Saturday, March 14, 2009

Task Boxes







Because of the response I got to this post, I decided to go ahead and start that blog my husband's been encouraging me to start.  Visit The Autism Teacher for more on teaching students with autism!! (www.theautismteacher.com)


match identical objects, originally uploaded by MNicoleM.
OK - so this is a different kind of post than usual :-) My husband is trying to convince me to start a blog about teaching kids with autism ... and in preparation of that, I'm going to try to put some posts up here and see how I feel about it ... since nobody reads this anyway, I figure it won't matter and this way I can at least see if I feel like I could do this :-)

So anyway, task boxes. People with autism tend to be very visual thinkers. There's a program called TEACCH (www.teacch.com) and one of the basic principals is visual structure. Applying visual structure to learning activities leads to task boxes. They are self-contained activities (in this first instance, the activity is matching animals). The student can see how much work there is to do and can tell what to do by looking at the materials. The teacher can work one on one with the student on a new activity or skill and when the student starts to become comfortable with the activity, they can work independently to practice the skill. This is more meaningful for the student than completing worksheets because the materials are manipulative and it is also more practical, especially if the student isn't able to read and write (which would make completing a worksheet independently pretty difficult). Additionally, because students with autism often need lots of repetition and practice on a particular skill, you would have to make several copies of the same worksheet and waste a lot of paper - this way you just pull the pieces off and the task is ready to be used again for continued practice.

Task boxes can be purchased from companies pre-made, which I often do (My time is sometimes more valuable than my money and I would rather buy the materials ready-to-use because I don't have time to create them). Some companies I have purchased task boxes from are:
Shoebox tasks
HOT ideas

Some good books with examples of tasks are:
Tasks Galore
How Do I Teach This Kid?

and some websites with awesome examples are:
Preschool Fun
Autism Teaching Tools

As for making them - you can find lots of "file folder game" activities for regular ed students online and in teacher stores, many of those same activities work well with students as "task folder" activities. Also some commercially produced materials lend themselves very well to task boxes. Below is a size sorting task I made with a size sorting kit from Lakeshore (www.lakeshorelearning.com) as well as a patterning activity and another size sorting activity I made out of materials from a commercially produced kit I bought from a teacher store or catalog (don't remember which one ...). Pretty much any teaching materials can be glued and velcroed to create a task box.

sort big and little

match patterns, extend patterns

sort size (big/little)


I have also used erasers - they make erasers in all kinds of shapes and you can do lots of matching/sorting/counting activities with those, counters, those foam shapes, buttons, beads, dollhouse furniture and accessories, etc. I went to Hobby Lobby and Michaels, bought lots of these things and made tons of task boxes in the past few weeks (I have a student teacher and have time to do things like this now lol). Here are some more examples of the ones I made. For the "box" part of it (the base), I used little plastic baskets, lids to paper boxes that copy paper comes in, plastic trays, boxes meant to store and file photos in, and sometimes just a piece of cardboard or posterboard. Anything sturdy enough to attach the base pieces to!


Sorting by shape using foam shapes:
sort shapes

Sorting by category (things in the kitchen, things at the beach, things we eat, desk items, tools) using scrapbook/craft buttons:
sort by category

Sorting nonidentical objects (balls, dogs, and birds) with miniature dollhouse accessories:
sort nonidentical objects (balls, birds, dogs)


You can see more examples of mine here


Because of the response I got to this post, I decided to go ahead and start that blog my husband's been encouraging me to start.  Visit The Autism Teacher for more on teaching students with autism!! (www.theautismteacher.com)


14 comments:

Heather said...

I found your blog while I was googling for task box ideas. It has been so helpful, the pictures and the links are great. Thank you for taking your time to do this. I hope you have the time to continue with ideas and tip for other teachers. I am a special needs preschool teacher and this is my fourth year teaching. I have gotten some new students recently that will benefit from task boxes. They are not autistic but need short active learning opportunities.

Again, Thanks you!

Anonymous said...

I googled your name and here I am.
Your friend,
Lane

Anonymous said...

Tyou for posting these! I was looking for help for my DS who was recently diagnosed with Autism.

D

Anonymous said...

Googled task boxes and your site came up. Recently went from preK to SD preK. Thanks for the info! Very helpful.

stacy said...

Thank you for the info. I also teach preschool students with Autism and was looking for some new ideas for folder/task boxes. We also adopted. Wishing you the best.

Ginger said...

Great ideas. Please post some more. I also teach students with autism and need task box ideas to use due to their functioning needs. I can't afford to buy them, so I must create them. POST MORE!

Anonymous said...

These are some great ideas. I went to TEACCH this summer but have been struggling to get my own ideas turned into activity tasks with the boxes. Thanks for posting your examples. I'm an OT for a school district in Arkansas & also have losts of kids with autism.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, I am doing a diploma course in Autism Spectrum Disorder in Hyderabad India, This site had really help me with my lesson plans.

Darla said...

Please help! I am a first year teacher coming into a classroom that has 10 students and virtually nothing in the way of task boxes, or very much else for that matter. I want to create TEACCH bins but I don't really know how. Can you recommend other books besides the ones you mention here? Thanks.

Sharon said...

Hi,
I too am putting together a collection of ideas for task boxes. Check it out here:

http://sharonscreativecorner.com/autism-activities/

Sharon

Madi said...

THANKS Your IDeas rock- I am converting my class to a TEACCH room and although I have tons of materials - getting ideas on how to use them for each student is great- thanks!

Anonymous said...

*luv some new, creative ideas! Trying to figure out how to pull task boxes into a high school co-teaching or pull out english class. Big range of abilities...just brainstorming at this point. Any ideas (from anyone) email me snapjak@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

You seem like a very dedicated teacher and the students are lucky to have you, as you are lucky to have them. Thanks for sharing the ideas, as a special education teacher I appreciate all your hard work.

Anonymous said...

You seem like a very dedicated teacher and the students are lucky to have you, as you are lucky to have them. Thanks for sharing the ideas, as a special education teacher I appreciate all your hard work.