My squirrel students are the ones who just cannot choose a place to play. They are the students who can go to 40 different places in the classroom within the first 7 minutes of playing in the classroom. It was exhausting my energy saying “Please choose a spot to play in the classroom or I will choose a spot for you.” The squirrel students were also bothering other students who had already established a chosen play place appropriately.
I thought long and hard about what to do for my worst offender, E. E displays immature behaviour on a regular basis in the classroom and needed lots of help picking a place to play. Here is what I developed for him.
I printed off a four square and slid it into a page protector. I placed it at eye level in the classroom so E could see it. I brought E over and told him that this four square was only for him and that it was to plan where he played in the classroom. We read the numbers together as well as the title. Afterwards, I explained to him that we would set my cell phone timer for five minutes. If he stayed at the first area of play for five minutes, he would be able to move on to the second square. After all four squares were complete, he was free to go where he wanted.
We then took a dry erase marker and drew the areas of play. Excuse my awful drawings – I was making it happen quickly. I chose the first square, E chose the second and third, and I chose the 4th.
This worked great the first day. He went to where he needed to go without complaints and felt totally empowered about the situation.
One problem: he couldn’t hear my cell phone timer because of loudness of the classroom. Claaaaaaaasic. I made a joke to my student teacher: “Well what should I do, tape my phone to his sweater?!” And she then smartly suggested a stop watch. The only stop watch I found in the school didn’t count down. Back to the drawing board. I didn’t want to use the online visual timers because we frequently use the smart board for visual directions. It’s tied up most of the time.
I remembered about a timer I use to have that worked great for literacy stations in previous years. I was cheap, loud, and portable. All things we K teachers love. Minus the loud, sometimes.
I laced it through a lanyard with some wire and had E wear it from play spot to play spot. I taught him how to set it, how it stop it, and how to restart it so he could move from area to area independently.
HE LOVED IT.
It is now hanging proudly on the board next to his four square, ready to wear for the following day. E was so proud to show his mom how this worked when they came for interviews.
Independence for the win.