10 types of Tasks to use in your independent Work Systems!

Independent Work systems

Independent work systems are key to a successful self-contained classroom.  Coming up with all of the different types of tasks that are needed for this center can get expensive and time-consuming.  There are many things that you can get for free to use in this center.   You may also be thinking that the tasks that you are using are getting boring or stale and need to switch it up a bit.  I have compiled of list of different tasks that you can make fairly easily, can find for free, or spruce up some of your tasks.  

1. Task Boxes: 

Using task boxes for this center is my absolute favorite because students get fused to the format and they are super easy to store.  They are also very easy to keep organized.   You can check out some FREE task boxes here, or check out my task boxes in my store.

2. File folder games:

File folder games are another great one and super easy to store.  Some of my students need the pieces pulled off ahead of time and put into a small basket for easy use.  All of my Functional Life Skills Units have at least 4 file folder activities in them and we use them all of the time. You can find some more examples of file folder games here. 


3. Worksheets:

Using worksheets in this center can be very easy, but make sure that the student can do the worksheet with 100% independence, otherwise it cannot be used in this center.  Worksheets in this center take up the least amount of space and are easily organized.   Some of my favorites are used in my money math unit, reading comprehension questions, and pages from my functional life skills curriculum. 

4.  Adapted worksheets:

Another great activity is taking worksheets that you love and laminating them and making adapted pieces for them. That way you can use the worksheet over and over again.

5.  Adapted books: 

Adapted books are a great way to reinforce skills that are previously taught and a fun way to keep the engagement going in the center.  You can check out all the adapted books that I have in my shop, I have a ton to choose from.  In addition, you can also grab this FREE Adapted Book Unit here.

6. Fine motor tasks:

These types of tasks are a little bit more time-consuming to put together and possibly a lot harder to store but can be worth it once you have it all set up.  Here are a few examples of what you could create for your center to promote fine motor skills.

7. Puzzles: 

Puzzles are an easy task to throw in the center.  My favorite to use in the elementary grades is a peg puzzle to work on fine motor skills and also problem-solving skills.  These tasks are big and bulky and harder to store.  My favorites are from Melissa and Doug.  You can check this one that is a favorite on Amazon.

8. “Put-In” Tasks:

A Put-In Task is a work task where the student is putting something in something else. There is no sorting, no matching, no assembling, no sequencing. The student has one job.  These tasks are quick and simple to make and really could use just about anything lying around the house to make.  Put-in tasks are harder to keep organized and often take up a lot of space.  Check out the example below to give yourself an idea of what I am talking about.

9. Vocational work tasks:

These types of tasks are often used in secondary classrooms but are a game-changer when used in the independent work systems.  The whole goal is to prepare these students to exit high school with independent work skills that they can transfer to a real work environment.  They need to be able to complete tasks all by themselves using a schedule and time management skills.  You can check out these vocational work tasks that I use in the high school room that I am in, or check out this vocational skills unit for more ideas.

10. Assembling Tasks: 

These tasks take some time to create because you have to have a sample picture to match.  Assembling tasks allow the students to match and assemble pieces to make something from the picture shown.  For example, students would assemble a flashlight using the picture, step-by-step cards on how to assemble the flashlight.  Or another example is to make a structure from Legos and have a step-by-step picture visual on how to assemble it.

What task should NOT go into this center:

Tasks that…

  • have no clear ending, such as playing with playdough.
  • are not previously mastered
  • are very confusing and difficult for the student
  • take longer than 30 minutes
  • have too many pieces and can be overwhelming

Well, that's all for now!  I hope you enjoyed some of these tasks and maybe even gave you some ideas for your own classroom Independent work center.

Here is a blog post that I wrote about the most frequently asked questions that I get about independent work systems.

Or pin it for later:


I am a High School, self-contained Autism teacher from Central New York, who is passionate about individualizing student learning. I am a mommy of three, lover of all things Disney, married to my best friend and addicted to chocolate!! I hope that you find great ideas and inspiration here, so welcome!!

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