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Activity Systems

Guiding Through the Day: Work/Activity Systems

About Activity Systems

Activity systems, briefly stated, are grouped series of activities that children are taught to complete independently, in order, from a checklist-like or mini-schedule-like format.

Activity systems can be used across environments to support academic skills, fine motor skills, recreation and leisure skills, grooming, domestic chores, community activities, vocational skills, etc.

All tasks or activities that go into an activity system have previously been taught to the the independent level. Activity systems that are to be completed at a desk, especially for beginners, should be taught at a separate location and then moved to the independent work station when mastered.

Example 1:  John has a specific location where only  independent work occurs. He has a strip of velcro on his desk, on which there are three different icons of his favorite cartoon characters followed by a "check schedule" icon. On the shelf, there are three tasks with labels that correlate with the three icons on his work schedule. A tab of velcro awaits the match with the schedule icon. John's tasks are related to fine motor practice and review of skills John has learned in class or during 1:1 work.

John takes the icon furthest left and matches it to the task. He picks up the task and places it on his desk. He completes the task and puts the finished task in the laundry basket on the floor to his right. He repeats the cycle until it all three icons have been matched and all tasks have been completed and placed in the laundry basket.

He then takes the check schedule icon to his schedule and places it in the pocket below before taking the icon that leads to his next activity.

Vocational Example: 

Carla has a job cleaning the office at a dentist office. She has mastered several tasks that she must do for the job, including, taking out the trash, putting the magazines in a pile, wiping down the table and vacuuming the floor. 

Her work system consists of a laminated checklist, top to bottom, on a clip board with a vis-a-vis marker on a string for checking off the items. The items on the system include: Unlock door, Remove and tie trash bags, Put in new trash bags, Take trash to dumpster, Stack magazines, wash table, vacuum floor, put supplies away, take a break.

Play/Leisure Example:

Scott is in first grade and his class has free play first thing in the morning. Scott does not have play skills to spontaneously play with the toys in the room.

Scott's work system consists of strip of four activities that can be done with the cars and car garage. The activities include push car forward, put car on slide ramp, roll car into garage, and ring the bells on the garage. Each activity was taught individually using the visual supports that will be in the work system.

They are represented by photos of him engaging in each activity. The photos are laminated and are attached to the board on velcro so they can be interchanged. On the backs of each photo is a "Done" icon. As he finishes each step, he flips the photo over to expose the "Done" icon.