Pictograms – How de they work?

You have undoubtedly already heard about pictograms and how they are used in connection with children who have a diagnosis ‒ that they provide recognition and reassurance in the child’s everyday life, facilitating daily routines as the child knows what they should and shouldn’t do based on the pictures.

But is it only children with diagnoses whose everyday life can be made easier with the help of pictograms?

Not at all! The small cards can provide all children and adults support.

We all know, and have heard a million times, that routines, routines and more routines are good for our children – both big and small. Pictograms are already used in daycare centres, after-school programs, and pre-schools to inform children of what will be happening throughout their day – a visual support system that helps guide the children.

So why not also give them a helping hand at home?



Pictograms are much more than just cards. Here at home, they act as an extra adult – an adult that guides, helps, and tells our children what to do when I don’t have time, or am busy making dinner and packed lunches or changing the little one’s nappy.

The cards are a tool to strengthen my children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Because when I say that it’s time for bed, Emilie runs down and looks at what she needs to do; gets undressed, puts on her pyjamas, and then comes running with her toothbrush and toothpaste because now it’s time to brush our teeth and then we’ll read a book – with pride in her voice and joy over the success she has just achieved.

It’s a tool that strengthens our children’s capabilities to look after themselves, giving them calm and reassurance in everyday life, both when it comes to the familiar and the unfamiliar. The cards provide a helping hand to explore new things as they create recognition in unfamiliar situations, whether this might be a day out with kindergarten, a holiday, or something else.

I find myself becoming nervous when I need to do something unfamiliar at the age of 26. If I have an understanding of what’s about to happen, I feel calmer and have much more of a go-getting attitude towards the day’s experiences.

It’s the same for children.
We all like to know what’s going on.

And our children love coming and showing us what they’ve done! When Emilie comes in with her toothbrush, she’s always bursting with pride at having done it all by herself! This is a feeling that, as a mother, I love seeing my children have – and I can’t take credit for how happy she is, it was something she earned herself thanks to our cards.



The traditional way to use pictograms is to hang them up, choose the pictures that describe the day’s activities/events and then go through them with the child. Hang them in a place where the child can see them, and perhaps let the child help you find them and hang them up. They can be hung in different places around the house depending on what your child needs – this can be in an overall or more detailed capacity.

We have 3 children at home; Emilie (5½), Asta (2½) and Nora (8 months). The biggest knows her toilet routines, but Asta is starting to want to do things herself, which includes the toilet routines. That’s why we have chosen to hang the pictograms up in the bathroom, so she can see what she needs to do after going to the toilet.

Toilet – wipe – flush – wash hands – dry hands.

We also have some hanging in our eldest’s bedroom for the morning routine. I’m alone with all three children every morning and can tell how much it helps at home that the children know what they need to do. If they forget, then they know where to look. Hanging in Emilie’s room, there are pictures of;

Bed – clothes – breakfast – TV – brush teeth – coat

And I can really feel the difference in our mornings, evening routines and toilet routines because the children know what’s happening. Not to mention their pride when they have completed their routines all by themselves.

Of course, we also have mornings when things get hectic because for one reason or another they don’t feel like leaving, or want to bring 7 teddy bears to kindergarten because Emilie has agreed with a friend that they’re going to have a teddy bears’ birthday party. This cannot be fixed by the cards, but overall, they are a helping hand!

You can also make a more general list such as; breakfast, kindergarten, home, play, dinner, bath, bed.

Play with them a bit and find out what best suits your and your children’s everyday life; the detailed list or the more general one.



You can use the pictograms in all sorts of ways – here, I’ve written down some of the ways we use the ciha pictograms:

This was actually Emilie’s idea: choose the thing you want to learn how to draw and then look for the card. Simple, easy and straightforward.

Create your own story:
Whether it’s bedtime or the middle of the day, storytelling is always a hit in our home. Let the child choose what happens in the story and compose it based on the cards you choose together.

Revisit good memories with the child; such as fun things you have experienced, and visualise the story with the pictograms. Ask the child, ‘can you remember what happened after we…?’ Try finding three cards beforehand, and asking the child to find the right one.

A bit like storytelling, here you can find pictures that fit songs you already know, or create your own songs.

Expand your vocabulary:
This can be done in different ways. For smaller children, use the cards to practice their pronunciation – the adult says the word and the child repeats it. For bigger children, divide the word into syllables – for example with the use of hand claps.

What’s on my head?
You probably already know this game well – we looooooove this one here at home!
Find a headband, put it on, and turn the cards face-down. The person with the headband on takes a card and fixes it to their headband without looking at the card. The other players must then tell them things about the card without saying what’s on it – the person with the headband must then guess which thing or action is on the picture.

What word class is the card?
This is suitable for slightly older children as it deals with word classes (nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, etc.) Choose a card and let the child tell you which word class the action/thing is.

The Great Book of Chit-Chat
The cards match the book, or are drawn in the same style. We have read the book and then Emilie has been asked to explain what we read using the pictograms (you can’t do this with all the pages, but it can be done on a more general level).


We received the pictograms as a gift, which is why this post is marked as sponsored  – they’re not our first set of pictograms, but they’re the ones the kids like best.

What I like about these pictograms is that they come with a stack of people without hair and with empty name tags. So, we begin by drawing ourselves, making them personal, and the kids get off to a great start with them. This was something we couldn’t do with the pictograms we had before.

They are thick and can withstand the hands of an 8-month-old baby without getting crumpled. You can find heaps of pictograms on Google Images to print yourself, which is something we have tried (we even laminated them), but they simply do not hold up as well as these.

We have the book ‘The Great Book of Chit-Chat’ from Ciha (bought and paid for) in which you follow a mother, father and their two children. The cards are illustrated in the same style so they actually match – which my children thought was super cool, and only made them want to read the book again.

I think the price is great. There are some cards in the pack that we don’t get to use in our everyday lives, such as hearing aids, but these are then introduced in play and help to teach the kids about diversity. The cards come in a nice, sturdy box so that they can be packed away without getting damaged.

Kind regards,
Rikke Fønsskov
Loving mother of three little baboons, married to the king of the jungle, and happily living a life full of packed lunches and stains left by little fingers on the sofa.

See more from me on my Instagram profile @fru.foensskov


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