Friday, August 30, 2019

Cardboard and Blocks Equal Building Possibilities


Most of my groups of kids love to use blocks. Often we will put out blocks with little or nothing else. The kids enjoy creating in different ways with the blocks.

However, I try to add different materials - just to stimulate more thinking and encourage kids to expand their ideas. Of course, recycled materials make great construction materials. This time, we added cardboard pieces (from boxes) and cardboard tubes.


As is my practice, I put out the items with little direction beyond: "You can use these with the blocks if you choose."


We tried various arrangements of cardboard, blocks, and tubes.



We created structures and playgrounds.


And we even incorporated other items into our structures.




These materials are great for the classroom. You can use whatever you have on hand. If you have large pieces of cardboard or long tubes, cut them smaller or shorter. If they get torn or damaged, just toss them. (Or better yet, find a way to use them in sculptures or murals in the art center!)


Thursday, August 8, 2019

3 (plus) Ways to Use Binder Clips

I love shopping in the teacher stores (both online and brick-and-mortar). I always find lots of resources I'd love to have. However, my budget does not allow me to buy all (or even most) of the things I see. 

Also, because of cost and storage, I need things that multi-task. I like those specialty educational resources but many times I'm limited in how I can use them. A great item that is inexpensive and can be used in lots of ways is the binder clip. Here are three ways we have used binder clips in our room.


Game Pieces - Use binder clips to make stand-up game pieces. This one uses a picture card. But you could use anything that could clip in the binder clip. Use photographs of your kids. Use index cards on which kids have printed their names or drawn pictures. Use letters or shapes from bulletin board sets. You can use anything. Clip it in the binder clip and stand on the table or gameboard. 

Or stick a colored sticker on the binder clip or buy a set of colored binder clips and use the clips themselves for game pieces.

Additional task: Use these stand-up cards for graphing. Ask a question or display items for kids to choose. They can place their clip (with picture, name, or whatever) under their choice.




Book Binding - Use binder clips to attach pages together in a homemade book. Kids could draw pictures and/or write words on sheets of paper or cards. Clip the pages together and turn the pages. 

This book is made from food labels. Cut labels from boxes or cans and tape the labels onto index cards. Clip the cards together. (Use logos that are familiar to kids. They can "read" this book because it uses environmental print, print they recognize.)

Additional perk: These books are easily changed. When kids master the environmental print words or when your emphasis changes, file these cards and bind new ones for a new book.




Homemade Clipboard - Use a piece of cardboard and a binder clip to make a homemade clipboard. Stack paper and align with the cardboard. Clip on the binder clip. Kids now have a portable "desk" to write or draw. I like this because I can change the orientation of the clip. I can move it to the side and use the paper in a horizontal format instead of always using vertical or fighting the clip on the side (like on a clipboard). 

Additional perk: If space is tight, use these to reduce the number of tables in your room. Kids can sit on the floor and work in small groups as needed.


One of my favorite places to find items to repurpose is the office supply store (or the office supply section of your favorite discount store). Head to your favorite office supply spot and stock up on binder clips. Here are a few other quick ideas:
  • Use the binder clips as counters or other manipulatives. 
  • Add the clips to an activity that allows kids to practice pinching to open the clips, such as clipping onto the sides of a box. (Great for fine motor development) 
  • Hang the clips on pushpins to make easily changeable wall displays. 
  • Or just clip papers together, as the binder clips were designed to do. (Maybe office dramatic play!)