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April 20, 2017

10 Uses for Plastic Spoons in the Classroom

By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    The last time I was cleaning out my classroom I found a surprisingly large number of plastic spoons stuffed away in the back of one of my cabinets. Like all first-grade teachers do, I got to thinking of ways I could use these leftover materials for crafts, games, and enrichment activities with my students. As it turns out, there are so many great uses for spoons across all areas of the curriculum and I’m excited to share my ideas with you!

    1. One-Eyed Sight Words Reading Race

    Place a cup of plastic spoons in your word works center. Provide a list of sight words, spelling words, or academic vocabulary for each student, or do this activity in front of your word wall. Have students use a single spoon to cover one eye and read the list of words as quickly as possible. Then they can switch eyes and repeat the process. To make it more engaging, provide a timer for students to see which eye reads the words faster. You can choose to make this a race between students or a race against themselves, but however you decide to play, this game will be a new favorite!

    2. Spoon and Egg Relay with a Twist

    Remember the classic game where you try to speed walk with an egg on a spoon? This is a no-mess, mathematical twist on that field day favorite. To prepare for the game you’ll need a plastic spoon for each team of students and a set of plastic eggs, about five eggs per student. (With Easter just behind us, you’ll probably be able to find plastic eggs on clearance right now!) Write out addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division equations on small pieces of paper and place one equation inside each plastic egg.

    Divide the plastic eggs among the relay teams. I recommend having about four or five students to a team, so you’ll need as many teams as necessary to make the numbers work. This game is best played outdoors or in a large, open space with room to move, but you can also play in your classroom with desks pushed aside.

    Have each of your teams line up behind a bucket of plastic eggs filled with mathematical equations. Give a spoon to the first student in line and have them select an egg to balance on their spoon. When you say “go,” the first child from each team should race to the other end of the room (where you’ll be standing) without the egg falling off the spoon. If the egg falls, they need to return the egg to the spoon and continue racing. As each student makes it to the end, they will open their plastic egg, read the mathematical equation, and tell you the answer. Once a student has correctly solved their equation they should drop the egg into a basket, hand you the equation paper, and run back to their team with the spoon. Then it is the next student’s turn and play continues. The team that goes through all of their eggs first is the winner!

    This game is so much fun and it works wonderfully for any type of quiz game, not just math. You could include papers with questions about parts of speech, historical facts, or scientific processes and play the egg relay in every subject.

     

    3. Plastic Spoon Sundials

    Materials:

    • Paper plate
    • Scissors
    • Plastic spoon
    • Markers

    Directions:

    • Have each student use markers to write the numbers one through twelve, evenly spaced, around the outside of a paper plate to create a clock.
    • Cut a small slit in the very center of the plate and insert a spoon from below, leaving the bowl part of the spoon underneath the plate. This will be inserted into the grass to stabilize the spoon and keep the sundial upright and stationary.
    • Take the sundials outside to a grassy area with plenty of sun. Press the spoon into the ground as straight as possible. This will keep the sundial from blowing around in the wind throughout the day.
    • Turn the plate so that the shadow from the spoon’s handle shows the current time. Then check back throughout the day to see your spoon sundial accurately display the time!

     

    4. Reading Response Character Puppets

    Spoons make great templates for reading response character puppets. After your students finish reading a story, provide them each with a plastic spoon and a variety of craft supplies. Tell them that it is their job to transform their spoon into a character from their book and watch their creativity shine! You can enhance this project by having students write about the traits of their chosen character to accompany their spoon. Display the final products around your classroom or in the hallway for the whole school to enjoy.

     

    5. Parts of a Plant Project

    If some of the spoons you have lying around your classroom happen to be colored, then you are well-stocked for making plastic spoon flowers. Break off the handle section of the spoons to leave only the round bowl. You may want to do this ahead of time for your students so that no one gets hurt on rough plastic edges. If any of the spoon pieces have sharp edges you can use sandpaper to smooth them out. Glue the spoon bowls in a circle onto a piece of construction paper to create the petals of a flower. A yellow pom-pom makes for a great pollen center. Then use other craft supplies like pipe cleaners, construction paper, and markers to add a stem, leaves, and roots to the flower. Have your students label each of the parts of their plants as a colorful demonstration of all that they have learned during a unit on plants!

     

    6. Math Facts Matching

    Plastic spoons are perfect for displaying math facts in this matching game. I love to use it when I am teaching the ways to compose the numbers up to ten with addition and subtraction facts, but it can be played with any combinations of math facts, or even with sorting words by parts of speech! To prepare this game you need a bunch of plastic spoons and paper or plastic cups/containers. Label each cup/container with the target sums or differences. For instance, when I make this game for my first graders, I have cups with sums and differences for all the numbers between zero and ten. Once you have created your answer cups, it is time to start making spoons with corresponding equations. The goal is for your students to select a spoon, read the math fact on the spoon, and place it in the cup that contains the matching answer. There will be multiple spoons for each container, showing students that there are many ways to make the same sum or difference. If you want to make this game self-checking, write the equations that equal each number on the bottom of the cup. This game works wonderfully as an extra activity to keep around for early-finishers during math time.

     

    7. Synonyms, Antonyms, Cognates...Oh My!

    For this activity, you will need two sets of spoons, one solid colored and one clear. In my classroom, I use this game to practice pairing English and Spanish cognates. For a monolingual classroom, try this activity when teaching synonyms or antonyms. On each of the solid colored spoons you will write a word from your synonyms or antonyms list toward the top of the spoon’s bowl. Then on the clear spoons you’ll write a synonym or antonym for each of the words you selected for the colored spoons. Make sure you write the words on your clear spoons towards the bottom of the spoons’ bowls. For example, if your colored spoon says “happy” at the top, then the antonym on your clear spoon might say “sad” or “disgruntled” toward the bottom.

    Students complete this activity by placing the solid colored spoons on the desk in front of them. They then select a clear spoon, read the word, and find the corresponding colored spoon on the desk and set the clear spoon over the colored spoon. This will display the two words, one on top of the other, allowing students to see the synonym or antonym pairs.

    One of the best parts of this game is that it is so compact and takes up very little storage space when you are done playing. You can even use these same spoons to play the sight word reading race mentioned above, since it doesn’t matter if there’s anything written on the spoon used to cover students’ eyes. I’m always looking for ways to reduce waste!

     

    8. Silent E Spoon Wand

    Help your students visualize how to turn common short vowel words into long vowel words with this silent e spoon wand. Simply write a lowercase letter e on the bowl of a spoon and voilà, you have a silent e wand. Students may use their wands to add an e to the end of words on the board or on the word wall, or you can download this worksheet for use with students’ wands. However you choose to use them, the silent e spoon wands will make learning long vowel words all the more fun!

     

    9. Spoon and Egg Maracas

    The Internet is full of a variety of ways to combine disposable spoons and plastic eggs to create maracas, but here is my take on making your own classroom instruments. First, fill a plastic egg (got some leftover from the spoon and egg relay game above?) with beans, beads, or any other small objects to create the desired maraca noise. Place the filled egg in between the bowl sections of two plastic spoons. Using colorful washi tape, wrap the spoons and the egg completely so that the egg does not move apart from the spoons. Feel free to have your students decorate the handles of the spoons to make their maracas even more magical and then let the music begin!

     

    10. Spoon and Spell

    My final suggestion for using leftover plastic spoons in your classroom is to create a literacy game I’m calling “Spoon and Spell.” Provide each student with a single spoon and a cup full of letters. You can use letter beads, letter dice or just print out letters on paper and cut them apart. Have your students stir their letters well within the cup and then scoop out a spoonful of letters, placing them on the table. Using the letters they spooned out, students must try to spell as many words as possible. They can record their words on scrap paper or in their writing journals. Once a child has exhausted all the words they can make with their first spoonful, invite them to return all the letters to the cup, stir them around, and spoon out another set for more word-making practice.

    I hope you have gotten some great ideas for ways to use plastic spoons in your classroom. If you have additional inspirations, please share them with us in the comments below. I wish you a spoonful of fun and learning in your classroom this spring!

    The last time I was cleaning out my classroom I found a surprisingly large number of plastic spoons stuffed away in the back of one of my cabinets. Like all first-grade teachers do, I got to thinking of ways I could use these leftover materials for crafts, games, and enrichment activities with my students. As it turns out, there are so many great uses for spoons across all areas of the curriculum and I’m excited to share my ideas with you!

    1. One-Eyed Sight Words Reading Race

    Place a cup of plastic spoons in your word works center. Provide a list of sight words, spelling words, or academic vocabulary for each student, or do this activity in front of your word wall. Have students use a single spoon to cover one eye and read the list of words as quickly as possible. Then they can switch eyes and repeat the process. To make it more engaging, provide a timer for students to see which eye reads the words faster. You can choose to make this a race between students or a race against themselves, but however you decide to play, this game will be a new favorite!

    2. Spoon and Egg Relay with a Twist

    Remember the classic game where you try to speed walk with an egg on a spoon? This is a no-mess, mathematical twist on that field day favorite. To prepare for the game you’ll need a plastic spoon for each team of students and a set of plastic eggs, about five eggs per student. (With Easter just behind us, you’ll probably be able to find plastic eggs on clearance right now!) Write out addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division equations on small pieces of paper and place one equation inside each plastic egg.

    Divide the plastic eggs among the relay teams. I recommend having about four or five students to a team, so you’ll need as many teams as necessary to make the numbers work. This game is best played outdoors or in a large, open space with room to move, but you can also play in your classroom with desks pushed aside.

    Have each of your teams line up behind a bucket of plastic eggs filled with mathematical equations. Give a spoon to the first student in line and have them select an egg to balance on their spoon. When you say “go,” the first child from each team should race to the other end of the room (where you’ll be standing) without the egg falling off the spoon. If the egg falls, they need to return the egg to the spoon and continue racing. As each student makes it to the end, they will open their plastic egg, read the mathematical equation, and tell you the answer. Once a student has correctly solved their equation they should drop the egg into a basket, hand you the equation paper, and run back to their team with the spoon. Then it is the next student’s turn and play continues. The team that goes through all of their eggs first is the winner!

    This game is so much fun and it works wonderfully for any type of quiz game, not just math. You could include papers with questions about parts of speech, historical facts, or scientific processes and play the egg relay in every subject.

     

    3. Plastic Spoon Sundials

    Materials:

    • Paper plate
    • Scissors
    • Plastic spoon
    • Markers

    Directions:

    • Have each student use markers to write the numbers one through twelve, evenly spaced, around the outside of a paper plate to create a clock.
    • Cut a small slit in the very center of the plate and insert a spoon from below, leaving the bowl part of the spoon underneath the plate. This will be inserted into the grass to stabilize the spoon and keep the sundial upright and stationary.
    • Take the sundials outside to a grassy area with plenty of sun. Press the spoon into the ground as straight as possible. This will keep the sundial from blowing around in the wind throughout the day.
    • Turn the plate so that the shadow from the spoon’s handle shows the current time. Then check back throughout the day to see your spoon sundial accurately display the time!

     

    4. Reading Response Character Puppets

    Spoons make great templates for reading response character puppets. After your students finish reading a story, provide them each with a plastic spoon and a variety of craft supplies. Tell them that it is their job to transform their spoon into a character from their book and watch their creativity shine! You can enhance this project by having students write about the traits of their chosen character to accompany their spoon. Display the final products around your classroom or in the hallway for the whole school to enjoy.

     

    5. Parts of a Plant Project

    If some of the spoons you have lying around your classroom happen to be colored, then you are well-stocked for making plastic spoon flowers. Break off the handle section of the spoons to leave only the round bowl. You may want to do this ahead of time for your students so that no one gets hurt on rough plastic edges. If any of the spoon pieces have sharp edges you can use sandpaper to smooth them out. Glue the spoon bowls in a circle onto a piece of construction paper to create the petals of a flower. A yellow pom-pom makes for a great pollen center. Then use other craft supplies like pipe cleaners, construction paper, and markers to add a stem, leaves, and roots to the flower. Have your students label each of the parts of their plants as a colorful demonstration of all that they have learned during a unit on plants!

     

    6. Math Facts Matching

    Plastic spoons are perfect for displaying math facts in this matching game. I love to use it when I am teaching the ways to compose the numbers up to ten with addition and subtraction facts, but it can be played with any combinations of math facts, or even with sorting words by parts of speech! To prepare this game you need a bunch of plastic spoons and paper or plastic cups/containers. Label each cup/container with the target sums or differences. For instance, when I make this game for my first graders, I have cups with sums and differences for all the numbers between zero and ten. Once you have created your answer cups, it is time to start making spoons with corresponding equations. The goal is for your students to select a spoon, read the math fact on the spoon, and place it in the cup that contains the matching answer. There will be multiple spoons for each container, showing students that there are many ways to make the same sum or difference. If you want to make this game self-checking, write the equations that equal each number on the bottom of the cup. This game works wonderfully as an extra activity to keep around for early-finishers during math time.

     

    7. Synonyms, Antonyms, Cognates...Oh My!

    For this activity, you will need two sets of spoons, one solid colored and one clear. In my classroom, I use this game to practice pairing English and Spanish cognates. For a monolingual classroom, try this activity when teaching synonyms or antonyms. On each of the solid colored spoons you will write a word from your synonyms or antonyms list toward the top of the spoon’s bowl. Then on the clear spoons you’ll write a synonym or antonym for each of the words you selected for the colored spoons. Make sure you write the words on your clear spoons towards the bottom of the spoons’ bowls. For example, if your colored spoon says “happy” at the top, then the antonym on your clear spoon might say “sad” or “disgruntled” toward the bottom.

    Students complete this activity by placing the solid colored spoons on the desk in front of them. They then select a clear spoon, read the word, and find the corresponding colored spoon on the desk and set the clear spoon over the colored spoon. This will display the two words, one on top of the other, allowing students to see the synonym or antonym pairs.

    One of the best parts of this game is that it is so compact and takes up very little storage space when you are done playing. You can even use these same spoons to play the sight word reading race mentioned above, since it doesn’t matter if there’s anything written on the spoon used to cover students’ eyes. I’m always looking for ways to reduce waste!

     

    8. Silent E Spoon Wand

    Help your students visualize how to turn common short vowel words into long vowel words with this silent e spoon wand. Simply write a lowercase letter e on the bowl of a spoon and voilà, you have a silent e wand. Students may use their wands to add an e to the end of words on the board or on the word wall, or you can download this worksheet for use with students’ wands. However you choose to use them, the silent e spoon wands will make learning long vowel words all the more fun!

     

    9. Spoon and Egg Maracas

    The Internet is full of a variety of ways to combine disposable spoons and plastic eggs to create maracas, but here is my take on making your own classroom instruments. First, fill a plastic egg (got some leftover from the spoon and egg relay game above?) with beans, beads, or any other small objects to create the desired maraca noise. Place the filled egg in between the bowl sections of two plastic spoons. Using colorful washi tape, wrap the spoons and the egg completely so that the egg does not move apart from the spoons. Feel free to have your students decorate the handles of the spoons to make their maracas even more magical and then let the music begin!

     

    10. Spoon and Spell

    My final suggestion for using leftover plastic spoons in your classroom is to create a literacy game I’m calling “Spoon and Spell.” Provide each student with a single spoon and a cup full of letters. You can use letter beads, letter dice or just print out letters on paper and cut them apart. Have your students stir their letters well within the cup and then scoop out a spoonful of letters, placing them on the table. Using the letters they spooned out, students must try to spell as many words as possible. They can record their words on scrap paper or in their writing journals. Once a child has exhausted all the words they can make with their first spoonful, invite them to return all the letters to the cup, stir them around, and spoon out another set for more word-making practice.

    I hope you have gotten some great ideas for ways to use plastic spoons in your classroom. If you have additional inspirations, please share them with us in the comments below. I wish you a spoonful of fun and learning in your classroom this spring!

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