If you’ve been hearing about QR codes being used in education and you’re thinking about jumping on the train, welcome to the station! The pandemic has been widely hailed as the savior of the QR code, and with that has come a raft of cool QR code lessons and activities to use with kids in the classroom.
Wondering how to create a QR code for your students or want some of those QR code ideas to use with your class? We’ve got you covered!
What Is a QR Code?
OK, let’s just start with the basics (feel free to skip over this section if you already know the answer here, but some folks are still saying Q-what now, and we’re here for y’all too!).
A QR code is a pattern of black and white squares that functions similarly to a barcode — but is 2-D instead of one-dimensional, which makes it much, much more sophisticated. QR codes can be scanned with a device such as your smartphone or tablet to access apps or coupons, make payments, and more.
The letters QR are short for Quick Response, and the code was created back in the 1990s by a man named Masahiro Hara, then an employee at the Japanese company Denso Wave. But with the pandemic — and the need to reduce touching — QR codes are suddenly EVERYWHERE.
And yes, that includes education!
How Do You Use QR Codes in Education
Some teachers were already using QR codes in the classroom before the pandemic (maybe that’s you?). But now there are more than teachers ever using these little squares of code to do everything from making it easy for young students to log into services to providing links to videos and study guides.
And of course, there are fun activities — which we’ll get to in a second. First, you’re going to need to know how to create a QR code for your students and how to add a QR reader to the device they’re using so they can “read” the code!
How to Create QR Codes for Students
Creating QR codes for students is pretty simple, we promise. There are plenty of free sites out there to create QR codes for your students, and you can just do a quick Google search.
This free QR code generator is super simple to use — just enter the link you want the QR code to open or the text or file you want the QR code to show your students, and it will create the code for your kids in seconds. It will even allow you to add colorful frames and text to encourage your students to scan it.
How Can Students Read QR Codes?
OK, so you’ve made a code that links to something, but how do your kids read the QR code? That is pretty easy too — you’ll need a device with a camera on it, such as a tablet.
QR Code Ideas for the Classroom
Now that we got all that out of the way, let’s talk about the fun ways to use QR codes in the classroom to engage your students!
Create a Store with QR Code Price Tags
Assign “prices” to items around the classroom for students, and give each of your students a budget so they can go “shopping.” You can use the coin manipulatives from your math textbook or simply give them a number that they then have to keep in mind as they “shop.”
Print the QR Code Price Tags, attach them to the items, and have your students scan the codes to reveal the price and calculate whether or not they have enough “money” in their budget to buy the item.
Extra Idea: Create a table for students to record their “purchases” and track their total spend.
Extension Activities Corner
Create a fast-finishers corner or display where QR codes reveal an extension activity. Color-coordinate the activities for each subject area. Codes on green paper could reveal math activities, codes on blue paper reveal reading activities.
QR Code Live Worksheets
Make worksheets come alive by adding QR codes that take students off the page and onto a relevant website, interactive game, or video.
Set Up Learning Pop-Up Spots
Teacher Theresa Pembroke of The Kinder Ninja shared this fun QR code idea with us — she set up poster-sized QR codes that students could scan to learn more about a book or topic.
She also created QR codes that are linked to voice recordings of the children in her class talking about ‘farms’. These were then displayed around her room and the children were able to scan and listen to what their classmates had to say about farms!
Take a QR Code Trip Around the World
Take your students on an adventure with QR codes without ever even having to leave the classroom!
- Generate QR codes that — when scanned — provide clues about a certain location from around the world.
- Place these around your classroom.
- Provide students with a map where they can plot their trip around the world as they work through each of the clues, finding the next location.
Make A QR Code Scavenger Hunt
QR code scavenger hunts are essentially a digital version of the old-fashioned scavenger hunt, and they’re a lot of fun for the digital generation! To get started, download and print this 3-Digit Place Value QR Code Scavenger Hunt. Alternatively, create your own using these fun QR Code Scavenger Hunt templates.
Homework Helping Tips
You can’t be there when students are doing their homework … but your QR codes can be!
Create QR codes that link to the specific strategies or information needed to support student learning (for example, reading strategies, spelling strategies, or mathematics strategies).
Add the QR code to reading folders or homework sheets as an easy way for parents to access the information they can use to help their children with learning at home.
Anatomy of Anything
Teaching parts of the body, parts of a machine, or even parts of the world gets a lot more fun when you incorporate a QR code activity!
- Place QR codes on the different parts of a model (e.g. a skeleton, a simple machine, or globe).
- Provide students with a variety of definitions on cards or on a worksheet.
- Students scan the QR codes to reveal the name of that part and match the name to the definitions.
QR Code Cubes
Use a QR code generator and our 3D QR Code Activity Cube Template to create QR code cubes that kids can flip around for discovery. The key to this QR learning activity is that each code reveals a different question or activity.
Create cubes for reflection questions, journal questions, brain break activities, or fast-finisher tasks … there are countless applications!
Digital Student Work Presentations
Incorporate QR codes into student work presentations so that they can be accessed by their peers! For example, if you want to share book reviews, display a picture of the book cover with a QR code that links to the student’s review online.
- Use a shared space on your school intranet or website where students can upload their completed digital works.
- Generate a QR code for each student’s work.
- Create a display incorporating the codes, where students scan to reveal and view each others’ digital works.