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5 Creative Ways to Use Clothespins in the Classroom

Most of us have a pile of them kicking around our houses and classrooms, but what do you really do with them?! Here are 5 creative uses for clothespins in the classroom!

Managing Student Needs

One of my greatest frustrations as a teacher is managing long lines of students who require my attention. Having kids stand around doing nothing is NOT a good use of time – theirs or mine – not to mention a huge distraction for everyone else in the classroom.

A few years ago, I created the solution to this problem:

I traced my arm on a piece of bristol board and laminated it. My students’ names are clipped to the bottom, and when they need my attention, they move their clip to the sleeve and keep working. Additional students move their names to the bottom of the sleeve. When I am finished with one student, they send the next person in line when returning their own clip to the bottom!

Managing Student Progress

A few years ago, while teaching fifth grade, I chased students down for their writing pieces. I tracked who had handed their work in on a simple class list, and when approaching some students for their final drafts, I’d sadly discover that they were still working on the first draft! To solve the problem, I began tracking student movement through the writing process on a class list, but this just felt like an extra bit of work added to my already large pile. I needed it to be student-led and visible.

Enter the Writing Process Clip Chart:

Photo of Writing Process Clip Chart

My students begin with their clip on the “brainstorm” page at one end and move along each section as they progress through the writing process. My biggest surprise was how incredibly motivated the students were to write! Even my most reluctant writers were excited to see their progress as they moved the clip along!

You can grab this at my TPT store.

Displaying Student Work

Using clothespins to display student work is a very popular idea. A coworker of mine uses these in her classroom:

I don’t have quite as much wall space, but I’m always drawn to the images of these setups I see on Pinterest. I may just have to find a way to incorporate these this year. Here are a few of my faves:

Engaging Students at Work

Clothespins can also be effective tools for engaging students in learning activities. Clip cards have become all the rage on Teachers Pay Teachers, and with good reason: little hands love manipulating them!

My friend and coworker, Christina, from Hanging Around in Primary, has these awesome task cards for addition available in her TpT store:

Her first-grade students love them! Click the image to check them out.

Managing Student Movement

At my school, all staff use clothespins to manage student movement during recess breaks. Each of us has a handful of clips (mine stay attached to my supervision vest) that we can easily clip to a student’s sweater or jacket to indicate he or she has permission to be inside during the outdoor break. Staff inside the building look for these clips when they see students wandering in the hallways.

Photo of security vest with clothespin hall passes

Bonus Tutorial

As a bonus for sticking around, I’m sharing a great tutorial by my friend Ms. Makinson on how to dye wooden clothespins! Click the image to head over, and be sure to leave her a comment when you’re there!

Photo of dyed clothespins

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