Best purchase of the year

These are my new favourite things:

They are polyspot markers – about 10cm in diameter, and they have been my most useful tool in these last few weeks of getting groups of children ready for performances.

I’m sure I’m not the only teacher working with children who grits teeth and steels themself whenever they have to organise a group into rows or some other kind of formation. The children I teach have a very poor sense of themselves in a space, in relation to others. They don’t process directional instructions terribly well (as in, “stand here/move slightly left/etc”) mainly because they don’t listen when people are talking, and because the excitement and buzzy energy in the room distracts them from remembering to listen to what they are asked to do.

The markers have saved my sanity! Now I just set them out on the floor before the class enters the room or performance space, then say to individuals:

“Go and stand on a white spot.”

“Go and stand on a red spot.”

Several years ago, I began observing the importance of floor markings and other visual cues for ESL children. The children relax and tune in far more quickly when they are able to follow a very clear unambiguous instruction.

My only complaint about the polyspot markers I have is that they are smaller than I’d like – I want something about the size of a dinner plate. Also, they are not quite robust enough, given the way children love to pick things up and twist them, pull them and generally test them, if they have the opportunity. One has already ripped. I got these from the Music In Motion online store; I’m on the look-out for a bigger set. A friend has a set of spots that she says is a portable Twister game! Now that sounds like the sort of thing I’m after!


9 comments so far

  1. Tim on

    Are these the larger spots you’ve been looking for?

    • musicwork on

      Hi Tim, Yes they are! Except on my budget (which is probably my own money not a school’s) they are kind of pricey, as I’d need 4-6 sets. I need to resume my search for portable Twister, I think, because that might well be a more economic search.
      But isn’t this (Music in Motion) a great site? I spent hours wandering through their catalogue last year, marvelling at all the props and prizes that have been thought of.

      • musicwork on

        Btw Tim are you thinking of going to the ISME conference in July this year, in Thessaloniki? If so, we could meet!

  2. Joy Morin on

    How about this idea? This blogger/teacher uses colorful placemats. I bet it would be more affordable than the Music Motion ones.

    • musicwork on

      Fantastic! Thanks Joy, I will check these out. It looks like the kind of stuff that is also sold in hardware stores as drawer-liners and shelf-liners… though perhaps not in such an array of colours. That’s a great tip, I’ll check out what I can find here. Gillian

    • Mary Ann Stewart on

      The Dot Spots #1005 and Jumbo Musical Spots #1013 at Music in Motion are non-skid, which is an important thing to remember when working with kids. It is easy for kids to fall if the spots slide around on the floor. I don’t think you could find placemats at a better price, especially if you need them to be non-skid.

  3. Joy Morin on

    The placemats I was referring to are indeed the kind made out of that grippy shelf-liner stuff. I’ve seen them at the dollar store. Actually, I’ve seen the whole rolls of shelf-liner there too. You could buy a roll and then cut circles or squares any size you wish. They would definitely be non-skid and perfectly safe for kids.

    • Mary Ann Stewart on

      Sounds like a clever idea. The only catch may be if you wanted different colors and had to buy several different rolls, then your savings may not be that much (especially considering your time). The different colors are a helpful part of the dot spots when organizing activities. Let us know how it works out. You are no doubt a very creative teacher, with lots of tricks up your sleeve. Hope you’ll share them. What are some of your own favorite resources for the classroom?

      • Joy Morin on

        Thanks Mary Ann! I am not a classroom music teacher though…I’m an independent piano teacher. I have a blog where I share resources and ideas: Feel free to check it out!

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