Short on bulletin board space in your classroom? No problem. Just run a piece of string across the room, and hang student work from the string using clothespins. It will give your room a little pizazz and let students proudly show off their creations!
Ever wish you could give every student a personal dry-erase board for activities, but you don’t have the money to buy them? No problem! Slip a blank piece of paper inside a sheet protector, and you’ve got a cheap alternative. Students can write on the sheet protector using dry-erase markers. It’s perfect!
Popsicle sticks are cheap and have endless uses. Here are just a few ways you can use popsicle sticks to keep students on their toes in your ELA classroom:
Reading Comprehension Challenge: Write reading comprehension questions on popsicle sticks…ones that can be answered using any text. (Who is the main character? What is one important vocabulary word?) Make a fiction set and a nonfiction set. As students read, periodically draw a question for them to answer.
Name Sticks: Write all your students’ names on popsicle sticks and put them in a container. Use the name sticks to randomly select who will answer a question, complete a task, get a prize, etc.
Write important sight words or vocabulary words on popsicle sticks. (They will last much longer than notecards or paper squares.) Have students use the popsicle sticks to practice all year long! You can have one master set, or give each student their own set in a plastic sandwich bag.
Phonics Puzzles: Write one letter, vowel pair, prefix, or suffix on each popsicle stick. Draw a stick and challenge students to come up with as many words as possible that use that letter, suffix, etc.
Paper bookmarks can be a pain. They fall out of books. They rip. They get lost. Try having students mark their place by sliding a paperclip over the top of the page instead! (Also, if you can find different colors, let students pick their favorites.)
Most nametags don’t last long. The sticky ones fall off and get trampled in the hallways. Tags that use safety pins leave holes in students’ clothing. Try writing or painting labels directly onto giant binder clips! That way, students can attach the binder clips to their collars or clip them on the bottom of their shirts. These clips can be used to assign groups or help students remember their class jobs. Don’t have class jobs yet? Give these a try!
Class Horticulturist (in charge of caring for class plants)
Energy Saver (in charge of turning off the lights when they leave)
Class Librarian (in charge of alphabetizing books)
Got a hole punch and some zip-ties? That’s all you need for students to create a finished, published copy of their work. Just punch two or three holes in the pages, run a zip-tie through each hole and you’re done! (FYI: Don’t pull the zip ties too tight or the pages won’t flip.) This is way cheaper than purchasing folders or binders for every student.