First-Then Board

A First–Then board is a visual display of two, sequential tasks using picture icons. The activity displayed under the “first” section is the one the student is currently working on, and the activity displayed under the “then” section is the activity that will happen after the student is finished with the first task. A first-then board might be used to help students work up to more challenging tasks, process the schedule, break down a multi-step process into manageable parts or understand which actions lead to rewards.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Self-Regulation Tool

First-Then Board Templates

A set of First-Then Boards to visually support students in positive behavior choices.

Grade K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 · Behavior & SEL · 2 pages

Self-Regulation Tool

First-Then Board Picture Choices

A set of picture choices for First-Then Boards to visually support students in positive behavior choices. Also includes a blank picture template.

Grade K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 · Behavior & SEL · 5 pages

Implementation Tips

Teaching the Meaning of Icons
Make sure that the student knows what academic tasks are represented by the icons that are being utilized on the first-then board. It may be important to teach the icons and connect them to the academic tasks when the first-then board is introduced to the student.
Support Schedules and Routines
Incorporating first-then boards throughout the academic day may help the student to build consistent routines and have clear expectations for completing tasks. As the student starts to learn his academic routines for the school day, several sequences of first–then activity sequences can be built into the schedule.
More Resources Online
There are also several assistive technology options available that support first-then schedules. For one example, check out the first–then [[ | picture prompt schedule ]] from look2learn.


In math, a student is learning how to count by fives. The first-then board tells the student to first count by fives up to 25. Then, when the first task is finished, the student can see that she should challenge herself to count backward by fives starting at 25.
Student Schedule
A student is setting up his morning schedule for the day and has several academic tasks to complete. From a choice board, the student chooses two academic tasks he would like to work on. He chooses the preferred activity and lists it under the "first" section of the first-then board and lists the remaining activity under the "then" section. This allows the student and teacher to know the order in which task will be completed.
Supporting Students with Autism
A student with Autism could benefit from the use of a first-then board when scaffolding instruction and behavioral expectations. The student would be given the "first" section of the first-then board (e.g., math worksheet, circle time, reading). The student is given two options for the "then" section that represents a reinforcer to work for (e.g., playing with blocks, putty). The student then chooses their reinforcer and places the icon on the first-then board. By providing a reinforcer for the first-then board, the student is able to directly correlate the task to a desired outcome. This will benefit the student who struggles with staying on task or becoming disruptive by visually and verbally prompting the student to complete activity in order to receive desired reinforcer. The academic or behavioral expectation can start small (e.g., student completes two problems or for 2 minutes, before reinforcer is given) and then expectations can increase slowly (e.g., student completes entire worksheet or works for 10 minutes) as student becomes familiar with the procedures.

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