Group Activities for Nonverbal Students

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

What activities can you do with a group of nonverbal students? If you're looking for some group activities that involve less speaking, here are a few ideas that you can use as a starting point and adapt to your classroom needs.

Activities and Nonverbal Students

Many traditional group activities require students to speak; however, when working with nonverbal students, these activities pose a challenge. Sometimes, if you have only one nonverbal student in a group, an activity can be modified so that he or she can participate in a different way than speaking peers. If you have a group of nonverbal students, however, you may want to consider some activities designed specifically for them. The following activities may give you some ideas that you can use in your own classroom.

Music Group Activities

Many students find music-related activities highly motivating. This music activity helps nonverbal students develop skills related to making choices, imitating actions, and following one-step directions; it also addresses gross motor skills.


  • MP3/CD player and music
  • Song choice cards


  • Choose a selection of songs that you can play for your students. Songs should either contain actions for the students to perform, or lend themselves to student use of instruments.
  • Prepare a set of cards containing the name of each song and a picture that represents it. For example, ''The Goldfish Song'' could be accompanied by a picture of a goldfish.


  • First introduce the songs and their choice cards. Once the song choices are familiar, students can take turns choosing a song.
  • You can also include songs that you sing where the students choose the actions. For example, ''If You're Happy and You Know It'' can be accompanied by a wide variety of movements. Students can take turns demonstrating the actions for the next verse (clap your hands, stomp your feet, jump up and down, nod your head, etc.).
  • This activity can be adapted for different age groups by varying the choice of music.

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