This month, we are focusing on tasks and activities at The Autism Helper and in this post, I am going to highlight some of my favorite task boxes I have in my classroom. I have a variety of tasks that range from academic to functional for a variety of learners, including students with visual impairments and students with limited fine motor skills. When creating task boxes in your classroom, there are so many ideas and so many ways you can be inspired to create your own tasks. Most of the time, I create tasks out of extra manipulatives at our school, items I can save and reuse (containers with lids, etc.), things I can buy at the Dollar Tree and of course, The Autism Helper Teachers Pay Teachers Store. Here are five of my favorite task box ideas…
1. Recipe Box Filing
I have four of these recipe boxes in my classroom task box system. They can range from simple to higher level. I have a color word filing box that I made out of recipe box dividers I got on Amazon and used a set of color/shape flashcards to file. I could also make a set of shape word dividers to use with the same set of cards. I also have a file by month recipe box. I got the month dividers from Amazon and I had extra months written in different fonts from another product and put them on index cards. I did something similar with the other two recipe boxes pictured below. I used recipe box dividers, flashcards and index cards with these two task boxes as well. What I like about recipe box filing is that it allows for easy differentiation. For example, when a student masters filing the months (which essentially is matching) I can write full dates to file by month or digital dates to file by month. You could also use the alphabet dividers to file by last name or switch out the sets of words you use.
2. Simple Tasks
It’s essential to have tasks at a variety of levels in order to include all learners in your class. Sometimes I overlook the simple tasks, but having them as part of my work task system is important. Pictured above is a pencil and pen sort, which is fairly simple, however, I have a student who has limited fine motor skills, and she was recently able to complete this task with moderate prompting. At the beginning of the school year, she needed maximum support, so it was very exciting to see her be able to continue to work in order to do a task independently. Put-in tasks, such as pennies in the bank, is also a seemingly simple task, but if you have students who have emerging pre-academic skills or students with visual impairments, this task is a must-have as part of your task box system. For more ideas for put in tasks, check out Sasha’s Put in Task post.
3. Tasks That Utilize Real-Life Materials
As teachers, we want to make tasks as functional as possible and using real life materials can help make tasks more relevant to students. Pictured above, is a task in which students put a washer on a bolt and then twist a nut on the bold to keep the washer on the bolt. While this is a more expensive task box (about $30 for the 10 nuts, bolts and washers at Home Depot) but it is sturdy and worth to have students use real items. Pictured below is a task box I inherited from Sasha’s classroom (another good way to get materials and tasks). It is another three-step process of putting together hose parts. The other benefit of these two tasks is that they don’t have to be reset because students taking apart these items is just as functional as them putting these tasks together.
4. Tasks That Simulate Functional Activities
Obviously the goal with all of our students is that they are able to complete functional activities independently. Having the actual materials for these items may not always be possible, so creating items that simulate real-life activities that students can practice is the next best thing. Pictured above is a task available in the Advanced Work Task Mega Pack. Teaching students to collate and use paperclips is a skill they could use in the classroom and beyond. Pictured below is a sandwich making task box that my parents actually made for my classroom. The bread is thick-cut soft foam that has a “crust” painted on the outside (be careful-it leaves crumbs like real bread!), the meat is cut out of faux leather material from a fabric store and the cheese is a thinner orange foam.
5. Tasks That Use Things I Already Have
Obviously these are the best because they are free and you can choose items that you are not currently using or items that you would normally discard. One task I have had in a task box in the past has been organizing race bibs. I used to run a lot of 5Ks and keep the bibs as keepsakes, but didn’t do much with them. I thought bringing them to school to use for tasks and math was a good idea because students would encounter race bibs in their lives (adults with disabilities actually volunteer at many 5Ks I have participated in), numbers are in a variety of type faces and I could actually see my race bibs everyday in the place I spend the most time…school! I also save jars and containers for opening and closing tasks. You can save a variety of items or just clean out your apartment and get inspired!
I hope you got some good ideas and inspiration for task boxes in your classroom! Check out The Autism Helpers’ work task mega packs including Work Task Mega Pack, Advanced Work Task Mega Pack, Communication Based Work Task Mega Pack, Math Work Task Mega Pack, Reading Comprehension Work Task Mega Pack and Science and Social Studies Work Task Mega Pack.