Educators have always been faced with a daunting but heroic task: breaking down key concepts to make lesson plans both memorable and engaging enough to hold students’ attention. The use of visual aids in education has proven vital for classrooms since time immemorial, from preschool through senior year.
Now, as teachers around the world shift to remote learning, piecing together lesson plans and materials for virtual classrooms can be even more challenging. We’ve created a suite of simple, icon-loaded education templates to print or use digitally. Each of these Google Slides templates can be duplicated for editing, or simply browsed for your own inspiration.
The Importance of Visual Learning
Dual Coding Theory, first coined by Allan Paivio, recognizes that learners absorb information more easily — and can better retrieve it later on — when they’re given both verbal and visual cues to “encode” a concept in their minds. Dual coding has advanced our understanding of visual learning as a necessity rather than a nice-to-have, as even a simple icon or pictogram, when paired with a concept in writing, will “stick” in a student’s mind far more effectively than the written concept alone. Consider the classic example of road signs — our highly visual brains will more quickly grasp a concept rendered pictographically, rather than strictly in writing.
A quick Twitter search of “#DualCoding” and “#GraphicOrganizer” will reveal a dedicated online community of educators discussing best practices for using iconography and other visual tools to supercharge their lesson plans.
Here are a couple of tips and tricks to get started using Noun Project icons to make your lesson plans stick:
You can find our education templates on Google Slides at this link. You can download icons from thenounproject.com or download the Noun Project Google Add-On. To use the Noun Project Google Add-On, locate the search window under Add-Ons > Icons by Noun Project > Search Icons, and sign in to your NounPro account to access the entire Noun Project collection.
Click any of the pictures or headline links below to jump to a template you want.
Simple Flashcards to Print at Home
Build your own simple flashcards with pictographic cues — on everything from science concepts to common nouns in a foreign language. Choose a large or small format card to print.
Historical Timelines and Graphic Organizers
Use icons to accentuate events on a timeline, or examine multiple facets of a time period or concept with a more in-depth graphic organizer.
Curriculum Journeys and Syllabi
A friendly, picture-first welcome into a new class helps students not feel overwhelmed. Break down the exciting things they’ll learn and some of your expectations using appropriate icons.
Elementary Math and Vocabulary Worksheets
For elementary school teachers or parents at home, simple word-match or counting exercises boost cognition for young learners.
Simpler word-to-picture matching worksheets are also great for foreign language instruction at any grade level.
Personal Check-Ins and Get-To-Know-You Exercises
Boost classroom bonding by letting elementary-age students share fun facts about themselves, or kick off the school year by letting students visually recap their summer.
You can also use “Exit Tickets” and other check-ins to gauge how students are feeling and whether they need additional help with course material.
Scientific Method and Lab Procedures
Use icons to walk students through a more complex process and identify the right tools in a lab procedure.
Finding the Right Icon
Searching Noun Project’s vast database of over 3 million icons is always a treasure hunt: has someone in the world already designed an icon for even the most obscure concept you can think of? Perusing the site for inspiration can become an active brainstorming exercise for how to perfectly represent the idea you’re teaching.
Check Out Our Education Icon Collections
We’ve put together a roundup of some of the best icon collections for education, containing everything from physics principles, to geographic locations, to ancient mythology.
Access Unlimited Downloads and Customization Options with Our Educator Discount
Students, teachers, and edu staff can always enjoy NounPro for half the price, at just $19.99 per year. NounPro unlocks the capabilities of downloading any icon you find in our collection of over 3 million icons, without having to worry about licensing and attribution. Plus, you can customize your icon just the way you like it — adjusting color, rotation, or a background shape for quick and easy design consistency.
The best perk of NounPro is that it allows you to bring unlimited icons right into your workflow through Noun Project apps and plugins. Our Mac App, Microsoft Add-Ins, and Google Docs and Slides extensions all give you the ability to quickly drag and drop any icon you want without leaving your workflow.
Looking for even more back-to-school inspiration?
Read our other tutorials like How to Design an Effective Infographic and How to Print Your Own Coloring Book at home.
Ready to level up your designs? Check out Adobe Express for more sophisticated back-to-school templates for all subject areas.