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5 Tips to Make ESY Fun!

I am definitely on an ESY kick. (ESY=Extended School Year. In short, it is summer school for students with significant disabilities).

My last post I was asking the question, Is ESY Inclusive? No, it is not.

But now I want to talk about how you and your students can have a good ESY experience.

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5 Tips to Make ESY Fun!

  1. Prepare.

By reading the following IEP sections:

Present Levels

Behavior Intervention Plans (if they have one)

Goal Page (but only look at the goals you are supposed to be tracking)

ESY is quick and challenging, but looking over these few sections of your student's IEPs can help you come up with a plan for challenging behaviors, set up the room accordingly, and create a schedule.

2. Bring in some of your own stuff

I know this is just saving the school from being shitty.. but there can be some easy finds like I linked above. I would also reach out to the district, when they are asking for teachers, about a budget you get to spend on activities for the students or what will be given to you. At one school I did get a box of games, sensory items, and craft supplies.

3. Create a tentative schedule and be ready to change it

Here are how simple my schedules have looked in the past:


7:45AM-8:00AM: Students show up. Have a routine. Put their backpacks, jackets, school stuff, lunch, etc. in a designated spot. Have morning activities they can do (coloring, sensory items, music, etc.)

8:00AM-8:30AM: Morning circle or morning activity.

Morning circle I played songs from my phone which connected to my own personal speaker. Songs that greeted everyone, days of the week, sunshine songs, counting or alphabet songs, and so on.

For older kids, I would have a journal prompt and everyone had their own checklists to be done. For example, some students wrote multiple paragraphs and some wrote 5 sentences. Some needed one on one support and some needed to be checked in on every once in a while. Of course all of my students had notebooks like this because apparently I am "old school." Once they were done, there was free choice, reading a book or drawing at the table.

8:30AM-9:00AM: Activity at their desk. Usually something mathematical. This can be anything!!!

Counting objects in the room, counting touch math dots together, singing songs counting up and down, finding shapes in the classroom, grabbing some chalk and drawing shapes outside, whatever!! This is where goals can come in handy.

9:00AM-9:45AM: Snack and Recess

I always brought some snacks just in case, please check for allergies or diet restrictions before passing out food!! I usually just had goldfish or pretzels. (We worked on communication a lot during these moments).

9:45AM-10:15AM Story Time. Sometimes with comprehension questions, taking turns reading or pointing to letters, or reflection questions. I would make stories so long. 15 minutes in, you need a break? Dance it out!

10:15AM-10:45AM Art Time. We did a lot of ripping paper activities my last year teaching ESY. Ripping papers and making rainbows. Ripping paper and gluing it around outlined shapes or letters. Tracing our hand and then ripping paper and filling our hand in. If you have more stuff available to you, water coloring, coloring leaves and glueing them on papers, again grab some chalk and go outside. Here are some chalk tools to make this activity accessible to everyone!

10:45AM-11:30AM: One big activity.

This can be an ongoing science project, like planting seeds in a pot or the butterfly transition

11:30AM-12:15PM: Lunch and pack up for home.

ESY always ended after lunch for me.

We would get all of the backpacks ready and then leave right after lunch OR we would eat lunch and come back to then pack up. I preferred that was so we could sing a goodbye song. Moving on!

4. Enforce your rules but be lenient.

Students test the new teacher or staff members. This is where those Behavior Intervention Plans come in handy. If your students have them, don't reinvent the wheel. Follow what the team has already created. Also, be lenient. I had a student who did NOT want to sit with us for circle time. We worked on it every day. By the end of the 4 weeks of ESY, he would sit with us, but it took a lot of having fun to get him there.

5. End every day with something positive.

Even if it is just going around in a circle and saying something that made you happy, giving students choices, or pointing to pictures of the schedule. This practice is good for the students and the staff to feel positive after a short, but long, day of ESY.

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Have you tried any of these? Do they work? Do they not work? What works for you?

Inclusion Starts With You and I just want to help :)



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