Sooner or later, every teacher starts to wish teaching were a little easier. Believe me, I know. That's why I've compiled this list of simple, practical, and affordable solutions to some common classroom problems. I hope it helps!
1. Motivate every student to turn in good work by punching a star on their paper for each criterion they meet.
2. For a non-messy painting activity, make paint-with-water pictures. Pre-apply dots and lines of liquid watercolor paint (an easy way to do this is with a plastic syringe) on to a coloring sheet. Once dry, all the students have to do is brush water over the dried paint! Don't worry about spilled water either — keep a pitcher handy, and refill cups as needed.
3. Make your paintbrushes last longer by washing them with hair conditioner. To dry, lay them horizontally on a paper towel.
4. Use a lint roller to easily pick up spilled glitter.
5. Make inexpensive stamps by gluing foam shapes onto a flat surface, such as the tops of old Play-Doh cans.
6. A great place to keep paper scraps is in unused pizza boxes. Request them from your local pizza parlor.
7. Keep yarn in zipper bags and pull what you need from the opening.
8. To store a collection of various shapes, sizes, and styles of googly eyes, use a plastic container with separate compartments.
9. Cut out the bottoms of paper cups for quick, DIY shallow dishes.
10. Removable glue dots work well for hanging things on windows.
11. Students can use erasable highlighters to find sight words or do other reading tasks.
12. Need to wash lots of little hands quickly? Use hand sanitizer; it dries instantly.
13. Save your voice by wearing a microphone.
14. Teacher's first aid: lip balm heals paper cuts, glue removes splinters (wait for it to dry and then peel it off, along with the splinter), and mints relieve nausea.
15. Make QR codes — which parents can scan with a smartphone — to give more information about classwork, assign at-home practice work, send reminders or requests, link to a Web page, attach a picture or document, or to include your phone number or email address. Codes can be for the whole class or for an individual student (use a different color for each student to differentiate). Text can be edited or updated so you don't have to assign a new code one each time. To create your own codes, sign up for free at scan.me. Note that parents will have to install a QR reader app. For specific direction on how to use QR codes in the classroom, fellow blogger Christy Crawford gives it to you in (aptly named) QR Codes in the Classroom.
16. Did you know you can write on most school tables with dry erase markers? (Do a small test first!)
Bonus Tip: Give each child their own set of four dry erase markers and mini eraser, which all fit inside a pencil slider case. I got this idea from Heidi Butkus and it has worked great all year. Thanks, Heidi!