In special education teacher Chris Stern’s Classroom, one of the most-loved student activities is a virtual train ride complete with an adapted model electric train, flashing lights and melodic whistles. “We travel to lots of interesting places without ever leaving the classroom,” says Chris, “but it’s also a valuable, multi-sensory experience that helps students learn.”
The students watch the train travel and interact with it using specially adapted switches to create train sounds and conductor announcements. By doing so, they learn basic movement concepts such as ‘stop-go’ and ‘fast-slow.’ These can be challenging ideas for a person who uses a wheelchair to grasp, since they are often propelled by others. The engaging train activity also helps students learn cause-and-effect switch use, a skill that will benefit them in many ways.
The trains were a very special gift from musician and model train afficianado Neil Young, a frequent visitor to HMS in the 1990s.
So if you happen to be at HMS and pass by teacher Chris’ classroom, don’t be surprised if you hear him say, “Where should we travel to today?”