You know that song, A Few of My Favorite Things? I’m flipping the script today and telling you about some of my least favorite teaching things. Spoiler alert: lanyards in the classroom are NOT on this list:
- Bathroom passes. If we could do one of those black light tests for germs like they used to do on Room Raiders MTV, I think 50% of the teaching force would up and quit. Bathroom passes gross.me.out.
- Constant questions, especially when I am assisting groups of students.
- The insane amount of parts and pieces littering the floor of the classroom. I can’t blame it on the kids; 6-year olds are not exactly predisposed to being tidy.
- The ever-changing class list and keeping track of it for substitutes
I’m not here to complain, though. I’m here to talk about the ONE tool that has solved all of the above problems. Ladies and gentlemen, LANYARDS. Lanyards quite literally saved my sanity a couple years ago and once I started using them, I never looked back. Here are 4 reasons why you need lanterns in your teaching life.
#1 Use lanyards in the classroom for all the passes
Do you enjoy touching rulers that have been touched by 24 pairs of unwashed hands? Yeah, me either. Placing a few lanyards in the classroom with bathroom pass cards on a hook near your door will solve this problem once and for all. At the beginning of the year, I teach my students how to put the pass on and also how to turn it around so the card hangs in the back while they do their business or wash their hands. Obviously this will differ for boys and girls and #1 or #2, but hey, these are the fun conversations you get the have when you work with kids. Lanyards themselves are easily washable if you feel they need a quick refresher, and a swipe of a Lysol wipe is all the plastic sleeve needs to be fresh and clean again.
You can also use lanyards in the classroom for clinic passes, office passes, hall passes—you name, the lanyard can do it!
#2 Use lanyards in the classroom for student signals
As teachers, we are practically born with some sort of lanyard or ID tag around our neck, so adding a simple card or another thin lanyard to the mix is not a huge deal, right? I find lanyards to be incredibly useful for the following purposes:
- A silent signal to tell a student to award herself a Class Dojo point (this is great compared to breaking the classroom focus and sending the entire class into an uproar). I simply point to my Dojo card and away they go!
- Standing at the door or walking around the room pointing to our word of the day or fact of the week and asking students to say it or solve it. This is an alternative to some classrooms that have a “password” posted at classroom entrance, but an idea you can implement on the go instead.
#3 Use lanyards in the classroom to give students bragging rights
students human beings love feeling special, and a simple tag can change an entire day. It’s a student’s birthday? Let them wear the birthday lanyard! Did a child earn VIP Student for collecting 50 Dojo points? On goes the VIP lanyard! Did little Sally lose a tooth? Yep, you guessed it–I Lost a Tooth lanyard, it is!
You can get ALL of the free lanyard printables by clicking the image below:
#4 Use lanyards in the classroom for learning tools
I’ve saved the best for last, here. Using lanyards for learning tools for my students was something that changed the way we did EVERYTHING in our classroom. Notably, math stations, small group work, and literacy stations gained a huge boost in student independence, understanding, and engagement thanks to their own learning tool lanyards. We referred to them affectionately as our “keychains,” and the kids loved having their own set of “keys” to unlock the learning they were doing every day.
What are Classroom Keychains?
Learning lanyards are a collection of cards that aid students in their daily classroom activities. Cards attach to the lanyard with a binder ring. The binder ring connects to a standard lanyard. Keys on the keychain cover all types of topics; most popular were the number line, sight word, and student password keys for students to use during math and literacy stations. Here are some photos to show you a few of the keys we loved using:
Classroom Keychains are easy to prepare
To assemble Classroom Keychains, a teacher prints off the sheets of cards, laminates it, punches a hole in the top, and attaches it to the binder ring. The Classroom Keychains do not use plastic sleeves; I opted to make the student-used cards larger and more kid-friendly than the smaller cards used in the bathroom passes and other examples listed above.
Classroom Keychains are easy to transport
Do you remember the game Mousetrap? It was the most fun game ever, but came with approximately 257 pieces and its shelf life was good for about 2 days, until one of the pieces inevitably went missing forever. That’s how classroom materials tend to be. Lanyards are a Type A teacher’s best friend, because every single piece is attached to one glorious fabric loop.
Classroom Keychains are easy to use
Students can wear their lanyard to any classroom activity that requires a learning aid. Cards are laminated to ensure longevity, but many cards are also created so students can write on them with a dry erase marker. Color keys can enhance the ease of use; for example, maybe all math keys are printed on blue paper and all writing keys on red paper. You can also use stickers to indicate commonly-used keys or for quick student reference.
Classroom Keychains are easy to store
Lanyard cards or “keys” can be copied and laminated at the beginning of the year and stored in large Ziploc bags. The lanyards can be hung on a series of Command hooks; we hung ours in order of students’ magic number so we could tell easily whose was missing.
(not pictured: right above each hook is a small label with each student’s number)
Classroom Keychains grow with the students
My favorite thing about classroom keychains is how easy it is to change cards. Cards can be added and removed as the students master skills and move on to new ones. The best part is, the lamination keeps the cards in really good shape and students can either take them home at the end of the year or you can hold on to them for your next group of kids!
You can grab the free lanyard cards by clicking the image below!
To check out the full set of Classroom Keychains, click the photo below!