Schedule Boxes

By Activity Bank on Nov 07, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Charlotte Cushman and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

Many students with multiple disabilities have difficulty making a smooth transition between activities. This may occur because they are unable to anticipate the next event in the day and so they are not able to prepare themselves for a transition. By learning to use a daily schedule box, the student can learn to anticipate what will happen next. With this activity, students will improve sequencing skills, anticipate upcoming events, develop predictable routines and ease transitions between activities. Lessons include English Language Arts, Concept Development, Math, Independent Living Skills and Social Skills.

For more information on calendar boxes and schedule systems, go here.


  • Objects from the student’s daily activities, such as a cup for snack time, bells for music, sneakers for gym, smock for crafts, etc.
  • Boxes – When the student is ready to use smaller objects, try cutting the bottom three inches off of a half-gallon milk or juice container. Staple boxes together side-by-side.


  • Arrange the objects in the sequence of the day’s schedule from left to right in individual boxes.
  • Have the student look at the schedule box at the beginning of the day. Have her label objects and discuss each activity in sequence.
  • The student may refer to the schedule box throughout the day as necessary.
  • Introduce schedule boxes in the following developmental sequence:
    • Use real objects which are part of an actual activity. For example, at snack time, have the student find her cup in her schedule box and bring that cup over to the snack table.
    • As the student develops an understanding of symbolic representation, introduce items that represent an activity, but which may not be part of the actual activity (a small rubber ball for gym). At this stage, the student will not be taking the actual object to each activity.
    • After the student has learned to recognize objects, move on to different texture, picture or word cards paired with objects.
    • Present only a word or picture card.


  • Items can be presented one at a time, just before a given activity.
  • In order to reinforce sequencing skills, ask students what comes before or after a given activity, what comes first or last.
  • Have the student match a second set of objects, word or picture cards to the schedule box.
  • Arrange a schedule box for the student and have her reproduce the sequence using a second set of objects and boxes.
  • When you are sure that a student has learned her schedule, mix up the sequence or leave out an activity, and ask her to fix it.

Hint: Discuss the sequence of events throughout the day so that students can learn what to expect next.