This post originally appeared on the blog You AUT-a Know.

Do you know this student? The one who will wander around looking for the perfect classroom supplies before they can even START on a task. Working in Special Education for 8 years, I’ve come to know that student a few times. And after it took us an entire morning to find the “just right” pencil in our classroom, it was clear to me that this Goldilocks routine was not going to work in my classroom and I needed to come up with an intervention for this student immediately!

My first thought was to give this student a pencil box where they could keep their own supplies. It seemed simple enough. They would be able to hold on to that precious sparkle pencil and we wouldn’t be running around looking for it every morning. It would be safe in the student’s box and we would be able to get right to work.

It wasn’t that simple. This worked well for about 10 seconds. This box quickly because a hoard of colored pencils, scissors, glue sticks, “special” pencils, and all kinds of classroom supplies. We were spending just as long looking in the pencil box as we did wandering around the classroom looking for supplies. I always aim to teach my students efficient ways to go around tasks and complete them in logical ways to avoid frustration, so again, this behavior was NOT going to work for our classroom routine.

Knowing that my students on the Autism Spectrum thrive on structure and routines, I knew I had to set up a structured routine for a pencil box for this student. Enter our structured pencil box.

I prepared the pencil box by adhering a visual organizer top the top of an ordinary pencil box. This visually represented how many items the student was able to keep in their box (5 items in this case). I created icons of some of this student’s favorite things to hoard and attached velcro to the back. I stored these on the inside of the pencil box and added velcro to the top of the box for the 5 items the student was allowed to keep inside the pencil box.

This system visually structured the pencil box for my student. It was clear that there was only room for 5 items in the box. If they wanted to add another item, they would have to remove an item to make space for it. This seriously cut down on the amount of time we wasted wandering around looking for the desired supplies everyday and we were able to do a lot of learning. 

Do you have students who struggle to organize their classroom supplies? Even their pencil box ends up a black hole of supplies? Check out this simple way to help students visually organize their classroom supplies.

Do you think this system will work for some of your students? Grab the structured pencil box here!






Erin is the author behind You AUT-a Know and she has been teaching Special Education since 2010. She has focused her career to working with students on the Autism Spectrum in grades K-2. She has a passion for bringing the Evidence Based Practices for Autism alive with real life examples from her classroom on both her blog and providing research based resources in her TpT store.