You’re probably all familiar with the online marketplaces that allow people to sell their creations to others. One thing I’ve noticed is that the best-selling products on these sites almost always share one thing in common—attractive graphic elements. Can you still sell a product, or give away a product, without nice framing, borders, clipart, or fancy fonts? Sure, but you’ll have a much easier time selling or sharing your lessons if you take the time to incorporate graphic elements.
Even if you don’t plan on sharing your materials on the web, your students will absorb the information better if the text is broken up with appropriate graphics and photos.
In this post, I’ll share the links to a few good sites I’ve found for clip art and photos, and I’ll also explain a bit about copyright. Artists and photographers have become much more copyright-savvy in the past few years, and there are several popular tools for tracking down violations of their copyright. As I’ll explain, you must ALWAYS respect the creator and protect yourself by reading the fine print.
Sources for Clip Art and Graphic Elements
If you’re looking for the kinds of high-quality borders, frames, and clip art that work well for teacher resources, Etsy.com is a good place to start. The graphics on Etsy aren’t free, of course, but they are professionally-designed, and would really make your lesson much more visually-appealing. You can search using “digital frames,” “digital borders,” or “clipart.”
I found collections of Halloween-themed clipart, back-to-school clipart, and all kinds of digital frames, covers, borders, and backgrounds. They were all priced under $5.00. You do need to read the “Shop Policies/Copyright Policies” for each item. Each seller on Etsy sets his or her own copyright rules, so make sure you are in compliance. All the ones I found did allow use of the graphics in products to sell, but most required a link to the artist. Be sure to follow the rules exactly, and contact the artist directly if you have any questions.
If you’d like to learn more about designing with colors, fonts, and shapes, Canva allows you to create free graphics and experiment with design tools. You can create banners, photo collages, Facebook covers, and more.
If you need to edit photos by adding fancy fonts, speech bubbles, arrows, and all kinds of themed clipart, check out picmonkey.com. Many of the textures, backgrounds, and clipart collections are free, while others require purchasing a membership. Even without the membership, though, you can create some very funny, cute, clever, or informative photos and photo collages. You could definitely use picmonkey for creating a lesson. The ability to easily place arrows and text exactly where you want makes picmonkey a great choice for teachers.
Mycutegraphics.com also has tons of free clipart that would work well for the elementary classroom, or maybe older students, as well. After all, what’s better than penguins and cupcakes? A penguin eating a cupcake! The site also links to a “royalty-free” shop of paid clipart that is more detailed and less basic.
Pics4learning.com offers a large selection of free, high-quality photos suitable for any age group, and also graphic organizers and rubrics. You should double-check before downloading anything, but all the items I found were free. However, for each photo or graphic organizer, a citation is given. You must copy and paste the citation, and place it next to the resource wherever you use it. Copyright is retained by the original photographer or designer.
I completely understand why these artists are so concerned with copyright. I can only imagine how many hours of painstaking, pixel-by-pixel work must have gone into creating those adorable pumpkins and scarecrows. If it were my work, I wouldn’t want anyone ripping it off and plastering it all over the internet without so much as a “thank you,” either.
Sources for Amazing, Free Photos
I’m going to recommend a couple of my very favorite sites on the web. Hands-down, these are the very best free photo sites I’ve found. The photos are obviously taken by professional photographers, and most of them are breathtakingly beautiful. They are divided into collections, and searchable by keyword. Prepare to be dazzled.
Unsplash.com is the first. I have two words for you: NASA photos. These are incredible.
Pexels.com is similar to Unsplash.com. You can’t go wrong with either site.
What I like best about Pexels.com and Unsplash.com is the fact that all their photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero licensing. This means they can be used for personal, educational, or commercial uses with no attribution required. You can also modify them, which you can’t always do with all photographs, even if you purchased a license. The original creators/copyright holders have given up their claim to the work, which means you can “copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.” These are their words, quoted from their site.
I hope I’ve given you some good ideas on where to find awesome graphics and photos for your lessons, either to use in your classroom or share/sell with other teachers.
The main thing to keep in mind, in my opinion, is the good old “Golden Rule.” I must have heard it a million times throughout my childhood: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Whether or not you’re religious, we can all appreciate the basic premise. Treat others how you want to be treated. If someone creates something that helps you, take the time to read and follow their rules. If you have any questions about their rules, just ask.
What about you? Can you share some of your favorite sites for clipart, graphic elements, and images?
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