Monday, November 27, 2006

Idea of the Day - My Room's Version of the Yankee Swap

I'm going to assume you all know what a Yankee Swap is, although I know in some parts of the the USA it is called other things like a White Elephant Exchange.

A little more than five years ago I found myself teaching the largest self contained multiple special needs class I have ever seen. A dozen students, four teaching assistants, a nurse, a speech therapist, an OT , a PT and myself. In the past I had always given a little token of my appreciation to everyone in December, but that year eight adults were beyond my financial means, and a secret Santa type arrangement doesn't work well with everyone in one room, so we invented our own version of a swap.

All of the staff who wanted to participate brought in an unmarked gift worth $10.00 or less (unlike a white elephant these gifts are not generally re-gifts or gag gifts, but that could be fun too). Then the names of the staff were put into a hat and the students each drew the name of the adult they would be an elf for (can you see the embedded reach, grasp and literacy skills?). After every adult had an elf (or sometimes two) each elf would pick out a gift, one by one, for the staff member her or she had picked.

This lead to a lot of fun for the students when adults would say things like, "I don't want the book, don't pick the red one that looks like a book!" and the student would pick the red one that looked like a book smirking the whole time. There is no chance to swap out of what you pick in our version of the game, what the student-elf picks is what you get! The elf would then unwrap or assist in unwrapping the gift for the staff member.

The students love this activity! The chance to have that kind of control over what a staff member gets for a gift is fun for every kind of student, from the prankster to the kind-hearted.

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