Life skills activities for teaching cleaning and chores next to a bucket of brightly colored cleaning supplies

Share for your fellow special educators!

The list of life skills our students need to learn seems never-ending. One skill that will benefit their families NOW and help them with independent living in the FUTURE is learning household cleaning and chores. Despite my best efforts to wish away the mess on my desk or come home to sparkling floors, I’m inevitably left to do it myself and our students will too. Teens in particular should be learning to manage and clean their space as they are now physically able to use cleaning supplies and tall enough to reach into the washing machine!

Try these life skills activities for teens and special education classrooms.  Supplement your life skills training with these work tasks. Adapted books, file folders, worksheets and clip cards can help your students learn vocabulary and procedures for cleaning and household chores.
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Real Life Practice

Natural settings are the ideal environment to practice life skills, but we can make our classrooms the next best thing. Here are a few ideas to build life skills activities into your day –

  • Wash the lunch tables
  • Sweep and mop the classroom floor (be careful when wet!)
  • Dust bookshelves
  • Wash desks and chairs
  • Return wayward supplies to their homes
  • Wipe technology (computers, iPads, etc)
  • Wipe door handles and light switches (especially important during winter germ season!)
  • Empty garbage cans

If you have access to laundry machines, a sink or a dishwasher, here are a few more life skills activities you can practice daily –

  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Load the dishwasher
  • Hand wash snack or lunch dishes
  • Wash towels (even if you don’t use towels in your classroom, ask for a load’s worth of donations)
  • Fold laundry

Supplies to Keep on Hand

Here’s a list of simple cleaning supplies to keep in your classroom. Of course, they don’t apply to every classroom depending on your set-up!

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Work Tasks

In addition to physically practicing cleaning skills, we can use academic time to reinforce vocabulary and procedures. I created this huge unit of life skills activities to supplement hands on training. I focused on cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, and completing basic household chores.

Specific cleaning chemicals need to be taught in the natural environment in your hands on training. Some cleaners and some surfaces don’t always match up (for example, I can’t say use multi-purpose cleaner on the kitchen counter, because it may be granite and require special treatment). I used generic terms like spray bottle and glass cleaner instead!

File Folders

File folders are my favorite task type and I believe many students thrive on the left to right routine and clear completion criteria. This unit includes 19 file folders to match, sort and sequence.

Three file folder activities - mopping floors, doing laundry, sorting laundry
Doing laundry sequencing file folder
Laundry sorting file folder - sorting whites and colors

Adapted Books

Adapted books are a great way to include life skills in your reading groups. Students practice navigating and reading a simple book while matching cleaning items.

Cleaning supplies adapted book
Cleaning the bathroom adapted book
Cleaning the bathroom adapted book - girl spraying a mirror
Doing laundry sequencing adapted book
Laundry vocabulary adapted book


I may have gotten carried away with the worksheets. I just kept thinking of more ways to practice! Most tasks have multiple levels so students can trace or write independently. They can match pictures or match pictures to words. I particularly love creating cut and paste worksheets to sneak in some fine motor practice!

Two worksheets with cleaning supplies and laundry pictures and terms
Labeling with a word bank
Two cut and paste worksheets with cleaning supplies and laundry terms and pictures
Labeling cut and paste
Two cut and paste worksheets with sequencing for cleaning counters and sinks and sweeping the floor
Sequencing cut and paste

Matching Tasks

These matching tasks are similar to the file folders but you can limit the field by reducing the matching cards and answer pieces you present at one time. If you have a student working in a field of 2, you can only give two answer cards at a time and progress from there. Eventually they will be ready to complete 12 piece file folders!

Picture to picture match task boxes for laundry supplies
Picture to picture match
Picture to picture and picture to word match task boxes for laundry supplies
Picture to word match

Clip Cards

Adding a little fine motor to a work task never hurt anyone right? I included a picture to picture match and a picture to word match in this unit.

Four cleaning supplies picture match clip cards
Picture to picture match
Child hands holding clip card with picture of laundry basket and clothespin to show answer
Picture to word match

Word Wall

If you’re using these tasks to build a unit and you have the space, I created two word walls you can post. I included cleaning supplies and laundry supplies.

Cleaning supplies and laundry supplies word wall cards


Who doesn’t love a good cleaning supplies BINGO game!?!? I made three sets of calling cards – picture to picture match, picture to word match and picture to description match.

Cleaning supplies bingo cards

Thanks for stopping by!

Life Skills Activities for Teaching Cleaning and Chores