How to Make an Anchor Chart Students Will Actually Use

Discover how to make an anchor chart that kids will actually use consistently until they’ve mastered whichever learning objective the chart targets.

Anchor charts are student and teacher-made poster-sized visuals that highlight essential content from a lesson or specific unit of study.

Usually placed in highly visible, accessible places, anchor charts serve as visual references for students (and teachers) to use during mini-lessons, guided practice, independent work, or as part of informal assessments.

Following are the 6 simple steps to making an effective anchor chart…

Quick tip: To make the perfect anchor chart every time, download the free “How to Make an Anchor Chart” checklist (via Google Slides).

1.  Choose a learning objective.

how to make an anchor chart

The first step in creating an anchor chart is to think about your learning objectives, teaching standards, and/or overall lesson ideas.

What exactly do you want students to master?

At the beginning of the school year, you may have anchor charts about classroom procedures and rules. Those are skills and concepts you’ll most likely keep posted all year long.

Academic content is a little different.

Because anchor charts are tools used to remind learners of essential content, only create charts focused on concepts/skills that you’ve already taught and for which students need additional support.

Once you’ve decided on a learning objective, you’re ready for the next step.

2.  Gather appropriate materials.

how to make an anchor chart step 2

The second step in making an anchor chart is to gather the supplies you’ll need.

  • White Anchor Chart Paper (with or without lines)
  • Permanent Markers
  • Odds and Ends such as a ruler, scissors, sticky notes, and a pencil

3.  Frame or outline the anchor chart.

how to create an anchor chart

While it’s perfectly fine to begin an anchor chart with just a blank slate, a simple outline or frame adds meaningful context to the lesson objective.

If, for example, an anchor chart will focus on learners knowing characteristics of the planets…

Then have pictures of the planets already on the chart and then just focus on adding information about characteristics of the planets with the students.

A simple frame or outline saves time and adds context. 

4. Add a title.

how to create an anchor chart

Include a big, clear title along the top of the chart.

5. Fill In the Anchor Chart with Students.

how to make an anchor chart

This step is arguably the most important when making an anchor chart.

Anchor charts are meant to be teaching and learning tools that help students internalize learning concepts.

So use the charts as part of your lesson, whether that be at the beginning, middle, or end.

Kids taking part in the creation process in a significant way is extremely important for their learning process.

Have them do the thinking and brainstorming while you record their responses, guiding them and adding your “suggestions” for the chart here and there.

6. Hang the completed anchor chart in a visible place.

how to make an anchor chart

After creating a chart, put it in a visible place where students can refer to it as needed.

And consider organizing your anchor charts on the wall by subject area.

Strategically organizing them minimizes the amount of time students use when searching for the exact chart they need.

Keep charts posted until every child has mastered the concept, and remind your learners often to refer to them as needed.

If you begin using anchor charts from the first week of school and discuss with students the expectations of using them, they’ll eventually use them effortlessly.

Consistency is key.

Now you know the steps for creating an anchor chart that your students will actually use.

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