When I first started teaching 6 years ago, and I did large projects that involves cutting and many small pieces, I always made a mental note to make at least 5 additional sets of copies. I tried my best to not have my students lose small pieces by having them cut one piece and a time, throw away the scraps, and continue to cut until the whole project was done. I told students that they had to put their cut pieces on top of their name tag so they did not get mixed in with the scraps of paper they would soon be throwing away.
Little did I know that this method did not help cut down on lost pieces, and actually, probably even made the situation a whole lot worse. It wasn’t until my second year teaching, where my class was definitely a handful. Many students had behavior issues and getting up to go to the garbages to throw away scraps turned into being more than they could handle. I was frustrated and told them to just throw their scraps on the floor and we’ll clean it up later.
Well…I quickly realized three thing. 1 – behavior issues, talking, and lingering were definitely diminished. 2 – The whole multi-step cutting and assembling process was much faster. 3 – Pieces of papers the kids needed were no longer getting lost. I didn’t need to make many extra copies!
1) Have the students cut all of their little pieces out. I still make them place it on top of their desk
over their name tag. This helps them to be better organized and prevents papers making their way onto other students’ desks.
2) We leave the scraps on the floor and assemble whatever it is we are making. Today, we made a Last Day of Third Grade flip book and students had to cut out 7 or 8 pieces. We laid them all out on their desk, I walked around and stapled the flip book, and they glued it to a large sheet of construction paper with a title. So, of course, you will have students who lose a piece. What do you do? Make them search the floor around their desk. It just HAS to be somewhere. Now they don’t ever have to go digging through the garbage or need to get an extra copy.
3) Once you are totally complete, THEN the students can throw the scraps away. For some reason, the students just LOVE to scoot around on the floor and scoop up piles of scraps. I have one kiddo walk around with the garbage to collect all the scraps on the floor to avoid the dreaded garbage can traffic jam that can occur with everyone going over at the same time.
So there you have it. I hope this is something that can work for you, especially with some of the end-of-the-year projects you’re probably all doing right now!