Go-To Teaching Activities: Our Top 5 Favorite Teaching Things

Here are our 5 favorite activities/projects/crafts we swear by. #1 is the best but we’re not going to make you scroll to the bottom to see it.

  1. Grid Questions
  2. Mini Books
  3. Flip Books
  4. Picture Searches
  5. Drawing Tutorials

1. Grid Questions

These are our all time favorite things to do. You only need to print a color by numbers grid for each student which can easily be found here. You don’t want the math ones, just the numbers.

Then you make questions with two to three possible answers.

For example: Question 1 “Who was the first president of the United States?”

  • If Abraham Lincoln, color red
  • If George Bush, color orange
  • If George Washington, color purple

George Washington is correct so you would color all number ones purple (because it’s question number 1) . Question two you color all the number 2 grids.

In the end the grid looks like a picture. Here are some science questions, the grid, and what it looks like at the end (Elsa).

This one is more difficult for 6th graders because both #1 and #2 are black. It just means more questions to answer.

This is a fantastic activity- let me count the ways:

  • With one grid you can create any amount of questions about any topic for any level. The Elsa coloring grid above has been used for science, math, history, English, and social sciences for 4th, 5th, 6th, and high school (IES) students.
  • Every age group loves them – even older students enjoy it (12, 13, 14 years old)  because it’s not exactly a coloring sheet, they don’t see it as a “baby project”.
  • There are loads of options for coloring grids using students’ favorite characters – Disney, superheroes, Harry Potter, animals, video games, etc.
  • Almost every kid is motivated to color because they want to know what it will be at the end.
  • It is difficult for kids to cheat because there are so many squares – they can’t just look at a friend’s paper quickly.
  • It can also be easy for students to work together or check answers, “What did you get for #3?”
  • You can see which students need help because it will look wrong to you. If Elsa has any green or purple on her, you know you need to help that student out.
  • You can find easy grids where there are only 4 colors, or you can make your own that has 11+ questions
  • You can make it easier by only having 2 possible answers (George Washington or Lincoln). Or harder by making 4 possible answers (and colors) such as Washington, Lincoln, Bush, Adams.
  • You can adapt it for pictures (for kids who can’t read yet).

Here’s a picture version. Believe it or not it looks like Pooh Bear at the end. They have to color all landscapes black, all man-made things yellow, and weather things are colored red. Tropical landscapes are black. This gets kids thinking about their chapters on weather and landscapes while also thinking -is a bridge man-made or natural?

The only difficulty is explaining it. Some students think #1 means color the whole thing black. So you have to ask lots of comprehension check questions “what number do we color black?” (Number 1) “Do we color #3 black?” (No).

2. Mini-Books

Regardless of if you’re teaching English, French, Science, Social Studies, Math or History you can adapt these mini books for anything. A single paper is folded so there are 7-8 mini-pages for students to fill out.

Students just have to fold it and make a small cut on the top (instructions here). So long as your stress where the cut should go (and how much to cut) you shouldn’t have too many paper-casualties.

I’ve done this with as young as 1st  grade (6-7 years old) and it went fine. They just needed help.

They can also put some glue on the inside. Again, they have to be careful as they can glue the whole thing shut.

This is a great project because it gives you 7 page (or 8 if you don’t have a cover page). They can color and draw their own pictures inside, or you can fill it with information for them to research and fill out.

If you leave the last page blank (seen above with “Word Roots”) they can glue the mini book into their notebooks and can use it as a reference.

3. “Flip” Books

This is a bigger book students can fill out. You can make it with 3-4 papers. 4 sheets will make an 8 page book and 3 pages will make 6 pages.

This works well because the first page is very small while the back page is almost a full-sized page. This can be used to visualize big vs small things (city, country, continent). Alternatively it can just be used like a file folder where each flap is used to organize the information inside. For example each flap is labeled Respiratory System, Circulatory System, Digestive System, Excretory System – then inside students can put notes or drawings related to that system. We’ve also used it to divide historical time periods (Phoenician, Roman, Moorish).

So it can be used as organization (body systems, senses, anatomy, kingdoms, parts of speech, math equations) or visualization of small to big concepts (city to country, math, animals).

Folding directions are here.

4. Picture Searches

Like a word search (or “word soup” in Spain) this is a jumble of pictures rather than words. Students have to find and color the vocabulary while ignoring unrelated pictures. This works best for younger students (1-3rd grade) unless you adapt one for science.

This was a unit on animals. Students had to find 11 mice, 6 Dogs, 5 cats, 5 buildings, 4 cows, 3 horses, 5 sheep, 8 fish,  and 1 hamster. This was all based on an English unit on animals (and buildings). So they cannot color the minion or the cactus as they aren’t current vocabulary words. 

This works well if you just tell them what to color – it tests their knowledge of the vocabulary. You can show them pictures of what the animals look like to remind them as well.

You can keep how many animals there are a secret. Then students have to count and tell you how many they think they found.

These are not insanely difficult to make. On a powerpoint or google slides you can easily paste coloring pages in. Google “coloring ______ png” (“coloring dog png”). The png means it will have a transparent background and you can put the pictures closer together without them overlapping. On powerpoint you can also make the background transparent yourself.

5. Drawing Tutorials

In science my co-teachers have the students copy the anatomy picture from the book and label it. This can be fun because there are loads of step by step drawing tutorials on “Grade Booster’s” youtube channel. Some are way too advanced but others work well for primary school (the eye, the ear). You can always slow down the video if it gets too advanced.

After drawing the students label their pictures.

This can also be used in history class (and used with the fold-able books above). There are some great tutorials involving an adult and a child so you can see how the picture would turn out when a child draws it. “Art For Kids Hub” has how to draw Roman Soldiers 

Can I just have your lessons?

We believe in teaching a teacher to fish, not handing out fish-lessons. So we’re not going to give any lessons out. Rather we wanted to show you some ideas. We would love to answer question on how you can make your own versions.

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