materials goals collage

Getting Started Matching Materials to Goals

When selecting materials and activities for a learner, it is important to begin by creating a profile of the individual.  This includes an assessment that identifies what the child is able to do in various areas, a learning media assessment or identification of the preferred sensory channels, and a list of learner preferences.  This profile should be created by the people who know the learner best, including families and caregivers, as well as teachers and therapists. Once the profile has been created, the team should then discuss priorities and create collaborative goals to address the identified needs. 

Selecting Materials

In order to select appropriate materials and activities, the teacher or other adult should be familiar with what the materials do and what properties they have.  This can then be aligned with the learner's profile to determine which materials will be most effective in addressing goals.  For example, if a learner is just beginning to grasp materials, it is important to think about the size of the items, what they are made of (e.g. are they slippery?  easy to hold on to?)

Sample Materials

Trisha Borg from Narbethong State Special School has shared a list of materials she has been using with some of her students, along with some of the goals that can be addressed by using them.

suction cup


Suction toys in a heavy metal baking tray that require various amount of strength to "pull off" the tray. 1-2 handed game that works on finger and hand strength, grasping, finger isolation.







One handed grasping


I made this as a one-handed grasping activity for a student I have hoping that the crinkle reflective paper may encourage him to use his other hand or visually attend to the stimulus







separating activity    separating activity

Two/one-handed separating activity (these can be attached to a position board)

 Materials to use for two-handed separatingItems to work on two-handed separating

Two-handed separating activity

 boxes with lids Boxes

Early two-handed open and close box game with lids attached to each box so they can easily be re-found by students

 two handed tube





Two-handed tube which easily provides auditory feedback with little effort




 contrasting background


We're trying out a high contrast position board to see if students engage better visually. Most of our position boards are currently white, and we'd like to find out if they engage more when there is a black background.






magnet board




Magnet grasping position board on a heavy baking dish






grasping board




Grasping comparable position board






squeezing board




Grasping, finger isolation, squeezing position board