One of the first obstacles I encountered as I was thinking about ways to use QR codes with preschoolers was using information that didn’t require reading. I knew that if I really wanted to have fun with QR codes with my students, I was going to have to find an easy way to attach an audio file to the QR code so that my children wouldn’t have to read the information they received when they scanned a code. After much research and clicking on the internet, I finally found something that worked. Here’s my final product. Keep reading below to find out how I put it together.
First I needed to find a website that would let me record an audio file online and store it at a particular URL. There are many sites that do this, but I needed a little something extra. I needed the site that I found to automatically play the audio file once the user scanned the QR code. I learned from our Counting to 20 with QR codes lesson that our preschoolers simply can’t handle too many steps or they get bogged down. Having to scan the code, and then press play to hear the task, and then complete the task likely would have pushed them over the edge. I checked a few sites and finally found this one: http://www.recordmp3.org/ Record MP3.org is super easy to use. You can create and upload a MP3 file in just a few steps and then the program spits out a url.
I took the URL from Record MP3 and pasted it into my favorite QR code producer and generated a QR code. (Click here to read about making QR codes ) Now the QR Code that I just created links to the audio file so that when the QR code is scanned, it plays the words that I recorded. Getting this set up to work right was the key to creating my sight word activity.
To make the activity, I created 36 audio files, and then a QR code for each audio file. Eighteen of the audio files give a direction to find a particular sight word, “Find the word the.” The other 18 files identify the sight word that the child found. “You found the word the.” I put the QR codes into a document and spiced them up with some graphics. (We’re kicking off our big “farm” unit, so I went with a barn theme. ) Then it was time to play a little sight word matching game!
Each child had their own tub full of sight words that had been hidden in “mud” or “hay” (brown or yellow shredded paper.)
The cards that were hidden were the ones that looked like this:
Then, each child also had their own individual deck of cards that looked like this:
Their task was to scan the card that had *just* the QR code. It would say something like, “Find the word you.” The child would then look through their tub and try to find that particular sight word. When they found the word that they thought might be “you,” they would take it, and scan that card to see what the word really said.
I was nervous when we put the kids to work on this activity. Like there always is with technology, there was a lot of room for things to go wrong. Fortunately, I think the activity turned out well! All of the technology worked smoothly, and the educational aspects worked well too. I watched proudly as my students were able to scan an item, listen to the audio file, make the match, scan the match to confirm it, and then navigate back to the scanner to start the process over again. That is A LOT of steps for preschoolers, and they handled it beautifully. They were even able to re-play the audio file if they forgot which word they were searching for. I know that this would have been too much for them if it were their first scanning activity, but since we’d done several QR code activities previously, they were very comfortable with scanning. They rocked the technology aspect of this activity, and of course, I do think this activity also helped them practice their sight words.
I learned a lot too. For example, I know I’m going to make the QR codes bigger next time. Some of them were tricky to scan because of their size. I also learned that my students only had a 15 minute attention span for this activity. It was a lot for them to handle and while they really had fun, after about fifteen minutes, they were done.
I had a lot of fun creating this activity. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use all of my audio files that are linked to QR codes for some other fun sight word activities. I’ll post about those when I’ve got them made. In the mean time, you’re welcome to download this activity, with just a few caveats:
*I recommend using the same scanner that we have installed on our ipods and ipads at school. When I tried to scan the code with my android phone, not only did I have to click “play” on the audio file, I also had to click to access the link. (WAY too many steps for my preschoolers!) The process was seamless with this QR code reader and our apple products.
*I’ve learned that audio files are particular and don’t always work the way you want them to, particularly when switching between mac and pc, so there could be some glitches.
*Printing in color or on white paper seems to work best. When I printed on red paper the words didn’t show up.
Click the image to download your own set of QR Codes for Sight Words. If you decide to use or tweak this activity, I’d love to hear about how it goes for you.
Have you found a way to use QR codes with young children? Tell me about it in the comments!