Visuals! What a powerful tool to help students communicate, demonstrate comprehension, and gain understanding! Whether with a symbol to use a quiet voice or a schedule showing what to expect, picture cues are universally seen as a great instructional strategy that can also help students regulate behavior.
Common uses for visuals include:
- Schedules: help students anticipate what’s next, reducing anxiety and/or resistance related to transitions
- Demonstrate comprehension: give student a choice of 2-5 images to select answer
- Behavior: student is shown a visual reminder of an expected behavior, or as a reinforcement (positive images such as a thumbs up or smiling face). Using a visual (pointing to a picture of expected behavior) can limit class disruption that is caused by verbal reminders.
- Skills practice: ex: matching word to picture, picture to line drawing, picture to picture or picture to item
- Instruction: support comprehension of instructional material (click here to preview my Comprehension Tool).
There are many ready-made resources for visuals. If you are lucky, your school may invest in a subscription to Boardmaker for you. Boardmaker has a variety of different software options from simple print to an online membership which allows you to create interactive materials and access the Boardmaker community with hundreds of readymade activities. The cost is relatively high, but if you can get it, I highly recommend you do as it’s an awesome tool. Check it out at: https://mayer-johnson.com/pages/what-is-boardmaker.
For free images, (Yay! Free!) check out this enable2learn link for an ever-expanding number of visuals. I have found that some students respond better to photographs over line images, which is why I have created both. You will notice that the images are somewhat larger than traditional size. I have done this intentionally as I often found that I wanted larger images for different activities. It’s easier to print at 50% or 75% than it is to print at 150%.
You can always make your own visuals too. If you want to support a story/text you are reading to your students, copy pages from the book and then cut out the images that you need. You can also print images from the internet for classroom use. Here is an example of an owl I printed out to use with Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon.
I’ve just uploaded photos and drawings for hygiene and am working on images that can be used to create visual schedules. Sign up for my newsletter to learn when new materials are added!