We do a lot of hands-on science in my classroom (the goal is 80%!) The potential for messy, sticky, dirty, uncontrollable mayhem is high. So I came up with a system to help manage 20+ little mad scientists while still letting them interact with science materials in a meaningful way--Super Scientist Badges.
I have 5 tables--yellow, red, blue, green and purple. I make badges numbering 1-6 for each table in the corresponding colors (I only have 4 or 5 kids at each table, so a few of those are extras). I got my badges at Office Depot. You can print the blackline master here. Print one for each table you have.
When we start a science activity, each child at a table wears one of the badges. Then, when I am giving directions, I call a number out--and all the kids wearing that number perform the specified task.
For example, if we were making a PB&J, it might go like this:
- Scientist #1, please put 2 pieces of bread on the plate. (So all the scientists #1--at the yellow, red, blue, green and purple tables--put 2 pieces of bread on the plate).
- Scientist #2, please spread some peanut butter on one piece of bread. (So all the scientists #2--at the yellow, red, blue, green and purple tables--put 2 pieces of bread on the plate).
- Scientist #3, please put some jelly on the other piece of bread. (I think you get it know!)
A problem does arise if you have an uneven number of students at each table. In that case, I just have a student wear 2 badges and perform the duties of 2 scientists (I chose responsible students for this honor--so it solves a problem and encourages responsible behavior--BONUS!)
I don't want my kids to have to sit and watch me or other kids perform experiments. I want them to have as much hands-on experience as possible. But I also want to keep my sanity and not have to deal with the constant "But he already got to (whatever)" whines! This has been a good solution. I hope it can work for you!