Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Easy, practical, CLEAN bathroom passes - a freebie!

I teach second grade.  They do NOT always remember to wash their hands.  So bathroom passes, which are a necessity in the elementary classroom, have always grossed me out.

  • If it's something the kids carry to the bathroom, where do they put it while they're there?
  • If it's something they wear - like a lanyard or clip - there's a lot of touching involved (put it on, take it off). 
  • If it's something they leave on their desk so the teacher knows they're missing from the room, they still have to touch it. 
  • And remember, they don't always wash their hands.  No matter how many times I remind them.  (Lots, btw.)
  • So just, ew.

Then I saw this idea on Pinterest a few years ago, the lightbulb went off, and I've used it ever since:

The child places the hand sanitizer bottle on his/her desk and leaves the room.  When he/she returns, the bottle gets returned to its place on my desk - at which point the child dispenses a pea-sized amount and rubs it in on the way back to their desk.

Voila.  All my OCD problems solved. ;)

  • The bottles live on my desk by the tissues, so after you throw your tissue away - hey, have some hand sanitizer.
  • That was an impressive sneeze!  Go wash your hands.  Or have a squirt.
  • I DO stop the girls who want to wear it as perfume, and I DO have a stern talk with the class once someone discovers that a squirt of Purell on a tissue easily wipes their Sharpie name off their desk.  But all in all, I think it's a win. :)

You can pick up the labels in my TpT store for free!  You'll have to buy your own Purell bottles ;) but they tend to be in the back-to-school sale sections in most stores right now.  And I'm sure these labels will work with other brands of hand sanitizer; I just like the squareish shapes of the Purell bottles.

Step one: measure the label on your bottles and print the page you need:

Step two: cut and laminate:

> I took this picture before laminating, but I DO laminate them because if I need to switch bottles midway through the year, I can just peel off the tape and reapply the same labels to a new bottle.  I plan to refill the bottles as the year goes on, but sometimes they get dropped and cracked, and I am stingy with my ink. ;)

Step three: use sealing or packing tape to wrap entirely around the label on both sides of the bottle.  Having each bottle two-sided means that no matter which way it gets left on the desk, you can tell quickly and easily where the girls' pass is and where the boys' pass is.

This year, I bought bigger Purell bottles (whoops) and had to make bigger labels.  The freebie in my store has both sizes; measure your bottles and only print the page you need.

Happy (clean) teaching!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The best pencil sharpener EVER!

Well.  Am I ever a happy camper!

A couple of years ago, I solved the pencil problem in my classroom.  No more kids sharpening their pencils all day long.  No more kids saying they didn't have a pencil, or an eraser, or they couldn't find their whiteboard marker . . . nope, all those problems solved.

Well, mostly. ;)

Because they still had colored pencils to sharpen sometimes.

And I still had to sharpen all of their regular pencils at the end of each week with my noisy, messy electric sharpener.  And the bigger the class, the longer that took.  Since I'm looking at having TWO groups of students this year, a morning class of 25 and an afternoon group of 18, that's a LOT of sharpening time for me.  

And then, voila, a solution arrived in the mail.

Classroom Friendly Supplies sent me this pencil sharpener:

So cute!!

I bought some cheap pencils (hey, if we're going to test a new tool, let's make it a REAL test - no Ticonderoga pencils here!):

And I sharpened.  The pencil gets clamped in (so the SHARPENER is holding the pencil, not me - or the students - which means the pencil is getting pressed against the blades with just the right amount of force AND no one is holding onto that sharp metal eraser-holder end and getting cut) and then you just turn the crank:

And whoa.

I mean, WHOA.

First of all, talk about a perfect point:

Second, the pencil sharpener doesn't take off ANY extra lead.  You know how you sharpen half of your new pencils, stack them up again with the unsharpened pencils, and they're shorter?  Not anymore.  Note that the erasers are aligned and so are the tips:

This is the same photo as above - I didn't move the pencils between shots.
The erasers are still aligned and, as you can see, the tips are the same length as the unsharpened pencils!

Third, and this didn't hit me until the second pencil that I sharpened, I realized I was doing something reflexively that didn't need to be done with this sharpener: blowing the dust off the freshly sharpened pencil.

Because there was no dust.

These pencils came out perfectly clean.  

That just doesn't happen, people.  How do you sharpen a pencil and NOT have sawdust shavings or little lead flakes?  I have NEVER taken a pencil out of a sharpener that was perfectly clean.  In the picture above, I blew on one of the pencils (habit!) and didn't blow on the rest - I just took them out of the sharpener, squealed happily, and lined them up with the others.  Betcha can't tell which one got special treatment, because I can't!

So now I have this wonderful tool and a new classroom job: PENCIL SHARPENER.  I removed that job when I instituted the pencil pouches a couple of years ago, but now that I'm going to have 43 pouches to sharpen each week, I'm going to make it a student job.  

And now the students have the perfect tool with which to do their job: my happy new pencil sharpener.

I plan to buy more of these and let children share this job.  I want to get a 3-pack of sharpeners for about 30% off, which is kind of like buy two, get one free - then I'll have four in my classroom, which would be perfect for my class sizes (and my new helpers!) this year.  I'm thrilled!

You can check out Classroom Friendly Supplies and get one or more for your home or classroom, too.  I promise you will LOVE this pencil sharpener!