Free Graphic Resources for Teachers
I confess. I’ve had that same nightmare as you, tossing and turning into the wee hours of the morning, wondering how on earth to present such…arid material in class. Then there’s revision–how to prevent that lesson turning into an inquisition…?
Fortunately, with my graphics and layout background, I often found my answer in, producing more palatable material with fun images and a little bit of creativity.
No matter the age or level of my students, all of them appreciated the ‘new’ material, which usually kept them engaged and happy enough to pour over points we needed to cover. Wonderful stuff, photos and graphics, bringing a little bit of magic into class.
My teenage students also tended to dislike ‘uncool’ and ‘old’ stuff. If you’ve been around teenagers, you’ll know that usually means material from last year (or even three months ago) and not last decade.
Fortunately the time-saving resources I used as a designer are widely available to everyone. You’ve been adding speech bubbles to your smart-phone photos with Photoshop and other apps for years…perfect for bringing humour into the classroom. That’s great, too. Except…steadily advancing technology demands higher quality images.
In my experience, students, even three and four-year olds, prefer beautiful, professional looking photos and images on the Interactive White Boards, projectors, and printed material. If the style was totally different from the course books and resources, they loved the material even more.
That’s why I’m addicted to sites like Freepik.com and Freeimages.com. They have utterly cool (and up to the minute) stock images and graphics which even the trendiest teenagers in class would appreciate.
The selection is vast, with a bewildering arrange of styles. You could use ten new graphics/images for each class you take, and still not have used up the selection by the end of the year.
However, finding just the right illustration for class may take a while, especially if you, like me, adore beautiful graphics…so I developed my own little secrets for searching. And there you have some free graphic resources for teachers.
My great big graphics secret:
It’s all in the details. The more creative your keyword search is, the more fascinating images you’ll find. Experiment with concepts. For example, if I had a lesson around Isaac Newton and gravity tomorrow, and a food-based lesson for three-year olds the following day (as so many ESL teachers do), my thoughts would turn to the apple.
Searching on Freepik.com brought up this selection.
I could choose this happy illustration.
Nice, but not quite what I’m looking for. I’ll search a little further in.
And there we are! Perfect. Lots of talking points for any class.
Or, if I’ve been using illustrations for most of my classes, I’d probably go with this visually striking photo instead. Apples in action!
Naturally, your choices may be very different. Only you know your personal style of teaching, and what your students would prefer.
As with most things, refining brings higher quality and saves you time.
Searching in vectors displays only illustrations and comic-styled graphics like so:
Searching only for photos excludes all vectors.
Searching only in one category often cuts your search by a few hundred images at least.
My other big graphics secret:
Download reusable and versatile images and illustrations.
I tended to choose photos and vectors which would appeal both to my little ESL students and their adult counterparts. The quirkier the better. Spending a couple of hours producing a broadly appealing PowerPoint presentation often saved me hours more in prep time. It was easy to recycle a kindergarten vocabulary presentation into a conversation-based activity, even easier to print out a slide or two for professional-looking activity sheets. All of which made feedback easier too!
So, instead of choosing this elephant,
I’d choose this.
And instead of choosing this Easter image
I’d choose this:
I’d also look for graphics collections and combined graphics, like this menu:
Here’s how I would use it: Young students: What’s for lunch?
Adult: This is the menu for the restaurant we’re planning on visiting. What would Cynthia make of this? Would she have an good selection of dishes to order? What would you order?
I was constantly adding to my treasure trove of classroom magic-makers with my go-to resources:
Add your name to their newsletter round, and you’ll get free seasonal and other vectors.
Download fresh fonts here to add something special to worksheets and presentations. Add the fonts to your computer’s Font folder, and you’ll have that special new font available before your next coffee-break.
The Smithsonian Institutes archives are perfect for the history and English teacher, with all material free for use in classrooms.
And there you have it all spelled out: nightmares banished–happy dreams and learning for everyone.