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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Schubring

Creating visuals at home

I created this video for my school district awhile ago that highlights a fabulous way to create FREE resources at home. I include the OpenSymbols website in all of my presentations as a GREAT tool for professionals who do not have access to paid symbol tools. Given that many families do not always have access to a paid symbol database such as Boardmaker, Symbol Stix, LessonPix, and many others this is a great tool that is always FREE.

I'd also like to highlight some of the other visual support/communication tools that I'm aware of at the current time.

Boardmaker Online: Free printable Coronavirus materials, free 30 day trial of Boardmaker Online, free 60 day trial of Snap+Core First communication app, many others listed, too. Check out their website:

SymbolStix: Has a free trial and here is a free social story about Coronavirus: ( downloads a ZIP file with the materials).

LessonPix: ( Try before you buy, with no need to sign-up (Anything you make is watermarked until you pay). It is only $3/month or $36/year, which makes it one of the most reasonable paid options. The crew at LessonPix is very awesome, too. Bill Binko also volunteers his engineering expertise and is the founder of the AT Makers (

I love all of these resources and have used all of them!

Some things to think about:

  1. What symbol system has the individual learned in the past? (Learning abstract symbols is like learning a language. It takes time, repeated practice, and ongoing learning. How easy would it be for you to keep learning a new language?)

  2. What symbol system is the child/student using for their curriculum/learning supports at school?

  3. What symbol system is the individual using to communicate?

  4. What are the individual's visual needs? Many students need symbols printed on a black background with high contrast colors, and simplified details in the pictures

  5. What can you afford at this time? The most expensive option isn't always the best option, and any one of the picture tools, including OpenSymbols, is better than none.

If you do not have access to a printer, there are also many apps you can use, but one of the easiest things you can do if you have a smartphone or camera is to simply take a picture of the item, create an album and use the pictures right off of your phone. I demonstrated this in the Peanut Butter and Jelly lesson ( that I recorded (fast forward to 1:50 to see this modeled). I used it as a visual for our PB&J recipe, but it could be used as a visual schedule, first/then prompt, etc.

Other ideas for creating visuals:

  • Use google images

  • Create a "how-to video" to make use of video modeling

  • Cut out pictures from boxes (i.e., the Goldfish from the Goldfish cracker box or bag, pictures from the box the item came in)

  • Hand draw the item

  • Work on emergent literacy skills and spell out the word on a piece of paper or Post-it note. Not everything needs a picture. Working on literacy skills and identification of frequently used words is also very important!

  • Poloraid/instant cameras have become popular again

What other ideas do you have for creating quick and easy visuals?

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