What can you get at the dollar store for pennies a piece that can serve multiple purposes in your classroom?
Clothespins! These versatile pieces of wood and metal can make possible all sorts of things, from learning centers to classroom organization to keeping students’ behavior in check. How many of these ideas have you tried in your classroom?
Try These Amazing Ideas for Using Clothespins in Your Lesson
Vocabulary Review Center
Clothes pins are a great resource for a vocabulary review center. To set up the simple station, write one vocabulary word along the top of each clothes pin. Then, put pictures of words at the station as well. If you can, put several pictures on one firm piece of cardstock or a paper plate. To use the center, students read the words on the clothespins and then clip them to the correct picture.
Label EverythingNeed a little help organizing your classroom? Use clothespins!
Need a little help organizing your classroom? Use clothespins! Purchase several mini chalkboards at your local craft store and hot glue them to clothespins. Now you have all purpose labels that you can easily clip on shelves, baskets, and containers.
Question Review and Grammar Practice
Preparing your clothespins for this review activity will probably take you a respectable amount of time, but once you do it you’ll have an activity ready for your students a moment’s notice. To review a certain grammar point, write a fill in the blank question on the SIDE of a clothespin (where you can see the spring). Write the answer to that question on a small slip of paper, about one inch by 1 ½ inches, and make sure you have extra space on the paper on top and bottom. Then glue the back side of the slip of paper to the inside of the clothes pin. (The paper should “bubble” out the opposite side of the clothespin from where you wrote the question.) Students read the question and either think of the answer in their mind or write it down on a piece of paper. They gently open the clothes pin to show the answer glued on the inside and see if they were right.
Excellent Work Display
Don’t want to fill your classroom walls with holes? Use clothespins to display students’ work. String some twine or laundry rope along one of your classroom walls. Then use the clothespins to hang student work from the line. You can easily change your display out without the need of a staple remover or broken fingernails.
Are your students struggling with English spelling, particularly vowel combinations? Make them a set of word spelling cards using index cards and clothespins. On the index card, write the word, minus its vowels, along the top of the card and a picture of the word anywhere on the card it will fit. On several clothespins, write a, e, i, o, and u – you will want two or three of each vowel. (If you’re feeling fancy, glue a scrabble tile to each clothespin instead of writing the letters.) Students then use the clothespins to complete the words, hopefully spelled correctly. If you like, write the correct spelling of each word on the back of its index card so students can self-check.
Easy Score Keeper
Do you play games where teams of students score points, such as charades or Pictionary? If so, use clothespins as an easy way to keep track of how many points each team has earned. Hang a ribbon or strip of paper at the front of your classroom for each team. Whenever a team scores a point, add a clothespin to their ribbon. When the game is over, you don’t need to count points. Just look to see who has more clothespins on their ribbon.
If you want your students to be more proactive when it comes to self-correction, try this fun game/exercise. At the beginning of the period, have each person clip three clothespins to their shirt. If a student catches a classmate making a grammatical mistake, he gets to take one of their clothespins. This way students will be more aware of what their classmates are saying and what their target structures are, and you won’t have to be the one correcting the mistakes all the time. At the end of the period or school day, the person with the most clothespins wins a small prize.
When you are reviewing syllables with your ESL students, this is a fun way to see how well your class is getting it. Give everyone a piece of cardstock (about four inches by eight inches is good) or a large index card as well as four or five clothespins. Have everyone lay their cardstock flat on their desks. Say a word and have students put one clothespin on their cardstock for every syllable in the word. On your signal, everyone lifts their cardstock up so their clothespins are vertical. You can easily see who got the right answer and who is struggling with hearing syllables correctly.
Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light
Do you use the traffic light system to keep your students’ behavior in check during the school day? If so, you can probably simplify your system with a few recycled cans and some clothespins. Get three similar cans (old coffee cans are usually a good size) and glue green paper to one, yellow paper to the second, and red paper to the third. Put these cans in a prominent place in your classroom. Then write each student’s name on a clothespin, and attach all of them around the rim of the green can. When a student is misbehaving, give them a warning and move their clothespin from the green can to the yellow can. If the student continues to misbehave, move their clothespin from the yellow can to the red can and assign an appropriate consequence. Students can keep track of their own behavior during the school day by looking to see which can their clothespin is on.
Story Sequence Props
If you want to check your students’’ reading comprehension, try this fun manipulative exercise on for size. Copy several pictures (or use stickers) from a story book that are key to the story’s plot. Laminate them if you like, and attach each one to a clothespin. Either with a partner or on their own, students take the clothespins and put them in the correct sequence along the top of a folder or piece of paper. They can then use the pictures as clues as they retell the story to their partner.
This is just the beginning of how you can use clothespins in your ELS class. They are small, easy to store, sturdy, and inexpensive. Plus they are an easy way to get your students’ hands involved in class activities.
What are some of your best uses for clothespins in the classroom?
Share them in the comments below.