If your students struggle to retain information, focus, and want more study skills, you’ll want to let them color in your classroom! That’s right, teaching your students to color and doodle all over their notes is scientifically proven to help memory and understanding. Let me show you the why, the how, and sign up below for a FREE student study tips cheat sheet!
Why Should We Color In the Classroom?
The science says that the two halves of our brain are connected to two different aspects of our understanding: visuals (photos, colors, graphs) and words (text and auditory input). When our students take notes by writing what’s on the board they are simply using short term memory to copy down what is seen, but they aren’t really taking it in.
To get the biggest return on our note taking, we need to combine the two sides of the brain and create some solid neural pathways that make our brain say “hey, this is important!”. That information can then be recalled via visual or text clues and is kept more available than short term memory. The brain’s pretty neat.
We can do this in a few ways. You can sing and dance, act out your notes, or you can use markers to color and pencils to doodle! (P.S. I try not to sing and dance in front of my high schoolers because I’m not *that* embarassing…mostly)
Bonus: Here’s an interesting study on how the colors of your classroom can affect student learning and what colors are best for what tasks
How Do I Introduce Coloring in the Classroom?
The big rules for you and your students are this:
These are YOUR notes. Whatever you feel makes YOU successful, do that.
This is not art class (hopefully). You are not graded or judged on your doodles or color choices.
Then, you’ll need to do some modeling to show students about the benefits and uses of coloring, doodling, and how simple it can be to start!
What are the Options for Adding Color in the Classroom?
You have a few options for how you would like to incorporate color and/or doodles, and I suggest starting with whatever you feel comfortable with!
- Highlighting key terms, ideas, equations, and concepts in different colors
- Adding clipart to pre-printed notes to allow students to color along with the concept
- Having students draw their own flow-charts and doodles (does not require extra materials)
- Printing notes on colored paper for various topics or reviews
- Leading the doodling/note taking via projector or document camera for students to copy
- Providing doodle reference sheets so stuents can add their own doodles (coming soon to my TeachersPayTeachers store!)
If you would like, you may ask your students to bring colored pencils, markers, and/or highlighters to class. I have also waited for Prime Day to snag these class sets of Crayola Markers and Colored Pencils for students to use and share.
Make sure to snag the free Coloring Study Tips page for your students to reference!
Create a key for what you would like your students to highlight. This can vary based on the class you teach. For science, my key may look something like this:
|Equations and Units|
|I need help with this|
Try to keep your topics simple so it’s not overwhelming or hard to remember. Then, give your students time while taking notes to highlight or about 5 minutes at the end of class to review their notes and add the color.
If you pre-print your note pages for students, add helpful and supporting clipart to main ideas. Don’t clutter the page, but give a nice visual to what you are discussing. For example, if I’m working through density, I may include a few images of balloons so they can draw particles in them. Discussing gravity? Include the apple falling from a tree or a roller coaster for inertia!
Students can also draw their own images whether you model it, suggest it, or provide them with a reference to copy down themselves. Remember, it’s not art class so just have fun with it!
If you’re reviewing complicated ideas or categories of topics, print your activity or notes on colored paper (nothing too dark!). If all of your notes on Animal Cells are on pink, Plant cells on green, and Bacteria on blue, it’s easier to remember the facts.
When Students Study
The first thing I do when a student is stuck on a topic is run through their notes with a highlighter. Then, we rewrite the notes in color and make color coordinating flashcards. This usually helps them to remember the color and then find the facts from the notes.
If you don’t have access to coloring supplies, or the student REALLY doesn’t want to, then I use symbols. So, instead of color coordinating my topics/categories/flashcards, add a circle, a triangle, or a star! This little doodle will have the same result with a lot less effort.
(This could also make a great sub-plan day! Have your students work on adding drawings and color to notes you have recently taken or are about to test over.)
What else can I do to help you incorporate coloring and doodles into your classroom? Let me know or reach out to me on Instagram!