Thursday, November 7, 2013

Using Visual Supports During Large Group

Large group learning activities can be very challenging for both students and staff. It can be difficult to keep the attention of students, especially when they are at varying levels & abilities, and/or they struggle with social activities & experiences. It can be helpful to have visual cues to show students how long the group activity will be. It gives them an understanding of how much work needs to be completed and how long they must be in attendance. 

To support all students I started using more visual cues in my classroom last year, I developed a three box work system.   When the children arrive at large group, we work through three fabric boxes. The boxes are stored in a ClosetMaid bench seat I bought at Target

Each box contains a game, activity, or children’s book specific to that group session. When all three boxes are completed the children know we are finished. Some children need a little additional support in sitting through group so we add a paint stick with three color-coded cubes on it. After completing each box, the children put their cube in the corresponding container. This serves as an individual group schedule to support children in attending. 

We put the schedule on their cube chair

Cube chairs create a great boundary for students during small and large groups. They can also be flipped on their sides as mini-desk areas. Speaking from experience here....they work like magic!!

Sometimes the 1, 2, 3 system is not enough support for students who must sit and wait their turn, especially when activities are highly preferred. As you all know, this is when ants creep into their pants!!  They jump out of their seat insisting on going first. To shape better behavior in waiting for a turn, we have added a wait your turn stick.   It's simply a paint stick with soft Velcro on both sides. Then, we add tokens with pictures or the students' names on them (depending on the students level). Students use it as a visual to know who goes first and when it's his/her turn. They follow the tokens from left to right. As their friends take turns, they place the tokens on the under side of the paint stick to show that friend is finished.

For more circle time tips, tune into my webinar at on Wednesday, November 13th at 3:30pm CST. Register for the webinar here.  I will be sharing ways to engage students through differentiated instruction, as well as setting up functional errands and movement activities to support students who cannot endure the entire duration of large group. 

Hope to connect with you virtually on the 13th!



  1. Love this! I sent it to our lead ECSE teacher.

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