Novelty has always been my best strategy for keeping students' attention. Something new, different, and fun sparks an interest, engages students more which means less discipline issues. And you know what that means, right? You get to go home at the end of the day feeling like a teacher instead of a law enforcement officer.
On some of my most trying days . . . you know those days when you feel like you couldn't put one foot in front of the other, I did the exact opposite. I knew that it was time to do a little retail therapy. I don't always find teachery stuff at the local teacher supply store. Let me show you a few of my goodies I found. It's kind of like a game of "Eye Spy" when I go shopping.
I found these googly eyes at Hobby Lobby. I love the colorful ones. These are fun manipulatives that are sure to catch your students' eye and hold their attention!
On one of my more challenging days, I went with my husband to the Bass Pro Shop so he could dream and drool over the boats. While he was dreaming, I was wandering up and down the aisles when I found a large barrel of rubber worms. Of course, I had to reach in and feel them which made the wheels begin to spin in my head. I thought these would be fun for my students to arrange into letters, numbers, and words. Sure enough! They were a hit. My boys especially loved it when I squirted a little water on them which made them seem squishy and more real.
Did you notice the green thing that the worms are sitting on? This is rubber shelf liner. You can find this at Dollar Tree. Cut them into small rectangles. I usually cut mine 12 - 18 inches. These give students a defined work space and noisy and round manipulatives stay on these better.
Did your Mom have a adding machine with tape when you were growing up? My Mom did and it was one of my favorite things to play with. I used to get an old Sear Roebuck catalog and "shop". I would add up all of my purchases on that adding machine.
Today families no longer use these rolls of tape. I often find yellowed rolls of tape for sale at thrift stores. These are a great addition to your word work center.
I spent a lot of time at fabric stores when I was growing up because my Grandma loved to sew. She made most of my clothes when I was young. I was at Joann's Fabrics when I saw a tracing wheel. Tracing wheels come in a smooth (blunt) edge and a serrated edge. The smooth edge is fun to use with playdough.
Do you have students that have trouble staying on the lines of their paper? Trace the lines of their paper with a serrated tracing wheel. They will be able to feel the line.
Do you have too many groups this year with too little time to meet with them? One thing that will save time is improving how you distribute needed materials. Something as simple as a lazy susan can save valuable minutes.
Does it seem like you have become Charlie Brown's teacher? All your kids hear is "wah wah wah wah". Then it is time for a new attention getter. I found this xylophone at the Dollar Store. The nice thing about a xylophone is you can have different chimes/songs/tunes mean different things. Two taps on the red can mean "it is getting too loud". Two taps on the green can mean "time to clean up". Your students will quickly learn to "march to your tune"!
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