Did that get your attention? Don't worry, I don't think we should throw away all the fun stuff in classrooms, but I have 2 reasons why removing these things from your bookshelves and counters can be beneficial to you and your students!

1- It will increase student communication!
Replace books, toys and desired objects on shelves with picture symbols or photos. If a student wants a specific toy or book, he can communicate that by touching the picture symbol or removing the picture and taking it to a staff member (instead of just grabbing the toy). Although having to get the toys/books makes extra work for the staff, it encourages meaningful communication with kiddos who might not communicate otherwise!

2- It will minimize distractions and problem behaviors. 
When there are toys, books, and blocks on the shelves, a few of my students will often want to walk away from instruction to play interact with whatever is on the shelf... What kid would want to work when there is a SpongeBob book on the bookshelf?! Removing distracting toys/ items from students' eye sight is a super easy antecedent intervention to prevent distractions and problem behaviors.

How to do it:
1) Store supplies in another safe way- a few options:
  • Store stuff inside locked cabinets
  • Store stuff in the storage bins with the locking lids (my students aren't able to open these)
  • Or you can store toys on the top of shelves (if you don't have any kiddos who will climb the furniture to try to get the items)
2) Give your students a way to request the items. Put photos, picture symbols, or voice output devices in the place of the toys/items. Students can point to the pictures or remove the picture from and take it to a staff member to request the items.
Note: If you have students who don't take "no" well, make sure you remove the photos/ picture symbols when the student can't have access to the item. For example, we remove the iPad symbol for most of the day and only put it out when it's a time that the students are able to have access to the iPad (free choice time).