Use File Folder Activities to Teach an Infinite Number of Concepts

folder-activitiesIf you haven’t been introduced to file folder activities, now is a great time. File folder activities are ideal for children with autism and other special needs, because the tasks are very visually-oriented, promote independence and can be customized to meet an individual’s specific interests and abilities. In addition, they can be virtually free to create.

File Folder Activity How-To
Folder activities can be as basic as color matching. Here is a step-by-step example of how to set up this simple folder activity:

  1. Obtain two basic color swatches from a paint/hardware store or create your own by hand or with construction paper.
  2. Glue one set of colors to the inside of a file folder leaving enough space between each color for matching purposes.
  3. To store the matching pieces, glue a #10 envelope to the outside of the file folder (flap side out). Once laminated, you can slit the opening. Or, simply use a plastic sandwich bag for storage.
  4.  Laminate the file folder to protect the activity and enable easy cleaning. You can also use clear packing tape to protect each matching piece.
  5. Use “soft” adhesive Velcro pieces on the colors on the file folder and use “scratchy” Velcro pieces on the back of each individual color pieces. This will enable your child to easily match the items by simply attaching them with the Velcro.

Consider Interests and Age
One way to build your child’s interest in a folder activity is to make the activity theme or subject matter something your child enjoys.

For example, if your child likes cars, get two copies of a car brochure. Cut out same sized pieces of various cars, car colors or car accessories. Your child can match the small squared pieces to the items affixed to the file folder. The nice thing about using this type of material is that you can make these file folder activities age-appropriate.

If your child likes “girly” things, you can use Avon catalogs and have her match jewelry pieces, types of make-up or nail polish colors.

If your child likes “boy stuff,” you can print off Google images of monster trucks, professional wrestlers or Nascar vehicles.

For teens, you can have them match letters corresponding to a computer keyboard, favorite music CD covers or different types of sports.

Expanding Learning through File Folder Activities
Folder activities not only allow for repetition of basic concepts, but they enable you to expand upon those concepts as the child masters various tasks.

The following shows how one simple task can be expanded as a child continues to learn.

  • Do a basic animal to animal match with the same exact clip-art style pictures.
  • Create new matching cards that are similar, but not exactly same.  For example, match clip-art to actual animal photos.
  • Create new matching cards using the written names of the animals.
  • Create new cards with the animals’ habitats for matching (e.g., fish to bowl).
  • Have your child write out the name of the animal using wet-erase pen.

Benefits of File Folder Activities

  • File folder activities can be used to teach an infinite number of concepts, including matching, the alphabet, currency, time, math, writing, science, vocabulary, categories, etc. They are easily portable to take “on the go” – in the car, at restaurants or to the library.
  • Since they are easy to make, they can be created specifically for your child’s needs and abilities.
  • Although books are available that help you create file folder activities, by doing a Google Images search online for “file folder activities,” you will quickly see how easy they are to create.

Make the folders special and interesting for your child. Be imaginative and you may find that creating these tasks can be fun, too.

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Joanna Keating-Velasco About Joanna Keating-Velasco

Joanna Keating-Velasco has worked with students with various special needs ages 3 through 22 as a Paraprofessional for over fifteen years and is currently specializing in adult transition. She has authored two books, A Is for Autism, F Is for Friend and In His Shoes – A Short Journey through Autism. Learn more about Joanna at A is for Autism.