How To Chart for Special Education

By Natasha Lupiani

Find this Common Core aligned resource and more like it in our Special Education Articles!

At home or at school, we are always learning or teaching how to do new things. Often times those things have multiple steps to them. What better way to teach a multiple-step process than with visual step-by-step instructions? Creating a storyboard is the ideal format for creating a step-by-step style representation of a "how to chart". The individual cells create a visual separation between steps, allowing each cell a different step.

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Examples of Step-by-Step Instructions


Recipes are naturally a one-step-at-a-time process. The steps in a recipe require a sequential order, with each step building on the prior one. A traditional storyboard is the ideal layout to add a visual component to the process of following a recipe.

This can be used at home for personal use or in the classroom when teaching students life skills, such as what would be taught in some special education settings.

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Most people today rely on GPS devices to help them get from one place to another. This is a great tool and especially helpful for driving, but it may not always be a realistic option. Some types of directions where a GPS may not be ideal and physical directions may be better are:

The step-by-step directions would be helpful in a special education classroom by potentially giving some students independence that they may not necessarily have otherwise. By printing the storyboard, the teacher can create a "how to graphic organizer" that has cell-based step-by-step directions for the students to get to and from common places within the school building.

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Some special education programs go beyond academics and may include vocational skills, especially as the students are being prepared to transition out of the school systems. One of the vocational skills that is sometimes taught is how to use public transportation to certain places such as a job, a grocery store, or a doctor’s office. Sometimes public transportation can be confusing. Preparing a visual diagram for the student to reference can be helpful.

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Life Skills

Household chores are life skills that our cell layout would be beneficial for displaying the step-by-step how to instructions. Cleaning is not something people just know, they need to be taught the necessary steps.

Most adolescents, including those with special needs, need to be taught about daily hygiene and the steps associated with it. Students with special needs may require more explicit instruction. Creating a storyboard with "how to instructions" to represent each step can be helpful. For tasks such as washing hands or brushing teeth, the storyboard can be printed and posted near the sink for reference.

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Check out our resource Daily Living Skills to learn how else storyboarding can enhance your special education classroom and assist in teaching various aspects of daily life.

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