Let’s talk about how to use the 3 drawer work system!
I am so excited to talk about this topic as it is one of my favorite centers to incorporate into my special education classroom! This center is good for all tyes of classrooms and can be differentiated for various levels of learners. We use this as an independent center in my classroom, but you can use it in any way that suits your students’ needs best.
I want to start by disclosing that I teach K-2nd grades in an autism program. (you can see my virtual classroom here). This system works wonderfully for my in person students.
Start With Visuals
The first step to using the 3 drawer work system in your classroom is to get your visuals ready. You can start by downloading the Simply Special Ed 3 Drawer Workbox System completely free!
This is the exact 3 drawer work system that I use in my classroom. As a result of this system, my students are able to have so many independent successes! To begin, print and laminate enough system visuals to go on each student’s work bin. Next, use tape to secure the visuals to the work bins and velcro to attach the removable pieces.
Materials to Use
First, you will need to stock up on activities. Take the time to print, laminate, velcro, tape, glue, etc. enough materials to get you started.
My favorite materials to use for the 3 drawer work system are file folder activities, writing/tracing activities and task box activities. You can use a variety of different activities for your population of students!
Next, you will need 3 drawer bins. In my classroom, I have one bin for each student. (here’s a set of 2 from amazon (affiliate link))
Finally, you need a box for students to place materials in when they are finished. We call this the “all done box” and my class uses a laundry basket for this. The “all done box” should go to the right of the center or in an easily accessible area.
Drawer 1: File Folder Activities
In the first drawer of the 3 drawer work system, we give students file folder activities. File folder activities are a great way for students to practice independence. (You can find File Folders from SSE here)
You should pair students’ 3 drawer work systems with academics they have already mastered but, if your students are not able to match, sort, etc., you can use errorless learning file folder activities for drawer number one. Errorless learning is a great way to foster independent as well as incorporate fun, visual activities into the center.
Learn more about Errorless learning in this blog post.
Importantly, if you are just beginning to implement the 3 drawer work system in your classroom, consider using errorless learning to teach the initial independent skills and later build up to academics.
Drawer 2: Writing/Tracing Activities
A second practical way for students to practice independence with the 3 drawer work system is with writing activities. My students typically are working on tracing their name, alphabet, shapes, or lines.
If you have students who are not independent with any writing or tracing activities consider using coloring sheets or another appropriate fine motor activity that can be done independently.
Additionally, to save on paper materials, we laminate papers and give dry erase crayons to the students. If you have never heard of dry erase crayons, check them out! Dry erase crayons give better tactile feedback when writing and students can’t draw on themselves with them (if you know, you know)!
Simply Special Ed’s tracing binder and tracing books are great resources ideas for this drawer.
Drawer 3: Task Boxes
The final activity we use to promote independence with the 3 drawer work system in my classroom is task boxes. Task boxes are a great way to work on fine motor in a fun and engaging way! (read about setting up task boxes in this blog post)
If your students are ready for them, you can use purchased task boxes that fit into a photo storage container. (affiliate link)
For access to free matching and sorting task boxes, join the Simply Free Library here (over 70 free downloads perfect for task boxes).
If your students need more errorless learning tasks, you can easily make your own task boxes with materials you already have:
These are some examples of errorless task boxes I like to make. I tend to hold on to old plastic containers such as: coffee creamer bottles, shoe boxes, sour cream tubs, baby food containers etc. I then buy popsicle sticks, pom pom balls, paper clips, etc and make them in to put in tasks. The possibilities are endless, and fun!
If you need some inspiration for making your own task boxes, click here.
Reinforcement is a Must!
The next step to implementing a successful 3 drawer work system in the classroom is to make sure reinforcement is available to students.
My students are more likely to work at their 3 drawer work system when they know they are working towards a desired item or activity. In my classroom, we present the students with a choice board when doing their work, the students choose what they want to work for and then place the icon on their 3 drawer work system visual after the “1 2 3 =” sign. Once the students finish all three of their work task drawers, they receive their reinforcement of choice.
Let’s Do This!
I can’t wait to hear all about how you are using or setting up the 3 drawer work system in your classroom!
Download your free visuals by signing up here.
If you need help setting up the 3 drawer work system in your classroom, please feel free to leave a comment on this post or reach out to me in our Facebook Community Group!