Learning Groups

“Okay, everyone, find a partner!” and what happens?  Every kid looks to their best friend, grabs their hands, and you’re left with a couple of kids who can’t find a partner.  The “Partner Grumbles” are not welcome in my classroom.  In fact, we discuss it at the start of the year.  In our class, we are a team, and we welcome everyone as our partner.  So, what’s even more powerful than talking to get rid of the “I don’t wanna be partners with….” talk?  Enter dollar store junk.  Yes.  Dollar Tree really does sell everything… even grouping strategies.

I stopped in and picked up a deck of cards, pipe cleaners, 3 bags of eye-ping pong balls, party favor sparkly chain lengths, erasers, and a bag of fake money.  Seven dollars later, I have an arsenal of grouping strategies.   You can adjust the number of each item and it’s match to fit your class and the number of students you’d like per group.

1.) Pipe cleaners:  Grab one, match your color, and make a polygon with your two pipe cleaners.  Focus is on the math, the partnership, and students are ready to work!

2.) EyeBALLS: I bought three different colors, so students can be grouped by eyecolor. I’m also going to use a Sharpie to put a number and a letter on each one.  Now, the eyes can be used to make groups of three, groups of 2 by number, and groups of 4 by letter.

3.) Party Favor Links: After passing them out, you can have students group by shape or color.

4.) Fake money: Pass out the ones and the fives and tell students to get in a group of three that makes $7.00.

5.) Cards: Group by suit or number… or even ask students to make a math equation with their partners and let them figure it out.

6.) Erasers: Group by color or add numbers to them with a Sharpie.

Learning Groups

Don’t have time to pass out and collect all of these items?  An awesome way to handle them, which I learned during eMINTS professional developement, is to create a bag of tricks! Put the items in small plastic ziploc bags.  Then, the bags can be kept in the middle of student tables or placed on each students desk when they arrive for the day.  I love this because each bag has different items so when you shout find your “card partner” they will look at the card in their bag to match.  Or, next, you might need groups of 3 and shout “Find your pipe cleaner partner.”   Students don’t need to open the bag to see inside, and they can be easily put back in a bucket or other central location for storage.

So, ready, set….. find your partner, compliments of the Dollar Tree. 🙂