How To Start A Lunch Bunch


Is Your School In Need Of A Lunch Bunch?

Most schools, if not all, would benefit from having a lunch bunch. A lunch bunch is a place for students who have difficulty making friends to eat and play games in a more structured setting than the playground. The goal of a lunch bunch is to facilitate friendships between students. Being able to mix students with Autism, special needs, and typically developing students can be really fun. Some students with Autism and special needs have very limited access to the general education population so this is a really neat opportunity and the general education students always enjoy it too! Sometimes another professional such as the Occupational Therapist or School Counselor may be up for co-hosting. It could be a good opportunity for them to target food training, social-emotional skills, or sensory input.

this is a picture of two students playing together with play doh

Get the Okay From Principal and Parents

In order to start a lunch bunch first make sure it’s okay with the school principal and parents of the students who will be invited to attend. Generally, principals love this idea and so do teachers! First, identify the students who would benefit from it. Typically the students you would want to invite would be students who have social communication deficits, or just have a little difficulty making friends. Open it up school wide if possible and ask for teacher feedback on students who might be good candidates. Having general education students, as well as special education students is ideal! Then send home permission slips to the parents of any special education students who would like to attend. Lunch is written into their IEPs so it’s important to have parental approval in order to cover your bases.

This is a picture of an example lunch bunch permission slip.

Promote the Lunch Bunch

Make signs and posters to hang up around campus inviting students to attend. Have it advertised on the morning announcements. If the school has an ASB or any type of leadership program, reach out to the advisor/teacher and have them ask their students to attend and buddy up with other students who need a friend or look lonely. This should be an all inclusive environment and no one should feel left out at lunch bunch! Having student leaders attend really helps promote that. Eventually the word will get out and students will ask if they can come because they will hear about how much fun it is!

Let the Games Begin

Pick a day to host Lunch Bunch. One day of the week is perfect. Sometimes aides from the special education program are able to attend to help supervise. It’s always fun if the students can bring their lunch with them (from home or the cafeteria) and eat at the lunch bunch meeting place together. Eating together is such a social activity in our society, so if possible having students bring their lunches to the classroom to eat is ideal.

This is an image kids playing together on the plaground.

Click here for some fun lunch bunch placemats! There are more than one way to hold a successful lunch bunch. Here are a few ideas: Option 1- Have game centers with one game at each table. The students can pick which game they’d like to play and sit at that table. Option 2- Give 2-3 game options to the entire lunch bunch and vote. Have all the students play the game that had the most votes. These obviously have to be games that a large amount of students can play at once. For example, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, Hangman, or Freeze Dance. Option 3- Have a variety of games out and let the students come and pick what they like and encourage them to invite friends to play with them. Once the Lunch Bunch is started the host will be able to tell if the group needs more or less structure and adjust accordingly. This group should be all about having fun and making friends!

The post How To Start A Lunch Bunch appeared first on Simply Special Ed.

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