Using Basic Skill File Folders to Build Independence (with FREE Errorless File Folders)

For our learners who need to work on foundational learning skills, such as simple matching, I have always love creating hands on task boxes put-in tasks and color sorting tasks. My classroom closet always looked like it could be featured on an episode of hoarders. I kept every shoe box, coffee container, baby jar, and “scrap” I could because thats what I used to create workboxes for my students.

put in task boxes for special education

Click here to read about fine motor put in tasks

Click here to read about color sorting tasks

Although I LOVE a good homemade workbox, I still needed more activities to fill my students’ independent work stations. I needed something beyond workboxes to build those foundational skills up to academic skills.

8 Basic Skills File Folder Packs to Build Independence

file folder organization

Since file folders are my go-to for my independent work stations, I decided to create a line of file folders that covered those foundational skills. This way, my learners that were still working on basic skills could get used to working with file folders and velcro pieces. I love using these Basic Skills File Folders for students that need to work on building independence with activities they can do on their own.

file folder prep for special education

File folders are easy to prep, store, and reset for other students throughout the day. Click here to read about how to prep file folders at school or from home!

Errorless File Folders

What can you use for students that need to learn how to work independently at their work station when they have a very limited skill set? It can be tough to get them started with a set of tasks they have mastered. If a student has no matching skills yet and is only able to do very basic put-in tasks, I start teaching them how to work with file folders using these Errorless File Folders. With these folders, students learn to match the pieces to velcro. They are “errorless” because it doesn’t matter where they put the piece, it is correct.

errorless file folder activity for kids

This set of file folders is free in my Free Resource Library!


Identical Matching

Once students have mastered errorless tasks, then I move them on to Identical Matching File Folders. These folders will help students learn to focus on individual pictures out of a set. They will find the picture that is the same as their piece and will also notice the pictures that are different. When teaching the folder to the student, you can state the picture shown (i.e. “This is a lion” or “lion”). Hearing the word that is matched up to the picture is a great way to sneak in pre-reading instruction for students.

matching file folder for kids

Matching Numbers & Letters

matching numbers file folders

Once a child is beginning to be able to match identical pictures, matching numbers and letters is the next step I take. Just like with the pictures, I use these folders as an opportunity to teach letter and number names to students in a fun, casual manner. To keep students engaged and excited during teaching times, I’ve sometimes put file folder pieces in a sensory bin for reluctant students to keep them motivated.

matching letters file folders

These Basic Skill File Folders work well in conjunction with picture books to expose students that are learning these foundational skills to these academic concepts. I like to use combination of using books, file folders, and discrete trial training to teach these new skills to students.

Shapes File Folders

These folders cover matching shapes, real world shapes, shape words, and sorting shapes.

matching shapes file folders for kids

Colors File Folders

These folders cover matching and sorting colors.

matching colors file folders for kids

sorting colors file folders for kids

Non-Identical Sorting

When students have mastered matching, it is a great time to teach them how to generalize different things into simple categories. It’s great to start with pictures of familiar things; for example, cats and dogs, or apples and pumpkins. These Non-identical Sorting File Folders give students tons of practice with this skill.

category sorting file folders for kids

Category Sorting

Now the real fun begins! Once your students are showing you they have mastered identical and nonidentical matching, it is a great time to begin learning about different categories. Just like with basic sorting, it’s best to start with familiar categories, such as “people and vehicles” or “clothing and food.” There are lots of options in the Category Sorting File Folders Pack.

category sorting file folder for kids

What next?

What do you do when students have worked through the Basic Skills File Folders? When they are ready to begin learning math and literacy skills, I have file folder packs for those skills as well!

Be sure to check out these packs:

phonemic awareness file folder activities for kids

Phonemic Awareness File Folders

CVC short vowel file folder activities

Reading CVC Words File Folders

math file folders

Math File Folders

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