How To Start A Learner With An Object Schedule

Object schedules don’t have to be fancy! When creating them, I often need to remind myself to stop overthinking. When I started using object schedules, I tried to find objects that matched the area of the classroom exactly. After failing to find enough objects for a schedule, I remembered that I can teach any object! Just as any other interventions we use for our learners, it needs to be taught. Giving a learner a schedule doesn’t mean that they’ll know what to do with it, we have to teach it. This worked wonders when thinking about object schedules as well. In this post, I will explain what an object schedule is, the many ways it can be implemented, as well as some examples that can be used.  

Types of object schedules 


  • The first type of object schedule is using only an object. This means that the object itself is the icon.
  • The second type of object schedule is an object on a laminated (or backing) card. I have used glue, velcro, and packing tape to attach the object to a color-coded card.
  • The third type of object schedule is an object paired with a visual. This is a great way to transition a learner from an object schedule to a visual schedule.  

I have found that the easiest way to store and carry the objects is in some kind of container. I have used tupperwares and plastic shoebox containers both with velcro on the top. This makes it easiest to present the schedule to the learner when it is time to transition.

Examples of objects to use according to area 


One tip for my teams is that we need to remember that the object needs to represent the area of the classroom or school building, not what they are going to do there. For example, if it is snack time, the visual on the schedule should be “table” not “snack”. If the activity is circle time and the learner sits in a cube chair during large groups, the visual should be for their colored cube chair, not “group time”. There must be an identical object for the learner to match. I typically use a tupperware for this and have found that the task of “putting in” works better than “putting on”. Another strategy to remember is that if there are multiple learners in the classroom that are using object schedules, it is easiest to use the same object for all. 

 Some examples of objects as icons are: 


  • Cube chair: green block 
  • Table: pencil  
  • DTT table: yellow lego  
  • Gym: plastic button 
  • Lunchroom: plastic spoon 
  • Bathroom: eraser  

How to track data 

I have found that task analysis is most sufficient in tracking a learner’s independence in following their schedule. For an object schedule, the task analysis that I use is as follows:  


  • Learner takes the object presented to them 
  • Learner holds the icon during the transition  
  • Learner matches or “puts in” object to the matching object at the corresponding area of the classroom/school building 
  • Learner enters the area  


Remember to teach the learner what each object means, use the same objects if you have more than one learner using an object schedule, and don’t over think it! 


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