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How to Effectively Use Google Slides in Elementary Grades

So you want to start using Google Slides™ in elementary grades?  But you don’t know where to get started?  You’re also not sure how to use them. Or are you students wasting time trying to design their own slides? These are common concerns when you start using Google Slides in elementary grades! Let me show you how I’ve used Google Slides in elementary grades!

How to use Google Sides with elementary students

Here are some ways to get started with Google Slides. Please note that this is not a HOW-TO for learning all the functions and menus and commands of Google Slides, but rather educational and classroom ideas for using Google Slides in elementary grades.  I use Google Slides in conjunction with Google Classroom. That is, I use Google Classroom to assign the Google Slides as an assignment which each student receives.  When they are done with their assignment, they just turn it in and I can instantly grade it online.


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three of the Google Slides templates I used!

Ways to Use Google Slides in Elementary Grades

These are many ways to use Google Slides in a classroom, but if you’re just starting out I would recommend templates.  Why templates? With a template, you control what the assignment will require while you design the layout. Not that elementary students can not design layouts, but would you rather have them spend precious classroom time worrying about font choices or practicing and learning the content standards? So that’s why I design templates for Google Slides so that I can use them in assignments and my students can concentrate on the task.

As a caveat, I do use PowerPoint to create all the templates that I incorporate into Google Slides because it is easier that way.  Take a look at some of the templates I’ve designed to use with elementary students.  Warning.  I like bright bold colors, patterns, borders and more!  With Google Slides, it doesn’t matter how many colors you’re using because it’s all digital content that doesn’t need to be printed on a color printer!

Use Google Slides to Enhance Vocabulary Learning

The third graders were learning about Greek and Latin roots as we addressed the Common Core State Standard for Language, 3.4c.  After I had done some instruction on a set of Greek and Latin roots in tandem with a paper and pencil graphic organizer, I created a template for my students to use to show their understanding of at least 4 roots.

Studying root words using Google Slides in Elementary Grades

With the template, students had to give the meaning of the root, example words, find an appropriate image, and write an example sentence using one of the words.  Google Slides is wonderful for finding images.  All the student has to do is INSERT IMAGE and then chose SEARCH.  It will allow the student to search for images that can be reused (by respecting copyrights).  There’s a lot of great discussions generated by students about how the image supports the understanding of the root word.

Once inserted, it’s just a matter of resizing it to fit the template.  Once all the slides are done, the student can then present his work as a slide show presentation to the class or to share in small groups or partners while the teacher circulates and monitors.

Using Google Slides in Elementary Grades for Character Study

When one of my group of students was reading The Tale of Despereaux, I decided to create various Google Slide templates so students could record their thinking and observations.  If you’re familiar with The Tale of Despereaux, you know that there are a lot of characters throughout the story.  I wanted students to see how the relationships between the characters are also related to their character traits.

Studying character relationships using Google Slides in Elementary Grades

I decided that since we needed to practice Common Core State Standard RL.3.3, I would have the students create a socio-gram in Google Slides.  To do this I created a template with the character names.  Then I put instructions on the page to have the students connect the characters using the LINE TOOL in Google Slides.

I had them make different types of lines to show different kinds of relationships such as

  • weak relationship
  • strong relationship
  • good relationship
  • special relationship
  • relationship in conflict

They also had to describe each character with at least 3 words using the BULLET TOOL.  Once the sociogram was completed I had the students show their slide and defend how they showed the relationships between the characters. This also helped them to see how character traits (motivation) affects their actions in their relationships.  As the story develops, relationships change and students can update the slide as that happens. That’s the beauty of working digitally!

Using Google Slides to Take Notes

It’s important for elementary students to learn to take notes. Trust me, I have a high schooler who thinks he can remember everything.  WRONG!  Taking notes builds muscle memory while at the same time forcing our brain to prioritize only the important information.  Elementary students tend to just copy complete sentences in one long list.  Sentences that are NOT organized by sub-topics or are too long to really convey just the gist.

Taking notes using Google Slides in Elementary Grades

That’s why the note-taking template I designed helps the student focus on finding relevant information that is concise.  Color coding the sticky notes also shows that the information is organized into sub-topics.  In the example above, my students were learning about the California Mission Era. They used the template to focus on specific information to include such as important dates, people, places, and words.  By using the bullet tool, either words or short phrases were used.

In the bottom sticky note, students could write longer phrases or sentences about important events or facts that they needed to remember.

So they’ve taken notes. Now what? The notes can now be used to write an expository text about the topic since the information has already been organized by sub-topics. Or they can use the notes to study for an exam.  Since Google Slides can be accessed ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME, students can log in from home to study! I previously blogged about how my students use a Google Slides template to take notes.

This is great practice for Common Core State Standard W.3.8 which states to “take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.”


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three of the Google Slides templates I used!

More Ways to use Google Slides in Elementary Grades

As you probably figured out by now, Google Slides can be used many ways with elementary students.  Have you ever thought about using Interactive DIGITAL Notebooks?  I started creating these digital notebooks to go along with our social studies, science and math content. Since creating them, I’ve refined them with many features that use technology enhancements to help with the learning.

Google Slides template for researching and writing

One of the earliest digital notebooks I created was a template for students to write an expository paragraph about one of California’s Indigenous groups.  I created the template for Google Slides and then assigned it in Google Classroom.  Students used their textbook and other print resources to gather information. Then I assigned website and video links in Google Classroom for more research while they continued to take notes.

Once they had all the information required, they drafted their text on paper.  This was taken through the revision and editing process. When it was ready to publish, they published it on the slide as seen above. They added images and then had to locate on the map where the group lived by using the draw tool.  You can read more about this process in this blog post.

Interactive Online Notebooks for Content Areas

That process led me to develop more Interactive Digital Notebooks for other content. I’ve made some changes in the template design and now include links to websites and videos ON the slide.  I’ve also created a printable note-taking sheet for students to gather information.

All the digital notebooks I create support the Common Core State Standards for ELA for most grades. All my digital notebooks come with

  • detailed instructions for assigning the digital notebook in Google Classroom
  • detailed instructions for assigning the digital notebook on other platforms
  • step by step instructions for students located on the slide or in the Speaker Notes
  • printable note-taking sheet
  • links to reliable, trustworthy, accurate and kid-friendly websites and videos
  • scoring guides
  • answer keys
  • some digital notebooks have embedded animation
  • some digital notebooks have interactive features such as dragging objects to order, sequence or match
  • and much more!
Google Slides Interactive Digital Notebook

Integrating English Language Arts with Science is a great way to teach and learn! I’ve created 5 interactive digital notebooks for studying adaptations of animals based on a biome: desert, woodlands, tundra, tropical rainforest and savanna (ocean due this year!). These digital notebooks are perfect for in-class learning or for distance learning. They have links to videos and websites for the students to do their research. Here’s one example.

Woodland Animals Adaptations for Google Slides

You can see all my Digital Interactive Notebooks that are in my store by clicking HERE.


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three of the Google Slides templates I used!

Digital Notebooks Make Effective Use of Google Slides in Elementary Grades

Since my students work in many digital notebooks throughout the year, I want to make sure parents get to see them as well! During Open House not only give their parents a tour of our room but also show them their digital notebooks!

The student presses PRESENT on Google Slides and their digital notebook becomes a slide show for parents to impressed and amazed at the amount of learning that is shown in the notebook.  Since it’s all in the cloud and accessible anywhere and anytime, parents can access the notebooks at home on any device.

You can also create QR codes for the link to each digital notebook so anyone can scan the QR code and see the work as well!

Google Slides resources for elementary students

Let’s not forget math content! In fact, some of the first digital notebooks I created were for math.  The first digital math notebooks I created were on Comparing and Ordering Fractions and Equivalent Fractions.

The slides are interactive because the student manipulates objects on the screen by dragging them to form fractions strips so they can compare fractions. Then students order the fractions by dragging them in the right order. All the comparing is based on using the Numerator or Denominator Strategies (explanation slides are included!)

There are 8 problems divided between using the Numerator Strategy and Denominator Strategy. There are also 2-word problems for application.  If the slide is interactive, it means there are places for the students to either:

  • manipulate and drag fractions strips to compare fractions
  • manipulate and drag fractions to order them
  • text boxes to type and explain

Finally, there’s a self-assessment for the student to gauge understanding of how to compare and order fractions.  

Ready-Made, Teacher Created, Student Tested Digital Resources

It takes a great deal of time and effort to create templates and digital notebooks.  I’m offering 3 FREE Google Slides templates for you to try with your students.  The 3 templates include the Root Word Template, the Socio-Gram Template, and the Note Taking Template.  Sign up for my newsletter below to receive the links.

Don’t Go Yet!

If you enjoy and have success using these templates, let me know in the comments below! Also, head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and check out all of my digital resources!

Two Boys and a Dad Productions Google Slides Resources
How to Effectively Use Google Slides in Elementary Grades
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