Using Crafts to Reinforce Classroom Learning

What do you think about using crafts in the classroom? This is a tricky topic for so many primary teachers because as much as we may want to include crafts, sometimes it can be tricky to "fit them in". After all, we have so many standards to teach in a very short amount of time.... so what's a teacher to do? Let's flip the script and use crafts to reinforce classroom learning. This way, you can have your craft and learn from it too! 

Reinforce the standards and skills your students are learning by incorporating these fun crafts into your lesson plans.

Why Crafts Matter

Crafting might seem like "fluff" at first glance, but as a long-time first-grade teacher, I can assure you that they're so much more! Carefully selected, educational crafts offer an opportunity to reinforce previously taught concepts in a fun way. After you've taught in whole groups, done worksheets, and played center games, crafts allow you to practice that concept one more time! 

Using crafts to reinforce the skills your students are learning means you will have more buy in and excitement from your students to practice these key skills and concepts.

I've also found that crafting helps concepts and skills stick. We all know that students learn in different ways. Some kiddos benefit most from hands-on learning centers, while others pick up more from auditory learning. Crafting presents one more opportunity for deeper learning and meaningful connection. 

More Benefits of Crafts 

Aside from using crafts to facilitate learning, there are so many other benefits! One of the big ones is student engagement. Since crafts are a little out of the regular routine, students are excited to participate in them. Think of crafts as a "sneaky" way to practice important skills and concepts and keep students engaged in the learning process. 

Crafts aren't just about getting creative, they can also help students get in more important skills practice in a fun way they will love.

Another benefit is that crafts can help you teach procedures and have students practice following directions. Using crafts in the classroom means students will be trusted with scissors, glue, and other art materials. This is a great opportunity to teach students about the use and care of these materials. While using them, you'll also be able to target fine motor skills in this process!  

As you explain the creation of the craft, students will be working on their listening skills and putting them into practice as they follow the instruction you have provided.  Depending on the needs of your students you can focus on simple one-step directions or challenge them with multiple steps. 

Finally, crafts encourage creativity, which is definitely a benefit in my book. So many of the activities students work on in daily learning have a right and wrong answer. When it comes to crafting, there's a little more room for individuality and personality in the lesson. Children thrive on this, and as a teacher, it's also really fun to see them express themselves!

Skills to Target with Crafts 

Now that you know all of the reasons you might want to include crafts in your curriculum, you might be wondering what skills and concepts you can teach with them. Lucky for you, I have plenty of ideas! Here are a few of my favorite learning crafts. 

Math - Balancing Equations Craft 

First up, this balancing equations resource is filled with fun activities and worksheets to help students learn about this topic. Use the included task cards during center time, assign the worksheets for independent practice, and finally conclude the unit with a fun craft. 

This balancing equations craft is a great way to get your students practicing balancing equations.

The craft is a student favorite - a space capsule! Students will fill in the missing number on their equation to balance it. Then, they color, cut, and glue down the pieces to build the craft. I like to encourage students to color and decorate these however they'd like. It's always fun to see the different "personalities" of each one. 

Grammar & Writing - Contractions Craft 

Grammar is a topic that we work on all year long in first grade. It's often woven into other areas of the curriculum, but some topics need more dedicated time for mastery. Contractions can be tricky for firsties, so I like to use this resource to help my students get plenty of practice using them.

Your students will love getting creative as they learn how to create contractions and use them in sentences with this fun race car craft.

This contractions mini-unit includes a poster that's great for introducing this topic, as well as worksheets, and center games to practice. Once your students understand them, round out your lessons with the fun racecar craft! The craft asks students to blend two words together into a contraction and then use it in a sentence. Then they get to color, cut, and glue down their craft pieces. 

Grammar & Writing - Simple and Compound Sentences Craft

Looking for a way to help your students understand the differences between simple and compound sentences? This resource is a fun way to do just that. Included are mini posters that describe each type of sentence, a sorting activity, worksheets, and of course a craft! 

Use this fun monkey craft to help your students practice simple and compound sentences.

This craft has students work on writing a compound sentence on their own, before making a cute monkey to hold their sentence. The monkeys have a lot of personality and look great displayed on a bulletin board! 

Social Studies - Map Skills Craft

Last on my list of fun things to teach with crafts is social studies! Personally, social studies is one of my favorite subjects to teach. First graders are fascinated by social studies and this is especially true for map skills. This isn't just any old map unit though, this one uses pirate map skills for a fun twist!
Your students will love creating this fun pirate themed craft as they practice map skills.

In this unit, students will work on topics like cardinal directions, compass rose, map key, and more all with a fun pirate theme. This is a great option if you're looking for a way to liven up your social studies lessons! This unit is finished with a craft that has students create their very own pirate map and map key. This craft is one of our favorites. 

Using Crafts All Year Long 

So what do you think? If you were on the fence about crafts in the classroom, I hope I was able to sway you! They really are such an effective way to boost engagement, reinforce learning, and make lessons more fun. These are just a few of the crafts I use in my classroom throughout the year. 

If you're interested in seeing the other types of skills and concepts you can target with crafts, make sure to take a look at my TPT store. You'll find tons of crafts to fit a variety of needs and subjects! I can't wait for you and your students to get started with crafts. I know they'll be a hit in your classroom too! 

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Pin this post on your Pinterest board to keep these craft ideas for first grade handy! 

Looking for creative ways to get your students excited about practicing key skills throughout the school year? Incorporate crafts into your lesson plans for fun and creative opportunities for students to practice key skills and concepts they are learning all year long.

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