Special Education in PE Class: Lesson Planning for Inclusion | Advancement Courses (2023)

Physical education is a crucial part of a child’s growth and well-being. That goes for every kid — including those with special needs — yet one physical education teacher can only do so much without the proper tools and resources.

When it comes to lesson planning for inclusion in PE class, the teachers we know have a number of adaptable games that ensure most every student gets to take part. While the classroom activities in this list will not provide exhaustive solutions for every physical and cognitive condition, we hope these resources provide a guiding light for greater inclusiveness.

Defining PE Inclusion for Students with Disabilities

Before we dive into inclusive physical education activities, it’s important to note how our country’s education system is faring in the mission. Let’s take a look at how we define inclusiveness and examine performance data.

Every child deserves an education that benefits them for the duration of their life. This truth remains a sacred contract between educators and the young people they seek to help. The promise doesn’t change based on a student’s socioeconomic status, learning differences, or physical handicaps.

(Video) Adapted physical education

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability defines inclusion as such: “All children, regardless of ability or disability, have the right to be respected and appreciated as valuable members of the school community, fully participate in all school activities, and interact with peers of all ability levels with opportunities to develop friendships.”

No one in their right mind would disagree with that statement, but for students with physical disabilities, inclusive physical education means evolving lesson plans and acquiring appropriate equipment with each new cohort of students. In other words, blanket proclamations provide a mission statement, but not necessarily a plan of action.

Unfortunately, public K–12 schools have a lot of catching up to do. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight the need for inclusive lesson planning in PE classes.

  • 76% of students with physical, cognitive, or medical conditions are not receiving the recommended hour of physical education per day.
  • 55% of schools provide only traditional physical education.
  • Only 26% of schools are able to provide both adapted and traditional physical education.

While these numbers reflect a dire situation, the stats don’t consider how a lack of funding and resources often makes inclusion a difficult task. We hope these games help PE teachers create a more inclusive gymnasium that adapts for students of all abilities and differences.


Games for PE Inclusion

There is so much to consider when lesson-planning for an inclusive PE class. Every student’s situation is completely unique, so games for PE inclusion will be different from class to class. It never hurts to reach out to a parent, special education teacher, or occupational therapist to help you brainstorm how to modify activities.

On that note, students’ level of ability will change with each passing year. Some things to consider are:

  • The use of a wheelchair, cane, or walker
  • Visual and hearing impairments
  • Students who are nonverbal
  • Children with sensory needs
  • Kids with extreme social anxiety

To that end, TES Therapy suggests modification strategies such as:

  • Changing the distance or time requirements of physical education activities
  • Larger, softer, and lighter weight sports balls and bats for students who have limited motor skills
  • Lowered tennis and volleyball nets for students who have limited motor skills
  • Allowing for walking instead of running

With these complicated truths in mind, let’s take a look at some games for PE inclusion you might use in your class. While they cannot offer exhaustive solutions, we hope teachers can use these frameworks as adaptable lessons.

(Video) Sainsbury’s Inclusive PE Training - The Activity Inclusion Model

Free-form dancing: With free-form dancing’s emphasis on non-choreographed movement, almost every kid will be able to participate. Depending on their abilities, children can move their legs, arms, or even just their heads. There need not be an emphasis on the speed or vigorousness of movements so that all students can move according to their abilities.

Breathing exercises: While breathing itself doesn’t involve much exercise, mindfulness techniques enable students to listen to their bodies, which is very much a part of physical education. Breathing exercises can involve counting breaths as a group, or having students take deep breaths as they relax major muscle groups.

Chair aerobics: These activities allow for more students’ involvement. Depending on students’ abilities and limitations, chair aerobics might include alligator claps, swim arms, shoulder shrugs, leg lifts, flutter kicks, and marching in place.

Adjustable limbo: The rope height must be adjustable for kids who can’t bend down. If there are students who need accommodations, PE teachers can create a more inclusive environment by toning down any competitive or score-keeping elements.

(Video) Physical Education Routine for Children with Autism

Color matching: Give each student or group hoops of various colors. Place gym equipment that matches those colors at the opposite end of the gym. Ask students to retrieve an item that matches the color of their hoop. Kids who have physical limitations will be able to participate by identifying the location of the appropriate color.

Freeze: Put on music and ask your students to move or dance. When the music stops, they have to stop what they’re doing and stay in as perfect a tableau as possible.

PD to Help PE Teachers Serve Their Students

Looking for more strategies to promote a healthy lifestyle for every kid in your classroom? Check out the following courses from Advancement Courses. We offer K–12 educators more than 280 online, self-paced professional development courses covering both foundational topics and emerging trends. All courses are offered for both graduate and continuing education credit for your salary advancement or recertification needs.

  • Reframing Disability in the PE Classroom: Explore the anatomical, behavioral, and cognitive characteristics of common disabilities so that you can more effectively communicate, instruct, and modify lessons to reach students of all abilities in the PE classroom.
  • Physical Education for Students With Disabilities: Harness the power of Universal Design for Learning to create a classroom environment that guides and challenges every student to explore the furthest reaches of their physical capabilities without fear of failure or ridicule.
  • Increasing Accessibility in PE Curriculum With Universal Design for Learning: Design a fully immersive, accessible PE curriculum by asking yourself the right questions while lesson planning and modifying lessons to provide multiple means of engagement, representation, action, and expression.
  • Integrating Health and Wellness into the Elementary Classroom: Give your students the tools to make a lifetime of healthy choices. No matter what subject area you teach, this course will give you physical and mental exercises you can integrate into your class’s daily routine, and strategies to promote health and wellness throughout your school community.
  • Sports and Games: Using Instructional Models in PE: The days of uninspired and unorganized play are over! This course includes strategies for identifying competency-based, goal-oriented games and authentic activities appropriate for K–12 physical education. You’ll also develop tools for assessing students as they cultivate a lifelong interest in fitness.
  • Why Good Coaches Quit: Although coaching can be meaningful, exciting, and fulfilling work, it can also be a tough job with significant pressures and stressors. In this course, you will learn how to juggle multiple roles, manage stress, build emotional intelligence, and define a clear value system to prevent burnout and reignite your passion for the job.
  • Integrating Technology into the PE Classroom: PE may sometimes feel like a school’s only chance to get students away from screens, but technology can be a dynamic and engaging force in your PE class. Use technology to enhance your own planning and instruction with digital organization tools, and to motivate students to greater physical activity through video, apps, and games.
  • Game On! Getting Kids Pumped in P.E. Class: Motivate your students of all backgrounds and fitness levels to participate in PE. In this course, you’ll learn how to get your students excited for physical activities to positively impact their mental, emotional, and physiological well-being.


What is inclusion in the PE classroom? ›

Inclusive physical education and physical activity: Includes students with disabilities in regular physical education classes. Specifically, teaching strategies, equipment, environments, and assessments have been adapted to meet the needs of all students.

How to include students with disabilities in physical education? ›

Ways to Adjust Physical Activities to Include Students with Special Needs
  1. Alter speed, duration, space used, equipment or/and rules of play.
  2. Slow down the activity to accommodate students with limited mobility or poor aerobic fitness. ...
  3. Reduce the duration of activities for students with lower levels of fitness.

What are the 5 types of lesson plan? ›

5 Common Types of Lesson Plans
  • Daily Lesson Plan. Teachers prepare this type of lesson plan to cover the learning objective for a specific day. ...
  • Weekly Lesson Plan. ...
  • A Whole Unit Lesson Plan. ...
  • Subject Specific Lesson Plan. ...
  • Grade-Specific Lesson Plan.
May 17, 2022

What are three ways to create an inclusive classroom? ›

Tips for Making Classrooms More Inclusive as Students Head Back To School
  • Use inclusive language on all forms. ...
  • Stock your library shelves with diverse books. ...
  • Create a welcoming bulletin board. ...
  • Develop clear classroom and/or school agreements. ...
  • Prepare for teachable moments. ...
  • Model inclusive language.
Aug 24, 2018

How do you create an inclusive environment in sports? ›

Share This
  1. Always give the same level of respect to everyone.
  2. Never tolerate derogatory or belittling language between athletes.
  3. Listen and display empathy to all athletes.
  4. Respect any assistive devices, such as canes or wheelchairs, and always ask before moving assistive devices.

What is inclusion in lesson plan? ›

Inclusive practice refers to the instructional and behavioral strategies that improve academic and social- emotional outcomes for all students, with and without disabilities, in general education settings.

What is inclusion for special education students? ›

Inclusion––the preferred term––involves supporting students with disabilities through individual learning goals, accommodations, and modifications so that they are able to access the general education curriculum (in the general education classroom) and be held to the same high expectations as their peers.

Why is inclusion important in PE? ›

Inclusive physical education and physical activity:

Encourages students with disabilities to have the same roles and experiences as their peers who do not have a disability during physical education and other physical activities.

How do you modify activities for students with disabilities? ›

Methods of modifying games and activities:
  1. Reduce the size of the playing area. Change the boundary lines. ...
  2. Use lighter equipment. Plastic bats, "whiffle" type balls. ...
  3. Slow down moving objects. Change the throwing style to underhand. ...
  4. Modify the rules. ...
  5. Provide additional rest periods.

What are the 3 C's in a lesson plan? ›

The framework involves three stages: Create, Reflect and Discover. First you provide time for your students to create something, then they reflect on it and finally they use their experiences and reflections to discover more about themselves.

What are the 7 C's lesson plan? ›

The 7Cs are: Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, information, and media literacy, Computing and ICT literacy, Cross-cultural understanding, and Career and learning self-reliance.

What are the 5 C's lesson plan? ›

Five C's for teaching. Use connectedness, conversation, curiosity, consideration, and community and culture to create a successful learning environment.

What is an inclusive classroom for special needs? ›

In an inclusive classroom, general education teachers and special education teachers work together to meet the needs of students. This gives special education students the support they need while they stay in a general education classroom. All students can benefit from inclusive classrooms.

What is an example of inclusion in special education? ›

Examples of inclusion in the classroom is providing access to the same routines and curriculum, encouraging participation of all students in activities done inside and outside the classroom, and holding all students up to the highest of standards regardless of a disability.

What can teachers do to create an inclusive classroom? ›

To create an inclusive classroom for your students, try integrating these strategies.
  1. Elevate Your Curriculum. ...
  2. Use Inclusive Language. ...
  3. Create and Enforce Class Values and Behavior Standards. ...
  4. Create Space for Students to Practice Empathy. ...
  5. Focus on Global Competence. ...
  6. Avoid Making Assumptions Based on Stereotypes.
Feb 2, 2022

How do you show inclusion in sports? ›

Always give the same level of respect to everyone. Never tolerate derogatory or belittling language between athletes. Listen and display empathy to all athletes. Respect any assistive devices, such as canes or wheelchairs, and always ask before moving assistive devices.

How do you make an activity more inclusive? ›

Inclusive Classroom Strategies
  1. Define clear minimum standards for behaviour.
  2. Enforce those standards consistently.
  3. Deal with low level disruption in a sensitive way.
  4. Create opportunities to listen to all children.
  5. Develop a 'scaffolded' approach to learning.
  6. Be aware of the specific needs of every child in your class.
Mar 2, 2022

How do you promote diversity and inclusion in sports? ›

Here are some ways that you can support your staff to understand and embrace diversity and inclusion within your club.
  1. Treat every club member as an individual. ...
  2. Use inclusive language. ...
  3. Detect and avoid discrimination and unconscious bias. ...
  4. Create a culture of safety and support. ...
  5. Understand and avoid sexual harassment.
Dec 16, 2021

How do you write an inclusive lesson plan? ›

How to Create an Inclusive Lesson Plan
  1. Think of the children's needs. Every child in your class has specific needs that have to be met. ...
  2. Use differentiated resources. ...
  3. Stick to a routine. ...
  4. Include hands-on and sensory activities. ...
  5. Use our inclusive resources to support your teaching. ...
  6. Our inclusive resources include everybody!
Feb 2, 2022

What are the inclusion classroom models? ›

There are generally two models for inclusion: push in or full inclusion. "Push-In" has the special education teacher enter the classroom to provide instruction and support to children. The push-in teacher will bring materials into the classroom.

What is an inclusive classroom strategy? ›

Inclusive teaching strategies refer to any number of teaching approaches that address the needs of students with a variety of backgrounds, learning modalities, and abilities. These strategies contribute to an overall inclusive learning environment in which all students perceive to be valued and able to succeed.

Why is inclusion important in sports? ›

Unified Sports brings players both with and without intellectual disabilities together on a team, giving them the opportunity to spend time with one another, and share a common interest. This interaction supports the development of friendships, as well as social inclusion.

What is the purpose of inclusion activity? ›

Diversity and inclusion activities refer to the process of integrating people of different races, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds into the workplace culture. Diversity and inclusion activities are intended to promote increasing team participation and a sense of belonging.

How do you promote inclusion in special education? ›

  1. Make it Personal. Provide opportunities for students to share their own experiences and perspectives. ...
  2. Include Various Perspectives. Provide a variety of perspectives on the topics you teach. ...
  3. Know Your Students. Get to know your students. ...
  4. Respect Diverse People. ...
  5. Respect Diverse Talents.

How can teachers best plan for and teach students with significant cognitive disabilities in inclusive classrooms? ›

Teaching Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms
  • Adapting the curriculum to better serve all students.
  • Creating a sense of community in the classroom by involving all students in each task.
  • Determining and understanding the needs of students with disabilities.

How do you make disabled people feel more inclusive? ›

Ensure the space is physically accessible.
  1. Language matters. ...
  2. Treat adults with disabilities as adults. ...
  3. Speak directly to people with disabilities, not at their aide or sign language interpreter. ...
  4. Listen patiently and attentively to a person who has difficulty speaking; do not try to finish their thoughts for them.

What are examples of modifications in lesson plans? ›

Modifications are changes in what students are expected to learn, based on their individual abilities. Examples of modifications include use of alternate books, pass/no pass grading option, reworded questions in simpler language, daily feedback to a student.

How do you teach inclusion? ›

These purposeful activities can show young people how to take the lead to be includers.
  1. Talk about Unintentional Exclusion and Encourage Empathy. ...
  2. Draw on Experiences. ...
  3. Teach Looking out for Others. ...
  4. Teach 'Friendly Invitations' ...
  5. Provide Opportunities for Connection. ...
  6. Encourage Kindness.

How do you teach social skills to students with disabilities? ›

Social Conventions
  1. Appropriate greetings depending on relationships: i.e. peer to peer or child to adult.
  2. Appropriate and polite ways to make requests ("please") and express gratitude ("thank you")
  3. Addressing adults.
  4. Shaking hands.
  5. Taking turns.
  6. Sharing.
  7. Giving positive feedback (praise) to peers, no put-downs.
  8. Cooperation.
May 15, 2019

What are the 4 A's lesson plan? ›

Choose a topic that you want the children in your class to learn and apply the 4-A's of activating prior knowledge, acquiring new knowledge, applying the knowledge, and assessing the knowledge.

What are the 4 A's methods in lesson plan? ›

The 4As of adult learning: Activity, Analysis, Abstraction, and Application is illustrated in Figure 6-1. The constructivist approach to teaching asserts that a Learner gains and builds knowledge through experience. It recognizes that life experiences are rich resources for continued learning.

What are the 4 C in lesson planning? ›

According to the report, the cornerstone of becoming a successful learner at any age comes down to the four C's: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication.

What are the 7 E's lesson plan explanation? ›

Learning Cycle 7E model is a learner-centered model. This model consists of stages of activities organized in such a way that students can master the competencies that must be achieved in learning by playing an active role. These stages are elicited, engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate, and extend [7].

What 6 elements are essential for a good lesson plan? ›

6 components of a lesson plan
  • Objective. A lesson objective can be one of the most important components of a lesson plan. ...
  • Materials. If you prepare the materials ahead of the lesson, you may have more time to focus on teaching. ...
  • Background knowledge. ...
  • Direct instruction. ...
  • Guided teaching. ...
  • Closure and assessment.
Jun 24, 2022

What are the 8 components of a lesson plan? ›

8 elements of lesson plans
  • Grade level and subject. One of the first sections of a lesson is the grade level and subject of the lesson you're going to teach. ...
  • Type of lesson. This is a brief section that explains the type of lesson you're going to be teaching. ...
  • Duration. ...
  • Topic. ...
  • Objective. ...
  • Materials. ...
  • Directions. ...
  • Assessment.
Mar 10, 2023

What is lesson plan in 5 E's format? ›

One approach to inquiry science is the 5E instructional model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate). The 5E model is a planning tool for inquiry teaching that provides a structure for students to connect science ideas with their experiences and apply their learning to new contexts.

What is the 5 E's lesson planning model most often associated with? ›

The 5E Model is based on the constructivist theory to learning, which suggests that people construct knowledge and meaning from experiences. By understanding and reflecting on activities, students are able to reconcile new knowledge with previous ideas.

What four 4 key components do you believe you must include in your lesson plan *? ›

A good daily lesson plan will include at least the following:
  • Introduction. The beginning of the lesson should engage the students' attention and focus on the topic. ...
  • Lesson development. Teachers should make students aware of the intended learning outcomes of the lesson. ...
  • Assessment activities. ...
  • Wrap up:

How do you make a class inclusive? ›

To create an inclusive classroom for your students, try integrating these strategies.
  1. Elevate Your Curriculum. ...
  2. Use Inclusive Language. ...
  3. Create and Enforce Class Values and Behavior Standards. ...
  4. Create Space for Students to Practice Empathy. ...
  5. Focus on Global Competence. ...
  6. Avoid Making Assumptions Based on Stereotypes.

How do you make an inclusive activity? ›

Inclusive Classroom Strategies
  1. Define clear minimum standards for behaviour.
  2. Enforce those standards consistently.
  3. Deal with low level disruption in a sensitive way.
  4. Create opportunities to listen to all children.
  5. Develop a 'scaffolded' approach to learning.
  6. Be aware of the specific needs of every child in your class.
Mar 2, 2022

How do I make my gym inclusive? ›

Older adults, by providing discounts, dedicated gym hours, modified group exercise offerings, and more. Families, by adding express classes to your schedule, on-site childcare for clients, and more. Beginners, by providing walking groups or fitness workshops to help them as they get started.

What are the five 5 steps to an inclusive classroom? ›

Five Steps for Creating Welcoming and Inclusive Learning Environments
  • Build Trusting Relationships. Know all of your students as people not just as learners. ...
  • Ensure Safety and Inclusion. ...
  • Make Diversity Visible. ...
  • Set High Expectations and Deepen Learning Opportunities. ...
  • Learn and Grow.

What is inclusion lesson plan? ›

Inclusive practice refers to the instructional and behavioral strategies that improve academic and social- emotional outcomes for all students, with and without disabilities, in general education settings.

What are examples of inclusive practices? ›

Inclusive practice means:
  • Being versatile and flexible.
  • Ensuring consistency and accessibility for all.
  • Working collaboratively.
  • Encouraging personalisation.
  • Varying learning opportunities.
  • Embracing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
Oct 7, 2021

What does an inclusive classroom look like? ›

An inclusive classroom climate refers to an environment where all students feel supported intellectually and academically, and are extended a sense of belonging in the classroom regardless of identity, learning preferences, or education.

What includes inclusive fitness? ›

Inclusive fitness includes direct fitness and indirect fitness. Direct fitness is when an individual behaves in ways that increase their own fitness, whereas indirect fitness is when an individual behaves in ways that increase the fitness of others that carry the same genes.

How do you structure a gym program? ›

As you design your fitness program, keep these points in mind:
  1. Consider your fitness goals. ...
  2. Create a balanced routine. ...
  3. Start low and progress slowly. ...
  4. Build activity into your daily routine. ...
  5. Plan to include different activities. ...
  6. Try high-interval intensity training. ...
  7. Allow time for recovery. ...
  8. Put it on paper.

What is the difference between fitness and inclusive fitness? ›

Inclusive fitness is an actor-centred approach, which calculates the fitness effect on a number of recipients of the behaviour of a single actor. Direct fitness is a recipient-centred approach, which calculates the fitness effect on the recipient of the behaviour of a number of actors.


1. Sainsbury’s Inclusive PE Training - The STEP Tool
(Activity Alliance)
2. Inclusion in Physical Education: Dover High School Wellness Program
(Special Olympics)
3. Universal Design for Learning in Physical Education
(National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD))
4. Inclusive Physical Education: Students with disabilities in PE/Sport
(QuickTeach PE)
5. Week 1: Special Educational Needs in Physical Education: Fundamentals and Inclusion
6. SPED class demonstration teaching! #specialeducation #teach


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