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A Plateful of Ideas

When I taught the primary grades in a Title I school, I often found homework was seldom returned. I knew I had to come up with an idea that would be unique; something the parents would recognize as homework; something the kids would want to complete. Thus a Plateful of Ideas was created.

What this entailed was using paper plates on which the assignment was to be completed. I bought about 300 at the local dollar store. The children wrote their name on the back of the plate, and I would put the assignment on the front. (Since I didn't want to write it 25 times, I would copy it, then glue it to the center of the plate). Some sample assignments were:
  1. Find pictures of things that are the color blue and paste them on your plate. 
  2. Find words that start with the letter "S" and glue them on your plate. 
  3. Find things that come in pairs or twos. Paste the pictures on your plate. You may also draw items that come in twos. 
  4. Write as many ways as you can to add and get the answer of ten. 
  5. Write at least eight different three digit numbers on your plate. 
  6. Find pictures or draw pictures of at least six vegetables. 
  7. Around the rim (circumference - I like to use proper mathematical language with my students) of the paper plate, write the numbers from 1-25. 
  8. Around the rim (circumference) of the paper plate, write all the alphabet letters as capitals. 
On the plate, draw your family, including your pets.

The next day, those children who brought their plate back with the assignment completed would receive a small reward for doing so such as a sticker, a small box of raisins, a new eraser, a new pencil, etc. (I love the Oriental Trading Company for this!) I would place the reward on their plate which, of course, would bring a big smile. No plate = no reward! As you can imagine, few plates were left at home, and few assignments were incomplete. I then displayed the plates in the classroom and used them during the day for sharing or reteaching, or just praising a child. Since the child's name was on the reverse side, I could hang them up on the hall bulletin board as well.

I did not do this assignment every day, but at least once a week, the children would have a Plateful of Ideas assignment to complete. Parents liked it because when they saw the paper plate, they knew their child had homework. Children were encouraged by their parents to complete the assignment; so, besides the physical reward, they were given the much needed parental encouragement to do homework. I found it to be a win-win situation for everyone.

So if your plate isn't too full right now, I hope you will give this idea a try.

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