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Incorporating The Teaching Of Functional Skills Into Special Education Classroom Curriculum

June 08, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 326

There are many ways to incorporate functional skills into the everyday curriculum of the classroom. Here are just a few examples to give you some ideas about how you can incorporate these skills into your classroom.

First, it is important to decide what functional skills the students will need to know. Next step is to break down functional skills into small achievable steps. Sometimes the student will need to know some basic skills to begin with, for example: addition when learning money skills. As a general rule, it is important to use everyday materials and resources as often as possible. This will allow the student to learn the skill in context, making it easier for them to apply the new skill.

Let's look at some reading and math activities to see how functional skills can be taught using common everyday material.


Think about what words or types of reading that your student will need to know to help them learn a particular functional skill. The student may need to know basic sight words in order to get around in the community, shop at the local store or order food at a restaurant.

1. Using the local grocery store ads is a wonderful and free way to teach food sight words! The grocery store ads have a colored picture of the food along with the word. This helps the student associate the word with the actual food item.

2. Use local maps to teach the names of the streets, the name of local community facilities like the library, schools or recreation center. The student could also practice reading and following directions with the use of the local maps.

3. Get paper copies of the menus from local restaurants that the students will most likely visit (even the fast food restaurants typically have a paper menu available). Teach the students how menus are typically divided into different sections along with the common sight words they will need to know from the menus.


Think about what functional skills the students will need to acquire involving the use of math skills. Maybe they will need to purchase items for the store, cook from a recipe or learn the concepts of greater than and less than.

1. Using the grocery store ads can be very helpful with this skill also. The student can find the prices of certain food items, practice writing and adding the prices together.

2. The use actual money allows the student to practice identifying the different coins and adding up various amounts of change.

3. Have the students bake a loaf of bread using a bread making machine. They will be able to practice reading recipes, measuring ingredients and learn the concept of fractions. As an added benefit they will be rewarded as they get to enjoy some fresh bread!

4. Using store ads the student can learn the concept of greater than and less than by "shopping" for an item in the ad that costs less than $1, $5, or $10.

It is easy to incorporate teaching functional skills into the everyday academics curriculum of the classroom. Decide first what functional skills the students will need to learn. Break down the skill into small achievable steps. Use material and resources that are available in the students' community in order to help assist the student in the learning and then applying their new skills. The students will enjoy learning these new functional skills because they will be able to see the relevance of applying these activities into their everyday lives.

Shari Walker is a Special Education Educator and owner of Functional Skills Source LLC. She is the author of "The Wonderful World of Ads; Learning Activities Using Grocery Store Ads To Teach Everyday Life Skills"

Visit her website at

The website is a forum for the exchange of teaching ideas and materials.

Source: EzineArticles
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Functional Skills


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Teaching Functional Skills


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