Sticky post it notes have so many applications and I have always found that children (and adults) love working with them. They have instant colourful appeal and the fact they are semi permanent means that ideas can be changed; nothing is 'set in stone' so children become braver at writing down their ideas.
Here are just a few suggestions for using them.
Questions before reading
Read the blurb of the book or the opening page(s). Give children some time to reflect on what might happen and write questions on the sticky notes. You can narrow down the focus for the questions if you wish – questions about the setting or the book cover illustration- or a question directly to the opening character etc.
Questions during reading
Having sticky notes easily available allows children to jot down questions whilst reading themselves or in a group/class situation. Help them develop the habit of noting things they don’t understand or want help with. This way they don’t interrupt the flow of the session, learn to wait their turn but know they will get the help they need with that particular piece of reading in the near future.
Questions after reading
As children get better at asking questions you can ask for different types of questions: for example, ‘two closed questions’, ‘two that will have different answers’ and ‘one that no one would know the answer to’. You will need to model this by asking lots of questions too.
** NB - It is sometimes easier for children to think of single words or themes first of all.
E.g. After reading Zoo by Anthony Browne you could ask them to brainstorm the words and phrases that pop into their heads: cruelty, welfare, rights and wrongs, locked up, freedom, animals being equal, kindness and so on.
As a second step, then ask for questions that can be formed from those words and phrases – often an easier way to get to the question stage.
You can develop this into a ‘Wonder Box’ concept– a simple cardboard box (and mine is particularly simple with all expense spared as you can see) into which any kind of questions can be placed. At some point in the week find time to explore children’s different questions – answering them if possible or discussing them as a class.
These could come from things they’ve seen in the news or anything else they have read or heard about in the week.
Give a guided reading group some sticky notes after reading a book or paragraph. Ask them to each jot down one of the key events. They then come together and collate their notes into sequential order, adding, cross checking and amending as they go. It doesn’t matter if they have duplicated.
Enlarge a passage from a book – or use a big book. Cover up every fifth or sixth word in a passage of reading. Children have to ‘fill the gap’ by writing a word that would make sense on a post it. They have to re-read many times to make sure it is still making sense, can easily change their minds and eventually lift the post it notes and look to see if they match with the original. Lots of grammar talk and sentence level work in action with this.
Write a Post it story.
Write the most complete and compelling story you can on one post it. (You might want to allow up to five sticky notes to start off with)
Map a story
Draw a long line on a large piece of paper or use a rope on the floor. Use sticky notes to ‘map’ the key points of a story along it. This can be after reading but also as a planning tool for writing a story or other piece of writing. Non-fiction planning too – e.g. chronological reports or explanatory texts.
Instead of children doing an individual KWL (Know. Want to Know, Learned) when you are teaching a topic, design a class grid and use sticky notes to gather information about what children already know and how they are gaining in knowledge and skills as the teaching unit progresses.
Post it book reviews
Set aside an area in the library or classroom for children to post up quick book reviews. If they are only asked to write a short comment on a sticky note (rather than a long, more formal book review), more children are likely to take part and add to others’ comments about how they enjoyed particular books etc.
Vocabulary and spelling games
A few brightly coloured sticky notes can make spelling and vocabulary much more appealing. E.g. Give out lists of words that have some links – e.g. similar spelling patterns and ask children to write them on sticky notes and sort them into the patterns. For example - ‘ed’/ ‘ing’ endings, prefixes ‘de’/ ‘pre’ or silent letters.
Ask children to respond to a story by choosing the part they think would make a movie still – or perhaps feature as the advertisement billboard outside the cinema if this book were a film.
Haiku / Limericks
This can be in response to a character or from another stimulus. When children have composed their ‘post it poem’ they can be quickly displayed for everyone to read.
This can be used as a response to reading – everyone write an adjective to describe what has just been read - Or as a way of brainstorming useful adjectives for a piece of writing. Everyone in the class contributes to the wall by placing their post it note but they are all available for anyone to use in their writing. Not just adjectives of course – any other words that might be useful.
If you want to download these ideas as a pdf : Things to do with sticky post it notes
If you have more suggestions for using post it notes in the classroom I would love to share them here - do please send them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org