Creating Work Systems


I recently created a work system for a little guy in Kindergarten and realized that the thought of creating a work system can be overwhelming for some people. Consequently, I thought it could be helpful to break down how I create this work system. For this system, I organized all activities into three categories- 1) Literacy, 2) Fine Motor and 3) Numeracy. Each category had an associated symbol (circle, star, squares).

These symbols went onto each activity bag. I also created larger ‘stickers’ of each symbol to go on the bins where the activities were kept. For storage, we used a four-drawer plastic storage system, similar to the one shown. The fourth bin was labelled the ‘Finished’ bin.

Here are the steps to take when setting up a work system:

    1. Identify who you are creating a work system for and what goals you’re hoping to achieve.
    2. Find resources to provide you with some inspiration for the types of activities you could include.
    3. Collect your organization materials. I like using Ziploc bags because you can see what’s inside each bag and they are easily labelled.
    4. You’ll also need a collection of permanent felt markers in a variety of colours, a pad of paper, a pen and all the materials you need to create each activity.
    5. Put the materials for each activity in one large Ziploc. Label the bags with the activities’ name and corresponding symbols and place the bags into the appropriate drawer.
    6. Once all your activities are in bags, create a list of each activity.
    7. Create a ‘Work’ symbol to add to your student’s visual schedule.
    8. Create an visual schedule for the work that will be completed within the Work System.
    9. Once all of this is in place, your student can work through the activities in each drawer and place them in the fourth ‘finished’ drawer when they are completed.

More information on Work Systems, including how to implement and teach your student to use a Work System, can be found in our Task of the Month archives and in the POPARD Handout Series.

Resources include:
Tasks Galore (Revised Edition)
How Do I Teach This Kid?: Visual Work Tasks for Beginning Learners on the Autism Spectrum
Take It to Your Seat Math Centers, Grades 4-6
Literacy Centers Grade 1-3 Book