Our young learners aren't yet readers. Therefore, posters of written rules, schedules and procedures are null and void. To young children, these posters are just visual noise.
But, pictures are a different story. Young children can 'read' pictures.
So when it comes to helping young children learn about routines in the classroom- visuals are the way to go.
I found a need for visual procedure cards in my classroom several years ago, so I created them, implemented them and I am so happy I did.
The benefits to visual procedure cards are huge. And I saw all of those benefits when I implemented them myself. Plus, the visuals have kept me from having to say a routine procedure over and over and over and over and... you get it!
So, how are these magical procedure cards used? Let's walk through it.
1. Decide the places/times in your classroom that need procedures cards. Some ideas might include: arrival, bathroom, line-up, walking in the hall, art easel, sitting at the carpet, cleaning up toys and packing up to go home.
2. Assemble picture cards of the procedures you chose from step 1. You could use an already made option or you could take pictures of real children completing the procedure. Choose whether you want the pictures to line up vertically or horizontally. Just a quick thought: while moving from left to right is automatic for adults, it is not yet automatic in children. So, when picture cards are placed in a strip horizontally, children may not know where to start.
3. Place the procedure cards in the classroom near where the procedure will take place. Remember to hang them low so that children can point and touch them as they work through the procedure. Some ideas: I have my arrival procedure strip just outside the classroom door. The walk in a line and getting ready to go home procedure strips are on the back of the door. The clean up procedure is on the block center because that is where I was having the most trouble getting children to clean up.
4. Teach! Show the children the procedure cards. Walk through each step- pointing out each picture. Model the steps using real items (like washing hands). Use words like first, then, after, next and last (yep- slipping some sequencing in there too!). Add a song to the procedure to help your auditory learners too!
5. Rinse and Repeat. Yep- repeat A LOT! Make sure to manage your own expectations - teaching procedures up front is hard work, but SOOO worth it. Keep with it and soon you will see your students moving themselves through the procedure with ease!
Sidenote: I keep the procedure cards up all year long. If I find that a student needs a little re-direction on a particular procedure, we walk through the cards together.