Our whole family loved last year’s Special Egg Event. Like I wrote about in our last post, some of my favorite Jonathan memories were the magnetic egg hunt.
Before the hunt began, though, we enjoyed Easter crafts, food, and carnival games. Well, our family did. Jonathan just enjoyed the carnival games. Parents of a child with special needs become pretty good at making changes in activities to fit their child’s needs. We adapted the ring toss and soccer games; the duck pond was tougher to adapt, so James picked a duck for Jonathan.
This year we decided to volunteer at the event by creating and running a carnival game that Jonathan would have loved. My husband had the idea of a fishing game.
The traditional game includes kids “casting” a fishing line behind a curtain. A volunteer (hidden under the curtain) attaches a prize to their fishing line, tugs on the line, and the child “reels in” their prize. Kid-friendly and cute, right?
We made a few minor adaptations to this basic design, making it work well for kids with special needs. I’m sure there are ways to improve it, though. Leave us your ideas in the comments!
Materials for the fishing booth:
- Blue sheet (any size)
- 2 lawn chairs
- 4 clamps
- Fleece and sewing supplies (optional)
- Small prizes :)
Materials for the fishing poles:
- Dowels of various widths
- Clothes pins
1. Set up two lawn chairs with their backs facing each other. Allow about three feet between the lawn chairs (enough room for your prize box and “fish” person attaching prizes!). Cover the lawn chairs with the blue sheet, so the space between the chairs is completely hidden from view.
2. Cut out fish shapes. My son looked up different sea creatures on google images and I cut them out free hand. Printing out shapes and tracing them would have worked, too. Loosely sew the fish shapes to the sheet. (Our sheet will be used on beds again soon, so I wanted the fish to stay well on a windy day outside but easy to remove after the event.)
3. Use clamps to secure the sheet to the lawn chair. If it’s especially windy, have volunteers sit in the lawn chairs so your game doesn’t blow away.
4. We purchased 1/4 inch and 3/4 inch wooden dowels from a home store. My husband cut them in half and drilled a hole in the end. I tied on three feet of string. At the end of the string, I tied a clothes pin.
It’s the same game concept as before, but using lawn chairs lowered the fishing area so that small children and kids in wheelchairs could cast their lines independently. Some children with special needs find different widths of dowels easier to grasp, so we included a variety. We made sure the curtain was barely touching the ground so gait trainers and wheelchairs wouldn’t catch it. When choosing prizes, we purchased items that required varying levels of fine motor skills. We also had plenty of volunteers to assist children that day.
We saw such precious smiles. And there were some kids that were too cool for a little fishing game. But that’s fine. They’re kids; that’s how it works. But oh the smiles. I loved helping the kids in wheelchairs who struggled to grasp the fishing pole, but were so proud as they “reeled in” their prizes. They reminded me of Jonathan and how he would have adored this game.