Don't kids make you kind of nuts over your beautiful classroom supplies? I mean, I love all my little babes, but my OCD takes over after school, and I'm a raving lunatic over the silliest little things! This year, I've learned a few tricks to help any teacher organize, and take care of, all kinds of supplies. Better yet, I've learned how to get the kiddos to do it for you!
Ah, Sharpies! All bright and new, sharp and crisp, and oh so permanent! For about a week...am I right? Here are my best tips (ha! ha!) for Sharpies:
- Always store them "upside down". Gravity is in your favor, here. Whether you keep your Sharpies in a pail, jar, cup, or organizer bin, train the kiddos to put them back so that the tips are pointed down. I know, you can't tell what color they are - I'll get to that next - but the ink naturally flows toward the writing tip when not in use, instead of away from it. They last twice as long, I promise!
- So, your Sharpies are upside down. Surely you have more than one of each color, right? Use another Sharpie to color in the little indentation on the bottom of each one. So, color the bottom of the red ones red, etc. Now everyone knows what color they all are, and they're more likely to get the right lid put back on them, too.
- Speaking of lids, they are absolutely the worst at being on tight! There's no sound, like "make that cap snap" on a Sharpie. My best tip for the lids is, teach the kids to put the lid on, then "bang" it on the table/desk/floor (whatever) three times - lid side down, obviously.
- Let kids know that Sharpies are "strong, yet weak". Explain that they needn't press hard to get beautiful color, and that pressing down ruins the tips of these markers. Show them some new ones and some old, dented-in, mushed-up ones. They'll get the idea. If you're looking for a Sharpie-like product that colors in larger areas, try Ticonderoga's RediMark markers.
- So when they're all dried up, don't throw them away! Go to your trustie dollar store and buy spray bottles tall enough to hold your Sharpies. Sort them by color, or even color family (all the shades of blue can go together), and put them tip down, without lids, in the squirt bottles with a little water and mostly rubbing alcohol. The ink that's left inside will run into the water and alcohol and make kind of a water color paint mixture. (The picture below is similar, but uses watercolor markers and just water.) You could paint with it using brushes, or on a warm spring day, take the kids outside with the bottles. Hang large white banner paper and let them spray away, adjusting the nozzles to a fine mist or a jet stream. Let them create beautiful paintings. I wouldn't advise spraying each other, though. I'm not sure how permanent this mixture is on clothing!
Tune in later this week for more tips on all your classroom supplies!