Making Microwave Popcorn

Abbreviated steps to making microwave popcorn.
Task of the Month:
January, 2019

The goal of this task is to teach your student to make microwave popcorn. This is a functional skill for a student who likes popcorn and can be extended to preparing other foods in the microwave. This could become a component of a social routine with a peer (e.g., to facilitate sharing and cooperation).


  • Microwave
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Visual schedule
  • Bowl

Instructions for the teacher:
1. Present the learner with materials and the visual schedule of steps
2. Use graduated guidance (see components for details) to prompt the learner to follow any steps that they are not able to do independently.


  • Adjust the steps according to the microwave the student is using.
  • Make sure to monitor your student to insure their safety.
  • Consider using imbedded prompts (e.g., put numbered stickers on the microwave buttons indicating the order of buttons to push).
  • Be sure to fade your prompts to allow the student to complete as much of the task independently as possible.
  • Avoid the use of verbal prompts wherever possible (e.g., verbally stating next step), as these are difficult to fade out. Instead, make reference to the visual schedule and use gestural or physical prompting.

Graduated Guidance:
Graduated guidance involves the use of prompts (usually physical) to teach a skill. This involves using just enough guidance to prevent an incorrect response and reducing the intensity of the prompt as the student becomes more independent. For example, starting out with a hand-over-hand prompt, then reducing to a light touch as the student begins to perform the skill independently.

Neitzel, J. & Wolery, M. (2009). Steps for implementation: Graduated guidance. Chapel Hill, NC: The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders, FPG Child Development Institute, The University of North Carolina.
McClannahan, L. E. & Krantz, P. (2010). Activity schedules for children with autism, teaching independent behavior. Woodbine House

student instructions.pdf15.81 MB

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