First/Then Card

Shows students what to do and what the reinforcer or preferred activity will be when they finish.

When to use: 

  • Use as a visual support for transitions. 
  • Use to show a reward or activity that may motivate a student to engage in a less preferred activity. 
  • Use with students who ask for reinforcers or preferred activities often. 

How to use: 

  1. Show the student the first/then card, point to the two symbols, and say “First (Activity 1), then (Activity 2)”. If the student resists or gets off task, show them the card again and repeat this phrase. 
  2. When the first activity is done, show the student the first/then card again and say “(Activity 1) finished!” while pointing at the first visual on the card. Then point to the second activity and say “Now, (Activity 2).” 
  3. Begin Activity 2 immediately. 


  • This tool is only effective when Activity 2 is either one of the student's reinforcers or a more preferred activity. 
  • It is important that Activity 2 be started right after Activity 1 is finished, or the student will not understand that finishing Activity 1 is what allowed them to do Activity 2. 
  • The “Then” activity should not move to the “First” activity upon the completion of the less preferred activity. The tool is not a two step activity schedule, it is a motivational tool for building behavioral momentum through less preferred activities. 
  • Use the back of a zippered pencil pouch for binders as your first/then card. Store unused icons in pouch for easy accessibility.