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How To Use Pinterest as a Choice Board

How To Use Pinterest as a Choice Board

You might already be using Pinterest as a pinboard for useful articles, your favourite posts or cool photos from around the web, but did you know that you can also use it to make a quick choice board for your kids?

Wait a second, what's a choice board?

It's a visual tool that can help kids with making choices, which might seem like a straightforward task but is actually a complex series of steps - listening to all of the options, remembering what they are, choosing one and then telling someone about it. Autistic kids can have trouble with any or all of these, so a choice board is a way of visually presenting the options to them. They can see what's available, take their time considering each one, communicate their choice more easily and even go back to the beginning if they get stuck.

Choice boards are usually made from picture cards, which are either laid out or attached to a board. The kids make a choice by pointing to the appropriate card, or picking it up and handing it to someone in exchange for the thing they want.

So why use Pinterest?

Pinterest is a visual playground, so it's the perfect tool for working with kids who like to think in pictures. Using it as a virtual choice board is great because:

  • It's customisable to your kid's interests

  • It's an attractive and motivating medium for them

  • Online activity choices are immediately accessible

  • Images are less generic and quick to locate

  • You can store all your choice boards in one place

  • You can collate only those sites that are safe for them to use

  • You can access many of the activity resources directly from the choice board e.g. choosing a cooking activity can instantly bring up the recipe

Those last two points are especially important - it really helps to encourage independence when you can leave kids alone to choose from a pre-selected pool of acceptable activities, with materials that they can access themselves without your help.

How does it work?

Let's assume that you already have a Pinterest account and know your way around. If not, here's an excellent tutorial. To make a choice board:

1.  Create one themed board for every group of choices your kids need to make

2.  Surf for websites to use as choices, or materials for the activity (e.g. origami instructions)

3.  Pin an image from each onto the appropriate choice board

4.  Edit the title of the pin so it describes the choice (e.g. 30 minutes playing on Poptropica)

5.  If the choice isn't an online activity, find a picture that you have permission to use and pin it to the choice board, then edit the pin title and remove the url to make it clear that this is an offline option (e.g. a photo of your backyard swing)

When it's time for the kids to choose, they can open the board and see all of the available options. The image shows them what the choice is, and the text description gives them extra information like how long they can do it for or what materials they'll require.

The best part is that they can communicate their choice easily, by pointing to the screen or simply clicking the option they want if it has an online component.

Let me demonstrate with some of the choice boards that I've set up for my kids...

 

 

Homeschool Projects 

The kids are free to decide which of their projects they want to spend time on, but sometimes they get bored and need a prompt to choose something else. The board shows them which projects they have on the go, and gives them somewhere to add ideas for future ones. It also lets me throw in things that I think they might enjoy or that I want them to check out. All of these choices are online, so it means I can leave them to independently get on with their learning - they know they can do whatever they like as long as it's from the choice board, and since I chose all of the links I know that they're safe sites for them to visit unsupervised.

Examples:
Do the next module on Codecademy
Update your blog
Make some paintings in the Paper app
Watch the next 'Doodling in Maths' video

 

 

Free Time

This is stuff that they're allowed to do when they're not spending time on a project. Because there are so many options for free time, they often have trouble choosing something to do. The board gives them a finite number of choices, which makes it easier for them to decide.

Examples:
Watch an episode of Futurama
Play a game of chess
Go for a walk
Play one round of Game of Life

 

 

If The Kids Save $50

An entire store full of options is overwhelming - Attie buys the first thing he sees and Max never buys anything - so this board helps reduce it to a manageable number of choices. Money can be a hard thing for them to quantify, so it also lets them visualise the spending power of their allowance and acts as a visual reminder of the rewards that they're working towards by saving instead of spending. Another bonus is that we do a lot of online shopping these days, so when it's time to choose they can actually click through and buy it.

Examples:
The Amazing Spider-Man app
Lego Minecraft
Foam Minecraft sword
Lego Batman 2 for the Wii

 

Well I think you get the idea, it's just a really simple outside-the-box way of using Pinterest. After all, the choices that we use to reward or motivate kids are increasingly online or computer-based... so it's just good sense that we update our use of choice boards to take advantage of that! (Oh and you can follow me on Pinterest if you want to see these boards in action)

This article was first published in September 2012.

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