Category VariQuest

VariQuest Visual Learning Tools Increase Reading by Seeing

Reading doesn’t just happen inside a book. There are opportunities to practice students’ reading skills everywhere. Create a more print rich environment in your school by utilizing your VariQuest products – the Poster Maker, Awards Maker and Cutout Maker.

Encourage teachers to post banners and posters in the hallway, cafeteria, office and other non-classroom areas. While walking with elementary students to the library or cafeteria, stop at the posters and banners to ask them to read aloud. One of the great opportunities for reading everyday is to post the lunch menu. Select a different student each day to read the menu. The media specialist may want to have students contribute to book reviews each week. Again, this project could become an opportunity to read more – reading the reviews might inspire a student to read the whole book!

Create word walls to keep new vocabulary on the walls to help students learn their meanings. Use your Awards Maker bumper sticker templates to create sticky-backed labels to post to your word wall. Or, use the clear parking permit sticker and take advantage of the unused space on your windows. You can encourage your students to stare at the window! Keep the wandering eye engaged by sticking words and phrases from the lessons on the ceiling too – they’ll be learning something no matter where they look!

The Cutout Maker can make learning grammar enjoyable. With the Total Access Shapes CD, you have access to over 3000 shapes in the Cutout Maker library. Get started with a grammar lesson by cutting out some shaped nouns like a picture of a cat or a beach ball. Then use your fonts and the “connect letters” or “add bar” option to help create your verbs, articles, prepositional phrases, etc. Lay the cutouts on a table and ask the students to create sentences using the cutouts. Make it harder by asking them to identify the different parts of the sentences. Show how to rearrange sentences by utilizing commas. That portion of the lesson can help educate your students on comma splices and prepositional phrases. Learning how to remove prepositional phrases from sentences to check the subject and verb agreement is a skill tested on the SAT, so this is a great activity for high schoolers too.

Practicing reading everywhere gets students in the habit of understanding how important the written word is. Make reading a daily activity with your class and utilize your VariQuest products to help inspire your students to become avid readers!

VariQuest helps Early Childhood and Head Start Programs

Early Childhood and Head Start Programs can benefit from the VariQuest products in their classrooms. The Cutout Maker, Poster Maker and Awards Maker are excellent tools to help create a print rich environment with opportunities to learn lurking in every corner!

Cutout Maker

The Cutout Maker can really help students by creating manipulatives to use during their lessons. One of the great things about the Cutout Maker is you can pre-laminate your construction paper using a cold laminator so your shapes are cut laminated and ready to go! You could easily attach a small piece of Velcro to the back and utilize a felt board with your shapes.

Common early math skills include learning patterns and counting. Use the Cutout Maker to create a variety of shapes like different flowers or bugs. Set these up in a pattern and ask the students which comes next. With the same set up, you could also ask the students to group matching shapes together and count how many are in each group. Make it more involved and have them also practice identifying colors.

The Cutout Maker can also cut out words and letters. With Total Access Shapes, you could utilize the ABC cards which cut out the upper and lowercase letter with a shape that begins with that letter. Have the students practice tracing the letters to familiarize them with the letters. Ask the students to find the card that starts their name. Build on those skills as their learning progresses and ask them to find other students’ names.

Cutout examples

You can build word walls with the addition of images to help them learn words. For example, cutout the word cat and add an image of the cat. With your word wall, you can even ask the students to match the image to the word.


Poster Maker

Poster Maker examples

Create rules posters with images to help your students learn the rules of the classroom. You can also create posters that will be utilized during “read around the room” activities. Put small poems or short stories on a poster and read these with the students. You can also create a timeline poster and ask the students what happened during a story you’ve read together.

Create centers devoted to poster activities. Create a Venn Diagram and give the students sorting activities with cutout shapes. More useful posters in the templates collection are the scenery posters. The students can either draw on the scene or place cutouts in the scene and talk out a story. By engaging in the scenery and using their imagination, the student is also actively creating dialogue and practicing speech.

Create simple board games on a poster and laminate it so you can use the board year round. A standard board can have many applications by just changing out the cards students turn over during the game. For example, create one set of cards with dots on them and the students can advance as many spaces as there are dots on the card. Create a second set of cards with letters on them. If the student is able to identify the letter, they can move forward one space.


Awards Maker

award maker examples

In addition to creating quick awards like plaques for “Outstanding Reader” or small stickers that say “I am Polite”, you can also create bumper stickers to promote and grow a program like Head Start.

The Awards Maker can also help create signs to post in areas of the classroom. For example, create a sign that identifies the “reading nook” or label boxes in your classroom with stickers that say “crayons” or “scissors” with an image of the item in the box. Those labels can be used during the “read around the room” activities too!

Having text in your classroom and even down the hallways helps the students learn that text is a part of everyday life and it can encourage their curiosity in the written word.

VariQuest and Reading in the Science Classroom

KWL Chart

Reading and writing are an active part of any subject, but the transition from reading fiction in an English classroom to reading scientific journals and non-fiction can be difficult for some students. Learning how to write lab reports and papers can be tough too! Here are some ways you can utilize the VariQuest Poster Maker, Awards Maker and Cutout Maker to help smooth the transition.


Try modeling reading a scientific journal article with the class to help them understand how reading in the science classroom is different. Show and explain the purpose of an abstract. Read it together and afterwards, fill out the K (what I know) and W (what I want to know) part of a K-W-L chart poster together as a class. This can help the students set a foundation allowing them check their comprehension before they delve further into the article.

Show the students how to utilize graphs and other tables in the article by enlarging these into a poster. This is an easy task when you take advantage of the scan and print feature on the Poster Maker. You can model how you would stop reading to turn to the visual for additional information. Ask the students to come up to the poster and show the class where what they’ve read is shown on the table, chart or graph. This way, they’ll begin to understand that reading science related news is often more than simply reading text and can take more time.

Finally, use the Cutout Maker or Awards Maker to create large versions of new vocabulary. While reading, stop when you come across a new word. Attach each word to your white board as it is identified in the text. This will help indicate how they would want to write these words down and look them up as they are reading. Give the students dictionaries to look each word up as you run across them and write the definition on your board. You may even want to take a moment to check their comprehension of the definition. Learning the vocabulary immediately, rather than skipping over words they don’t know, is an important skill that will help them throughout their educational career. There is ample opportunity to teach students new words and this skill within science related reading. After the demonstration, you can post the cutout words to a word wall in your classroom and even create lessons out of the uncovered vocabulary.

In addition to vocabulary words, they may encounter unfamiliar symbols. Use the Cutout Maker to decorate a bulletin board to promote their visual vocabulary too! For example, they may not understand the symbols on a weather map, chemical structure diagrams, international symbols of units, etc. You can find many science-related shapes in the Cutout Maker’s library to help create visuals for your classroom!

VariQuest and Writing in the Science Classroom

Reading and writing are an active part of any subject, but the transition from reading fiction in an English classroom to reading scientific journals and non-fiction can be difficult for some students. Learning how to write lab reports and papers can be tough too! Here are some ways you can utilize the VariQuest Poster Maker, Awards Maker and Cutout Maker to help smooth the transition.


Writing expectations differ from those in the student’s English classroom. Familiarize them with the scientific method, APA formatting and your personal expectations by creating posters and cutouts.

One of the helpful posters you can keep up in your classroom year round is a checklist the students can refer to that ensures they cover all aspects of the scientific method in their papers and reports.

Another helpful poster you could utilize is a scientific method of inquiry poster. The students can begin each experiment learning to fill out this poster together. After the experiments are complete, they’ll be able look at their initial thoughts and learn from them. This could even help improve their writing skills if after each experiment; they are required to write a small report.

Another helpful poster for every classroom is a rubric. Create a poster that you post in your classroom all year that displays the expectations and what qualifies a paper as an “A”, “B”, “C” and so on. They’ll know what is expected of them!

VariQuest in the Math Classroom

The math classroom is great place to use visuals and manipulative to enrich lesson plans. If your school has the VariQuest Poster Maker or Cutout Maker, utilize these visual learning tools to make math more interactive.

Start by using your Poster Maker to create formulas posters. The students can refer back to these static visuals in the classroom while they’re learning. By allowing them the opportunity to see these formulas over and over, they’ll have a better chance of remembering them! So, when you ask them what the volume of a cylinder is, they’ll eventually be able to rattle it off to you. An easy way to help them out is by starting each lesson with a quick review of the poster you’ve created.

Do you want to have a poster that is up year round with helpful tips? Why not create a poster with the rules for zero. Those rules can be tricky and if you’ve posted it, your students will always know whether or not zero is an even number! For younger students, they may need help distinguishing between greater than or less than. Give them a poster with a great visual to help them remember which is which!

Other great uses for the Poster Maker can be to create interactive posters. Enlarge a grid so you and your students can go back to the poster to plot points, lines and equations. By utilizing a poster, you can keep yesterday’s work up to refer back to so they can see the progression of their learning. In an elementary classroom, create a number line banner or word problem posters that they can work in during group sessions.

If your school has the Cutout Maker, take some time to review the library of shapes. Do a search by keyword, and enter “math”. There are tons of manipulatives for the math classroom. For example, try a quick math game with students by giving each student a set of cutout symbols. Ask them to show you the plus sign, equal sign and so on. Make it harder by asking that student to give you an example of an equation using that symbol, and have a second student give you the answer for bonus points!

You can also find money shapes in the cutout maker’s library. This is another great tool to have on hand for group work. Give the students word problems involving money and have them show you with the cutout money what the answer is. You could also start the lesson with a task like asking them to show you four different ways to give fifty cents for change. The money shapes are a great way to add some hands on learning to your lessons!

For older students, there are even three-dimensional shapes for geometry lessons! Have them put the shapes together and ask them what the shape is called, how many sides it has, what the angles’ degrees are, and so on. Give them rulers to measure the sides to start computing the volume.

Another trouble spot for geometry students is circles. Remembering the area and circumference of a circle may be tough. Why not give them some hands on practice by cutting out some circles for them to measure and solve. Add some string to the mix to help them understand the concept of circumference. They could actually loop the string around the cutout shape, then flatten it out to check their math. And speaking of pi, liven your room up by creating cutouts of pi’s value that spans the perimeter of the room!

Poster Samples