Building Tasks: Recycling Old Stuff

Without doubt, one of the best aspects of being a teacher is
that we get to make tasks (or games, or jobs, or modified curriculum). I love
making up ways for my students to learn how to tell time without them having to
actually stare at a clock (for example). Modifying curriculum is a way for
teachers to express creativity, differentiate learning strategies, and
encourage students to become lifelong learners.

Some of my best friends are my small, portable laminator,
Velcro, and file folders. And I go through a lot of it. In this first post I
would like to share with you a fun project I built this past week that is
designed to be both a recycled project and a hands-on (if not occupationally
therapeutic) for the students in my class.

The supplies needed are few: at least 6 (six) empty Lays Stax cans; one shoebox; as many different colors of construction paper as you have Stax cans; tape (shipping tape works best because it is wider); and another large section of colorful paper or tacky paper to cover the shoe box. (*You can use Pringles cans if you like. I prefer the Stax cans because they are plastic and, thus, more durable. They are also easier to clean.) Below is a picture.

2013-07-13 18.04.50

The steps to creation are even simpler.

    1. Cut as many holes in the shoe box as Stax cans you will use.

    2. Cover the shoe box with tacky paper or construction paper. It really doesn't matter if the entire box is covered or not.

    3. Cover the Stax cans (after cleaning them) on the outside with a variety of colors of construction paper. For my model, I have chosen six basic colors.

    4. After the Stax cans are covered, simply insert them into the holes in the shoe box.

Voila! The project is finished. It took me between 30 and 45 minutes from start to finish. The best part is the I was able to keep six Stax cans and a shoe box out of a local landfill. It does not sound like much, but it is a start.

2013-07-13 18.04.55

What can you do with this contraption? Well, you can use it for sorting: sort colors for starters. Use small colored blocks or counting bears. You can cut shapes in the lids and have the students sort shapes. You can put numbers on the lids and have the students place that amount of objects in the cans. You could pre-fill the canisters with objects and have the students remove the lids and count the objects. On another day, you could remove the lids and have the students toss ping pong balls into the canisters and earn points which they will have to add together.

This is a simply task that has as many applications as you can imagine. I have purposely left my first iteration of this project open so as not to limit what I can do with it. Stax cans are simple wonderful. I have also created a game I call "Subtraction Bowling" using Stax cans. That is always a great day in class. Good luck.

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