Category Archives: Dollar Store Goodies

A Pedometer for a Roaming Student


I once had a student.  Let’s call him Toby.  Toby was the classroom roamer explorer.  He would get up in the middle of a 5 minute mini-lesson and begin “exploring” the room.  He was rarely aware that he was off task until I called him back to the carpet–he was just taking a walk!  I needed a way to make him aware and put him in control of his adventuring feet.

I tried everything, until one day I walked by the pedometers while doing some classroom shopping at the Dollar Store and half-seriously thought, “I bet Toby could really burn out one of those things!”  And the thought came to me, “What if I challenged him to get the FEWEST steps possible?”

It.  Totally.  Worked.  Man, I love the Dollar Store!

$2.12 plus these 4 sentences made all the difference: “Toby, here are 2 pedometers.  They keep track of how many steps you take each day.  You get to wear one, and you can choose a friend to challenge with the other one.  The person with the FEWEST steps at the end of the day WINS.”  I didn’t even attach a tangible award to it, just the pride of being the winner.  Toby’s roaming went almost to nonexistent in a DAY.  Each day, he chose a new friend to challenge.  Sometimes he even won.  The best part?  After a couple weeks, his roaming was drastically reduced, even when he forgot to put on the pedometer! 

Do you have an explorer?  Try this out and let me know how it goes!  I hope it’s just as successful for you!


Dollar Store Goodie: Timers


Dollar Store Goodie: Timers

Ever have those student that seem to spend mysteriously large amounts of time in the media center or running errands around the school? I have a few of these, and I found a simple (and cheap!) solution–Dollar Store Timers!  The timers shown are from the Dollar Tree, but any digital timer will work!

First, attach the timer to the media center pass. My library pass is on a long necklace, reducing how many times it’s lost while students search for books. I wrap the necklace string around the plastic stand piece on the back of the timer and then make it stay with a piece of masking tape.

Next, with your students, determine how much time is needed to get to the media center, search, and get back to the classroom. You can even have a few students run some time trails during their media center trips that day. You can always tweak this time as you see fit if it’s too much or too little time. My students use 4 minutes.

Then, teach the students how to set the timer for your chosen time and also STOP the timer’s alarm. I did NOT want my students to be causing a ruckus in the media center, so we practiced hitting the stop button as quickly as possible. This way, IF the timer did go off in the media center, they wouldn’t be distracting others.

Finally, teach the students WHEN to start and stop the timer. The beeping isn’t loud, but I asked my students to set the timer as soon as they stepped out of the classroom and just outside the door when they returned. This way, they weren’t distracting anyone with the tiny “beep beep” the buttons make.

This process really improved the efficiency of every media center visit, made students plan what they would search for before ever reaching the media center, and helped with their time estimation skills. ALSO, the Media Specialist LOVED it. She told me that she wished all the teachers would use the timers, because it eliminated the fooling around that she had to deal with in the media center! She said the students would look down at the timer and then pick up the pace in making their selection.

How do YOU encourage your students to use their time wisely? I’d love to hear your ideas!