Drama Games for Special Needs Adults

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Drama games can be a wonderful way to help adults with special needs practice language, socializing, and self awareness. This lesson offers some games that you can use with your students.

Teaching with Drama Games

Do you work with adult students who have special needs? If so, you might be looking for ways to boost your students' confidence while also working on expressive language skills, body awareness, and social pragmatics.

Of course, no two adults with special needs are the same, and how you teach will depend on your students' specific strengths, struggles, and interests. However, drama games are often a very effective teaching tool.They can also help you develop a sense of trust and comfort among your students.

When working with adults with special needs, you want to choose drama games that allow them to work from their strengths, feel comfortable in a group, and practice language and socialization skills. This lesson offers a series of games that will help you get started.

Drama Games to Play

Each game is followed by a brief explanation and some ideas for who might benefit the most from playing.

Story in a Basket

This game is wonderful for small groups of students, those who are working on expressive language skills and those who like having something to touch.

Fill a basket with about a dozen different props, which might include small dolls, objects from nature, household objects, and small toys like tools or cars. Have three students come up, and let each student choose one prop. Then, ask them to act out a story that brings together the three props they have chosen. Other students can chime in with ideas or advice for how the story might pan out. Keep it short so that others will also have a turn.

Faces Only

Here is a game that students can excel at even if they have very limited expressive language. With it, they can benefit from the opportunity to think about emotional expression and regulation.

Give each student a note card with a word describing an emotion on it. Then, have them break up into small groups. Each student takes a turn acting out the emotion on their card with only facial expressions. Other student can either try to guess the emotion or the situation that could lead to such an emotion.

Story Telling

Playing this game will help you build community among your students and provide an opportunity for students to practice with sequencing and expressive language.

Gather your students in a circle. Explain that you are going to tell a story together, but each student is only allowed to contribute one word at a time. For instance, the first student in the circle might say, 'Once'. The next student might say 'upon' or 'there.' The story has to make sense, but it can also get a little silly! Students will have to listen to each other and build on each other's ideas. The story ends when two sequential students say 'the' and 'end'.

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