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Resources for Visuals: Where To Go When Creating Picture Schedules, Visual Cues, and Pre-Reading Tools

Updated on February 12, 2015
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

Create an organizational system for your visual symbols that it is easy to grab them as you need them.
Create an organizational system for your visual symbols that it is easy to grab them as you need them. | Source

When I wrote my Advice for Parents: How to Prepare for Special Needs Students Starting Schoolarticle, I mentioned in it that I would write a future article about resources for visuals. Here it is! This article is not just for special education teachers and parents of special needs children. As I mentioned in the advice article, there are lots of benefits to using visuals and word labels at home for all pre-readers. Look under the "Use visuals/word labels at home." section of the advice hub for more information about these benefits and for related activities.

If you are a teacher or a parent interested in making any sort of visual cues, picture schedules, or pre-reading visual tools, hopefully these resources will be helpful for you throughout the process. It is an ongoing process for any teacher or parent so consider bookmarking links for later use. If you're looking for advice about how to make any specific schedules or reading tools, let me know. I'm happy to help in any way that I can.

Boardmaker. This is one of the most expensive options on this list, but it is well worth it. One of the biggest advantages of both Boardmaker and PixWriter is that you can create what you need when you need it. If you are a teacher or a parent, you know that there are times you need a symbol or schedule for something NOW to avoid a major meltdown, tantrum, or other crisis. It is also very helpful to have a program that allows you to tailor your symbols to the needs and preferences of specific children. Previously created materials do not allow for this.

With that being said, there are still lots of opportunities to use free materials that others have created either for software or that stand alone. If you have the time to search, you can save the time and energy that would be required to create it yourself.

Boardmaker Share. Boardmaker Share is a community for sharing and downloading any number of created Boardmaker materials. It is great because it gives you option of sharing the content that you have made as well as downloading files that others have made.

Additional Boardmaker resources. The following link list contains sites with downloadable Boardmaker files. Unlike the Boardmaker Share site, can't submit your own files to any of these sites.

PixWriter. I don't have a lot of experience with this software the way I do with Boardmaker. However, I know other special education teachers who think highly of it. PixWriter allows children to do their own writing by clicking on pictures from word banks. Children can generate their own word banks by typing in words or teachers or parents can create the word banks that the children will use. Teachers and parents can also use the software to create their own visuals and materials for any number of uses.

Free visual downloads (not Boardmaker). There are a number of downloads out there with pictures that are not in the Boardmaker format. All of these sites have PDF or Word document formats. Even if you do not have Microsoft Word, you should still be able to view the Word files. I have only linked free downloads here.

Do2Learn. Do2Learn is a wonderful resource for teachers and parents. They offer both free and for purchase visuals. Click on the Picture Cards and Products tabs at the top of the screen to see everything that they offer. I have had parents that used the for purchase visuals and were pleased with them.

One of the products that they offer is a board game version of their feelings/emotions game (under the Songs and Games tab). I also made a version of this game. I detailed it in this hub. It was a great resource in my classroom.

Royalty free image sites. There are numerous royalty free image sites out there. Many of them are not free. The photos are usually very affordable. If you only need a few for a specific material or schedule, this can be a good option. A few free sites out there include imagebase, morgueFile, and Flickr's Creative Commons. These sites have a screening process for their photos so you are almost always browsing photos that are fairly, if not very, high quality.

Clip art in Microsoft Word and online. Hopefully most of you already know that there is a fairly extensive clip art gallery available in Microsoft Word. Unfortunately there is not a gallery in Open Office, but there are tons of free clip art sites. Just a few of them include,,, and If you're having trouble finding what you want on a specific site, do an image search for "_____ clip art." You can see an example of this here.

Magazines. You can use any type of kid friendly magazine or parenting magazine to search for pictures. Kids may enjoy assisting with this. If you don't subscribe to any magazines yourself, check with local schools and/or libraries. Sometimes they will give away older issues of magazines when they're done with them.

Consulting with other parents/teachers for ideas/resources. This goes with the old saying "steal from the best." If someone else has already made a picture schedule that fits your needs, use it! People may be able to make copies of their work and/or send files. If you are a parent, check with your child's teacher. I was always happy to make visuals with Boardmaker for my students to use at home.

Any links or additional information that you'd like me to include in this hub? Let me know!


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    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thank you so much! It's definitely important for kids to enjoy the learning process.

    • carriethomson profile image

      carriethomson 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      hi very useful and inspiring.. it is very important for kids to enjoy while and what they learn and visuals and pictures make the process intresting.. great hub

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You're welcome and thank you much in return! I hope that it is helpful for both parents and teachers.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub and filled with educational tips for us. Thanks for share with us, I believe many parents will love this hub. You deserve to get my vote. Cheers....


    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You're welcome, Giselle! I'm really glad that this is helpful for you and that these resources will mean that you can cut down on the number of flashcard sets that you buy.

      There's really a lot out there besides Boardmaker if you don't mind searching for what you need. All of the links under the "Free visual downloads" section have non-Boardmaker downloadable materials.

      Let me know if you need anything else. :)

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 6 years ago

      Hi randomcreative, hey thanks for your message! I was thrilled to hear about your new hub. As you know, I'm always interested in teaching tools from the parent's perspective, especially ones that are suited to the special ed child.

      This hub is a really useful go-to list of resources. I was so glad to see plenty of alternative resources included in addition to boardmaker (only because of the expense of boardmaker, not for any other reason). All of these resources are new to me and I had no idea they existed, so I learned a lot from your hub!

      One question: am I correct in understanding from your hub that PictureSET-category can be used by those of us *without* boardmaker?

      Anyhow, I am thrilled with this hub... no more need for me to buy sets of expensive flashcards and painstakingly hunt through them for things I need (although the flashcards worked well for things like recognizing numerical symbols).

      Thanks for this great hub!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin


    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 6 years ago from Minnesota

      This is very useful! I will have to pass it along to my friends with kids.