Life Skill Lesson Plans for Special Education

The purpose of these life skill lesson plans is to help students with special needs be able to continue learning and growing in their understanding of the world around them, even as they enter adulthood.

Many students will be leaving the school system after graduation and entering into a new phase of their lives. Some students may be entering into the workforce, while others may be moving on to college or post-secondary training programs. Regardless of what stage of life the student enters into, it is important for them to have the basic life skills to function adequately in society. These lesson plans will help students learn those necessary skills by offering step-by-step instructions and examples that can be used in real life situations.

We have included three sample life skill lesson plans below: one on grocery shopping, one on doing laundry, and one on balancing a checkbook. Each sample plan is accompanied by a list of resources needed for teaching each activity as well as suggestions for further reading materials related to that topic.

The following life skill lesson plans are designed for children with special needs. The lessons focus on a wide range of skills and abilities that relate to the daily living activities of cooking, personal hygiene, and grooming, cleaning, laundry, shopping, socialization skills, and money management. These activities require the use of a variety of cognitive skills including matching and sorting by shape and color, categorizing by size and shape, comparing quantities (more/less), identifying parts of objects (e.g., label parts of a plant), following directions for cooking recipes, completing simple puzzles with 3-4 pieces, recognizing numbers 1-20 (or higher), counting up to 100 (or higher), using thermometers for measuring oven temperatures (e.g., 150 degrees F), reading time to the hour on digital clocks, simple addition and subtraction 1-5+1-5=2-10).

In a special education classroom, life skills are the foundation for preparing students with disabilities for mainstream classrooms. The goal of life skills is to help students gain independence in their daily living activities.

Many life skill lessons can be taught in a physical education or health class, but teachers should also be prepared to teach these skills outside of the classroom. It’s important to realize that life skills will be learned by every child at a different pace.

It’s also necessary that teachers tailor their lessons to individual students and their needs. Teachers need to be flexible and creative when it comes to teaching life skills; they should make sure each lesson is developmentally appropriate and fun.

Have you ever had a student in your class who needs extra attention or help to learn skills like cooking, reading, or personal hygiene? What about students who move on to vocational training after high school? Wouldn’t it be great if they left school knowing how to prepare a meal or read an ingredient label?

If you want to help your students learn basic life skills and prepare for their futures, check out these resources. You may already be teaching some of these skills in your classroom! But if not, here are some ideas for where to start.

Remember, not all of your students will have the same needs or learn at the same rate. Some lessons may need to be simplified, while others might need additional steps included. Think about what would be helpful for each individual student in reaching their full potential. The goal is to support them in learning the skill; it’s up to you and your students how thorough you get with each lesson plan.

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