Recycle, Reuse: Empty Bean Cans

I have a friend who was married over this past summer and who hosted her own reception after the honeymoon. At the reception, she must have had some massive dish involving green beans (blech!) because she saved the giant empty cans for me, 5 in all. She cleaned them and brought them to school for me. I love these cans!

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That's a lot of green beans!

Well, as it turns out she asked me if I thought the cans would be useful in my classroom. I immediately said, 'Yes!' and about  a month ago we found a use for them. I designed a very simple game that the students absolutely love playing. Seriously took about 5 minutes to invent this game. Here's how we play it.

First, I set the cans up in some sort of configuration on the floor. I make sure there is a wall behind them. Next, we draw a line on the floor with tape and the students have to line up behind the tape. Third, we grab a ball: ping-pong and tennis balls work best because they are small and bounce and cause small damage if they bounce too hard and far. 

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Next, inside the cans I place simple things: numbers, pictures of various coin collections, sight-words, addition/subtraction problems, etc. For example, the next picture shows some simple double digit numbers flashcards I downloaded for free from (I think they were skip counting flashcards.) The cards were then cut and laminated. I place the cards in the cans and the game is ready to begin. 

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We keep score by making a simple score chart on the Smartboard and placing each student's name in the graph. Using the double-digit numbers example, when a student correctly reads the double-digit (say, '22' for example) they receive the amount of points they just read. So, if they read '22', they get 22 points. On their next round, the values are added together. In this case, 22+10=32 and so on and so forth. We keep score and whoever has the most points at the end gets a prize from the prize box or a pat on the head. 

So, the student stands beh iind the line, softly tosses or bounces the ball towards the cans, the ball will either land in a can, in which case we take the card out and they read it, or the ball misses, in which case the student retreats to the end of the line until their next turn. 

You can play as many rounds as you like. I have found this to be an especially fun game when we have 15 or 20 minutes of 'nothing to do.' It is easy to set up and is so flexible. Like I noted above, you can use sight words, number cards, addition/subtraction flash cards, multiplication cards, or whatever. Coin collection cards are fun too because then the students have to add the various amounts of cards and they get that much 'money' for their score. 

Safety note: please make sure when you open the cans that you use a safety opener that will eliminate any sharp edges from the tin. I don't let the kids near the cans anyhow, but this is an important safety tip so as to prevent injury to yourself and, most importantly, the students. 

I hope this little game is helpful to you and that you will find a use for more stuff that might otherwise end up in a landfill. 


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