QR Codes for Sight Words: Attaching audio files

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.

{Update: This post was written over two years ago, which in technology terms, makes it ancient!  The kids in my QR code pictures are actually 2nd graders now! Some readers are finding that the audio QR codes in this activity no longer work. You might try scanning a code or two to make sure it still works before you go to the trouble of making a whole game. Consider looking on Teachers Pay Teachers for other QR code options. Or you can always make your own games by following the instructions on my original QR Code post.}

A fun sight word game with QR Codes-tall

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.

record mp3 image


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:

this is you barn


Then, each child also had their own individual deck of cards that looked like this:

Find you Barn


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.

scanning the QR code to hear which sight word to find.jpg

Looking for the sight word.jpgscanning the sight word to self-check the match.jpg

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.

A Fun Sight Word Game with QR Codes


Have you found a way to use QR codes with young children? Tell me about it in the comments!

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  1. Melissa says

    When clicking on the above image to download the file, should the QR codes work? I scanned them and got a message that says “file cannot be found”. Help! :-)

    • technologyforearlychildhood@gmail.com says

      Hmm. When you click on the image, it takes you to a file on google docs that you can print. The QR codes on that document should work. I scanned a few of them just now and they seemed to be working for me. I know that I did run into problems when I used different scanners, particularly Android based scanners. Could that be the issue?

  2. says

    Great ideas, thanks for sharing! We have been working with iPads so the audio bit was a bit more of a challenge as the recordmp3 site doesn’t work on the device. I put a mindmap of qr code file options together..http://popplet.com/app/#/803240
    For linking audio we have found educreations a good option or croak.it app which gives 30 seconds of audio on its own URL.

    • technologyinearlychildhood says

      Your mind map is great. I’m excited to play around with croak.it and look into educreations. I’ve seen educreations mentioned in a few other places, but croak.it is new to me.

  3. says

    This is a great idea and an excellent integration of QR codes in to the early childhood classroom. I like using AudioBoo.fm for mp3 creation and hosting. It is free and allows you to record up to 3 minutes of audio. There are also iOS and Android apps that are quick and easy to use. It might be fun to do a similar follow-up activity with QR codes, but have the kids record the audio for them. I’ve used AudioBoo on an iPod Touch with preK and kindergarten students very successfully. The most difficult part for them is giving their audio file a title. In those cases, I provide a written copy of the title for the students to type in before they publish. Thanks for sharing this classroom idea!

    • technologyinearlychildhood says

      Thanks so much for your thoughts. Actually, AudioBoo.fm was the first thing I tried, but for whatever reason, I could never get it to work on all of my devices. It also seemed to require that extra click to get the file to play. Now, most of my students are savvy enough to handle that extra click, but I wasn’t so sure when I was creating the activity. I love the idea of having the kids make recordings! I’m going to spend some time thinking about how to work that in to one of our upcoming activities.

  4. says

    I thought I pass this link onto you in case you find it useful:


    It looks like it fits with the QR code theme you present on your site, I would be interested in hearing your opinion on how you see the app’s application to education…

    Thank you,