Tricks to Help Your Students Learn Responsibility With Their Supplies

I don't know about you, but sometimes my very best ideas come at random moments.  This particular idea came after lots of lots of stewing and thinking about how to help my students keep track of their supplies.  Trust me, the only thing that mysteriously disappears more than socks in a dryer is school supplies!  I had one of these ideas during the last trimester of this past school year and had such great success with it that I'm doing it again!  Here's that tip and a few more for teaching responsibility with school supplies.

Teaching Responsibility in the Classroom

We can teach responsibility in the classroom using school supplies
Back to school time is a great time to remind kids of classroom expectations and implement best practices. Teaching responsibility is a life skill we teach young, that will travel with students throughout their school career and beyond. 

One way to teach responsibility is with school supplies. You know, the supplies that seem to disappear without a trace every.single.year? Wouldn't it be amazing if that didn't have to be the norm? 

Here are a few ways to remedy that hassle of tracking down a pencil or pair of scissors . . . check it out!

Labeling Pencils

I have struggled with my kiddos NEVER having pencils for the first 24 years of my teaching career. Last year, I decided to give everyone in my class 2 pencils with their number written on both of them. I assign numbers to my students that they use on many different things, so this seemed like an easy way for them to identify their pencils.  Then . . . I issued a challenge!  

Mark pencils with student's number or name and challenge them to keep track of themI challenged my students to hold on to those two pencils all week!  Yep, I jumped right in with a big challenge.  But I knew they could do it with the right motivation.  After all, without motivation, they already knew that just asking for another pencil was easier than keeping track of the one they had.

I told them that I would be giving prizes and recognition tags to everyone who returned their two pencils to me on Friday.  At the end of the week I had quite a few kids earning prizes and recognition tags.  The next week, even more students met the challenge.  As we continued on with this challenge, I'd change up the time period or the reward.  Sometimes we would do a one day class challenge for extra recess.  Other times we would do a two week challenge for lunch with the teacher. Towards the end of the year, I increased the time period to one month and the prize to a candy bar of their choice.  I bought candy bars for 10 of my 22 students at the end of the year.  I don't know about you, but in my classroom that was a major victory!

I passed out new numbered pencils several times during that last trimester to allow students who had lost theirs to start over again.  I went through so many fewer pencils than I had in previous years! If you don't do a numbering system in your classroom, you can write their names or initials on each pencil as well!

Keep it Organized

When it comes to teaching responsibility with supplies in the classroom, it goes far beyond pencils. There are so many things to keep track of, sometimes it gets overwhelming. I have found that organization is key to helping students be responsible with their supplies.  Whether individual supplies with students or classroom supplies, organization is very important.

All supplies should have a designated space
If you are going to keep things organized you must have a designated place for everything. When kids have their own special supplies to take care of, and a specific place to put them, it is so much easier. Make sure students have space at their desk, in their cubby or in their locker for their supplies.  When it comes to classroom supplies, set up organized spots in your room that are labeled clearly so that students know exactly where every glue bottle, crayon, and pair of scissors needs to go.

But we can't stop there!  Then we need to teach our students how to use the organization tools they have.  Make sure to model how a crayon box, scissors, glue and pencils can all fit into a pencil box.  Make time into the schedule for students to clean up supplies and put them away the right way.  When students have clear expectations set for them and they have a routine each day to hammer home responsibility for their supplies, it helps leaps and bounds!

Set Realistic Goals

Set Goals for your students. When you are teaching young students important character traits like responsibility, clear expectation and repetitive day to day tasks will help immensely. When students know exactly what is expected of them it takes the guesswork out of their day and helps them perform better in the classroom. 

Help students stay organized by giving them space and time to put away supplies correctly.
Set goals for your students when it comes to taking care of their supplies. It can as simple as going the entire week without losing any supplies and putting everything where it needs to go. Then celebrate those accomplishments! 

You can put up poster charts with certain classroom goals and expectations and make sure you add responsibility tasks to it! Students will have such a sense of pride when they meet their goals and are taking great care of their school supplies. 

Responsibility is a life skill that students can learn in the classroom that will carry with them for years to come. It is important students understand what responsibility is and why it is so important. 

Before implementing these tips into your classroom, sit and have a discussion with students about responsibility. Have them tell you other ways they can be a responsible student. Once students have grasped the concept of responsibility, having them practice with their supplies is a great start.  Take initiative and have your students help you keep tabs on everything and see how incredible it can be when you all work together to be responsible!

Save These Classroom Responsibility Tips for Later!

Be sure to pin these tips and tricks for teaching responsibility to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can easily find it for later! 

Tired of disappearing pencils and school supplies?  Try these simple tricks to help your students learn responsibility with their school supplies.

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