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Geoboards are a great way to target multiple skills at once in an autism classroom.  Math concepts can be taught while sneaking in fine motor skills.  Create communication opportunities while including hand-eye coordination practice.  The possibilities are literally endless in this open ended activity!  The highly visual nature of a geoboard is perfect for your highly visual students with autism.  You can play to their strengths and also target your kinesthetic learners.

DIY Geoboard

Just about everyone on a student’s team can use a geoboard to practice their target skills.  Here are just a few ideas to try:

  • Teacher: math and language concepts
    • Shapes
    • Size
    • Perimeter
    • Spatial relationships
  • Occupational therapist: fine motor skills, strength and visual attention
    • Pincer grasp
    • Hand-eye coordination
    • Bilateral coordination
    • Prop board up and work on a vertical plane
    • Put board on the ground and have student prone on a therapy ball
    • Put board across the room and have students ride a scooter to it with one band at a time
  • Speech therapist: communication
    • Withhold bands and require student to request them one at a time
    • Request or comment on colors, shape, design
    • Answer questions: “what color do you want?” “where will you put this one?” “who should take a turn next?”
  • Social worker: social skills
    • Parallel play – work along side another student
    • Sharing – use the same materials
    • Turn taking – students pass a container of bands back and forth
    • Cooperation – students work together to create a specific picture

DIY Geoboard (6) c

There are many DIY geoboards out there, but I didn’t want to use wood and nails or pushpins for several reasons.  Using wood thick enough to hold the nails securely would be pretty heavy.  I also don’t want nails in my classroom unless they’re holding up my shelves.  With a little bit of creativity, I envision my students getting the nails out of the board and having pockets full of their contraband.  If a student removes the nuts and machine screws from this DIY option, the resulting parts are not sharp or inherently dangerous (other than being small parts that are always a risk in my classroom full of supply eaters).

I came across this one by Play at Home Mom and was sold immediately because we already had spare peg board.  I bought the nuts and screws from Ace Hardware and ordered the cloth bands from Amazon.

DIY Geoboard Materials:

*Note: there are two sizes of hole diameter for pegboards – 1/4 inch and 3/16 inch.  Make sure you get the right size screws and nuts for your pegboard!

Making the board was easy and not too time consuming.  My husband cut the board to size with a jig saw after scoring it with a box cutter.  When we were deciding what size to cut, I wanted an open top line in case I ever decide to mount it to the wall.  Then I sat on the floor and attached the screws and nuts skipping every other hole.

DIY Geoboard (4) c

You can certainly use regular rubber bands but I went with cloth for several reasons.  First, I’m terrified of overstretched rubber bands snapping and blinding me.  This is especially concerning at home because my daughter is three years old and not quite ready to understand the finer points of tension.  I bought this pack of 108 for under $10.

DIY Geoboard (5) c

Second, cloth bands are much thicker and more visually appealing against the white pegboard.  The shapes are easier to see.  See?

DIY geoboard autism classroom

DIY geoboard autism classroom

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Using a Geoboard in an Autism Classroom