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Alice Keeler

Google Draw and Slides: Tips for Creating Templates

Google Draw and Slides: Tips for Creating Templates

Creating Templates

The drawing features in Google Draw and Slides allow you to create templates for your students to manipulate. Create math manipulatives, annotate maps, Venn diagrams, model their understanding of concepts, and more. Here are some tips to help you to create the templates.

When students are manipulating one template, use Google Drawing. If you want them to model multiple things use Google Slides. Using Google Slides you create the template and the manipulatives once and then duplicate the slide to create multiple canvases for students to manipulate.

Drag Images

If you have images or screenshots on your computer you can simply drag them onto the Google Drawing or slide. Look for the green plus arrow to indicate you are adding the image to the canvas.

Insert Images

You can add clip art right from Google Draw or Slides. Use the Insert menu to insert an image. Choose the last option on the right, “Search.” Search for an item you want in your template. Change the “Any type” drop down menu to “Clip art.”
Insert ClipArt


Hold down the shift key when resizing the image to ensure that it does not get stretched out.


You can crop the image by selecting the image and finding the crop icon in the toolbar. Choose a shape to crop it to.
Crop Image

Cropped Cat

Create Perfect Circles

When drawing a circle, square or other shape, hold down the Shift key. This will constrain the proportions to being equal on all sides. This also works when drawing lines. Hold down the Shift key when drawing a line to create perfectly horizontal or vertical lines.
Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 12.08.31 PM


Hold down the Shift key when rotating shapes to rotate in 15˚ increments.

Selectively Select

Hold down the Shift key when selecting elements of the drawing. This allows you to pick out only certain things and move them together.


Use the arrow keys to move selected items on the canvas. This moves the objects 5 pixels at a time. To fine tune placement of your items, hold down the Shift key to nudge only one pixel at a time.

Off Canvas

Create items that students can drag onto the drawing canvas or slide “off canvas.” Go to the View menu and view the slide or drawing at 50%. This reveals the space around the slide.
Create items off canvas


You can align your objects and distribute them evenly by using the Arrange menu.
Align Horizontally under arrange menu

YouTube video

Bring to the Front

Use the keyboard shortcut Control Shift Up Arrow or Control Shift Down Arrow to move elements to the top or bottom. I would recommend you teach students this trick.
COntrol Shift Up Arrow


Selectively select items by holding down the shift key or lasso a group of items. Use Control G to group the items together. This allows them to be moved all at once. A good example is creating a stack of 10 squares for students to move and represent the number 10.

Match Formatting

If you want different elements you draw to have the same color and style you can easily do this without recreating each time. Draw something with a particular color and border style. Select this item and then draw a new item. So long as the previous item was selected when drawing the new item the formatting will match!
Match Formatting

Slides Background

An advantage to using Slides over Drawing is the ability to set the background. (Thank you @MsDrasby for the tip!) Create a graphic organizer image and set that image as the background image of the slide. This locks down the background so students can more easily arrange items onto the graphic organizer.


Check out this sample made by @MsDrasby


1 thought on “Google Draw and Slides: Tips for Creating Templates

  1. Hi Alice,

    First, I received your book and love it. With regard to this post, two questions:

    1. I wanted to clarify that it is NOT POSSIBLE to set a template as background to google drawings. In other words, the template of circles and arrows and squares I design in drawing can be changed by students when I make a copy for each student. Am I right that its only possible to do this on google slides?

    2. I liked your post on creating a graphic organizer on a spreadsheet with tabs for each student using template tab. Can I either import a drawing or draw on the template part of that spreadsheet?

    Thanks and I cannot wait to use these ideas in my classes.

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