What Are The Best SEN Teaching Resources
We asked a number of experienced SEN teachers to share the Best Special Education Resources they use in their classrooms. There is a range of high-tech ideas mixed with a good helping of classic hands-on teaching resources.
During the discussion, educators shared their innovative approaches towards using various resources to enhance communication opportunities among children. The topic of exploration and engagement through play was also widely discussed. Teachers emphasized the significance of using a diverse range of resources to stimulate children’s curiosity and interaction.
Top 5 SEN Teaching Resources
SEN Teaching Resource 1 – Lego
I think Lego is almost the ultimate teaching resource. It is so versatile and of good quality. Yes, it is expensive to buy new but you can easily pick up mixed boxes from Facebook marketplace. This can be used to free-build and create big models. Buying smaller complete sets with instructions can be used for more structured sessions.
Symbolized resources were also highlighted for their effectiveness in promoting communication and comprehension. By using visual representations, such as pictograms and symbols, teachers have successfully supported children with special needs or language barriers to engage meaningfully in the learning process. These resources were integrated into everyday activities, like visual schedules and choice boards, to enhance communication and foster independence.
5 educational benefits of Lego for students with special educational needs (SEN):
- Develops problem-solving skills – Playing with Lego requires children to problem-solve, strategise, and think critically and creatively to build models. This helps develop important cognitive and analytical skills.
- Improves fine motor skills – Manipulating small Lego pieces helps strengthen hand muscles and improves dexterity. This can benefit students with conditions affecting fine motor function.
- Fosters collaborative learning – Lego encourages collaboration as children work together on group builds. This supports social and communication development.
- Boosts confidence and engagement – Hands-on, open-ended Lego play is inherently rewarding and motivating. Experiencing success at Lego builds can boost the confidence of SEN students.
- Reinforces STEM concepts – Lego kits featuring vehicles, robots, buildings and more bring math, science and engineering concepts to life. This makes challenging abstract ideas more concrete and accessible for SEN learners. Building sets also tie into topics taught in school.
SEN Teaching Resource 2 – Play-Doh (and blu-tac)
Another resource that garnered attention is blu tac and Play-Doh This reusable resource enables children to stick and mould materials together, encouraging tactile exploration and fine motor skills. Teachers have used blu tac for multiple purposes, such as creating three-dimensional art pieces or securing objects during science experiments.
5 educational benefits of play-doh for children:
- Develops motor skills – Manipulating play-doh requires using hands, fingers and arm muscles. This helps strengthen grasp, pincer grip, and hand-eye coordination.
- Supports creative expression – Children can freely sculpt, roll, pinch and mold play-doh however they like. This encourages imagination, creative thinking and problem-solving.
- Teaches cause and effect – Children learn that squeezing, poking and rolling play-doh causes it to change shapes. This reinforced the relationship between actions and outcomes.
- Boosts literacy skills – Children can practice writing letters and numbers in play-doh. Cutting out shapes also exposes them to basic geometric concepts.
- Promotes social development – Play-doh is a versatile sensory material that lends itself to collaborative play, role play and sharing. This supports social skills like cooperation, perspective-taking and communication.
SEN Teaching Resource 3 – Objects of Reference (and Visuals)
The most popular SEN teaching resource that was frequently mentioned by respondants is Lego. Its versatility allows children to build and create using their imagination, promoting problem-solving skills and spatial awareness. Teachers have utilised Lego in various educational settings, from constructing models of historical landmarks to creating bridges and other structures.
Ojects of Reference can be used as a form of timetable to provide context to each learning session throughout the day. They can also be used as a concrete example of what you are talking about. Talk about a boat in a lesson – have a boat available.
5 educational benefits of using objects of reference for students with special educational needs:
- Helps communicate needs and wants – Concrete objects allow students to physically point to or indicate what they require, rather than relying solely on verbal communication. This reduces communication barriers.
- Reinforces concepts and vocabulary – Real-world objects can help SEN students learn new words, concepts, attributes and categories through multisensory association. This strengthens semantic understanding.
- Provides context for abstract ideas – Objects of reference concretize more abstract ideas, rules, sequences or directions by giving students hands-on referents. This aids comprehension.
- Supports remembering instructions – Being able to visualise or tactually receive objects alongside instructions can help SEN learners retain and recall directions better than via auditory input alone.
- Motivates learning – Hands-on exploration and manipulation of fun, engaging objects supplies intrinsically rewarding learning experiences for students. This boosts focus, participation and motivation.
Top SEN Teaching Resource 4 – Tuff Tray (and Messy Play)
Anyone working in EYFS or SEN schools will no doubt already have a Tuff Tray in their classroom. I would magine this is not a hard sell. They are so versatile and can be used to contain mess as well as easily set-up and put away planned learning activities. My Top Tuff Tray Tip is to not leave them out in the sun, they will last a lot longer. For an in-depth look at the educational benefits of the tuff tray please check out our full Tuff Tray ideas for SEN article.
Top SEN Teaching Resource 5 – Finger Painting
I have had classes where painting is difficult to manage. The sensory tempation of squeezing the bottle all over the floor has proved too much for some of my pupils. Using fingerpainting pads removes this issue. You can even just just squirt a bit more piant on if they are running. You can also extend the activity by using stamps or pressing leaves into the pad.
5 educational benefits of finger painting for SEN:
- Develops fine motor skills – Manipulating paint with fingers strengthens hand muscles and improves hand-eye coordination. This is particularly beneficial for students with motor difficulties.
- Promotes sensory exploration – Finger painting engages the senses of touch, sight and smell. This multisensory experience aids learning and is calming for some learners.
- Supports self-expression – Students can creatively express themselves through spontaneous paint marks without pressure to produce recognizable forms or stay within lines.
- Provides stress relief – The relaxing, absorbing nature of finger painting can help students decompress from anxiety or overstimulation. It acts as a calming activity.
- Teaches cause and effect – Students observe how applying different amounts of pressure or various finger movements causes paint to spread in unique ways. This reinforces the relationship between actions and consequences.
I think it’s true to say that no matter what the resource it needs a passionate and committed teacher to make them effective. These are great to have around to share play. But of no use left in a box in a cupboard.
We would love to hear what your top special education teaching resources are for your classroom, and how you use Them. Please add your ideas to the comments section.