How to Use Visual Supports to Improve Your Classroom Management Strategies

Sunday, May 26, 2019



If you’ve been following along for a bit, by now you know I firmly believe in the power of using visuals to support young learners.  Visual supports and pictures cues can be effective tools to use for every child in your classroom to promote independence.  Using pictures to support students can be so simple but so often overlooked.  Today’s blog will be about improving classroom management and supporting classroom directions and teacher instructions using the power of pictures.



Use visual direction pages to promote student independence.




In Kindergarten it can be difficult for students to complete multi-step crafts without adult assistance.  Kids will have 501 questions about each step of a project or activity.  If you have these activities set up as centers while you are pulling small groups, you are likely to be interrupted.   If you are in a situation where you do not have extra adult support, consider creating a page of step by step directions with a picture or photo for each step. 

Picture direction pages can be simple to create.  When you make your example or sample product to show the students, snap a photo of each step.  If you have an iPhone, you may want to use the square photo to keep pictures a consistent size.  In the example above, I took a photo of each step of our lion and lamb crafts. 

After you take your photos, load them on your computer.  You can use a program like PowerPoint or Keynote to create a list of directions.  I find that PowerPoint is friendlier to format than using Microsoft Word (especially when using pictures).  Then add a photo to each step.  Print, laminate (because that’s what teachers do, right?!) and you’re ready to use it.

This process can be a bit time consuming at first.  However, once you have a template set up, it becomes easier to do.  If you are preparing a craft or project you do every year, it is definitely worth the investment up front to save you time and keep your students on task.  


Use picture cards for following directions. 



Save yourself time and sanity when students are completing work or activities by using picture direction cards.  When you give multi-step directions, add pictures.  If students are completing a cut and glue worksheet, put up picture cards for each step.  Write your name, cut, glue, color, turn it in, read.  Then as students go through their work, they can check the pictures to see what’s next.  If a student comes to ask you what to do, you can easily redirect them to the direction cards without even speaking. 

The best part of using this kind of visuals is that you only need to print them once, laminate them and add magnet, Velcro or some other way to display them for your students.  Then you can use them over and over again.  It’s a little bit of a time investment up front, but in the long run, these direction cards will save you a ton of time! I use these visual direction cards in my classroom. 

Label all the things with pictures.

Labels and picture prompts can help any classroom run more smoothly, but they are incredibly helpful for special education students and kids who are learning English.  Labeling items with words and pictures in the lower elementary classroom serves a few purposes.  First, students can start to associate items with words.  For example, if the tissue box is labeled tissues, every time someone gets a tissue, they will see the word and begin to learn that the word “tissue” means tissue.  This is helpful for all students but especially for ELL students.  During writing, I often see my students moving around the room to find the correct spelling for words based. 

Another great benefit of labeling items in your classroom is you can use the labels to help to keep you organized.  Everyone who comes into your room will know where things belong and where to return things they borrow.  Picture labels can help your classroom run more smoothly and help students to find things they need. 



If you are looking for more easy-to-implement classroom visuals, you'll find a lot of options here in my TPT store.  Using visual supports in the classroom is a powerful and fairly easy way to support all of your learners.  No matter the ability level, all students benefit from having visuals to support following directions and to promote independent learning.  Visuals can give students the support they need to complete tasks independently and allow teachers to work uninterrupted with their small groups.  Put a little time in upfront to prepare and create picture cues for your classroom and it will pay off in the long run!  


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