Lego blocks, spiders, pumpkins, Dia de los Muertos, teeth, Lego men
are just a few of the 20 or so molds I have collected.
Why yes, it is Labor Day, the official end of the summer holiday. Dreaded by kids, educators and anyone else who is reluctant to say a final good bye to those lazy days of summer. We started back last week, the teachers on Monday and the students joined us on Wednesday. All is off to a great start, we've done management details, expectations and designed the covers to our sketchbooks. This week we are down to business with first projects celebrating International Dot Day. I have spent my weekend tying up schedules, printing out class rosters and creating rewards. Rewards, already? you much be thinking. Well, one of my classroom jobs is "Neat Freaks". These fortunate students are responsible for making sure everything is where it belongs at the end of class. Don't be confused, their job is not to put away supplies, it is so much more important than that! Their job is to search for those missing items that just didn't seem to make it back to their assigned places during clean-up. You know the crayon that rolled under the draw rack, the sketchbook that was piled on top of the shelf, The marker lid that didn't find it's marker body or the cut paper scrap that missed the recycling bin. When everyone thing is done at the end of the class, I locate one such item and it becomes the mystery item. One child from each of the six class tables is designated the Neat Freak and they are task with finding my mystery item. It is the favorite job of each class regardless of the grade because whomever finds the mystery item receives a prize. When I first began this process, I thought I'd really set myself up for some major expense. I began scouring the dollar store for inexpensive art related prizes and digging through my art stash for things I would part with. As chance would have it, I stumbled on a very economical practice while in Michaels early last October that has almost eliminated my out of pocket expense and has the kids eager to locate the mystery item in each and every class. Here is what I do, I recycle broken crayons and make new one. It can't get any easier than that...well except for peeling old crayons and the time it takes to make the new ones. But who is kidding who here, I am not, absolutely not complaining. These are the best!!! Over the past year I have been the first one to hit the store at the end of every holiday to pick up those little silicone baking molds on clearance and this summer I scouted all the discount stores for the new ones at cheapy cheapy prices. Why yes, I tell you, jump on board, this is a behavioral bonanza. My room has never been cleaner and my supplies have never been more well kept. Some classes I even have to "plant" a mystery item because clean-up is so thorough. They are easy peasy, really and at the end of the school year, everyone was donating broken crayons. I literally have bags and boxes full in my basement to create new beautiful fun shaped crayons this school year. I peel the paper or better yet, get the kids or my husband to do it. Break them up as small as you can, sometimes I use a small paring knife if needed and then fill the forms. I bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes and let them cool very well before popping them out of the molds. If one breaks when you try to remove it, leave it in the mold for the next time you are making them and just remelt it up. Try it, your students will think you are a super hero!