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I love teaching first and second grade. I love everything about it. I love the giggles, and the wide-eyed wonderment, and the sweet voices, and the constant questions. And one of my favorite things is when kids come in from recess, and they've found special treasures out on the playground. Treasures like rocks, and feathers, and leaves, and sometimes possibly the exoskeleton of a locust. They will be so proud of these treasures and they want to show them off and they want to hang on to them and keep them safe. However, in the hustle and bustle of our afternoon activities, some treasures, inevitably, get lost. Leaving me with some very sad Sams. And when you have several sad Sams thinking about their special space rock that they found on the playground being lost, those students are not in the mode to learn.
Teachers must take into account child development of young children, and how important collections of items are to their little hearts. Even though we might see only a rock or a dirty feather or a stick, these young children see them as magic stones, fairy wings, and wizard wands. So to them, when one of their special treasures gets lost, it's a pretty big deal.
In order to help with the missing treasure challenge, I go to the craft store at the beginning of each year and purchase little 3” X 3” chipboard boxes with lids. These boxes are usually on sale for about fifty cents each, or sometimes jewelry stores will donate them when you beg. On the first day of school we read It's Not A Box, we talk about how important and wonderful it is to have an imagination and use it and how creative each and every one of them are. We also talk about responsibility and respect. I expect each student to be responsible for his or her own goodies and I expect all of the students to respect one another’s special treasures. I then put each child's name on the top of a box and pass them out to the kids.
I have a supply of rhinestones, glitter, stickers, little flowers and stamps and let them decorate their boxes for their special treasures. Once the boxes are decorated I tell the kids they can put all the treasures and special items they find in their box for safe-keeping. The box can be kept in their desk or in their cubby. I then tell them they can either empty the box each day into their backpacks when we stuff them in the afternoon, or the treasures can stay in the box. The rule is the lid has to fit on the box. This keeps those treasures from jumping out and defeating the purpose of keeping them safe. My kids love this activity! And it’s amazing to see how responsible the kids are throughout the year keeping their boxes safe. They especially love the fact that I find their treasures just as special as they do.
What do you do in your classroom to help kids keep their special treasures safe?