Adapting Organizational Activities for 3-5 Year Olds with Autism:

Keeping it Fun and Playful: Remember, at this age, the focus is on building foundational skills through engaging play. Adapt activities to be sensory-rich, short, and full of positive reinforcement.

Matching Mania:

  • Low skill: Use large, brightly colored picture cards with familiar objects (fruit, animals) and matching toys. Encourage simple matching by placing the toy on the picture card.
  • High skill: Introduce more nuanced categories (soft toys, hard toys) or create a “color match” game. Challenge them to identify and sort toys based on multiple features.

Sensory Sorting Spree:

  • Low skill: Fill a box with different textures (feathers, cotton balls, sandpaper) and let them explore freely. Provide labeled containers and encourage simple texture sorting while describing the sensations.
  • High skill: Blindfold them and have them identify the textures by touch. Ask them to sort them into “soft” and “rough” containers or create texturescapes by sticking fabrics of different textures on cardboard squares.

Building Block Bonanza:

  • Low skill: Provide large, chunky blocks in different colors and sizes. Encourage building simple structures like towers or lines.
  • High skill: Introduce color coding or size sorting. Challenge them to build specific structures based on instructions or pictures. Use sorting trays or containers to categorize different types of blocks.

Snack Symphony:

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  • Low skill: Offer various healthy snacks in bowls or trays. Encourage them to choose and arrange their snacks in a specific order (e.g., crunchy, sweet, creamy).
  • High skill: Introduce counting by asking them to count the snacks before taking a bite. Let them design their own “snack plate” using small containers or dividers.

Laundry Line Learning:

  • Low skill: Hang up a clothesline or use a drying rack indoors. Provide mismatched socks and let them pair them up, clipping them on the line with your help.
  • High skill: Introduce color or size sorting. Challenge them to match and hang the socks independently. You can also add counting and identifying left/right socks.


  • Keep the activities short and engaging, with frequent breaks and positive reinforcement.
  • Adapt the complexity and sensory input based on your child’s individual preferences and skills.
  • Use songs, rhymes, and silly voices to add to the fun and learning experience.
  • Celebrate their efforts and progress, no matter how small.

By making organization a playful and rewarding experience, you can help your 3-5 year old with autism develop valuable skills and build confidence in managing their surroundings.

Building Block Bonanza: Adapting Activities for 3-5 Year Olds

  • Here are some ideas for adapting building block activities based on your child’s age and skill level:

Low Skill (3-4 years):

  • Sensory Exploration: Provide large, chunky blocks in various textures (wood, foam, rubber). Encourage free play and exploration, letting them feel the different textures and build anything they like.
  • Color Matching: Gather blocks in bright, contrasting colors. Show them how to stack matching colors on top of each other. Introduce basic sorting by asking them to separate the blocks into different color piles.
  • Simple Structures: Help them build basic structures like towers and lines. Demonstrate how to balance the blocks and hold their hand if needed.
  • Storytelling Blocks: Use the blocks to tell stories together. Create characters, animals, or buildings and make up silly stories as you build.

High Skill (4-5 years):

  • Color & Size Sorting: Introduce sorting by both color and size. Challenge them to build a “rainbow tower” where each level is a different color, or a “size staircase” starting with the smallest blocks at the bottom.
  • Pattern Building: Show them simple patterns like ABAB or ABA (red-blue-red-blue, big-small-big-small). Encourage them to replicate the pattern with their own blocks.
  • Following Instructions: Give them simple instructions for building specific structures, like a bridge or a house. Use pictures or diagrams as visual aids if needed.
  • Creative Challenge: Set them a creative challenge, like building the tallest tower, the longest wall, or the most imaginative creature. Give them freedom to explore and express their creativity through building.

Additional Tips:

  • Incorporate counting: Encourage them to count the blocks as they build or sort. Sing counting songs or rhymes to make it fun.
  • Use vocabulary: Introduce words like “tall,” “short,” “big,” “small,” “same,” and “different” as you play.
  • Make it playful: Use silly voices, songs, and stories to keep them engaged. Make the building process a fun and interactive experience.
  • Celebrate progress: No matter how big or small their creations are, celebrate their efforts and achievements. Positive reinforcement will boost their confidence and encourage further exploration.

Remember, the goal is to make building with blocks a fun and rewarding experience for your child. Adapt the activities to their individual needs and interests, and don’t be afraid to get creative!

I hope these adapted examples inspire you to make building blocks a valuable learning tool for your 3-5 year old.

More Low-Skill Building Block Activities for 3-5 Year Olds:

Sensory Explorations:

  • Building Blocks in the Bathtub: Fill the tub with warm water and let your child float chunky plastic blocks or even sponges of different textures. Encourage them to splash, build simple structures, and explore the buoyant properties.
  • Musical Block Symphony: Gather blocks of different sizes and arrange them in a line. Tap each block gently with a spoon or mallet, creating different sounds. Let your child explore the sounds, tap along, or even “conduct” their own block orchestra.
  • Blindfold Block Tower: Blindfold your child and hand them blocks one at a time. Guide their hand as they stack the blocks, encouraging them to focus on touch and balance. Celebrate even wobbly towers!

Color and Shape Play:

  • Color Treasure Hunt: Hide colorful blocks around the room and turn it into a fun treasure hunt. Encourage your child to find and collect the blocks, grouping them by color when they’re all discovered.
  • Animal Shapes with Blocks: Use large, brightly colored blocks to build simple animal shapes like a square penguin, a triangle dog, or a rectangle snake. Get creative and have fun making different animal sounds together.
  • Sensory Bins and Scooping: Fill a plastic bin with rice, beans, or sand and bury colorful blocks inside. Provide your child with spoons, scoops, or small cups and let them dig for the hidden blocks, sorting them by color as they find them.

Building and Storytelling:

  • Duplo Domino Delights: Use large Duplo blocks to create a domino line. Knock them down together and giggle at the chain reaction. You can even add sound effects for extra fun!
  • Block Animal Families: Gather some animal figurines and build simple enclosures for them using blocks. Make sure there’s enough space for the families to live happily!
  • Puppet Play with Blocks: Turn some blocks into puppet characters by drawing faces on them or attaching googly eyes. Use them to act out a simple story together, making silly voices and encouraging your child to participate.


  • Keep the activities short and engaging, with frequent breaks and positive reinforcement.
  • Focus on sensory experiences and exploration, rather than perfect structures.
  • Use songs, rhymes, and silly voices to add to the fun and learning experience.
  • Celebrate their efforts and progress, no matter how small.

By keeping things playful and sensory-rich, you can turn building blocks into a valuable tool for developing skills like color recognition, shape awareness, fine motor coordination, and imaginative play in your 3-5 year old.

Top Google-Ranked Additional Reading Links on Organizational Activities in Autism:


  • Autism Speaks: Offers practical tips and strategies for promoting organization in children with autism, including visual aids, routines, and sensory-friendly activities.
  • Provides insightful articles and resources on various aspects of autism, including a helpful guide on “Building Organizational Skills in Children with Autism.”
  • STAR Institute: Shares a comprehensive list of “Organizational Strategies for Children with Autism” covering different areas like visual schedules, routines, and task breakdown.
  • The National Autistic Society: Offers downloadable resources and guides on “Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with Organisation,” including tips for creating structured routines and minimizing distractions.
  • The Sensory Processing Disorder Resource: Provides information on sensory-friendly organizational strategies for children with autism, including incorporating preferred textures and activities into routines.


  • Raising a Sensory Kid: Shares practical tips and strategies for organizing everyday life with a child with autism, including creating sensory-rich “calm corners” and using visual aids to manage transitions.
  • The Art of Autism: Features personal stories and insights from parents and individuals with autism about navigating organization challenges and finding creative solutions.
  • The Autism Helper: Offers practical advice and resources for parents and professionals working with children with autism, including tips on creating visual schedules and using timers to manage tasks.
  • The Sensory Spectrum: Shares helpful resources and tips on creating a sensory-friendly environment for children with autism, including strategies for organizing spaces and activities.
  • The Sensory Spectrum: Shares helpful resources and tips on creating a sensory-friendly environment for children with autism, including strategies for organizing spaces and activities.
  • The Mighty: Features personal stories and perspectives from individuals with autism about their experiences with organization and the strategies they use to cope with challenges.

Remember: These are just a few starting points, and there are many other valuable resources available online and in libraries. When choosing resources, consider your child’s individual needs and preferences, and prioritize credible and evidence-based information from reputable sources.

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