Search form


Free Materials for Teachers!



Many companies and organizations offer free educational materials to teachers. Some are terrific. Some aren't. This week, Education World tells you about a few that are worth your time. Included are freebies for younger students, for older students, and for everyone! Topics include diet and nutrition, pet care, money, recycling, and gardening. Also: Free software sites for educators!

Editor's Note: Internet stories have long shelf lives, but free teaching materials do not! Note that the following freebies story is being published on Education World in December, 1998. According to the sources of the materials listed below, all the highlighted freebies are currently available and will be for several months to come. But a word of caution: If you've unearthed this story from an archived Internet source, you shouldn't assume that these materials are still available many months later! [Be sure to see another Education World story this week, Fabulous Freebies (Part 2)].

* * * * * * * * * FOR YOUNGER STUDENTS * * * * * * * *



If you're planning a nutrition unit for younger students, you won't want to do it without the excellent materials available through Dole Food Company's Nutrition Program. The materials, provided free to elementary school teachers, consist of several highly interactive and informative educational components designed to encourage children to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Developed for children ages 5 to 9, the program includes:

Five A Day

  • 5 A Day Live -- A Musical Performance. In this comprehensive package, you'll find all the components necessary for staging a 35-40 minute musical with your students. Based on a TV news broadcast, the show is a great way for students to share what they've learned about nutrition. The script contains lots of opportunities for singing and dancing, and its flexible casting provides speaking and non-speaking roles, as well as behind-the-scene jobs, for any number of students. Even your shyest students will want to participate! Included in the packet are the script, detailed stage directions and diagrams, directions for creating costumes and sets, an audiotape of the songs, as well as printed versions of the song lyrics. Suggestions for generating publicity, a sample press release, and templates for creating your own playbill are also provided. The materials include additional language arts, science, health, and physical education activities that will help you round out your nutrition unit. All that's left for you to do is have fun! The script and other print components can be downloaded at the Dole Web site, but you must order the audiotape by mail or fax.


  • 5 A Day Adventures CD-ROM. Students can create salads that are high in vitamins and low in fat at The Salad Factory, find out about the history of a variety of fruits and vegetables at Adventure Theater, study the food pyramid at H.B.'s Body Shop, learn how to read nutritional labels at The Leafy Green Travel Agency, and try out healthful recipes in The Cook's Kitchen in this interactive nutritional game. Each activity is followed by a visit to the Challenge Zone, where students take a quiz on what they've learned. The colorful animations, interesting text, and lively music make the shops on Banana Boulevard a fun place to shop for nutritional information. Teachers may order one CD-ROM for every computer in their classrooms or for every computer in the school's computer lab.


  • Fun with Fruits and Vegetables Kids Cookbook. This colorful cookbook includes recipes from the Cook's Kitchen along with tips on how to wash, peel, slice, and dice fruits and vegetables. The easy-to-prepare recipes include an Apple-Tuna sandwich and Spunky Vegetable Pizza. Children will love trying out these healthful recipes that are fun to make and eat! Teachers may order up to 25 cookbooks for their students.


  • "How'd You Do Your 5 Today?" Chart. Students can record their daily fruit and vegetable intake using this magnetized chart and removable fruit and vegetable stickers. Just have them place one sticker on the chart for each fruit and vegetable serving they eat each day! An interactive version of the colorful chart can be found on the 5 A Day Adventures CD-ROM program, and elementary school teachers may order up to 25 individual chart and sticker sets.


  • 5 A Day Adventures Newsletter. The Dole newsletter, published twice a year, in February and September, includes nutritional information, a calendar of nutrition-related events, suggestions for holiday activities, announcements of contests and special programs, and news about how classrooms throughout the country are incorporating the 5 A Day program into their curriculum. Teachers who order the 5 A Day Adventures CD-ROM receive the newsletter free.

In addition, Dole's 5 A Day Educators Page provides lots of free online resources to use or download, including lesson plans, crossword puzzles, coloring pages, and games.

To order any of the Dole Nutrition Program products, send your request, on school letterhead, to Dole Nutrition Program, 155 Bovet Rd., Suite 476, San Mateo, CA 94402. Or you can fax it to 650-570-5250. Include your name, school address, and school phone number.



Younger elementary school students will also enjoy using The American Kennel Club's Best Friends Teaching Kit, a set of educational materials that teach children about pets, caring, and responsibility. Developed for students in grades K-6, the materials are most appropriate for students through grade 3. The kit includes:

Best Friends

  • The Best Friends Video. The first half of this low-key video concentrates on the ways in which dogs help people. Dogs of many different breeds are shown herding sheep, participating in water rescues, locating illegal drugs, and providing companionship for senior citizens. In addition, dog owners who are deaf, blind, and disabled talk about their specially trained pets and demonstrate how the dogs make their lives easier. The second half of the video discusses humans' responsibilities to their dogs. Students learn how dogs should be fed, walked, and cared for; what commands they should be taught; and how they can be kept safe. Finally, a veterinarian discusses health care for pets. The video features many lovable dogs and is sure to hold students' interest for all of its 15-minute playing time.


  • Best Friends Teacher's Guide. Designed to accompany the Best Friends video, this teacher's guide provides suggestions for discussion topics to be used before and after viewing. Preview topics focus on friendship and caring, while follow-up discussions review the video's key points and explore the concept of responsibility. The guide also contains a number of cross-curricular activities. Lesson plans for younger students include counting and graphing, ordering, creating posters, and storytelling. Activities for older students include measuring, graphing, multiplying and dividing, research and reporting, and creating illustrated diaries. A reproducible worksheet accompanies each activity. The kit also includes a reading list featuring a variety of books at several reading and comprehension levels -- from Clifford's Good Deeds to White Fang.


  • Best Friends Poster. This colorful poster starring Bailey the Beagle, the AKC's children's education mascot, features a series of photographs illustrating the care pets require. Use it to brighten up the classroom and to focus students' attention on the main points of the lesson.

Additional free AKC publications include:

  • The Canine Ambassador directory. A reference book of local volunteers who give presentations on responsible dog ownership (indicate state when ordering).
  • AKC Kids' Corner Newsletter. Includes articles, games, contests, and giveaways (order # PKCN, limit 20).
  • Purebred Dogs Coloring Book. Activities and information for younger children (order # PBACT1, limit 100).
  • Before You Buy a Dog/Antes de Comprar un Perro Things to consider before buying a dog (order # GDWAN2 for English version or # GDWAN3 for Spanish, limit 200).
  • Responsible Dog Owner's Bookmark. A checklist of pet care basics (order # GPMRK, limit 200).

The AKC will provide one free Best Friends Teaching Kit, with the video and wall poster, to each elementary school. You can order it, or any of the other materials above, by writing to the American Kennel Club, 5580 Centerview Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606-3390; phone: 919-233-9767; fax: 919-233-3627.

* * * * * * * * * FOR OLDER STUDENTS * * * * * * * *



Money, its history, uses, abuses, and implications, is the topic of a variety of free publications available from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Publications appropriate for older elementary students include:

Once Upon a Dime

  • Once Upon a Dime. This comic-book style booklet tells the story of money in a way even upper elementary school students can understand. You see Once upon a time, on the island of Mazuma, Captain Sharky and Dr. Millicent Diligent decided to get married. But they needed flowers for their wedding, and Mazuma's economy was based on bartering. Unfortunately, Blossom Frisbee, the island's florist, didn't need anything that Sharky and Millicent had to trade. The story of how they solved their problem and of how the economy of Mazuma evolved from primitive trade to a modern economic system will amuse and captivate students. As they read this funny tongue-in-cheek story, your students, along with the people of Mazuma, learn how supply and demand affect the economy and how banks help regulate the flow of money. Of course, there's a happy ending!

Six additional comic-book style booklets are recommended for high school students, although some can be used with older middle school students as well. They include:


  • The Story of Money explains why money works as a medium of exchange, what properties money must have to be an effective exchange medium, what the advantages and disadvantages of checks are, what causes inflation and recession, and how the Federal Reserve System regulates the flow of money.


  • A Penny Saved answers a number of questions about how and why people save. It discusses various methods of saving, including savings accounts, savings bonds, and investments, and explains the benefits and risks of each. Finally, the booklet tells how an individual's savings can benefit the entire country.


  • Too Much, Too Little invites students to board a time machine and travel back to 1690 and the beginnings of the country's Federal Reserve System. There, they learn why inflation followed the Revolutionary War and led to the establishment of the first U.S. bank. As they reverse direction and again travel forward in time, students discover the factors that, throughout history, have threatened the country's economy, and they learn why the Federal Reserve System was established.


  • The Story of Banks tells about three teenaged pretzel makers and their decision to deposit their profits. The booklet discusses how checking and savings accounts work, how banks use deposits to make loans, and what agencies and regulations govern banks. In addition, students learn the criteria banks use when deciding whether or not to grant a loan and they discover the importance of managing, rather than mismanaging, their money. The story includes many banking terms, from overdraft to ATM, that will have students sounding like bankers in no time.


  • The Story of Checks explains the advantages of checks over cash and takes students, step by step, through the process of writing a check. As Brian helps his grandmother pay her bills, he learns how to read a bank statement, balance a checkbook, and interpret the numbers on a check. Finally, he learns what happens to a check when it reaches the bank and how money is transferred from one account to another.


  • The Story of Monetary Policy discusses the U.S. monetary system and the factors that affect it. Students learn the meaning of such terms as Gross Domestic Product and Consumer Price Index, discover how the federal government sets monetary policy, and find out what affects those policy decisions. This booklet is definitely for older students.

Three additional booklets appropriate for high school students and above are also available from the FRBNY. All are clearly written and well laid out, and each tackles a sophisticated topic in a straightforward informational style. They are Understanding the Federal Debt and Deficit, Understanding the Ms in Monetary Policy, and The Basics of Foreign Trade and Exchange.

* * * * * * * SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE! * * * * * * *



Are you tired of recycling the same old environmental lessons? Looking for something new on the subject? The Environmental Protection Agency might have just the thing for you -- a complete program on recycling and solid waste management for students in grades K-12. Recycle Today! includes four components focusing on the effects of trash and recycling on the environment. They include:


  • Let's Reduce and Recycle: Curriculum for Solid Waste Awareness. "Why teach trash?" That's the question asked -- and answered -- in this comprehensive curriculum guide filled with understandable instruction and hands-on activities. The two-part guide provides separate instruction and activities for students in grades K-6 and grades 9-12. Each part contains 5 grade-level-appropriate units -- What Is Waste?, Where Does Waste Go?, How Does Waste Affect Our Resources?, How Can We Produce Less Waste?, and What Can We Do About Waste? Each unit includes several lesson plans that combine teacher instruction and student activities, and each lesson plan provides clearly marked objectives, vocabulary words, and procedures for teaching about recycling. The lessons span both the subject and the curriculum. Younger students can learn about recycling symbols, create litter raps, build a mini landfill, and explore how substances burn. Older students explore non-toxic substitutes for common household products, start a compost pile, and research and report on the life cycle of a variety of waste products. The guide also includes a glossary, lists of resources, a worksheet students can use to create a profile of their own community, and a performable skit about the history of recycling and waste management. And it's all free!


  • School Recycling Programs: A Handbook for Teachers. As you proceed through the curriculum guide, help students apply their classroom solutions to real-life problems with this clearly written and well-organized brochure. Learn how to set up and run four different types of recycling programs, including a one-time recycling drive, an ongoing school recycling effort, a community collection center, and a cooperative program with a local recycling center. The Ten Tips to Get Started will help you develop your plan, and additional suggestions are provided on what materials to recycle, how to collect and store materials, ways to identify markets and establish municipal contacts, and where to find start-up funds and other support. The handbook spotlights schools with successful recycling programs and tells how your students can qualify for the President's Environmental Youth Awards.

    Then Garbage Gremlin

  • Adventures of the Garbage Gremlin. The Garbage Gremlin is looking for a home. But he won't find it at this school! In this funny and informative comic book, students in grades 4-7 learn about the importance of recycling, as they vow to forsake a "life of grime."


  • Ride the Wave of the Future: Recycle Today! This colorful poster, a joint effort of the EPA and the National Science Teachers Association, encourages students to stamp out the Garbage Gremlin.

In addition, The EPA's Environmental Education Center provides a number of resources for students and teachers, including background information, curriculum resources, student activities, and announcements of programs, projects, and awards.

To order the publications, visit the EPA's Web site or contact the EPA's National Center for Environmental Publications and Information at U.S. EPA/NCEPI, P.O. Box 42419, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242-2419. Publications can be ordered by phone at 1-800/490-9198, by fax at 513/489-8695, or by email at [email protected]. Be sure to include the following product codes:

  • Curriculum--EPA/530-SW-90-005;
  • Teacher Handbook--EPA/SW-90-023;
  • Comic Book--EPA/530-SW-90-024;
  • Poster--EPA/530-SW-90-010.




The Wonders of Aloe, a booklet published by the National Gardening Association, though the smallest of our featured freebies, is packed full of ideas that will give new life to your science curriculum. This tiny teacher's guide does, of course, tell you how to grow aloe, "a plant that thrives on neglect," but it doesn't stop there. Cross-curricular activities galore grow from the fertile minds of its authors. Various articles invite students to imagine life in Africa 4000 years ago, learn about the parts of an aloe plant, and read about the healing powers of plants.

Suggested activities include mapmaking, classifying substances, and researching folklore. Younger students can experiment with the best conditions for growing aloe, while older students compare the pH of aloe in the morning and at night. Other activities will help your students answer questions such as Does aloe really help heal burns? Can aloe inhibit the growth of bacteria? and What's a stomata? Read a label! Study a timeline! Write a commercial! Run a fundraiser! It's all there -- in 12 short pages!

To order The Wonders of Aloe teachers' guide, call 1-800-538-7476. Also, be sure to explore NG Online's Kids and Classrooms to find additional activities and to learn how your students can participate in the organization's 16th Annual Youth Garden Grants.



The following resources, though less extensive, will also prove helpful for teaching a variety of topics.


  • The 1998-99 season of the PBS television program Scientific American Frontiers is already underway. For a list of the rest of this year's shows and information on obtaining their free teaching guides, visit In the Classroom. The teaching guides contain suggestions for hands-on activities, as well as teaching tips and resources, and a reproducible quiz. Guides can also be ordered by calling 1-800-315-5010.
  • ZOOM This new PBS show for kids will premier in January. To obtain a free resource guide containing math and science activities featured on the show, call 617-492-2777 ext. 3848, email [email protected], or write ZOOMsci Guide, WGBH Educational Print & Outreach, 125 Western Ave. Boston, MA 02134.



Shareware is a way of marketing software in which software can be downloaded and used for a limited time without any cost or obligation. Payment is required only if the user wishes to continue using the software beyond the evaluation period. To find sources of educational shareware, visit one of these sites:

  • Educational Shareware and Freeware Includes shareware on molecular modeling, astronomy, typing, crossword puzzles, money, and more.
  • (Educational Software Cooperative) A non-profit corporation consisting of developers, publishers, distributors, and users of educational software. Click Visit Home Pages, Download Software to find links to free software.


Article by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 1998 Education World