Christine A Howard

Teaching Job Skills With Trash – No Really!

Since the pandamic hit, my daughter has not been able to go to her after school job skills program. She turns 18 at the end of this year, so these are valuable months needed to help her be ready for adulthood that have been lost. Like many folks who are unable to visit restaurants in person, we have been purchasing a lot of take out. It was during one of our many take out meals that a lightbulb went on. What if we didn’t throw away those silverware packets? Instead, what if we kept them and used them for learning job skills. I have been on a mission ever since. Read on for some easy job skills you can create out of things you would normally just throw away.

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Silverware Grouping

Most sit-down restuarants sort of assume that you don’t keep silverware and condiments in your home already. Just kidding. I know they assume you might be eating away from home, and that is why silverware is included. However, these days most of us are at home with our take-out. Because of this, we don’t need to use the plasticware provided.

Simply keep these packets, cut the end of the plastic bag to access the silverware without damaging the bag, and have your child sort them. We have packets from several different restaurants, and this is something I recommend. Silverware sorting is pretty boring, so having more than one restaurant to choose from keeps thing fresh.

Teaching Job skills at home

Take Out Orders

Fast food restaurants are great for having reusable containers that can be washed and used with job skills training. One morning we decided to have some breakfast from our favorite fast food place. I kept the containers and now my daughter practices putting paper cut-out pancakes, saugages, eggs, and biscuits into breakfast containers.

Craft Supply Sorting

Okay, so craft supplies are not trash. However, if you are like me, you have plenty of craft supplies waiting in a cupboard somewhere. These tend ot make great work boxes. Some of the skills activities I have used with my daughter are as follows:

  • Placing erasers on pencils
  • Sharpening Pencils
  • Grouping Supplies in a Supply Bag
  • Grouping Supplies For a Preschool Activity

Shredding Junk Mail

We all get tons of junk mail, right? Why not have your child practice the skill of paper shredding using that free resource of junk mail? If you have small pets like gerbils, rabbits, or chickens, the shredded paper can actually be used for bedding. That seems like a win-win to me, and it comes at a pretty good price. Most small shredders can be found for around $20.

And unlike the job skills listed above, paper shredding is an actual job that companies hire out. Quite often those with disabilities are quick to be hired for this job, as they want people who aren’t going to be tempted to read the documents being shredded.

The next time you are going to throw something out, think about whether or not that trash can be used to teach a job skill. Chances are it can be! If you have an idea you would like to share, tell us in the comments below.

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