Using First Then Boards in the Special Ed Classroom

Understanding a schedule and the order of activities in the special ed classroom is an important skill for students to learn but it’s not always easy. Using First Then Boards is a great way to help students master those skills.

Using First Then Boards in the Special Ed Classroom

But what does using First Then Boards entail? How can you create one that makes sense for your students and looks like a natural extension of your classroom?

I’ve taken the guesswork out of it for it!

Creating and Using First Then Boards

When I first started using First Then boards with my students, I went through a lot of iterations to find exactly what would work for them. There was a lot of trial and error.

What I discovered was that there were common themes and events that I could use for all of my students if I provided both text and visual representations.

My final version, the First Then Visual Schedule Boards, was created after a lot of testing in the classroom with real students who were struggling to master visual schedules. It’s the culmination of years of teaching experience and a resource that I can now not live without.

So, what does that mean for you? How can you use First Then Boards with your students?

It all starts with a download.

Screenshot 2023 05 10 at 10.54.50 AM

The Editable First Then Visual Schedule Boards (with 88 Pictures)

Visual tools help students learn what will happen and when. They help with learning the concept of time and help ease anxieties that may come with transitioning between activities in daily life. That’s a powerful tool to provide your students with throughout the school year.

First Then boards are a wonderful visual tool to help our learners with special needs know what comes first and what will come next.

In the download for the editable First Then Boards, the following things are included:

  • 3 board options to help students at different levels with different needs
  • a PDF picture only version
  • an editable PowerPoint text and picture version (only the text is able to be edited)
  • an editable PowerPoint text only version
  • Includes 88 different pictures

The cards are sized at 4.17″ x 4.17″ but can be printed out smaller or larger by adjusting the print size on your printer before hitting print.

I recommend printing the cards on cardstock and laminating them before using them in the classroom. If you’re using the picture-only or picture and text versions, white cardstock is going to be best. If you’re using the text-only version, colorful cardstock (I recommend Astrobrights) is a fun alternative.

If you have questions about laminating things at home, check out the tips and tricks here to help you out.

Grab a copy of the Editable First Then Visual Schedule Boards here!

What Others Are Saying About the First Then Visual Schedule Boards

It’s always a good idea to see how others are using products in the classroom and the First Then Boards are no exception. Here is what other teachers are saying about the printable:

“This resource was very helpful to my students who are on the Autism spectrum and struggle with transitions and changes to routine. I laminated them and used velcro to switch them out each day.” – Kaitlyn M.

“This was very helpful for my special needs students. It also helped with my students that struggle with attention and focus.” – Sarah B.

“Incredibly easy to use! My old first/then were looking a bit rough and needed updating – this is a great item used by every student in my self-contained classroom :)” – Jennifer M.

“This first-then board is very useful for my AU students and gen-ed students as well who need simple reminders for staying on task and working productively.” – Katelyn J.

“This was great for my students who needed their schedules broken down into small chunks and who struggled with transitions. Also very easy to use!” – Gretchen O.

“This visual schedule helped my students to be more independent and keep better track of their days. It was also helpful for my ELL students who are still learning to read in English to know what was coming next in the day.” – Miranda A.

“My student was very successful using this first then visual schedule! It was extremely useful to help the student gain some independence.” – Jamie S.

“I love this resource! This resource helped my students become independent workers. I also use this resource for whole group support!” – Sonja H.

“This was very helpful for a couple of my students with attention issues and I didn’t have to make them which saved my time! Thank you!” – Teresa S.

“First/Then boards are a must for my classroom! I love the size of the boards! Working in Early Childhood I am just introducing these concepts to my students for the first time, so I love the simplicity this resource has to offer!” – Rachel K.

Give the Editable First Then Visual Schedule Boards a try in your own classroom! It may change the way your students interact with learning!




  • Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner