word wall


language arts

shared reading




adapted PE





social studies


science/social studies

guided reading

guided reading



books on tape

work time


reading buddies








ride bus home

Liberty Center


after school care

assignment notebook

game time



pack up




















































Visual Schedules

 Tania Kraus


Using a visual schedule provides structure in your classroom and could be one of the greatest returns for your effort.  There are so many benefits in improved student understanding and cooperation.  The schedules help the classroom become more organized, which helps students perform more consistently.


It is easy to assume students know their schedules and routines.  In reality they frequently don’t, or they don’t remember, or they forget, or are not sure.  Schedules help students do what they are suppose to be doing even if they don’t really want to do it.  Schedules help clarify communication between staff and students.  They are useful for redirecting students back to the activity of the moment.


Visual schedules can be set up in a variety of ways.  Students who are performing at a functional level may need photos or object schedules to start.  Students who are performing at a little higher level may be able to understand picture symbols (above).  These picsyms can be cut apart and displayed in either a vertical or horizontal format.  Picsyms can be cut and pasted onto a chart to provide a permanent schedule, or they can be cut apart and laminated and put onto a chart using Velcro to provide some flexibility in the schedule.  The student should have some way to mark or move the picsym to provide a visual of when each activity is completed.  Using a basket is one way for the student to move the picsym off the chart and into the “done” basket.  An overhead marker can be used to mark off completed activites.


The picsyms can be laminated and put into a file folder using Velcro.  Inside the folder will be the place to store all the picsyms using Velcro.  The front of the folder may be used to display a specified number of activities the child will be doing.  A “done” area above the display will help the child understand that when he/she moves the picsym into the “done” area, that activity is, indeed, completed.


Schedules can increase in complexity according to the child’s ability level.  If the child is beginning to understand the concept of time, a clock with the start time may be included in his/her schedule.  When the child is beginning to read, the written name of the activity can be the focus, with picsym support.  Once the child is able to read fluently, a written schedule may be all he/she needs.


Make the process of using and changing the schedule a language activity.  Either the teacher or the student should talk through the change of activity.  Use a verbal script to accompany the motor routines, such as, “Math is finished.  Time for music.”  This procedure helps students attend to the transition.  It teaches them an organized routine that they will be able to follow to handle situations more independently.


Encourage students to actively participate in the verbal routine.  Even nonverbal or limited verbal students should be a part of this.  Try using a fill-in-the-blank activity.  “Math time is finished.  Time for __________.”  Make sure students take their turn to fill in the blank with whatever means they have.  Their turn might be removing the picture, a gesture or a vocalization.  What is important is to produce something when it is their turn.  Many students have acquired a significant functional vocabulary from the repetitive use of the verbal scripts in this activity.