Ten Classroom Faves that Make Teaching Fun

Okay, I've compiled my personal top favorite items that truly make teaching and learning fun!  None of these are necessities.  I promise.  They're just fun and add to our environment and classroom family!

In no particular order, we have...

1: Sweet Smellies
We call these Sweet Smellies and I can promise you that even "big kids" will dig them!
We used lip balms as a form of checking in, accountability, and positive reinforcement.  You can grab these at Target but I also get good ones at the Dollar Tree!

As students work, I walk around and do a swipe on the back of their hands.  I can use it to silently say, "I'm proud of you," "Keep at it," or, "You got it right!"  

The kids LOVE sniffing the back of their hands and then getting right back to work.  I never say which scent I'm using so the suspense is real.  Also, in the decade I've been using these, I've never had an allergy issue, however I always make sure I check emergency cards at the beginning of the year for ANY allergies!

2: Bungee Chairs
We always have two of these and they're great with clipboards.
I think if you were to ask my students, year after year, what their favorite seating option is, they'd likely say bungee chairs.  

And honestly, I can't blame them.  My teammates and I sit in them during planning meetings.

I had the previous pair for about 4 years (they hold up great!) but when Target released these with a more molded chair, I replaced mine.  These usually come out when stores roll out their college and dorm items.  I think they're about $30 a piece but we all really do love them.

3: Blocks Rock!
They BEG to play this.  In fact, I even bring it home if we are having people over for dinner!
 I was introduced to Blocks Rock! via Instagram and quickly introduced it to my class.  You know how you never really know if something will be a hit or not but when it IS a hit it's the best thing EVER?

That is this game.

I explained the game and did a practice round, fishbowl style, with a student.  I asked if anyone would want to try it and all 33 hands shot up.  Sold.
It is THE top pick during soft start mornings.
You can integrate this game into your classroom in so many ways.  Rainy day recess, class reward time, soft starts (my fave; you can read more HERE), or as a may do when other work is done.  

It's logic and reasoning and spatial thinking all in one.  I can't sing the praises enough.  Go grab one HERE.

4: Class Cash
Stacks of cash!
 We run our class on a financial literacy system and while it's a great management tool, it's also FUN.

Students can earn, save, spend (and occasionally LOSE) class cash.  I have more written HERE if you're interested.

We use our cash for everything and I love finding fun ways to keep it fresh.
Fun surprise to see that their responses earned them a bonus!
 We use cash to motivate, we use it to award top work, or we use it to note the kindness of others.

My teacher assistant (a class job) maintains the order here!
Plus, we keep it in a locked cash box, where only the elected teacher assistant has access.  It's a coveted position and rightly so!

5: BOOKS
Our class library is like an extension of my family.  Seriously.
 I know this one is obvious but having as vast a library as possible makes reading FUN.

When kids ask for book recommendations, few things make me happier than when I can say, "Yes!  If you liked this, then you might like this or this or this."
Stacks and stacks of books make my heart happy.
Keep in mind, that I've been teaching a while and I've built up a library I love.  If you're starting out, or just looking to boost your current inventory, I've found some affordable ways to do so:
-Scholastic warehouse sales
-Scholastic Book Club points
-Used book sales at public libraries 
-Garage sales or Goodwill

If you have a class, ask/beg your students to donate their old books to YOU.  In my room, I give $10 class cash for every book donated.  It's a huge win-win for us.

6: Wireless Microphone
This microphone is a certified confidence booster!
Again, NOT a necessity but SO fun.  This wireless microphone (I got mine HERE) is used all day long and we love it.

Once it's charged, it lasts a LONG time.  Students use it throughout the day but we especially love using it to share out writing samples or drafts of pieces.

Granted, the volume doesn't get that loud, we still love it.  You can also play music through it too (via Bluetooth and my phone).

7: Podium
Everyone loves using this!
This might seem like a weird one but we really do love it.  I salvaged this from our media center renovation but I know these pop up on Craigslist and FB Marketplace groups.  

I also saw THIS at Ikea and thought it would work perfectly, too!

Basically, it gives a platform (literally) to encourage public speaking skills.  Kids love coming up to share out lengthier ideas or to explain a math concept.  They'll pop their paper under the document camera and stand nearby to explain. 

Want to increase engagement even more?  Buy some laser pointers from the Dollar Tree and have them use it AS they present.  You will be literally watching future executives get their footing.

8: Interactive Boards
The kids run it, which means the kids OWN it.
When designing (or re-designing) my room, I always always ALWAYS take the students into account first.  Of course I want it to be colorful and exciting but I primarily want it to work for their learning needs.

Because of this, I try to make as many walls as possible interactive.  Let them take control because I can assure you that they will be FAR more engaged and invested.

Our language wall is on our magnetic whiteboard, so each piece moves easily because of button style magnets (they give the pieces a little depth and make it easier to grab and position).
Kids use this wonder wall to add anything that interests or amazes them.

The more they can manipulate and add, the more the space truly feels like their own.

9: Calming Corners
This is just a little corner, carved out for quiet work or personal space.
This one doesn't have to cost a dime.  Just find a corner of the room and make it a dedicated space for your students.  There's no particular order to this; anyone that needs a moment or needs more space can use this corner.  

I add a pillow and our self-regulation cards (you can grab these HERE) and that's all it really takes.  Initially, I created this space with a few particular students in mind but have realized over the course of time that it is a great fit for ALL students.  They don't need to ask me; they just take their work back and either enjoy the quiet or the calm (or both!).

10: A Support System
I love them.
 I couldn't do a single day without these people.  Find your people.  Lean on them, use them, cry with them, and laugh with them.  

These people make teaching and learning fun and I don't take it for granted.  

I hope this helped; I'm sure it will change and evolve, as all things in education tend to do!

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