Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tutorial for creating a daily schedule, with picture cues for the kiddos!

Ok you guys....our new Daily Schedule is complete! And I'm so happy with how it turned  out that I thought I'd create a tutorial for anyone also looking to create a daily schedule themselves :-)
Please excuse the horrible  picture quality. I  didn't realize my camera was having issues
until  I was  done  taking pictures!
Now obviously no two families are going to be able to use the exact same schedule. You will need to "tweak" everything of mine to fit your own needs. However we are loving ours so far and I really think  this would be a very worthwhile task for any stay-at-home or work-at-home moms to try! Even moms who work outside the home might find that their children (the whole family really) benefits from a schedule to follow in the evenings, etc.

Step 1: First, sketch out a rough draft for how you would like to lay out your day. Now one of the big perks of  being at home with your kids is that you don't  need to have rushed mornings and  deadlines to meet all day, unless you want to! So what I did was take a look at the schedule we *naturally* fall into and then I just worked to tighten it up slightly  and define the dead spaces for the girls, so that they had a little more direction and our days could run more smoothly. For instance, my girls wake up at a wide variety of times between 7am and 8:30. So rather than have our morning super detailed (i.e. 7:30 wake up, 7:45 get dressed, 8 eat, 8:15 clean up) I instead left  it more open ended....however things play out with wake up times is  ok and we can still stay "on schedule" as long as we're all  caught up by 8:30. This same principal holds  true throughout the day. I  didn't  try to divide the day up into  15 minute chunks, but  instead most are at least an hour long. It provides a good balance between zero scheduling and  micromanaging.

For me I decided to set  a wake time for myself (7am) and try to  get a shower  in before the girls wake up. Then we have until  8:30 for the girls to be awake, dressed, and fed before  we really  start in on the schedule. I built  in a "clean kitchen and free play" daily and then the first big chunk  of the day (which used to be an unscheduled  free for all) is now arts and crafts (or nap for the baby) and then 10-noon will  rotate between things like park, errands, pool, and other  various field trips. We then do lunch and have a built in "wind down" with books, etc. before nap. Nap is 1-3 (which this summer we may skip occassionally  to go to the  pool...or  when we go on longer  field trips we skip nap too) ....and then 3-5pm is the 2nd  big chunk of the day that used to be a crazy free for  all. Now that will also rotate with various activities I choose ahead of time. (And my *own* schedule  is that during the 1-3 nap I get to relax/blog for  the first  hour and then must  do laundry/cleaning the 2nd hour!)

Step 2: Live  with your rough draft schedule  for a day or two.  I found that even after laying out what  I thought  would  be  a good schedule, once I followed the schedule a time or two  I quickly discovered things to change. So take your  time here and make sure  you have  something livable figured  out before putting the effort in to creating a more permant visual schedule  for the family.

Step 3: Decide what sort of visual format works best for your family. For me it was important that our schedule be visual and interactive for the girls. I really wanted them to be active participants during the day in following the schedule, and therfore I wanted a schedule  that was  durable (so that they  can put up and  take  down the various peices themselves) and visable to them (so that they  can see what's coming next). I debated between using  a giant  piece of foam board or a fold up presentation board. I ended up deciding on the smaller  fold up presentation board because I wanted to be able to put the schedule  away easily when we had company over, etc....rather than have  it hanging on a wall  more permanently. But either way works  fine! It  would also  be fun to make a fabric  covered board and  really pretty it  up! I just  decided that for these  purposes I wanted a schedule I could  do in a couple hours for under $10. As complicated as this might *look* it really was quite  easy and quick to make!

Once you've decided how  you'd like yours then you need to go buy supplies. I bought my presentation board  at Walmart, as well as sticky back velcro circles (more to come on that later). I used alphabet/number  stickers from my scrapbook stash. I used Google images to search for clip art to print and laminate (if you don't have  a laminator you could just print to a sturdy cardstock. However I love my laminator and it's  really not that expensive. I have this one here: Scotch Laminator . I  still need to purchase a little  battery powered digital clock  to attach as well, so that the girls can start learning how to read  the clock and see what's coming up next.

Step 4: Create your visual schedule. I started by deciding what would be permanent and what would be interchangable on my  schedule. I decided that the block of time/hourly breakdown would  stay consistant so I used stickers to place directly on the cardboard. However I wanted the activities we did during each block of time to be interchangable, so that if we had plans to run to the store or park etc. then the schedule would show that. If we were going to stay home and do crafts then I could just switch it out. So I wrote various "activities" on paper, which I cut into strips and laminated. Then I attached the sticky back  velcro to both the cardboard *and* the back of each activity strip--now I can velcro stick the  activities for each day in the time slot I decide upon! And the extra activity cards not being used on any  given day are stored in a little pouch that I created from an envelope.

For  activity cards there are a number  of things you could do. For us, I chose to include "snack" because Raya has a problem with  constantly asking for food throughout the day, so now we have specific set times on the schedule. If your kids don't need  that spelled  out on the schedule then skip it. You obviously cannot include every little thing you do during the day on your schedule.

If you are looking for ways to  help fill  your larger chunks of time on the schedule, some of the possible activities we included to choose from on ours were: field trip, play outside, go for a walk, arts and crafts, educational activity, play in the basement (playroom), watch a movie, run errands, play at the park, help clean house, etc. As time goes on I plan to continuously add to our activity options by creating activity strips for things like the pool, reading books, grocery store, etc.

The  top left portion of the board is where the digital clock will eventually go. The right hand side of the board is where I put velcro so that  I can place picture clues next  to each daily activity, so that my non-readers can also  see what's  on our daily schedule! I printed out clip art to match each possible activity strip and laminated the picture cards as well. I think my girls will love removing each picture card as we complete an activity, and it will serve as a visual "count down" of our day :-) The picture cards are stored on the back  of the board in another storage envelope.

Clip Art I  just got from a yahoo images search and then shrunk to size

Step 5: Enjoy! Children thrive on knowing  what  comes next and having order to their day, so I really  think this visual schedule will be beneficial! Especially for children who have  limitied vocabularies and/or can't read yet. Plus, it's very similiar to many of the visual schedules I saw in elementary classrooms when I was working as a School Psychologist, so I think it'll be great practice for Raya as she gets ready for preschool. In the future I plan to make  the girls a chore chart that  is very similiar to the design of this schedule. The possibilities are endless :-)

Let me know what you all think!!


  1. This is great. I'm gonna need to make one for us!

    I had a hard time controlling myself yesterday. There were some many cute fabrics & I wanted to fill my cart but I contained myself.

  2. Schedule looks great!!!! You can tell Raya is going to love it!!!!
    Grama F


I love comments--please say "Hi!" :-)