning of class paired with the over-sized mitten sewn out of felt.  The students compared and contrasted the mitten’s size before and after the animals all got inside. 


Some variations or modifications were described in the procedure, these are the modifications that were not listed above.  

With some of the classes, we read the book as we went through the obstacle course.  This was not always possible with each class due to the class size or length of time needed per obstacle, so we just introduced the animals as we went through the course.  

We have a few students who were not able to crawl through the entire length of the tunnel, so staff was able to collapse it to accommodate what they are able to do.  We had other students in wheelchairs.  We collapsed the tunnel and put the tunnel over the wheelchair for a modification.

Some students were not able to crawl under the parachute, so they sat on the mat and the parachute was pulled over top.  

Emergent literacy collage


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