Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Paper Towel Problem Solved

I had a problem.  In my classroom bathroom (my room used to be a preschool classroom), I would find tons of paper towel trash all over the floor whenever students washed their hands after a messy project. I tried just remind them to get their paper towel in the trash can and telling them we shouldn't make our awesome custodians' jobs harder and none of it worked.

One day I was thinking about Emotionally Intelligent Signage like I've seen on Daniel Pink's blog. I came up with an idea that is not exactly emotionally intelligent but catches the students' attention with something they can relate to. 

I printed a really simple sign (shown above) that says:
Paper Towel in the Trash Can 100 POINTS!!!
Paper Towel on the floor... GAME OVER

Added some smiley faces and sad faces and some burst shapes behind the points, laminated it, and taped it to the paper towel dispenser.  At first I didn't think the students noticed it. Then a couple weeks ago, some started asking me why it was there, and now I have students who come out all excited because they "Scored 100 points!" Now there is rarely a stray paper towel on the floor, even on days when almost every class is painting. Now I just need to get my older students to stop using the paper recycling box as a trash can...


  1. Genius! I teach fifth grade and they put the used paper towels in recycling and are not supposed to..argh! Making a sign for tomorrow.. THANKS! :)

  2. Excellent Idea!

    I think next year I am going to go to rags. I am just tired of seeing all the paper towels we use every day. I mean, what I could clean with one paper towel, takes one of my students 24 paper towels. Crazy!

  3. We use cloth rags for wiping tables and other surfaces in the classroom (elementary). They work much much more efficiently! I often can use one rag to wipe down six tables very quickly.

  4. Old tee shirts work well for drying tables and counters. I tell students if they take more than 2 paper towels they will have to do push up and that helps a lot...lol.