First, an easy-to-manage strategy for getting everyone to participate in cleaning the classroom at the end of the day, plus a creative and unique time filler that also allows your students to develop their artistic abilities.
Check the photo lab at your local Costco. Even though just about everyone has gone digital when it comes to photography, you’ll still find canisters by the gajillion.
Clay in a Can
Here’s a simple E.T. activity—Extra Time—that is a wonderful right brain stimulator. It’s nothing more than modeling clay. What keeps it simple is the manner in which the students store their clay.
The clay is kept in an empty 35 mm film canister. This not only makes it easy to keep inside of a student desk but also limits the amount of clay you have. And speaking from experience, I’ve found that students don’t need much at all to create their sculptures.
Working with clay during our after-lunch read aloud became an opportunity for real artistic development. Every week I would give them a sculpture assignment from the story I’m reading. The time frame—10 to 15 minutes—was long enough to allow them to fashion something detailed. (You should have seen the teepees and campfires they created when I was reading The Indian in the Cupboard.) After I’d finished reading, we’d take a moment and walk around the room to see what other students had sculpted. The clay was then cylinderized and canistered.
In the beginning, some of the students had a rather difficult time squashing their creations and rolling the clay into a cylinder for reinsertion into the canister. This was especially true when they had made something that they really liked. It took some time but I was finally able to convince them that their little pony or rocking chair or alien head or whatever they had just created would still be a part of their clay; they just had to bring it back out again.
Warning: Unless the clay is neatly reformed into a cylinder before inserting it, your students will have difficulty extracting it the next day. If it’s just jammed in, the clay will want to stick to the sides of the film canister. The only recourse is to scrape out your clay with a tool such as a popsicle stick. However, once the sides of the canister have been coated with a layer of clay, the cylinder of clay will never come out cleanly. You might want to have extra canisters on hand just in case.
As your students become more confident sculptors, they’re going to want to have some tools for detailing and texturing their work. Popsicle sticks shaped on the sidewalk, straightened paper clips, a golf tee from home, plastic utensils, etc. make for handy tools and can be easily kept in a quart-sized freezer-type ziplock bag.
Bag it: Speaking of ziplock bags...you could certainly use one in place of the film canister as a storage device. Not only would the clay be easier to remove and reinsert, it would also hold the student’s clay tools. As with every idea I share with teachers, the decision is yours to make.
Award-winning educator Rick Morris is a recognized specialist in the field of student management, motivation, and engagement and the creator of New Management, a highly acclaimed program that is revolutionizing teaching and learning. Based on his thirty-one years of classroom experience, Rick’s up-beat, on-target workshops have inspired thousands of teachers to incorporate his innovative New Management tools and toys into their classrooms on a daily basis. In the words of David Smollar, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, “Morris is well known for the energy and creativity he brings to teaching.”
Rick now divides his time between presenting New Management strategies to educators throughout the country and writing about simple, yet effective ways to transform today’s challenging classrooms. In his new monthly column, Rick will be sharing ideas from his book, Tools & Toys: Fifty Fun Ways to Love Your Class. newmanagement.com/books/tt_info.html
Recipient of the Hats Off to Teachers award for: “. . . his teaching excellence and the positive effect he has on students.”
Author of four books: New Management Handbook, Tools & Toys, Class Cards, and Eight Great Ideas.
Awarded the Distinguished Contribution to Education Award from Phi Delta Kappa, the national honor society for education, in recognition of: “…the outstanding work you’ve done with new teacher intern programs.”
For more information about Rick Morris and his easy-to-use ideas for creating a happier, more productive classroom, please visit: newmanagement.com