Last year Sasha and I created these new visual schedules to use in one of my preschool classrooms and they turned out amazing. I can’t believe I didn’t create these earlier. In one of the preschool classroom in which I work it has both a morning and afternoon session. Each session can have up to 10 students. However, the classrooms often do not start out full at the beginning of the school year and as students get identified for needing special education services the students then get placed in our classroom.
Previously, the teacher would set up the schedules for the students enrolled at the beginning of the school year which is great but as the year went on we would have to add more schedules for the new students enrolled. The schedule area became very cluttered and unorganized. It was overwhelming and visually over stimulating for me as an adult let alone my small preschool students with special needs. I wanted to create something that was easy for the teacher and other related service providers to use and also functional for my students. I have found when schedules are hard for the adults in the classroom to use then they are not used very often or successfully. You might be able to tell from this picture how many schedules were previously on the board.
At the beginning of the school year, I wanted to set up the schedules with the maximum amount of students we could get so we were ready for the future students. I took the area the teacher likes to place the schedules and really wanted to make it user friendly….20 schedules on one wall in no particular order equals ciaos! After lots of ideas being tossed around, Sasha and I decided to create reversible schedules. The AM students would be on one side of the schedule and then you can flip the schedule around and the PM student are on the other side! This alone cut the number of visual schedules being viewed at one time in half! Reduce the visual overload! Sasha and I got to work getting the bulletin board space cleaned up and ready for the schedules.
Here is how I set the schedules up. I laminated a white piece of poster board. Then I cut out stripes from the poster board that were around 4-5 inches thick. I used the white round Velcro dots and added 5 soft dots down each side of the white strip for a total of 10 dots on just one side. Then I placed the hard Velco dots on top of the soft Velcro. I took the strip and pressed it against the bulletin board. That way the dots line up correctly. Take off the white strip and now put another set of soft Velcro on the hard Velcro pieces which now are on the bulletin board. Turn over the white strip to the side you have not placed any dots on yet and press it again the board. I know this sounds a bit crazy but basically you want the dots to line up so when you turn the schedule strip over it can attach to those same Velcro dots on both sides.
When we finished that had all the schedule strips we would need lined up ready to go on the bulletin board.
Next, I put the student’s picture both on the top and bottom of the schedule strip. Again, in the past I have seen schedules with only the student’s names on it or a picture placed too high for the students to see. Young students in these rooms often do not recognize their names yet so trying to find their name from a visual field of up to 10 other names is not going to happen. The reason I put the picture on the top and bottom is I found it is easy for paraprofessionals, related services provides, and substitute teachers to also have the picture easy for them to see. I wanted to make sure I also put a picture lower for the students to be able to see themselves.
After that I put a strip of hard Velcro in the center of the white board. I found out what activities and subjects the teacher wanted for the students. Sasha has a set of color coded schedule pictures which I used. It was such a big difference this year having a color coded schedule. I go in lots of different classrooms and I often see all the schedule pictures with just white backgrounds. This is great for students who are beginning to read or can discriminate between pictures. However, for my younger students or lower functioning students I recommend using a color coded schedule. The students can then match the color of their schedule piece to the larger schedule picture in the classroom. The students will be more successful matching colors at first and then depending on student’s progress you can change their schedule pictures.
Another thing I did differently this year was I added those little containers to the bottom of the schedule. I just found them at the dollar store. Sometimes it is hard for my students to put the used schedule pictures in those typically used little envelopes. It’s also just as hard for me to pull out the schedule pictures and place my “therapy” picture on the schedule board. I stapled these little containers at the bottom right next to the students’ schedules. This made it much easier for the students to place the finished schedule picture in the finished pile.
I know everyone has different areas and spaces to work with for schedules. I think using color coded picture schedules is so key for these younger students. I also find placing the students’ pictures and names together in place they can see is critical. Make it easy for the students to put their finished pictures somewhere so they don’t end up on the ground or in the trash. If you can set up your room to anticipate all the students you might have for the school year it makes it easier when you get those new students and keeps the schedules organized.
Good luck to everyone getting their schedules set for the upcoming school year! If you want to see the Facebook live video Sasha and I did on these visual schedules click the link.