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Anchor Charts: Why They Work and How to Use Them

Do you love anchor charts as much as I do?

Anchor charts may look pretty, but there are so many benefits to anchor charts besides just adding to your class decor!

First of all, what IS an anchor chart?

An anchor chart is a poster created to record and display important points about your lesson.

For example, if you are teaching a lesson on decoding strategies, your chart might include bullet points with different strategies children can try when stuck on a word.

GET THIS FREE ANCHOR CHART plus MINI-CHARTS (scroll down for link)

These charts can be displayed in your classroom for kids to reference while working.

To learn more about the reading strategy anchor above, click here: Reading Strategies

What are the Benefits of Anchor Charts?

  • They provide great visuals for kids– what a great tool for visual learners! Read more about different learning styles here and kinesthetic learning here.
  • Students are involved in creating them, which helps them understand the charts better and makes it more likely they’ll reference them.
  • They help you stay focused and organized throughout your lesson- knowing what your anchor chart will look like helps you stay focused on the teaching point.
  • They become a valuable reteaching resource for you! Not only will your students refer to them while working, but you can reteach a skill without having to create a new chart.

How can we use Anchor Charts?

Don’t just create, hang, and forget about your charts! Here are some ways to keep your charts fresh and relevant:

  • Reference them often- If you reference them during lessons (as you are reading/ writing, etc), students will too.
  • Keep Students Accountable– Direct students to the relevant chart and ask them to correct their work (for ex, a punctuation or editing anchor chart).
  • Play Which Chart? Give your students a scenario and ask them to find the chart that may help.
  • Make TEACHING mini-charts! Take a picture of your charts and keep them in a binder. Keep ones that are relevant to your current unit in a folder that you can carry with you during student/teacher conferences. I have Writing Workshop and Reading Workshop folders with mini-anchor charts. When I conference with a student, I just whip out a relevant chart for a handy visual.
  • Make STUDENT mini-charts! You can print out small versions of important charts and have kids glue them into their notebooks- writing, reading, word work, math, etc. These become handy tools for them while they’re working.
  • Create a NEW anchor chart- At the end of a unit, I like to display all of the charts we created during that unit and have kids help me condense the points into one new chart that will replace all others.

Tips for making Anchor Charts

Anchor charts can take a long time to make, so here are 7 time-saving tips I learned:

  1. Practice on a Post-it note! Planning the layout will save you time and paper (although you may go through a small pile of Post-it notes, if you’re like me!)
  2. Get Pinspired- Look up your teaching point on Pinterest and you’re likely to find tons of great ideas for your anchor chart. P.S. You can also get inspired by visiting a fellow teacher’s classroom!
  3. Laminate, then Build- It’s important to create anchor charts WITH your students, but if you create the base of your chart then laminate it, you can use dry-erase markers to fill it in with your students year after year. Parts you can make beforehand may include the heading, border, numbers or bullet marks, or a box for student writing.
  4. Use Clip Art– I like to print clip art to enhance my charts. The pictures can also help kids remember the teaching point.
  5. Limit Colors– Rainbows are beautiful, but a rainbow of colors on an anchor chart can be distracting. Select one color for your title, one for all of your headings, and one for your details for a clean, organized look.
  6. Leave Space for Kids- I love to have kids add post-it notes with their own ideas. Some of my anchor charts include a box for their post-it notes.
  7. Reveal in parts– As stated in number 3, it’s important to create anchor charts with your students. However, this may not be possible with some anchor charts, and some you will create with students but they have different parts to them. In these cases, you can cover the parts of the anchor chart you are not using with a large piece of construction paper. Just clip it to the chart and move to reveal as you get to those parts. You can also just fold up your chart to cover the bottom half and slide down to reveal.
  8. Be Brief- The more precise and concise you are, the more effective your charts will be. Pictures can take the place of words at times and be a much better reference for students than words.
Practice your anchor charts on a post-it first!

How to Store Anchor Charts

Storing anchor charts can be tricky because of their size and when you have a bunch of them, they’re also heavy to move and look through! My husband made me a terrific stand out of PVC pipes, similar to the one below by The Kindergarten Smorgasboard.

Ready for your freebie?

Below is one of my favorite anchor charts. It goes with my Reading Strategy Bundle and it’s a chart we use all year long. Your freebie includes pieces for the large chart, tips on how to create it with your students, plus mini-charts to use at your guided reading station, student reading nooks, conferences, and student notebooks!

Did you get any helpful tips for your anchor charts? Pin the image below or share this post for others! I’d also love to hear any other tips or ideas you have about anchor charts in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

2 responses to “Anchor Charts: Why They Work and How to Use Them”

  1. Kim Avatar

    Great advice on how to use and store anchor charts! Can’t wait to start creating and organizing my anchor charts!!

    1. Brenda Avatar

      Hi, Kim! Thank you so much. 🙂

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