Using Printable Resources Effectively
Support Learning Using Activity Sheets as an Educational Tool
Why Use Printable Resources?
Printable resources come in a variety of forms such as lesson plans, worksheets, and flashcards. When used appropriately, printable resources can be a great way to support children in understanding different concepts and ideas.
Whenever I design activities, my focus is always to encourage children to learn through their experiences in a hands-on way. Where learning and engagement can be enhanced with the aid of a printable, I have designed a number of resources to accompany the activity.
Every printable resource has been made specifically to reinforce learning. I do not believe resources should be given to children just for the sake of it or that children should be left to muddle through. To be an effective educational tool, resources should have a clear purpose and children should have the support of a parents or teacher to guide them.
Here are a few advantages to using printable resources:
- Enhance learning – resources which have been designed with a clear purpose can enhance learning.
- Engagement – resources can keep children engaged in the activity itself.
- Flexibility – many printable resources can be adapted to suit a child’s ability and age.
- Time – your time is valuable! Printing resources can save you time not only in planning an activity but also whilst teaching.
Using Visual Instructions to Support Hands-on Activities
By providing simple instructions for children to follow our print-outs can allow students to take ownership of an activity. This helps them engage with the topic and grow in confidence. Visual images can encourage children to act independently. They can see the resources they will need and the final goal of the activity.
Visual instructions can help to engage children in activities, grabbing their attention with colourful images. They can also compliment different learning styles. Whilst some children like to hear the instructions, others prefer to see instructions. By reading the visual instructions alongside your child, you will support both visual and auditory methods of receiving information.
Recording Results Through Graphs and Written Conclusions
Results can be recorded in a number of ways including tally charts, tables and graphs. The method may vary depending on the task as well as the age and ability of the child.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related activities provide numerous opportunities for children to record their results as they consider outcomes after investigating, building and experimenting. Their results become integral to supporting them in reaching valid conclusions. Developing skills in suitably recording results therefore is important.
Within our STEM activities a child might investigate the conditions of a growing plant, build a bridge using marshmallows and spaghetti or even explore which materials are magnetic. Alongside the hands-on activity, children can record the results on worksheets specifically designed for this purpose. This is an example of how a printable can enhance learning. By providing a template for children to record their results in tables and graphs, they can stay focused on the activity itself, whilst developing skills. They can then look at the information they have recorded to reach appropriate conclusions backed up their results.
Prompt Questions to Support Discussions
Many of our activity sheets include prompt questions to encourage and support classroom and at home discussions. Conversations between adults and children, as well as between groups of children are important for a number of reasons including developing speech and language skills in a natural environment.
As adults we can model and demonstrate the importance of listening to others as well as participating by sharing our own thoughts. Having said this, when my children are excited to share something with me, they still talk over one another. These are skills which take time to practice and develop.
Most significantly for me, through discussions children will come to know that their ideas and opinions are important. Children should know that their voices are being heard and their opinions are valued by those around them in society. Students can develop and grow their self-esteem and confidence in knowing how to communicate with their peers and adults.
It should be noted that although we can assess a child’s understanding of a concept through discussion, these conversations are not about testing their knowledge. The prompt questions laid out in the lesson plans and printable resources are merely that: a prompt. Where possible, be sure to ask open-ended questions, avoiding simple yes and no answers. As much as possible get your children or students to expanded upon and delved into further explanations and ideas.
Inspiring Creative Writing
There is nothing worse for my nine-year-old than presenting him with a blank page. Words, particularly written words do not come easily to everybody and printable resources can be a great tool in inspiring creativity and breaking down those mental barriers.
Our printable resources in storytelling and poetry provide images, prompt questions, story dice and writing frames to inspire and support children in unlocking their imagination. The aim of these activities is not for children to produce the perfect writing but to gain confidence in their ability to write and create at all.
Using Flashcards at Home and School
Using flashcards within activities is a favoured activity in our home. The boys both enjoy this hands-on way to demonstrate their ideas by organising the cards correctly or just playing with them. As they have proven to be such an effective learning tool in our home, I use them in many of our hands-on activities.
If you wish to discover our range of Timeline Cards, Food Chain Cards, Number Cards, Identify and Classify Cards and Vocabulary Cards then use the links below.
Timeline Cards – use the dates on timeline cards to place historical events in chronological order. All of these topics use timeline cards:
Food Chain Cards – arrange images of animals and plants to show different food chains around the world. Find food chain cards in these topics:
Number Cards – use number cards to practice counting and number order. Compare quantifies and create number lines. Number cards can be found in the following topics:
Identify and Classify – many of our STEM based activities provide cards with images for children to sort into different groups. These activities include identifying and classifying:
Developing Vocabulary and Labelling Diagrams
Diagrams are a great way for children to visually present information. By labelling a diagram children can also begin to develop their vocabulary. Many of our topics include activities for children to label maps, plants, animals and even the human body.
There are a few ways you might approach this type of activity depending on the age and ability of the children you are working with. For those still developing their writing skills, cutting out words and gluing them on can help the child to focus on the key information of the diagram.
Alternatively for those children more confident, can write words themselves to label diagrams. You can still support this by writing words for them to copy if necessary.
Both strategies encourage children to read words, develop their vocabulary and focus on presenting the key information. However, this is an example of how activities can be approached differently to support children appropriately depending on their abilities.
Tips for Reusing Curriculum Resources
Where possible and depending on the type of resource we encourage parents and teachers to reuse printable resources. Printing our range of History Timeline Cards, Food Chain Cards, Number Cards, Identify and Classify Cards and Vocabulary Cards onto thick paper or card is great for durability. These printable resources are designed for children and students to handle, sort into groups and rearrange into different diagrams.
We have multiple topics designed to take place outside. This includes nature hunts, fieldtrips and investigations within the local environment. I have designed activity sheets for children to record their observations whilst outside. Placing the activity sheet in a plastic wallet not only protects the paper, but you can use a dry erase pen to write on the plastic wallet. When your child has finished, wipe the plastic clean. This way, both the activity sheet and the plastic wallet can both be used again.
Using Hands-On Education’s Printable Resources Effectively
Although many of activities are accompanied by printable resources, this is not necessarily the purpose of the activity. All of our activities are explained in clear and detailed lesson plans with additional information where needed.
Try out some of our curriculum led activities using printable resources designed to support home educated children and primary school going students in their learning journey.