Visual timetables are very popular in early years settings, helping children to better understand the structure of their day. This activity is great for older children in any size of group.
Follow our simple step-by-step guide to create a fun visual timetable for your children!
What you will need:
- A3 paper/card in 5 different colours
- Velcro strips
- A laminator
- Laminator pouches (A4 and A3)
- Symbols of activities – you can use ClipArt or stock images, or incorporate the children in the preparation by taking photos of them eating, carrying out various activities or pointing to changing facilities
- Images of a clock face, showing each hour slot through the day (or the different times of activities/events in your setting)
- Marker pen
- Double-sided tape
- Songs for parts of the day, e.g. home time
- Photos of your Early Years’ and staff members’ faces
Preparing the activity:
- Laminate the pieces of A3 card
- Cut the pieces of card in half lengthways so you have two long strips of each colour. Stick the same-colour pieces together by the short edges so you have five long strips of laminated card.
- Using the marker pen, write ‘Monday’ on the top of the first strip of card. Mark the next one as ‘Tuesday’, etc..
- Print five copies of each of the clock faces with the times written below each one.
- Print the activity images with activity names underneath (preferably 1-2 words, e.g., ‘lunch’, ‘playtime’, ‘painting’, ‘home time’). If unable to label them before printing, use the marker pen to do this afterwards. Make sure you have enough images for activities that occur more than once a week. If using photos from your setting, encourage children to pose for the photos and tell them what it’s for so they can get excited about putting the timetable together.
- Laminate and cut out the clock faces and activity images.
- Using the double-sided tape, stick the clock faces at regular intervals down the ‘Monday’ strip of card, so the entire strip of card is used for the timetable. Do the same with the other days.
- Stick a strip of Velcro to the back of each activity image, with a corresponding strip alongside each time slot for each day.
- Stick the days of the week on the wall where the children can easily see and reach them.
Doing the activity:
Pick a calmer part of the day, such as circle time, and sit with the children in front of the days of the week.
With the activity images laid out in front of you, encourage the children to look at each one and discuss what it could be. Once all the images have been identified, enable the children to help you place the images at their designated times of day. It may help to talk through each day and make a game out of asking for a certain activity to see who can find the image first.
The visual timetable enables children to have more agency over their own day, being able to see what’s coming next and understanding more of their day’s structure. It can help with behaviour management as children have a visual evidence that, even if they can’t play now, they will be able to play soon.
Taking a photo of the finished timetables and sending it to new attendees can help them become familiar with the structure of the day before arriving at your setting.
To enhance the timetable experience, music could be used at certain times of the day. For example, playing a certain song while the children tidy up before lunch time or get ready to go home.
You could even turn the timetable into an interactive register by laminating and Velcro-ing images of the children and staff’s faces so they can stick their pictures on when arriving for the day and remove them when leaving.
Tracking the activity:
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour: “Shows understanding and cooperates with some boundaries and routines.”
Communication and Language: Understanding: “Identifies action words by pointing to the right picture, e.g., “Who’s jumping?”; Understands more complex sentences, e.g. ‘Put your toys away and then we’ll read a book.’”
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour: “Can usually tolerate delay when needs are not immediately met, and understands wishes may not always be met.”
Communication and Language: Speaking: “Uses talk to connect ideas, explain what is happening and anticipate what might happen next, recall and relive past experiences.; Uses vocabulary focused on objects and people that are of particular importance to them.”
Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour: “Aware of the boundaries set, and of behavioural expectations in the setting.”
Communication and Language: Speaking: “Uses talk to organise, sequence and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events.”