Check out these tips and tricks for creating engaging and effective anchor charts to use in your K-2 classroom!
What are Anchor Charts?
Anchor charts are tools to support learning in the classroom, they “anchor student learning”. Have you ever purchased an ‘awesome’ chart for students to reference throughout the year, only to discover it tends to be invisible to students?
Anchor charts are the solution! Students should be included in the creation of anchor charts. This involvement makes the charts suddenly relevant (visible) to the children. Student involvement is the ‘magic’ ingredient! As the famous quote says, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I ‘may’ remember. Involve me and I learn.”
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Materials for Creating Anchor Charts
You only need a few basic materials to create an anchor chart. The best part is that you probably already have them in stock in your classroom!
- Large Chart Paper – Lined or Gridded paper (Both help keep things ‘tidy’ without a lot of measuring or drawing of lines for sections)
- Markers (bold bright colors but any will get the job done)
- Tape (or another method for hanging and displaying charts)
- Sticky Notes (these are a must so that you can reuse your charts and keep the kids involved in the learning process) (See below for alternatives)
- Glue Sticks
- Crayons (I use these for adding quick color to large spaces so the marker does not soak the paper or smear)
This next ‘list’ of items is not ‘necessary’, but they can be quite handy. These items can help with organization and they can enhance the look of the charts, without any added work you. These items are inexpensive (YAY!) ways that will save you time (YAY! Again!), but still allow you to add a little ‘pizazz’ to the charts that will help peak student interest. Just a few words of wisdom, do not go overboard with decorations, remember you want the kiddos to focus on the skill that the chart is being created to ‘anchor’.
These are SO unbelievably versatile and come in a variety of great colors!! They keep your writing even, easily, draw attention to various sections of the chart, great for headings, and they can be cut to any length for any need. I find them far more user-friendly for my needs than index cards. Though don’t count them out, index cards have their purpose too!
These too are quite versatile too when creating Anchor charts. They also come in a variety of colors, and you can get them with or without lines depending on your need or preference.
I personally prefer bullet-tipped markers for creating charts, but I think many do enjoy the ‘natural lettering’ that chiseled tipped markers can achieve. Chiseled tipped markers provide you with a quick way to change the weight of your lettering. It is something to consider when gathering materials for your charts.
These are no ordinary hangers, these are the hangers that you sometimes get from the stores when you purchase clothes. They have the pinchers at the top are the most amazing tool to use to display and move your charts around with ease! The top of these swivels too, making them even greater! Some places just want to get rid of these and will offer you an entire box or more for free if you inquire about them!
Sticky Notes are a must so that you can reuse your charts and to keep the students continuously involved. These too come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.
Tip: One alternative to use of Sticky Notes is to laminate your charts. If you laminate your charts and have provided room on them for student responses, they can write on them with Dry Erase Markers.
The best ‘tip’ I have ever been given! These are absolutely AMAZING! If you have not yet been introduced to them, they are life-altering for educators! They save time and a lot of messes! They are the greatest invention since the glue stick! Roll it over the paper (one swipe) and done! The adhesive is stronger than any glue stick and again, no mess!
Construction Paper or Cardstock
Any colored paper can be handy for quickly breaking up your larger paper into even sections.
Sticky Tack is great for when you do not necessarily wish for a piece of your chart to not be permanent. For example, if you are doing a chart for the Number of the Day, you will want to leave the space for the daily number blank so you can change it daily. You can then use Sticky Tack at that spot to temporarily anchor a different notecard in that space daily without tearing your chart when you change it. It is lightweight and will not tear your chart.
Tips and Tricks
Involve the students!
First, you can plan them and prepare various aspects of them ahead of time, for the sake of time, but they are most effective when created along with the students. Make the learning process ‘visible’ through the anchor chart itself.
KISS – Keep It Simple and Straightforward
Sure you can get creative, just keep the objective in mind at all times. In the end, all you absolutely need is a skill, chart paper, and markers. The rest is simply a matter of preference.
There is no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ – there are tons of anchor chart ideas online – my future posts will include many of these ideas and links to many more.
Keep your charts!
I recommend this for several reasons. Re-teaching happens! Your first chart will be familiar to them and help with recall and save you time. It will be great for quick reviews. It too may lend itself for a future skill. They are great to pull out and place in centers for the kids to practice within small groups (when feasible again) nor solo practice. At the end of center time, you can take a quick peek at the chart to see who may or may not need additional support. (I have them write their name on the sticky note (they can even write it on the back or just use initials) they are using to attach their answer to the chart.)
We know wall space is limited in our rooms or we’d just leave them all up all year! That’s not always feasible so I use this simple inexpensive stand for easily accessible storage for my charts throughout the year. It doesn’t take up much room, and keeping them on hangars makes it easy to just grab them and hang them in an accessible spot for students.
This handy anchor chart tip will save you time and chart paper! Write key points ahead in pencil. Then, can then write over it in marker as the kids begin to give responses. Have any pictures you do not intend to draw printed and colored and attach them as the lesson develops. This is relative of course, as you can freehand the entire chart. I do not always have the best spatial sense, so I do some prep work ahead just for the sake of ‘neatness’ and time.
Not confident in your artistic abilities or simply do not have the time to draw everything you’d like to? This next trick will become your best anchor chart friend! Print your images! You can print them in color for the sake of time, or to conserve color, print them black/white and color them ahead of time.
I printed the above images of alligators and alligator-themed symbols for comparing numbers.
More Fun Tips and Tricks for Anchor Charts
The HAPPY Teacher’s Pallett provides some amazing tricks to add some quick yet simple pizazz to your anchor charts!
Stay tuned for more future posts that will provide ideas for anchor charts for all subjects. You’ll also learn how to effectively incorporate them into your lessons.