Here are a few easy-to-implement tips that will - hopefully - save valuable learning time in your classroom! (By the way, if you were wondering...the cutesy, wootsy apple table cloth was a $5.00 clearance item at Target.)
1) Pencil E.R. - So the pencil sharpener in our classroom is not the best and I hate how loud it is, so my Kinders do not sharpen their own pencils. Instead, we have a pencil E.R. The children know that when they need a new pencil, they put their old one in the Pencil E.R. and take a new one from the sharpened pencil cup. This system works really well. The only problem is one a child has a really "cool" pencil and they do not want to risk losing it, in which case, I tell them to set it on my desk (not in the Pencil E.R.) and I will sharpen it later.
Since this photo was taken, I have replaced the cheap Target $1 cup (on the left) with a super cute glass cup my great friend made for me for my birthday a few years ago. It had been sitting on my desk because I was afraid the kids would break it. I am, however, training myself to GET OVER IT! (No good teacher keeps all her "good" stuff to herself.) You can see it in the photo at the top of this post.
2) Crayon Lost and Found - This is basically the same concept as the Pencil E.R. If the students find a crayon on the ground, the put it in the Crayon Lost and Found. This is great because it minimizes those "Mrs. Unger, I found a crayon!!" interruptions. Also, if the kids need a particular color, they know where to go and what to do without my help.
3) Whisper Phones - Oh the uses! I keep a basket of Whisper Phones on our catch-all table. Whisper Phones are useful for students who have difficulty hearing themselves sound out words when they read and write. They help students who are easily distracted stay on task - I think the physical reminder of having a Whisper Phone on reminds them, "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be writing / reading right now."
4) "Please Sign Up!" Journal - Do you ever try to do one-on-one or small group instruction and other students constantly interrupt? This idea might help (and it helps young writers with name writing). Instead of interrupting you, instruct the students to sign up, if they want your attention and/or help. When you are between interventions, check the list and touch base with the top one or two students on the list. Be sure to cross off their names after you have checked in with them!
5) Headbands, Hats, and Other Hilarious Head Pieces - This idea piggy-backs off of the "Please Sign Up!" journal. When you are working one-on-one or in small groups, wear a hat or headband of some sort, as a visual reminder to the other students that it is not a good time to interrupt. I teach my kids to not interrupt if I am wearing a hat, UNLESS there is "fire, flood, or blood."
It is difficult to see, but this is my basket of hats and headbands. You can find a lot of seasonal headbands in the $1 bin at Target.
I found this princess hat at the Bristol Ren Faire. I used to have the same one in pink (from the same faire) when I was a young girl! Too bad I did not keep it....
6) The Boo Boo Basket - Any elementary school teacher knows the number of boo boo's that can happen in a single day. It can be overwhelming...and slightly annoying. I have a basket of Band-Aids in my classroom, but the students know they can only have one if we see blood. Otherwise, they can rub some boo boo lotion on the owie. Leftover hotel lotions or any cheap lotions that you have laying around your house work great for boo boo lotion! Tip!! Put Band-Aids on your supply list at the beginning of the year. You know you'll need them!
7) Mini Garbage Cans - I have 6 plastic mini garbage cans that I found at the Dollar Tree. These can be handy when the kids are doing a lot of cutting and you do not want them getting up and down, up and down. Just place one can on each table.
Here are a few more ideas. I do not have close-up photos for them, but you can spy these ideas in the picture at the top of this post:
8) Bell - I keep a bell handy to signal clean-up time or if I need my students' attention for whatever reason. Tip!! Keep the bell in a cup, so the kids are not as tempted to pick it up and ring it.
9) Baby Wipes - My students often ask to wash their hands, even if they have the smallest amount of glue on their hands. Instead of sending the kids to the backroom, which can cause chaos, I tell them to grab a baby wipe instead. Tip!! Put baby wipes on your supply list at the beginning of the year and you will not have to buy them youself.
10) Bank - I do not know how it happens, but my kiddos often find spare change in our classroom, in the hallway, on the playground...you get the picture. The kids put these coins in our classroom bank. Right now, my school is having a "Pennies for the Playground" fundraiser (we are trying to get a new and much-needed playground for our school), but you could purchase the kiddos a special treat once they have collected enough change.
11) Hand Sanitizer - This is a must everyday before lunch! A 3rd grade teacher at my school said they put hand sanitizer on their supply list. I am thinking Kindergarten should do that as well!
Woah! This is getting to be a LONG post. I guess I should stop there. Please leave a comment if you have any great teacher tips to share that help save valuable learning time in your own classroom!! Thanks for stopping by! :)