Life skills are such a broad area of instruction, it is easy to get intimidated. Whether or not you have a life skills room at your school (#schoolgoals), there are some easy ways to incorporate life skills everyday in your classroom…here are five (of many) areas of life skills and ways I incorporate these skills into my everyday instruction and routines…

1. Communication

Communication is such an important life skill. Giving students practice opportunities on their devices or picture exchange system is key. Here are some ways I make communication part of the routines in my classroom:

  • Greetings-I try to greet my students as many times as possible throughout the day, when it would occur naturally (first thing in the morning, after specials classes, after recess and lunch) to get in the most practice opportunities.
  • Communication Station– I have previously utilized a larger, poster-size static communication board in a “meeting” style format to give students direct instruction on social skills.
  • Opportunities to talk to peers-I have a friend in my class who takes off his shoes while in class, but he has a hard time tying his shoelaces. I could do it, but he has a peer that knows how to tie shoes. I have my student ask his peer for help. He practices communication, gets his needs met and my expert shoe-tier feels good that he helped another student. Win-win-win!

2. Self-Care Skills

Self-care can be a broad category. I often think of hygiene when I think of self-care, but I know that can get complicated when teaching hygiene in a classroom setting.  I think just giving students the opportunity to practice self-care skills that can be done in the classroom can help immensely. Here are some simple ideas for self-care skills that can be done in the classroom/school setting.

  • Putting on jacket
  • Tying shoes
  • Putting papers in their folders
  • Packing/unpacking backpacks
  • Cleaning out desk
  • Wiping mouth after meal time
  • Cleaning their own breakfast/lunch area
  • Blowing their own nose with a tissue
  • Straightening out their clothes or hair
  • Washing hands before/after meals or a messy project

3. Basic Job Skills

There are many students that we work with who will be able to have a job when they graduate, so it is important to expose them to basic job skills that they may encounter in “the real world”. Ways to incorporate basic job/organizational skills include:

  • Interactive tasks-Pictured above is a work task bin that I have in my classroom that has students follow written directions to put together “sandwiches”.
  • Factory work (larger scale interactive tasks)-sorting office supplies, sorting hardware (nuts, bolts, screws)
  • Classroom jobs-Sweeping, cleaning desks, stamping papers, setting up picture schedules



4. Seasonal Activities

Seasonal activities are an awesome way to get students excited about practicing some basic life skills an fine motor skills. Even though holidays come once a year, they will remember what happens on certain holidays and will be able to be active participants in the celebration. Here are some ways I have incorporated this in my classroom:

  • Decorating-Students love doing this. Decorating the Christmas tree is also a great way to incorporate fine motor.
  • Secret Santa-This was the first year I did this and it went really well. I bought the presents beforehand and helped students pick which present they think their classmate would like.
  • Wrapping presents-Great skill to teach around the holidays
  • Birthday cards-I have had students make birthday cards for their peers or teachers and sign them
  • Valentines-Excellent for practicing writing! Bonus-students can also practice social skills while exchanging valentines
  • Helping with a classroom change/rearrangement-When I have rearranged the classroom, I usually have students help because I need the help and I think it helps them get used to the change. Another task I have had students help with is making stools from IKEA. The directions were visual and the stools were not complicated-they had a blast!


5. Cooking

Even if you don’t have access to a kitchen at your school, you can still teach some basic cooking skills. There are so many recipes you can make that are no cook or no bake. In my experience, students love cooking! Not only is it a great way to teach life skills, but you can find out students’ food preferences or undiscovered talents. For visual recipes, THA has you covered!

I hope you got some ideas on how to incorporate life skills in your classroom! Share what you do for life skills instruction or practice in your classroom!

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