A primary school teacher spends around seven hours a week searching for instructional materials, as well as an extra five hours a week creating their own resources. That’s according to the research – but we’re sure that will be no surprise to any teacher! With lesson planning comes finding (and often making) resources to keep young minds active in the classroom five days a week. Even before the kids are back to school after the holidays, teachers are gathering together their resources, from lesson plans and maths worksheets to colouring sheets, to give students the very best chance at learning. So, how to keep up with the demand for engaging, interesting and attractive teaching resources? We asked teachers for their best tips when it comes to making teaching resources to help give you the inspiration you need.

Know When To Start Fresh

Save new resources for when you need them to make a real impact – like midway through a term. “Kids really take note of new things,” says primary Creative Arts teacher Megan Hanger. “There’s always a buzz when new resources come out, and always argy-bargy around who gets to use them first. Sometimes parents even inquire about new resources that their kids have been buzzing about at home.” 

This doesn’t mean you have to create new resources every time; revamping existing teaching aids can be a clever use of time. “Keep clear notes of what worked and what didn’t in any resource you’ve used so that when you come to use that resource again you can swap out those things,” says Megan. 

Bethuen Grady, who is a Prep teacher at Macarthur Anglican School in Sydney’s south-west, agrees. “Keep the main parts, such as coloured rice, sand or things that can be used in a variety of ways, then add smaller details to change things up,” she says. That could be different cards, worksheets or anything that changes the game and allows you to use it in a different way.

Pinterest and social media accounts are a wealth of inspiration too. Popular accounts such as @teacherishappy and @iam.mrluke often show how to repurpose activities.

SEE ALSO: How to Improve Handwriting for Kids of All Ages

Image of display board with various educational posters and charts available through the OW x Canva link, to illustrate an article on teaching resources. 

Customise Existing Templates

If you need some quick and easy inspiration, pre-existing lesson plan templates are a great option. “Online can be a rabbit hole of ideas and possibilities, and it can be hard to not get bogged down,” says Megan. However, some sites are easy to navigate quickly, so you can pinpoint what you need. “Canva is fab and can help you create your own sheets easily and quickly – even at the last minute,” says Megan. “Everything is in one place which makes life much easier.”

Design With Canva can come in handy, as it allows you to search for a range of customisable resources. Once you’re in the tool, search ‘School or Learning’ to access a variety of templates, including classroom safety and times-table posters, as well as other design templates. The tool is great for creating large amounts of resources that all need to be slightly different, and you can easily print your final designs to classroom-quality resources with Officeworks Print & Copy.

“In my classroom, each child has a unique name label that’s used everywhere in the classroom,” says Bethuen. “They have a label for the wall, for their bag, on their books, and on name cards I have at the front. The children love having a unique label and it’s very helpful, plus it makes the room look nice.”

Multiple items like this can be easily designed in Canva by simply changing colours and pictures in an initial template. 

Hot Tip: Beat the queue at the school photocopiers and print your resources in a timeframe that suits you through the Officeworks Print, Copy & Create service.

SEE ALSO: Clever Ways to Use Canva in Your Working Life

How Do I Create My Own Teaching Material?

Corner of classroom with teacher and young female students wearing a red school uniform sitting at two tables, drawing and colouring, to illustrate an article on teaching resources.

Investing in a good set of base resources means you’ll save time adding to your creativity. Both Megan and Bethuen swear by a Cricut machine for creating and cutting unique resources, as well as their laminators. “Laminating something makes it into a resource that you can use over and over again,” says Megan. 

Keeping a cupboard full of easy-to-use resources allows you to be flexible and change things up when needed. “I always have craft rolls, PVA glue, coloured paper, pipe cleaners, mini pom-poms, sticky-backed foam shapes, paper plates, balloons, crayons and coloured pencils, coffee filter paper and chalk in stock – and they all get used on repeat,” says Megan. Glue guns, staplers and even flash drives are also great to have in the classroom as part of your resource toolkit.

As for storing the items, Bethuen likes to be organised. “I try to make resources that can be stored flat if need be,” she says. “Or the main part can be kept, and small details added each time. It means you can prepare in advance, and grab things when you need.” 

SEE ALSO: Creative Ways to Store and Display Kids' Artwork 

Get the Kids To Help

There are some useful teaching resources when it comes to ready-to-hang wall displays, but remember to get the kids involved, too. “I like to start with a few words – usually cut out of paper and stapled on the wall – then go from there,” Bethuen says. “Kids love seeing photos of themselves up on the wall. Then student artwork always looks great, too.”

Fake It 

If you’re really pushed for time to make new resources, don’t worry. Megan has the ultimate teacher tip: “Pulling out some new glitter pencils always makes things feel new and exciting again, even if the material remains the same!”

What To Try