Anyone can create printables. The most difficult step is knowing your audience and what they need in a printable. Printables can cover everything from games and worksheets to decorations for cupcakes or door hangers.
To see a badge program created on a specific theme, see one of our “Printables” badge programs to see how the steps below can be customized.
Who are you making this for? What kind of activities can your audience do? Will there be a language barrier? Ask yourself questions so you can define your audience and create printables that work for them.
Do your printables need to be educational as well as fun? Are you just trying to keep someone busy? Are you trying to entertain them? Are you using your printable for decoration? If you know what you want your printable to do, it is easier to create it.
While you may create a series of basic printables to use when you need an activity available, such as icebreakers or simple games, you’ll often want to give your printables the cohesion of working with other activities. To see themed printables, check out any of the Enrichment Project’s badge sets, including:
- Digital Photography
- Event Planning
- Girl Scout Traditions
- Harry Potter
- Monthly Observances
- Photo Scavenger Hunt
You need to think about reproduction. How are the people going to output your files? While your printable may look really good with complicated colors on-screen, will your end user be able to afford printing 100 color copies for an event? Will they be forced to spend hours printing on an inkjet printer? How will it look coming off a 20-year-old photocopy machine?
Black and white is the easiest to reproduce on a photocopier or standard printer. It also prints faster. Before including screens and photographs, make sure they don’t interfere with your message or the quality of output.
If you do not know who will be reproducing your images, try to create standards to make sure your printables can be used by the majority of people. For example, the first releases of the AEP badge programs did not have screens or complicated graphics. They are sized 8.25 x 11 so they can be easily used printing on US letter or A4 printers. In 2013, I made the decision to add color and more complicated graphic elements to look more like other printables being distributed.
Are you creating these for a single event and they won’t be used again? Perhaps you want to share with others so the work you put into it goes beyond your own event.
Here’s some distribution possibilities to get you started.
- Print yourself, do not share
- Send to a single person / group to print with verified software compatibilities
- Document in Word, Excel, etc. so it can be shared with anyone with the same software
- Acrobat PDF to keep print consistent and be able to share with anyone with a copy of the free Acrobat reader
- Graphic JPG / PNG with enough resolution to be readable by anyone with a computer
Places you can distribute include:
- Scribd or other file sharing warehouse
- Blog or website
- Flickr or other image sharing site
- Etsy / eBay
- Email groups
- By request
So you’ve created your printables. You’ve printed them. You get to the event and realize they are sitting on your dining room table. Or the person who was printing them has a family emergency and is not coming with the prints.
Copying the files to a memory stick allows you to have them for quick printing in an emergency. You can also carry the files to people who have a computer but may not be the most savvy with using it.
Another way to have the files available is to email the files to yourself via an online email provider such as Gmail. Then, no matter where you are, as long as you have access to a computer or an office supply store, you get them. Alternatively, you can also save to the cloud via sites like Box or Dropbox. What other ways can you make sure your files are available no matter where you are?
7. Back it up!
There’s nothing worse than remembering that you created a printable only to realize you didn’t keep a back up copy . . . or two. Organize your printables so that you will be able to find them next week or next year. I like to make a PDF of every document so even if the software I originally used is no longer available, I have the basic document available.
Keeping a print with the filename on it will give you an extra way of searching in the future as well as knowing what you’ve already done. Write the name of the final file on the print. You can also use your prints for inspiration. If you have too many to print, create an area on your hard drive or the cloud to store your files and create a database or list so you can locate the file you want quickly.
8. Printables for young children.
Color sheets can be created from clip art, rubber stamps, photos or any digital image you have. Review the copyright on these items before deciding to use them in color sheets. Create one or more color sheets.
Dot-to-dot sheets can easily be created by placing the dots on a color sheet and then removing the parts of the image you do not want. In many software packages, you can create “layers” with the image itself on one layer and the dots on another — then, just hide the layer you don’t want to print. Take one of the color sheets you created or a piece of clip art you have and create a dot-to-dot sheet.
9. Word games.
You can create your own word games or use creators found on the Web. Word games can include:
- Cryptogram / cryptics
- Find-a-word / word search
- Mad libs / fill-them-in tale
- Word scramble / jumble
10. Writing games and puzzles.
Some games need copies for each participant. Here are a few to think about.
- Friendship questions
- Matching games
Try creating one or more of these.
11. Reusable games and puzzles.
Taking a non-paper game and converting it into a reusable game allows you to place the sheet into a binder. You may need minimal markers or game pieces to play which can be included in your binder or in a separate container. You can then take them when you travel or use them as an additional activity. Explore the AEP supplements listed below to see some printable games.
Icebreakers are activities that allow you to learn about yourself and others to help you get comfortable in new surroundings with new people. Check out the AEP supplement SUPP_Icebreaker_Sampler.pdf and make a printable from one of those ideas or create one based on your own idea.
Whether making a dollhouse, SWAP or a small item as a mixed media work, miniatures on paper can be anything from your favorite box of cookies to piece of furniture. Explore miniature printables on the Web. Can you find any that you can use?
Whether via ephemera, clip art or directions, many craft items can be shared via printables. Some items may include:
- Door hangers
- Kaper / chore charts
Search the Web and find what others have created in a craft you’d like to do. Try their printables. Is this something you can do?
Templates might be for boxes, cards or even puppets. Templates allow you to give basic directions while encouraging creativity. Find templates online and see how you can incorporate them into your own activities. Would this be something you could create and share?
From calendars through to do lists, forms are a great printable that can be reused indefinitely. Brainstorm what forms you might find helpful, whether generic or specific, and create one or more. This might include checklists for materials, timelines for advertising, a grocery list, etc.
17. Lessons / worksheets.
If you look through teacher sites, you’ll find a plethora of lesson plans and worksheets. Often, these go with a specific piece of literature or thematic unit. Sometimes a little tweaking is all you need to create something less “homework” oriented and more fun. Find at least one worksheet that incorporates your theme and adjust it to work with your event, party, etc.
18. Awards and certificates.
Awards can be given for perfect attendance, participating in a service project or even for a giggle. Look online for awards that you would like to give others. After you’ve looked, brainstorm your own ideas. Create and share at least two unique awards.
19. Endless possibilities.
There are too many possibilities for printables to name them all. Start archiving items you find for ideas to use later. Keep your own list of items that you would like to create. Enjoy making and sharing your own printables.
Sites to Explore
— larajla creates / Enrichment Project printable collection