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It’s estimated that learning disabilities affect roughly 1 in every 5 US children. Having a learning disability can make classroom learning extremely difficult. This activity simulates what it is like to have a learning disability, so that your class can better relate to students with a disability.

Materials Needed

  • An overhead or projector
  • A sheet of colored words like the one included


Take a sheet of paper like this sheet (with words of colors in various colors) and project it onto your projector screen for the class to see. Ask the class to say the color each word is written in, instead of the color the word actually says. You’ll find that this is a more difficult task than it seems. Once you’ve made it through all of the words, discuss the difficulties of the activity with the class. Even students that are able to correctly say the right colors likely have to take their time and process the information much slower. The exercise simulates how difficult it is for students with learning disabilities to get through the day. Students understand what needs to be done, but struggle to produce the correct result. It’s important to make sure your class understands that failing to do the activity correctly does not make you dumb. It simply means your brain wants to do other things.

Spotlight: Daniel Radcliffe

One such famous individual with a learning disability is actor Daniel Radcliffe. Radcliffe has starred in a number of successful roles, but is most known for his role as Harry Potter. The actor has lived with a mild form of dyspraxia his entire life. Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder that affects an individual’s ability to plan and complete fine and gross motor tasks. Tasks like waving goodbye, brushing teeth, or tying shoes can be very difficult with dyspraxia. Individuals with dyspraxia also often have language problems and may sometimes have difficulty with thought and perception.

In school, Radcliffe recalls that he felt awful at everything with no real talent. His poor school performance pushed him into acting where a successful career eventually grew. Radcliffe has been very vocal on speaking out for kids with dyspraxia. He believes no one should ever let the condition hold them back from doing the things they truly want to do.

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