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Creating Adapted Books for Special Education Classrooms

July 2, 2020 No Comments

Creating Adapted Books for Special Education Classrooms

Creating adapted books for special education classrooms is one of my favorite things to do! There are countless ways that a picture book can be adapted. In this post, I will share simple ways to adapt books for the learners in your classroom. Keep in mind, when creating adapted books for special education classrooms, taking your students’ needs and goals into consideration is the most salient factor. Throughout this post, I will use Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (not an affiliate link) in my examples, as it is one of my favorite books. You can grab FREE adapted pieces for this book at the end of the post!




Pick a Keyword

One of the most important parts of creating adapted books for special education classrooms is to make them interactive and relatable to students. First, I begin by picking a keyword or two from each page. Personally, I tend to stick with one keyword but do what is best for your students. This keyword, in most cases, will be a noun or verb. As you can see in the picture above, I used his white shoes as my keyword for these pages. Next, I print a symbol that represents the keyword(s) and attach it to the page. For reference, I usually make this symbol 2” x 2”. Typically, I use clip art images, icons from Boardmaker, SymbolStix, Smarty Symbols, etc. An example of the images I used for Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes can be seen below. By identifying a single vocabulary word, students can narrow in on that keyword. This should help students get a better understanding of the story. Students can then label it with sign language, their voice, AAC device, PECS or any other mode of communication.


To attach the image to the page, I print the images on card stock, and use clear packing tape to cover the image and affix it to the page. I usually place it near the bottom, unless the corresponding item is located only at the top of the page. I also print larger images of these same pictures for students to use to identify/match/interact with during the story. Make sure to hold onto these cards; they can be used to review the vocabulary during other lessons.



Locate manipulatives

If you want to further assist students, finding corresponding manipulatives is exceptionally beneficial. Hands on learning is a teaching method that is proven to help students navigate information more effectively. Before purchasing anything, I recommend checking your classroom (and other classrooms); if you are anything like me, you hoard ALL the things. However, if you don’t own an item you need, search the Target Dollar Spot, dollar stores, craft stores, party stores etc to find inexpensive items. I try to locate items that have additional sensory components, like the stretchy witch in the picture below.

What items can I use to create adapted books for my special education classroom?

When searching, I try to find items that most closely represent the real item, that are not too large (remember you have to store all these items), and of course, items that are safe for students to interactive with. Items that I have found incredibly versatile and applicable to many books include:

Plastic food: This can represent any food items mentioned in a story.

Puzzle pieces: These are easy to grab from Dollar Spot puzzles or puzzles around the classroom and can represent various items.

Felt and wooden pieces: ANYONE who shops the Target Dollar Spot know what I am talking about! There are new sets each season which are quite versatile and include a variety of items. You never know when you will need a wooden cupcake!

Beanie Babies, wooden/plastic animals: Dig into your childhood toys and located those Beanie Babies! These, as well as plastic animals, can be used to represent any animals found in a story.)

Party favor items: Wind up toys, squishy items, and other toys are a fun and interactive way to represent an item in the book.

Shredded paper gift filler: I always stock up on yellow, brown and green when I see it. These are excellent for representing grass, hay, etc) They also make a fun sensory bin!

Baby clothes: These are usually cheaper than purchasing kids/adult sized clothing, and they are easier to store.

Holiday/seasonally themed items: Grab these whenever you find yourself at the craft store, dollar store, Target, etc. These items will range from toys to decorations to other fun things!

Want to try creating an adapted book for YOUR special education classroom?

Sign up below to grab my FREE adapted pieces for Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. 


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