Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Smore is a free website that allows you to make colorful, online posters {You do have the option to print it when you're finished.}

Every year, during the organisms and environments unit in my 4th grade Science Lab class, I ask students to create an organism of their own with certain adaptations. It's a big ordeal, but I am always amazed and so impressed with the results.

I won't go into too many details about the project, but one of the requirements is to create a write-up for the science notebook that includes all of the necessary details. I give students a template, and they just fill it in with their information.

The template gets the job done, but it is rather boring to look at. I think this works against me when I go to explain the project to the students; I am always looking for a way to spice up the lessons!

Since finding Smore, I decided to use it to display my example. Below, I'll show you screenshots of the features of Smore while I'm working on my poster. At the bottom of this post, you'll get a chance to see my finished project.

  • Make up to 5 flyers totally free. {After that, it costs 1 credit to make 1 flyer, and the price looks steep for this frugal gal. Check out the screenshot of their current credit prices below:}
  • Send up to 200 e-mails per month {links to your flyers}
  • Create really pretty flyers either starting with a template or from scratch

The beauty about the template is that Smore has already inserted elements that are common for that type of flyer onto the template, so all you have to do is edit. 
  • Choose from 5 different designs

  • Choose from 12 different backgrounds -- all of which are pathetic, in my opinion. {If you want to upload your own, you have to pay. Of course.}

  • Pick a color from 21 options

  • Choose from 6 different fonts

  • Add 11 different elements to your flyer. Drag and drop to put them exactly where you want them on your flyer. {The 12th element, payment is added if you purchase a paid plan from Smore.}

Hover over an element to see a plus sign to easily add an element right there on the flyer.

Also by hovering, you can click the "x" to delete an element or click the pencil icon to edit it.

  • When you go to publish, you can change your settings to allow/disable comments, your name and profile information, social media sharing buttons, and related flyers. You can also change the privacy of your flyer and any of your profile information. 

  • After publishing, you have the option to share via 5 social networking sites, embed it on a blog or other website, and to share via e-mail. 

  • Also after publishing your flyer, you have the option to go back and edit it, preview how it will look to your audience members who receive the link, and print it {in standard quality -- not high-res -- and with a Smore ad on it}. You can also see how many people have viewed your flyer, although keep in mind that this does include you when you click the "preview" button. :) Finally, you have the official link so that you can put it in an e-mail on your own without using any of your e-mail credits. 


  • New users get 5 credits when they sign up. Each flyer you make costs you 1 credit. If you pay for a subscription to Smore, you get new credits each month. But if you're just on a free plan, it looks like the only ways to earn more credits is to create a new account with a different e-mail address or to purchase new credits or a monthly subscription. I'm really annoyed about this. However, Smore does have an education plan for a steep discount {compared to their other paid plans, which range from $240/year to $1200/year!} -- read more about it in the next section.
  • Limited background and template choices. Not a huge deal, but can be annoying if you're working on something special because, like I said, the background picture options are truly pathetic. 
  • As far as I could figure out, the gallery has 3 pictures in it -- no more, no less. Logically, I'm thinking that number has got to be customizable, but I couldn't figure out how!
I've been trying to think of a work-around for the 5-credits thing because I rarely pay for online stuff {why pay when you can get it for free?}. You could just sign up for a new account with a different e-mail address after you hit your limit. OR I suppose you could just edit your existing flyers and download them as a picture file before re-using that template for the next flyer. That doesn't help if you want kids to use it, and it would be a pain, but I think that would be the best option if you're going to go the free route.

I don't normally advocate for paying for things since, you know, teachers aren't typically millionaires. :) However, the educator plan {$60/year} looks like a good deal if you're thinking of using Smore for classroom newsletters or with students during projects and assignments. Here are some of the cool features of the educator plan, in case you're thinking of purchasing it:

  • Use your own custom backgrounds
  • Make flyers private by default to protect students' privacy
  • Send up to 5,000 e-mails monthly
  • Get analytics for the e-mails you send out {read more about that by clicking here}. Let's say, for example, that you use Smore as a classroom newsletter website, and you send it in an e-mail to the parents each month. With this plan, Smore allows you to see who is opening your e-mails -- and who isn't -- and who clicks on any links inside them. 
  • No ads on the flyer
  • Ability to download a high-quality jpg {picture file} of your flyer so that it will print nicely, if you need it
  • Make unlimited flyers

Uses for the Classroom
  1. As you'll see below, you can use it as an example for any project or assignment. It's nice for those things because it's quick and easy to make, you can add media anywhere in the flyer, you can print it for kiddos who need a copy at their desk while they work,  and it will display nicely when projected on the Promethean. 
  2. Piggybacking off of idea #1, you could use Smore to post assignments for a flipped classroom. For instance, if you created 1 flyer per lesson that you teach, you could embed picture examples or a teaching video into the flyer, step-by-step instructions about what you want students to do, etc. Then you could embed all the lessons in a unit or semester onto one class page. All you'd have to do after that is give students the link to that one class page, and they'd know the agenda for the entire class. 
  3. Create your classroom newsletter with Smore. You can even utilize the flyer options for parents to subscribe to your mailing list and click a button to e-mail you easily. 
  4. Have students use Smore for project creation or even a portfolio. Of course, you'd have to purchase the $60/year education plan, but you could always try to make a case for it to our generous PTOs. :) 

I used Smore to make an example poster for our 4th grade adaptation project. I embedded the poster onto the instruction page of our class website, and I can display the poster on the Promethean during instruction and/or print it so that students have a copy at their table while they're working. Here's my finished poster:


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