5 Must Have Visuals for the Integrated Classroom

We know that visuals are important- but there are so many options, knowing where to start can be the most challenging step!

Here are 5 of my top MUST HAVE visuals in an integrated classroom.

Note: there are some affiliate links on here, but I also try to give you free examples as well!


Timers are so integral to the integrated classroom.  Personally, I know if I am doing a workout, I am constantly looking at the clock to see how much time is left.  Guess what? Same goes for kids.

There are so many different versions, but I am going to just recommend what is tried and true in my own classroom!

Example one: Large Timer with Visual Feedback

I love this timer because it is portable and it makes time concrete.  This is helpful because if you tell students “5 more minutes,” that may seem like an eternity to them.  When you show the time that is left on this timer, students can watch the time go down.

Example two: Sand timers

I love these because they are small and inconspicuous.  You can easily use it for one kiddo and the others do not need to be bothered.  I also love that when the time is up, there is no sound and does not disturb the other students.

Example three: Count Down Timer

I love this timer for older kids.  It is small enough to be inconspicuous as well.  You have control over the time you want to set and it also is age appropriate for older students.

Example four: Free Visual Timer

This great, free timer is perfect for the entire class.  There are several versions, but my favorite is the clock timer.  This web page also has a stop watch that will count down or up.  So many options!

Classroom Schedule

Schedules are the bread and butter of not only sped classrooms, but our own lives as well.  When I think about the number of visual schedules I have in my own day, I wonder why these aren’t a staple in every room!  I have my monthly calendar, my google calendar (linked to my phone), I write to-do lists, and I have alerts on my phone reminding me of tasks I need to complete.

Schedules are vital to all classrooms.  It can be overwhelming to start this, so if you are just setting up your classroom- start with one schedule.  This can be a classroom schedule for your entire class, because special ed or not, those kids are going to want to know what is coming up in their day.

Here is an example of some visuals you can print off and use!

Even though this is a place to start- it is essential that you create individual visual schedules as well.  I am not going to go into those here, but read this blog post for some more information.

Name Cards

Name cards are something that is newer in my practice, but I wish I started it from my first year.  Most students with IEPs will be receiving services from related providers throughout the day.  This can mean, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language therapy, and Adaptive PE to name a few.  That is a lot of adults to come in and out of the room throughout the day.

Recently, I began leaving name cards outside of the classroom for the therapists.  They grab the name and stand in the door to get the student.  This works on name recognition and transitions.  This also results in a quieter classroom and less students becoming distracted.

Note: Some students may not like this, and want a more discrete way of being taken for services, you know your students best!

Visual Cue Cards

I love when we can take directions and make them visual.  Visual cue cards help make directions concrete.  It also helps students who struggle with language understand what is being asked of them.  And my favorite result of using visuals for directions- a quieter classroom.  

These visual cue cards are without a doubt a staple in my classroom.  I make them new each year for myself, the general education teacher, all teaching assistants, and therapists working with the students.

Having the same images creates cohesiveness and students know what is expected of them.

Social Emotional Supports

The social emotional well being of our students needs to be something we consider when setting up our classroom. I love to have a space set up where students can calm down and identify their feelings.

It is important to remember that how to use these supports are best taught when students are calm and at base level. When students become upset, they need to already understand how to use these tools. There are so many different supports that can be found. Here is an example of one for you to use!

Happy teaching!

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