Student To-Do Lists

UDL 6.3 UDL 6.4

Student to-do lists are planning tools that can help students navigate the school day and manage their responsibilities. Many adults rely on written to-do lists, grocery lists and planners to remember the details of daily life. Similarly, students can refer to, or generate, lists to keep on top of what they are expected to do, remember what materials they need or complete tasks in the correct order. Students can develop higher organizational skills by creating their own lists and internalizing the process of thinking ahead, planning and making their own memory aids. Students with executive functioning or motor planning issues may need ongoing teacher support or scaffolding for using to-do lists if they struggle with memory, initiation, task persistence or sequencing. Lists or step-by-step sequence plans can be adapted for different grade levels or disabilities and may include images. They can be analogue or digital, simple and informal or highly structured.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Organization Tool

Task To-Do List

A customizable to-do list for simple tasks and routines. Template allows you to break a task into five steps.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 · Behavior & SEL · 1 pages

Organization Tool

Extended Project To-Do List

A template to-do list for assisting students in breaking down extended tasks such as a long term project.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 · Behavior & SEL · 1 pages

Organization Tool

Desk Materials List and Template

Materials list to assist students in being prepared for class. This template includes a sample list of supplies needed in desk and a blank template.

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

Organization Tool

7-Subject Materials List

Materials list to assist students in being prepared for class. This template allows you to customize a list of materials needed for each class or subject.

Grade 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 · Behavior & SEL · 1 pages

Implementation Tips

"Just Right"
For students who are able, independently creating a to-do list will support the development of essential planning skills. However, give the "just right" amount of support to students who struggle. Lack of success and frustration will hinder their ability to become more confident and maximize their independence.
Paper Format
For students who need more structure, provide a paper or electronic format to use when making plans and lists. This can help jog memory (e.g. what different areas need to be addressed), as well as give a visual framework for thinking in a more organized fashion.
Method to Mark Completion
Encourage students to include a method to indicate that they have completed an item on their list. A line through, or check off, an item can mark a paper list, and there can be a box or link to click on an electronic list.
Utilize technology for students with sequencing difficulties. Steps entered into an word processor can easily be cut and pasted if not originally generated in the correct order. Electronic forms can easily be adapted for different types of tasks. With the click of the mouse, a student can record having completed parts or steps in the plan.
Free Online Tools
Check out Educational Technology and Mobile Learning's curated list of [[ | free online organizational tools]]. It includes planners, task organizers and reminders.
Student Ownership
Encourage students to take ownership of their lists. Build in time for them to monitor progress and reflect on their success. Work with students to utilize their reflections to craft more effective lists over time.
Seek Support from your OT or School Psychologist
If it is difficult to find strategies that work for a particular student, partner with the occupational therapist and school psychologist. For additional OT background & perspective see: [[ | The Action Continuum]].


Lower Elementary
First grade students can use materials lists to help them organize and clean their pencil boxes or supply cubbies. Items on the list may include supplies such as: sharpened pencils, an eraser, crayons and scissors. Similarly, third grade students can use materials lists for how to organize the items in their desk to have easily accessible for lessons. Similar to reading a recipe, identifying and having the necessary materials accessible first can make it easier to move through the steps of a lesson.
Upper Elementary
Students at the upper elementary level can use work to-do lists to navigate assignment steps. For instance, a fifth grade students could use a to-do list to move through all of the steps in a science lab. Items on the list may include: reading all of the steps of the lab, clearing the lab space and organizing the necessary supplies, carrying out the scientific process and cleaning up the work space. Some students may need teacher support to make and keep the list up to date.
Middle School
Middle school students can use organization lists to detail what to include in their binders and where to keep each of their items. Organization list items might include: sharpened pencils in pouch, unfinished homework in front pocket, completed homework in back pocket, tabs for each subject in the order of the school day and lined paper behind all of the subject tabs.
High School
A research project to-do list can help students identify and organize all parts of an extended project. Students can make the list when starting a project, including setting dates to complete different phases of the project, such as: researching credible sources, outlining contents, reviewing the outline, creating a rough draft, identifying gaps in information, revising and editing, checking in with the teacher and creating and turning in the finished product.

Related Strategies