Toy Sorting: Play or Work Task? - The Autism Helper

Toy Sorting: Play or Work Task?

Categories: Resources | Work Tasks

Gotta love a work task that almost looks like playing. These kinds of activities are awesome for you kids who have tons of escape behaviors and just seem to cringe at the thought of work! Since this “work task” uses toys – you might just trick your kiddo into getting a little work done. Hit up the dollar store and buy a bunch of packages of a few types of toys. You can make it more tricky by getting toys that look pretty similar because your students will really have to discriminate while sorting.

sorting turtles

These toy turtles do look very similar! It is a tricky and time consuming task. We have also made tasks with sorting action figures, toy cars, toy trains, and multi colored balls! Quick, cheap, and can be varied in endless ways!

sorting turtles

Sasha Long
Latest posts by Sasha Long (see all)


  1. Cute activity!

    I have one student with a lot of escape behaviors. He seems to exhibit them a lot during discreet trials. I have been trying to teach him numbers, letters, shapes, etc for well over a year and have not made much progress. The BCBA mentioned to me that it is not motivating to him to complete these tasks. Any idea how to make these things like play and fun to learn? I’d love some ideas on new ways to teach these things, as the flashcards do not seem to be working…he tends to aggress as soon as I get them out.

  2. If he has a favored item, like a particular tv character, you can get stickers to put on poker chips for counting or as in the animal toys, you can have an index card with the number 3 on it and three dots below, then he can match one animal toy to each dot and count to three. You can also use his favorite reinforcing item for brief moments between trials. I had one kid who liked those water tornadoes and he would work for 10 or 15 minutes just to get to turn the water tornado over one time and watch the water swirl down.

  3. I have a student like that. First off consider you reinforcement system – what is he working for? Sounds like you may need to find a higher functioning reinforcer. If he hates the flashcards – try using a variety of materials and working on those skills within another task. You can easily work on these skills within cooking, art, reading books, simple games etc. Keep your data sheet nearby and have the student count the pieces on a game board, select color of the paint, find letters on the page of a book etc. There are opportunities everywhere! 🙂

  4. Love the sticker idea! Thanks Roxanne!!

  5. I have a boy who is fixed on colored pencils. Any activities that build on this interest? I have done color sorting, rainbow tracing.

  6. I have a work tasks now of putting on an eraser cap and pencil grip on each pencil (and also taking off and then sorting the eraser cap form pencil grip). He might like that? Also a pencil sharpening task is a great and functional activity!


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