How to Create QR Codes for the Classroom

How to Create QR Codes for the Classroom
 

Did you know that children as young as preschool and kindergarten age can easily learn to scan QR codes?  Scanning QR codes and doing something with the “surprise” messages that come up is a fun, meaningful, and EASY way for even very young children to use technology in the classroom.

QR codes can be used as a tool for a variety of reasons. Businesses use QR codes as an advertisement tool, giving their customer a convenient avenue to find out more information about their company. More recently, however, QR codes have emerged into the educational world as a fun and exciting way to integrate technology into the classroom.

Making a QR code is easy to do and, if you know the right places to go, it is absolutely FREE! When making a QR code, you must have access to an iPod, iPad or other mobile device that can be used in your classroom. The device you use must have camera capabilities in order for the necessary apps to run, and access to the internet.

Create Something that You Want Your Students to Scan and See (Or Choose a Website for Them to Visit)

Deciding what content your students will scan and pull up on their mobile devices is important.  Before you create any codes, you’ll need to have that ready!  The first time I did an activity with QR codes, I simply purchased some on TPT to save time.  However, once I discovered exactly what I had purchased, I was disappointed, which is why I am not going to give you a link to that teacher’s store.  What she had done was create a code that just had TEXT in it.  That means that she went to a website that generates QR codes and just typed in a word, and it generated a code.  There are two VERY big problems with using text QR codes: When children scan and pull up the code, it is printed in VERY small print, which can be super hard on little eyes.  It looks like this picture below:

This is a screen shot of a QR code that was generated by simply typing in a word; therefore, this is a "Text QR Code." Note how tiny the print is, and all of the wasted space below the word.
This is a screen shot of a QR code that was generated by simply typing in a word; therefore, this is a “Text QR Code.” Note how tiny the print is, and all of the wasted space below the word.
 

The second HUGE problem with using text QR codes is that many of the scanners out there offer the user a chance to EDIT the word they just pulled up.  Now, my kindergartners never figured out how to do this, at least not on purpose.  One child accidentally clicked on one word and changed the spelling.  (I saw it happen!)  But consider the mischief that an older child could get into, substituting some -ahem- colorful words that children are not supposed to be exposed to in school settings.  How many kids would scan that code and see it before you any one decides to tell you what is going on?  And how will you ever find out “who dunnit?”  :0

Now look at this screen shot of a scanned QR code of a jpg image that I posted online.  It is bold, bright, large, and colorful, and CANNOT be edited!  Bingo!  This is much better!  But it takes longer to create, that’s for sure!

This is a scanned QR code that pulled up a jpg image posted to flickr.com. This is the entire screen of my iPad! Notice how large it is. This is much easier on little eyes, and therefore much more developmentally appropriate.
This is a scanned QR code that pulled up a jpg image posted to flickr.com. This is the entire screen of my iPad! Notice how large it is. This is much easier on little eyes, and therefore much more developmentally appropriate.
 

The best way I know how to create these jpg images quickly is to create them in Power Point, and then export the entire file as jpg images.  Then you’ll have to post each one to the QR code website that you choose.  It’s an extra step, to be sure, but in my opinion, it’s worth the effort.  Here is a free download of my codes!

 

Download a Free QR Code Scanner.

On your mobile device, go into the App Store and download any “QR Code Scanner” application. There are many to choose from-some are free and some are not. Of the free apps, my favorite to use is called “ATT Scanner”. It is the cleanest and most simple to use, but any QR app will do just fine.  My class has also used Qrafter QR Code Scanner, and Scan by QR Code City.

QR Step 1
 

In order to effectively use QR codes in your classroom you must have something that you want your students to see, hear or watch. QR codes can be linked to audio files, videos, pictures or websites. In the most simple form of a QR code, you might create a code that sends your student to a specific Starfall page or lesson you want them to work on. You could also send your student to an educational website like Heidisongs’ YouTube Channel to help them practice sight words and numbers! 🙂

The most important thing to keep in mind with any QR code is that whatever you want your student to see when they scan the code must be attached to some kind of website link. Each link serves as a kind of virtual shortcut to your information that is posted online. So, if there is no link attached to your QR code, the app will not have the proper directions to get your student to the right information!  And, as you can imagine, we don’t want our students wandering aimlessly around the world wide web! That would be a big mess 🙂

 

Then, find a website that generates QR codes.

To create a QR code, there are many QR code generating websites that are a great tool. I used a fantastic website called goqr.me. This website is nice because there is no limit to how many codes can be generated, and it is completely free. Some generating websites offer to store your codes on a cloud, but only allow you to generate up to a certain number for free before asking you to pay for a website subscription. Goqr.me allows you to generate an unlimited number of codes, but does not offer to store your codes on their website for you. This is not an issue as long as you are sure to download and save each code as you go.

 

Now just click to create your code!

This is how I did it on the website goqr.me.

1.  Click on the “URL” tab and insert the full web address for whatever link you want your students to follow.

Go QR Screen Shot
 

2. Click “Download” to be sure your newly generated code saves on your computer. The code will download as a regular old .jpg file that you can rename whatever you would like and store in a folder on your computer.  That QR code that you just generated is a code that is uniquely yours to use as you please!

3.  After that, you can add your QR code to a document just as you would add any other clip art!  I have seen them inserted into learning center activities and other fun things like that.  Check out my Technology Pinterest Board for TONS of links to great QR code freebies! 

QR Code iPad Table
Click here for a free download of some codes and a recording sheet!
 

There are also a few bloggers that seem to always be posting GREAT ideas for using QR codes, and usually are posting their activities with the codes FREE!  Every time I see a new idea for using QR codes in the classroom, it helps me “think outside the box” a bit more and get a little bit more creative.  Check out Learning with Mrs. Parker and Technology in Early Childhood, and Mrs. Samuelson’s Swamp Frogs.  All of these blogs are very worthy of your time, and I heartily recommend them with two BIG thumbs UP!

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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus is a retired teacher with 25 years of experience at the Kindergarten and first grade level in California public schools. Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi now presents at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of HeidiSongs.com. She has also written fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays for young children, three picture books, and numerous other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.
  1. Love the idea of using an online photo service to house the picture for the QR code reading! Thanks for the shout out to the Swamp Frogs as well! I’m honored!….and looking forward to hearing more about how others use the QR codes 🙂

  2. Heidi, hello! Robert here from Illinois ASCD and thanks for sharing new and exciting learning tools with the K teaching population! Question – you indicated saving items from PowerPoint and using it like a JPEG. Are you using the PowerPoint for iPad app or your computer? I know you’re providing this information later, but I’m super charged to use QR codes when I return in January, especially with my higher level students. They’ll peer teach the activity to others who gradually meet the skill level.

    • Hi, Robert!
      Sorry I didn’t see this question earlier!
      I used Power Point on my laptop computer, and I use a Mac. I am running Power Point 14.0 for Mac. When you pull down the File menu to save, there is an option that says “Save as Pictures.” Select that one, and it will save each and every slide as a separate jpg image. You will have to go through and rename them something meaningful (other than slide 1, slide 2, etc.), but they will already be saved in the correct format and as separate images, which is SO nice!
      I hope that helps! Do you have a blog, Robert? Please send me a link!
      Heidi

  3. Thanks, Heidi for mentioning my blog. I love the level of engagement I see when my students use QR codes. They do take some time to create but well worth it.

    Looking forward to reading Part 2 of this series.

  4. Pingback: How to Teach Young Children To Scan QR Codes | Heidi Songs

  5. Love your QR code posts thanks much for the ideas and suggestions. I downloaded your QR codes recording sheet etc -I have a problem-the information printed out fine but the QR codes are not printing at all on the sheets. Is there something I need to change? Thanks much

    • Hi Cathy!! Krissie in the HeidiSongs office said she’s in contact with you to figure this out! I tried the download and it seems to be working fine for me. I hope she can help you figure it out.

      Heidi

  6. Hi Heidi,
    I have the Sing and Spell the sight words #1 and I am trying to figure out how to make QR codes of each individual song so the students can scan and watch just one word at a time. How can I do that from the DVD that I purchased? I noticed not all the songs are on the youtube site – and our students are blocked from youtube anyway. Thank you so much!

    • Hi,
      I really don’t know of a way for you to do that without giving away all of our videos online to the entire public (which of course we cannot allow.) I’m so sorry!
      Heidi

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