Being a teacher can get expensive, and there are just so many fun, interesting and practical items we find that will make our classrooms more conducive and engaging. That’s why I am learning to “shop” in my classroom before I hit up Amazon, Michael’s or The Dollar Tree. Recently in my seasonal tubs, I found a ton of Thanksgiving stickers. In the spirit of using up items (so I can buy more, of course) and saving money, I came up with various ways to use stickers in academic work for my students. Here are five ways you can use seasonal (or really any) stickers in your classroom for academic work…
1. Writing Words
It’s amazing how much more fun writing is with stickers! I had my group of students who are working on handwriting, letter identification and letter sounds choose stickers and I wrote the word next to the sticker in yellow marker to trace or above for a vial model. My students really enjoyed this activity and were really motivated to continue to write or trace words. Other ways I would expand upon this is to have students circle specific letters for letter identification practice, verbally say and point to each letter in the word (spelling aloud) and begin to identify the first letter sounds in words.
I have a small group of students working on counting two different ways-counting sets of items and counting out items from a larger set. You could put a a variety of stickers on a piece of paper and ask students to count the various types of stickers (“How many leaves are on the page?”). What I did was have the students practice counting out items from a larger set with the stickers. First, I had students choose a type of sticker (e.g. leaves, acorns, animals) and roll the dice to determine how many of that type of sticker they would put on their paper. Next, I had them count out the stickers and put them on their paper. Practicing fine motor skills is also a bonus with this activity because I noticed some students did not yet fully master peeling one sticker off a sheet of stickers. Last, I had students write, either in sentences or with just the number and word (depending on individual student levels) how many of each item they had on their paper. This was a good way to practice counting the items multiple times, in multiple ways.
3. Word Problems
I also found using the stickers was a great introduction to math word problems. Much like the counting activity, I had students choose two types of stickers and roll the dice to determine how many of each sticker to put on their papers. You could write a word problem at first for your students to solve and then eventually, have students write their own word problems. I did a lot of modeling with this activity so students would be exposed to this skill multiple times. I also focused on one key word option (“all together” for adding).
4. Creative Story Writing
Have the students create a sticker scene and write a creative, fictional story. This can be challenging, but it is a good way to introduce thinking creatively and using imagination. I did a lot of modeling at first because students just wanted to write facts (e.g. “The raccoon has fur.”), but through guided practice and sentence starters, students began to understand the purpose of this type of writing. You could use a variety of stickers, scenes and themes when using stickers to help teach students about creative writing. Students could also draw in details with their scenes. This is also a good way to introduce concepts such as characters, setting, problem and solution.
5. “Wh” Questions
When teaching “wh” questions, it is important to have a variety of activities and assignments to keep it fun and interesting. Since asking questions is pretty straightforward, asking questions verbally or on written assignments can get old. I had students create sticker scenes and I modeled writing “wh” questions and had students answer the questions. Other ways to expand on upon this activity would be to have students create the scene, the teacher writes the questions and another student answers the questions. You could come up with specific “wh” questions as a small group. For example, If your focus was on “what” questions, you could have the students come up with as many “what” questions as possible for the given sticker scene. Lastly, students can start to write their own questions for sticker scenes and trade with a partner. Obviously, this is a higher-order thinking skill, but it is a good goal to have for students because if they can create their own questions, it demonstrates a deeper mastery of asking and answering “wh” questions.
I hope you got some new ideas or inspiration to use up what is in your classroom for focused activities that are also fun for students. Share ways you use up what is in your classroom for different assignments and activities!