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Things You Can Color Code in Your Special Education Classroom

Organization is one of the key components to having a smooth running and successful classroom, and one thing that can help you the most is color coding.

Color coding things around the room can help you as the teacher, your paraprofessionals, any other therapists that come in and out of your room, but also your students.

things you can collor code in your sped classroom blog post header image

I know! It was a complete game changer for me in the classroom, and for my students. It helped them take control over their learning and over their belongings. And it helped save my teacher sanity; I didn’t have to worry about arguments over supply sharing, or a student getting the wrong pencil grip, or piles and piles of student work samples that weren’t sorted.

It was all color coded and the implementation was super easy.


What are some things you can color code in your classroom?

Student Materials

Color coding student materials can help put an end to students arguing over whose supplies are whose. You can assign each student a color – this may be easier in a smaller classroom setting so you don’t run out of colors to use, but this way the students know what color their materials are stored in, and the adults in the room know what materials belong to what students. 

This can be done with task boxes, art materials, book bins, supply caddies, and data binders. If you have file folder tasks you could add a colored sticker or marker dot so the adults in the room know which student is working on that specific skill at that time.

Classroom Displays

Using color coding when designing your classroom or putting up displays such as word walls or anchor charts, is a way that you can incorporate color in the room to help your students recall and recognize specific information. 

Example: if you are teaching your students about nouns, verbs and adjectives, you could display posters or anchor charts putting each part of speech in a different color helping the students remember where to look if they need assistance.

You could then take that to your classwork and do a sorting activity sorting different words into the categories they belong to, or for your higher level learners, maybe highlighting or underlining those words in a text in the given color to help identify them.

Visual Schedules in the Special Education Classroom

Schedules

Assigning a color to a specific part of your daily schedule can help students save time when it comes to transitions.  If you have different folders or binders for each subject, for example blue for math and red for ELA, when it comes time to transition from one subject to the next, the students know what materials are needed for that part of their day, and the paras know what materials to help the students get prepared so everyone is set up for success. 

color coded student iep binders - organizing your IEPs one child at a time. blog post at mrs. ds corner

Student IEP Binders

Color coding your student’s binder, especially those student IEP Binders is a crucial step in making sure all of your IEP paperwork gets and stays organized. Learn more about that here.

Small Group Work

Incorporating color coding can help make group work, literacy and math centers, or small group rotations that much easier.  You can put your students in small groups, assigning each group a different color name.  You can then label the different activities to be done by each group using their color, you can put the groups in their different centers/rotations assigned by group names. 

This allows for a more seamless transition from center to center, as well as collection of materials and activities from each group.

Classroom Tools

Learn more about this quick DIY trick to color coding your classroom headphone storage.

IEP Work Bins

Learn more about IEP Work Bins here, and if you want to make your own IEP Work Bins, here’s quick DIY tutorial for you.

Traffic Light System

The use of red, green and yellow is often used in the classroom.  They give students the instant recognition of the meaning of the colors → red – stop, green – go, yellow – pause.  This could be used for ensuring safety throughout the room, during transition time, during centers or independent work rotations, during fun free choice activities, in any way that you need to communicate different parts of your day to your students.


Color coding can not only be useful for your day with your students and paraprofessionals, but for your own needs.  We as teachers have so much that we have to keep organized personally, that adding things like color coded sticky notes, or even ink colors can help.  

You can also assign a different color to a different day of the week → Monday – red, Tuesday – orange, Wednesday – green, Thursday – blue, and Friday – purple.

I use sticky notes, colored pens and colored pencils for the specific color of the day to take notes, keep data, create my meeting and events scheduled.  I find that this just helps my visual eye see what is happening throughout the week easily.

If you’re just getting started with color coding, here’s a post to get you started

Is color coding something you like to do in your classroom?  If it is, what is your favorite thing to color code?  If it is not, after reading this, has it sparked any ideas on what could really help you stay organized?  Let us know in the comments below!


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I'm a special education teacher, presenter, curriculum writer, and educational blogger behind Mrs. D's Corner.
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