Routine Help

26 02 2008

Routine cards

To help Seth understand what’s expected of him and to keep us focused on what needs to be accomplished I created these routine cards. The top row is for getting ready for school and the bottom is for bedtime. With the exception of the sun and the moon each card has a photo depicting a task on one side and a gold star on the other. The sun and the moon cards are simply to identify morning or evening routines. The cards are laminated and held on the wall with magnets on a bar. As each task is completed Seth gets to turn over the card to reveal a gold star. So far it has really helped us create a consistent routine and keep Seth focused. It has also come in very handy with babysitters; no need to write a list, everyone knows what’s expected. After using the system for some time our routine is firm and we’ve been using it less often. However, it still comes in handy with sitters and the hope is one day Seth will be able to complete his stars without any reminders. Here’s the how-to:


  • Card stock – use a different color for each routine
  • Gold paper – I used a sticky back metallic paper
  • 8.5 x 11 self laminating sheets
  • Inexpensive bar with magnets (like this one)
  • Photos of each desired task
  • Scissors
  • Photo or paper trimmer (optional)


  1. Determine your desired routine. For our bedtime routine it’s put toys away, go potty, change into pjs, put dirty clothes in hamper, brush teeth. There’s also books and songs once in bed but there’s no need to motivate with those and Seth certainly won’t let us forget. Besides, I don’t want him out of bed to flip the cards over at that point.
  2. Take pictures symbolizing each task. It’s best to take pictures of items of significance for your child, they’ll be more likely to buy in to an idea if they feel a connection. However, that’s not to say you couldn’t cut pics out of magazines or if you’re talented, make drawings. For picking up toys I chose a picture of Seth’s toy box but you could also take a shot of your youngster actually picking up. Getting dressed in the morning was also a tricky card. In the end I chose a picture of Seth’s dresser with a drawer ajar rather than showing specific clothes that he will inevitable grow out of. As long as there’s some connection it will work.
  3. Cut down the pictures and card stock to desired size. Make sure you’ll have enough room on the magnet bar to fit all cards. Our cards hang off the end a bit, but still works just fine.
  4. Cut out stars. I made a drawing of a star on paper board and cut it out. You could easily make the template out of an empty cereal box.
  5. If your creating more than one routine consider identifier cards such as the sun and moon cards pictured above.
  6. Glue pictures, stars and identifiers to cards.
  7. Laminate and cut out. You should be able to get at least 4 cards per pair of laminating sheets
  8. Hang on wall and most importantly, use consistently until a firm routine is established.





10 responses

27 02 2008

again, you’re a genius. someday i hope to be half as good a mother as you. praise, praise, praise….

27 02 2008
painted fish studio

wow. another amazing idea involving creativity on your end, and educating your child. i am in awe!

27 02 2008

Having babysat for said Seth, these were incredibly helpful. :)

27 02 2008

Aren’t you guys going a little over the top? But thank you all the same. I really appreciate your wonderful comments.

27 02 2008
painted fish studio

well, i thought my mom was creative, and gave us creative projects/learning opportunities, but we had nothing like this! we were just pushed out the front door to play/use our imaginations or had free reign over crayons and large rolls of paper.

27 02 2008

Ah, but giving open ended creativity opportunities is the best thing you can do for a child. I’m actually trying hard to do more of that. Your mom knew what was good for you.

28 02 2008

We did the same thing with those Scotch wall hooks, card stock, and PC clip art for our nighttime routine…6 cards: bath, clean-up toys, brush, “empty” (for the potty training one), “snuggle time”, and pray!

Link to the wall hooks:

28 02 2008
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14 03 2008
phil hofmeyr

looking forward to testing this out on my daughter! would love to republish this idea on my website and link back to you. Please can you drop me a mail (couldn’t find your contact details on your blog). Phil

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