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Adapted PE Activities: 25 Wheelchair Activities for Fun and Engaging PE Classes

If you are a health and physical education teacher who has students in wheelchairs, you may be wondering how to include them in your regular physical education program. So often, special needs children are placed into your PE classes without the assistance of a certified adapted physical education teacher or adapted physical education services. It's then up to you to design and implement games and activities to keep them active and learn new skills. With a little bit of effort and know-how, it is definitely possible! It may end up being your favorite and most rewarding part of teaching your classes.

Adapted Physical Education Wheelchair Activities

In this blog article, I'll go through the significance of including adapted physical education activities for students in wheelchairs, as well as provide some helpful hints for health and physical educators that are currently working with special needs students. I'll also give you 25 tried-and-true adapted wheelchair activities that may be completed with standard PE equipment and the help of other kids. The activities include performance PE skills such as tossing, catching, throwing, volleying, striking, balancing, stacking cups, and more.


Adapted PE wheelchair activities- Why are they important?

Adapted physical education wheelchair activities include specially designed exercises or movements that have been specifically designed for students who use wheelchairs. While adapted PE activities can vary depending on the individual's needs and abilities, they can typically involve a combination of cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises. They can also include specially designed physical education movements and motions that provide opportunities for them to develop manipulative skills such as s throwing, catching, dribbling, striking, volleying, and ball handling.

The PE wheelchair activities can also involve movements that develop exceptional children's skill-related components of fitness like coordination, balance, and reaction time. In addition, Adapted PE activities are often used in physical education classes as a way to promote inclusion and diversity. By including students with disabilities in your activities, you can help create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all of your students.

Providing quality movement education for your special needs students in wheelchairs can also help you directly address SHAPE America's Standard 1: The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns* These adapted physical activities you use in your lessons can directly meet your national, state, or district standards.

SHAPE America Standard 1- Adapted PE

Tips for Incorporating Adapted Physical Education Wheelchair Activities into a General Education PE Program

Physical education is an important part of school curriculums, but students in wheelchairs can often feel excluded from classes. Physical education specialists need to understand this and embrace the challenge of making their classes more inclusive. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Get to know your students and their abilities. With this understanding, you can figure out which activities and physical education instruction would be best for them.

  • Make sure that the activities you choose are safe. When modifying PE activities for wheelchair children, make sure you have adequate space and use safe equipment.

  • Be patient and understanding with your special needs students. They may require extra time to complete a task or comprehend the instructions.

  • Use a variety of learning experiences. To help your special needs students excel in Physical Education, expose them to a variety of movements and activities.

  • Modify the activities to meet their needs. Adjust your movement experiences to make them more appropriate for students using wheelchairs.

  • Use appropriate adapted equipment. You can help students who use wheelchairs participate in activities by using adapted equipment. For example, you can lower the hoop and shoot a smaller ball when playing basketball.

  • Be creative in your approach. Think out of the box to make any mainstream activity work for students in wheelchairs. For example, you could create an obstacle course that students can navigate using their wheelchairs.

  • Encourage participation from all students. Wheelchair users may be self-conscious or afraid to participate in physical activity, so it is critical to make them feel welcome and included.

  • Ask for help from colleagues, aides, or parents. If you are unsure about how to include a student in an activity, don't be afraid to ask for help.

  • Keep the activities challenging but achievable. Students in wheelchairs should feel a sense of accomplishment after completing an activity


25 fun and engaging adapted PE wheelchair activities for a PE class, classroom environment, or at home

1- Fitness activities

  • Slalom Roll- Start at the poly spot and weave in and out of the cones as you roll through the course. Turn around the end cone and return to the start.

  • Baton Relay- With a partner, take turns handing off a baton and taking it around 4 cones. Time yourself and try to beat your old time.

  • Pathway Roll- Either by yourself or side-by-side with a partner, roll through a pathway of poly spots trying not to touch them as you roll.

  • Ball Carry- Roll and carry a nerf ball from one cone to another. Replace the ball with the one you have and take the other one. Roll back and repeat.

  • Dance to the Music- Dance to the music in your chair. Turn around, roll, spin, tilt and move your arms to the music.

Adapted PE: Wheelchair Task Cards- Fitness Activities

2- Tossing and throwing activities

  • Hoop Toss- Toss a soft ball or beanbag into a hula hoop that is lying on the ground. Try tossing from different distances and angles.

  • Javelin Throw- Throw a pool noodle for distance, pretending you're in the Olympics. Where it lands should be noted.

  • Knock Down the Pins- From a poly spot, roll or toss a ball at a set of bowling pins.

  • Knock it Off- Overhand throw a yarn ball at a bigger ball resting on the top of a cone. Ask a partner to help you retrieve the ball and reset it.

  • Cone Throw- Throw the beanbag into the opening of a traffic cone. Try tossing from different distances and angles.

Adapted PE: Wheelchair Task Cards- Throwing Activities

3- Catching activities

  • Toss and Catch: Beanbag- Toss a beanbag up in the air and catch it using 2 hands or 1 hand. Try tossing it with both your left and right hand.

  • Partner Pass and Catch- Pass a playground or gator skin ball back and forth with a partner.

  • Clap and Catch-Toss the beanbag up in the air and clap before you catch it. How many times can you clap before you catch it?

  • Toss and Catch: Scarf- Toss a juggling scarf up in the air and catch it using 2 hands or 1 hand. Try tossing it with both your left and right hand.

  • Bucket Catch- Toss a yarn ball back and forth with a partner. Catch the yarn ball in a bucket for fun.

Adapted PE: Wheelchair Task Cards- Catching Activities

4- Volleying and Striking Activities

  • Balloon Tap- Volley a balloon up in the air using your hands. Ask a partner to help you if it drops to the ground.

  • Ride and Tap- Travel around the room and volley a balloon up in the air while you roll. Use a partner to carefully help push you if you need it.

  • Noodle Tap- Volley a balloon up in the air using a pool noodle.

  • Partner Volley- Volley a balloon back and forth with a partner. See how many consecutive hits you can make

  • Strike off a Cone- Place a beach ball on top of a large cone or tee. Hit it off the cone towards a nearby wall. Ask a partner to retrieve the ball and repeat.

Adapted PE: Wheelchair Task Cards- Volleying and Striking Activities

5- Balancing and Stacking Activities

  • Hand Balance: Noodle- Balance a pool noodle on the palm and the back of your hand. Try using both your left and your right hand.

  • Head Balance: Noodle- Balance a pool noodle on top of your head. Try rolling around the room while you balance it.

  • Double 2-1 Closed Stack- Upstack and downstack 6 cups in two, 2-1 pyramids. Time yourself and see if you can beat your best time.

  • Roll and Stack- Start at a cone and roll to the cups to upstack 6 cups in one, 3-2-1 pyramid. Travel back to the cone and repeat to downstack the cups.

  • Disc Spin- Spin a flying disc up above your head using your Lummi stick to make it rotate.

Adapted PE: Wheelchair Task Cards- Balancing and Stacking Activities


Final thoughts

In this blog post, I addressed how essential adapted PE wheelchair activities are and how general physical education teachers may adapt their lessons to provide specially designed instruction that includes students in wheelchairs. By using a variety of activities and adapted equipment, PE teachers can help create an inclusive environment (in their physical education programs) where all students feel welcome and accepted. Remember that special needs students, like those in wheelchairs, are not incapable of learning, they just need different supports in order to succeed. This article highlighted 25 tried and true adapted PE wheelchair activities that can be used in daily physical education classes. These activities are a great way for students with disabilities to be active and engaged and able to participate in physical education classes alongside their peers.

Have you tried any of these adapted PE wheelchair activities in your classroom? Do you have any other great ones you could share? Let us know in the comments below!


Need Resources?

Do you need some Adapted PE Activities that can help you keep your exceptional children active and engaged in your general ed PE class? Would it help to have easy-to-implement visuals that include detailed instructions and state-of-the-art graphics? Cap'n Pete's Power PE has you covered!

Fill in the form below to download the FREE Adapted PE 8 Activity Set Packet with 8 fun and active visuals with a variety of manipulative skill-based concepts and movements to use with your wheelchair students in your physical education classes.

The Adapted PE 8 Activity Set Packet provides 8 different visuals from Cap’n Pete’s Adapted PE Challenge Cards; PE Wheelchair Tasks. The cards can be used in a general education physical education class to help provide activities (with the help of visuals) for those in wheelchairs. They can also be used by a classroom teacher to promote movement in the classroom during transitional breaks or recess.


If you are looking for even more Adapted PE movement visuals to add to your physical education arsenal, check out Cap'n Pete's Adapted PE Challenge Cards: 60 PE Wheelchair Tasks.

Adapted PE Challenge Cards- 60 PE Wheelchair Tasks

You can download them from either of the following platforms: Cap'n Pete's Power PE Website or Teachers Pay Teachers- Cap'n Pete's TPT Store

The Adapted PE Challenge Cards- 60 PE Wheelchair Tasks- packet is a FUN AND ACTIVE set of challenging task cards that Adapted or Regular Ed PE teachers serving Exceptional Students can use for teaching PE movement and skills through several wheelchair tasks. The cards make it EASY for physical educators to help guide their wheelchair-bound students through a variety of ENGAGING movements, motions and skills and provide opportunities for them to develop skills in throwing, catching, dribbling, balancing, striking, volleying, ball handling, passing and working with others.



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