Using IEP Work Bins in the Special Ed Classroom

IEP work bins are different than other task bins as they are designed solely for the purpose of having students work on specific IEP goals.

But what do you put in them and how can you make them work in your classroom?

Let’s break down the what, how, and why to using IEP work bins in the special ed classroom so that your students can get the goal practice they need.

What Are IEP Work Bins?

IEP work bins focus on a student’s individual IEP goals. They are designed with that student in mind and contain resources and materials that will help the student practice and master the skill they are working on.

Unlike task boxes that can be used for many students or an entire class, there is one IEP bin per child. The bins are typically larger in size as they contain specific materials – and often more resources than a typical task box.

As with all things IEP related, the bins are usually color-coded or have labels that are color-coded. This makes it easy to quickly identify who the box belongs to and gives the student a sense of ownership.

How to Use IEP Work Bins

IEP work bins can be used at the end of the day when working one-on-one with a child, or even at specific times in your schedule. It’s all about what works best for you and your students.

Typically, IEP work bins are run by the teacher or a para so that the student is getting that important IEP goal focus.

The same bins can be used for a couple of weeks before they need to be switched out. The frequency should depend on the student’s progress and their attention to the activities. After a few weeks, your students may become very bored with an activity after trying it a few times, so it’s a good idea to switch it out before that activity fatigue happens.

While you can include a progress monitoring sheet with each IEP bin if that is the way you gather data, I prefer to use the sticky note method for gathering data from my students.

When the manipulatives and resources that I use in the IEP bins are not in use, I store them in clear plastic baggies in a large, clear plastic bin. That makes it easy to see them all and know what is where.

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Putting Together IEP Work Bins

There are many of the same supplies and resources that you might use for task bins that can be put to good use in IEP work bins. I recommend stocking up on the basics that can be used to practice and work on different skills. Here are some of the resources that have worked well for me and my students over the years.

Manipulatives for Work Bins

Play Money

Play money is always a great manipulative and can be used for all IEP goals that deal with money. While I sometimes use real coins, I find that fake coins work just as well. Stock up on bills and coins when you see them!

Foam Counters

From sorting to counting to patterns, foam counters are an inexpensive and versatile manipulative that work for all grade and skill levels.

Colorful Links

Use them for patterning, syllables, sorting, counting, and so much more! The colorful links are great to use in the special ed classroom – especially when students view them as toys to play with while they learn.


Small stickers to large stickers, stickers are always a student (and teacher!) favorite! They’re great for developing fine motor skills and more!

Cuisenaire Rods

While I love the base ten blocks and rods, I also love using the small Cuisenaire pieces for other IEP goal work.

Small Erasers

Small counting erasers are always a hit with my students and they come in so many different shapes and sizes that they’re perfect for just about any skill!

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IEP Work Bin Resources to Prep Ahead of Time

I love having things prepped ahead of time and ready to go for my students. The following are some of the resources that I use with the IEP work bins that can be used over and over again for multiple students over the course of years. They do take a bit of prep work at the start, but they’re great to use for years to come.

Adapted Books

There’s an adapted book for just about any skill your students are working on. From holiday adapted books to skill-specific, they are a great addition to any IEP work bin.

Adapted Piece Book Sets

When your students need more hands-on activities, adapted piece book sets are the way to go. They can be used to supplement any goal work your students might have.

Adapted Work Binders

Whether your students need practice with calendar goals to number sense, adapted work binders can be a staple in their IEP work bins!

Center Work Bin and Task Box Activities

Make learning and goal practicing fun with these colorful and kid-approved activities and centers.

Connected Cooking Resources

Cooking in the classroom is one of my favorite things so when I can tie it into IEP goals, it becomes part of a student’s work bin!

Containers for IEP Work Bins

There are many options for storing IEP goal work and creating the bins. It really just depends on what works for you with the space that you have available in your classroom.

These are some of the things that I have used before that worked well for me.

Project Cases

I use a project case for each month’s files and then store it in my filing cabinet. For students who are with me over the course of a couple of years, I use a project case to store their materials and supplies so that it’s easily accessible.

Large Bins

There are many places to get large bins, but I have found them to be the most helpful for storing a large number of things for my students. They do take up a lot of space though so if you don’t have much storage in your classroom they may not work well for you.

Clear Containers with Lids

I always recommend storing manipulatives and resources in clear bins when you have the space because it makes it so much easier to quickly locate what you’re looking for.

Desk Bins

These types of lidded bins are great for IEP work bins because they fit nicely inside desks and keep everything together.

Watch How I Assemble My IEP Work Bins

Want to see how I put together IEP work bins for my students? Check out the video below!

At the end of the day, IEP work bins can help you help your students and make teaching easier. Use the materials and supplies that you have room for and focus on the things your students love. Sometimes the most basic resources and materials are the ones that your students can’t wait to use again and again.

How do you structure your IEP work bins? Share with us below!




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