When I began this school year, I would DREAD taking the lunch count every morning. I have 24 lovely students. 19 or so of those students do not wake up until about 8:30am. They are physically at school at 7:25… but their listening ears and minds are NOT turned on for at least another hour.
This made taking the lunch count horribly torturous.
Everyday I would get my lunch calendar and a sticky note and have the students raise their hands if they brought their lunch… raise their hands if they wanted choice one… and so on. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. my precious students would change their minds mid-lunch count or their mind would simply fall asleep during the lunch count and they would not vote at all and I would have to re-do it altogether.
I dreaded it.
SO, I came up with a solution that has worked FABULOUSLY for my classroom. I’m talking flawlessly. The lunch count system in Mrs. Glaze’s 3rd grade classroom simultaneously keeps the students responsible for making their lunch choice and tells me who is absent. Collecting all of this data every morning is now a breeze and I am SO RELIEVED.
This may or may not work in your classroom depending on your students and how you run your mornings. However, it has been fabulous in my classroom. Also – one more disclaimer – I am sure I am not the first teacher to do something of this nature.. however, it works so well in my classroom that I wanted to share the love! <3
I went to the Dollar Tree (who doesn’t love the Dollar Tree??!) and purchased 5 of their baking sheets. I slapped some leftover scrapbooking paper that I used to decorate my classroom on the metal with some double sided tape. However, if you do not have scrapbook paper, you can use butcher paper or construction paper to decorate it. -OR- if you have more time on your hands you can spray paint it. It’s totally up to you!
Then, I printed out “Brought Lunch from Home”, “Choice 1”, “Choice 2”, and “Choice 3” and taped them on the pans. I purchased some Command Strips for picture hanging and attached all 5 boards to my teacher cabinet.
I printed all of the students’ names on square sticky labels. I pasted them onto scrapbook paper and cut them out so that there would be a border around each one. I laminated them and put an adhesive magnetic circle on the back of each one. I got the adhesive magnets at Walmart and they were super affordable!
I laminated a piece of black paper and glued it above my lunch count boards. Everyday, I “x” out the lunch choices from the day before and then I highlight choice 1, choice 2, and choice 3 in different colors. This helps the students know exactly what the choices are for that day.
When the students get to school everyday, their first job is to choose what they want for lunch. If (when) they forget to make their lunch choice, I very nonchalantly start talking about attendance. I may simply ask the class if everyone on the top lunch board is absent… or, if a lot of students forgot to make their choice, I might say something like “WHOA! We sure do have a lot of friends absent today!”. The kiddos get up VERY quickly once they’ve had that friendly reminder!
Here’s a quick rundown of the things you will need to create this DIY lunch count:
- 5 ($1) cookie sheets from The Dollar Tree
- Scrapbook and/or construction paper (or spray paint)
- Printer (for students names and labels)
- Adhesive Magnets
- Command picture hanging strips
- Access to a laminator
I hope this works as smoothly in your class as it does in mine!!