Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Many Uses of the Paint Strip

I love color in the classroom. Color coding, color blocking, color patterns all add character to the classroom. The students also love color, but making colored copies or always using colored paper is expensive and not feasible. As an alternative, I have been using paint strips consistently in my classroom for about nine years, and I absolutely love them! Bringing out the box of paint strips increases the anticipation. The students like to read the colors they get and apply the colors to the content, which I often do for science and Virginia history. What does that mean? For instance, if we are studying cash crop (tobacco) the paint strip will be green, if the paint strip topic will be the types of rocks, the paint strip with be a brown or grey, or if the topic is products and industries of the Appalachian Plateau the paint strip will be shades of black due to coal being the product and industry of the region. Mnemonic devices are also easy to list on the strips! For the content, each child has a notebook ring, or paper clip (notebook rings can be pricey). I hole punch each ahead of time and then they put them on the ring or paper clip to store.

Even better, my paint strips are always free! I used to get my paint strips from big box home improvement store, until the brand quit making strips and went to one color squares. When that happened, I called the maker and they saved me all the ones from that district. Since then, I have been looking at alternatives. For instance, Sherwin Williams has paint strips and if you call your local shop, they might save you the old ones when they switch them out. Since it is franchised from my understanding, they have to pay for the strips and do not appreciate you taking ones that are still in season or sale-able. My local store makes seasonal color switches and said that if I pick then up, they will save them. A big box supermarket that also sells paint, as well as everything else imaginable, has smaller paint strips. I asked the salesman there if I would be able to take a handful (about 20-25) occasionally when I came shopping. I was trying to get a feel for their policy. This particular man said that I can take every single one, then he wouldn't have to make anymore paint until another shipment of strips came in! He was joking of course, and followed up with you can have some for the classroom. Our town has three of these supermarkets, so if I grab a handful when I go in, or almost every time I go in, I can quickly accumulate enough just over the summer for the following year.

If you search sites for paint strips, the most common uses are for vocabulary or word usage like synonyms and antonyms, but the possibilities are truly endless!

A few examples, but not limited to in the least:
This set has a notebook ring.

Virginia History:
Quite frankly, any of the strands can be used! I love using them for Virginia History!
States that surround Virginia
List of regions with line pictures of physical features
Each region with it's land, products, and industries
Definitions of money in colonial times
Roles in the Revolution
Important people in the Civil War
20th Century Virginians
The list goes on!

Geography:
Regions of the United States
Land Features
States and Capitals

Science:
This set uses the paper clip to hold them together.
Like with Virginia history, I feel any strand can lend itself to one!
Steps of the Scientific Method
List of Conductors or Insulators
Examples of Potential or Kinetic Energy
Planets in order of size or location from the sun
Phases of the moon
Vocabulary from a unit with short definitions
Types of rocks or process
Layers of the Ocean
Layers of the Earth, or Cute Mice On Ice

Math
ANYTHING! I feel like I keep saying that, but it is very true!
List of equivalent fractions
Place value
Numbers that would round to a certain number
Steps to divide or Does McDonald's Serve Cheese Burgers
Equivalent fractions and decimals
Features of quadrilaterals or different types of quadrilaterals
Multiples of numbers - If you list two separate numbers on there own strip, then place them side by side you can find common multiples
Factors of numbers - Similar to multiples, if you list two separate numbers on there own strip, then place them side by side you can find common factors

Stem and leaf plots

Language Arts
Genre - Books the students have read. They try to fill a paint strip with titles of books that they have read in a certain genre. This is an inspiring way to get them to branch out of their comfort zone or genre.
Author's purpose
Transition words alternatives (Not always using first, next, then, last)
Sensory words for each sense
Sequencing
Parts of Speech
Inference - Listing the clues in the story for each inference
Word study or word patterns
Affixes - list certain prefixes, suffixes used in the same way

The possibilities are almost infinite!

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