M&M's and 7up on the First Day: Consequences, Writing, and Learning About Your Students


What would you say if I said that I use 7UP and M&M's on the first day of school?


You're probably thinking that I'm crazy, wanting to fill my students with sugar on the first day. Well, maybe you won't think I'm so crazy after you find out what I do with them.

Some of our best ideas come from our colleagues, don't they?

My blog post today is a share of two ideas that I've picked up along the way. The first, the M&M activity, was first introduced to me by the teacher that I student taught for. I'm not sure where it originated as I know she had learned it from somewhere else and I've seen other teachers do it in various forms, but when she did it, I knew it would be a staple in my classroom too!

The second part of this was introduced to me by the wonderful Ms. Kitchen, one of my favorite colleagues when I was teaching in Washington. Ms. Kitchen was a 4th grade teacher stuck in a 5th grade pod with 3 new 5th grade teachers. I learned a TON from her and picked up a lot of her activities along the way. The 7up sentences are just one of her fabulous ideas that I "stole"!

I've combined the ideas of two super teachers to make for one fantastic back to school activity. This activity will help you to discuss consequences, get a sample of student writing (as well as an idea of what they are ready for), learn about your students through their writing, and leave students with a memory of the first day that they will still be talking about on the last. My suggestion is to do this after lunch, so you know they've at least filled their bellies with something good first.Here's the details: 


Items Needed:
  • A can (I use the ½ can size when I can find it) of 7up for each student* (Use 7-Up Ten if worried about calorie content)
  • A giant bag of M&M’s/Skittles (if allergies are present)/a large box of rainbow Goldfish if looking for a healthy alternative.
  • Plastic gloves or a small baggie for each student to use as a glove
    • As an alternative (and to avoid students choosing way too many M&M's), bring in measuring cups in two or three different sizes
  • A napkin or paper towel
  • Lined paper and a pencil
Directions
  1. Ask students what a consequence is. Write the word on the board and explain that there is a consequence for all of our actions. Sometimes the consequence is good, and sometimes it isn’t. Use examples such as “What could be a consequence of not coming home on time?” or “What could be a consequence of studying really hard for a test?” Use examples of good and bad consequences.
  2. Tell students that our activity will involve consequences.
  3. Pass out the gloves (if using gloves)
  4. Bring out the large bag of M&M’s (keep it in hiding until this point). Tell students that they will each get one glove and that once they have it on, you will come to their desk with the bag. They are allowed to take up to one handful, but they can take as few as they want as well, with a minimum of at least 5. They should place their handful on a paper towel They cannot eat them YET! Remind students that this activity will end with a consequence and that you can’t say whether it is a good one or a bad one. If you are using the measuring cup instead, hold up the measuring cups and tell students they will have to choose one size to scoop out some M&M’s. They can fill the cup, but do not have to. Everything else is the same as the directions above.
  5. Pass out the 7up. Explain to students that as they enter this new grade, they will be expected to write 7up sentences. What is a 7up sentence? Well, it’s a sentence with 7 words or more, of course! So instead of saying, “I play football,” I might say, “I am a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.”* (If you are teaching younger kids, you can omit this part of the activity).
  6. Now pass out lined paper to each student. Tell your students to write their name at the top then count all of their M&M’s. They should write the number of M&M’s that they have on the top right hand corner of their paper. Go around and make sure everyone has written down their number before you unveil the next direction.
  7.  Give each student a “Marvelous to Meet You” paper.
  8. Say: “Ok students, now that you’ve got your M&M’s and 7up and you know all about 7up sentences, I am ready to present you with your consequence. I’d like to learn about you and get a chance to see your 7up sentences in action. You are each going to write me a sentence that tells me something about you FOR EACH M&M that you have.”
  9. Read over the different topics for the different colors and write an example for each topic on the board.
  10. Say: This might be a good consequence for some of you, while some of you are wishing you could put some of your M&M’s back! The good news is, for each sentence you complete, you may eat one of your M&M’s. You may enjoy your 7up throughout your writing. Time to get started!”

Now, this is meant to be a fun activity, so I don’t push students that took 65 M&M's to write 65 sentences, though I will let them sweat it out a little. If they are a fairly strong writer, I might stop them at 25. If they are struggling to write or come up with ideas, I might stop them at 10. It's the first day of school, you want this to be fun, so use your best judgement on when to stop them.

I get the colorful smiley incentive stickers and put those next to each sentence and then display these in my room. For that reason, you might not want your students to write on the back of their paper.

Now don't you want to do this activity with your students during the first week? I'm all stocked up and ready to go. I can't wait to see their excitement when I pull out that big bag of M&M's!!

You can print the directions for this activity and the Marvelous to Meet You reproducible by clicking on the image below. 




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14 comments

  1. What a fun idea! Thanks for this. Although since we are starting the year out by talking about healthy eating and the consequences of health choices, I think I might do M&Ms and apple juice instead ;) Also, if you're in Canada, Smarties are a peanut free option.

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    1. Thanks Caryn! Smarties are great! I LOVED them when I was younger! I always have a back up bag of Skittles just in case. I figure they'll get eaten either way!

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  2. Wow! What a great activity. I can't wait to try this with my third graders on Monday! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Fantastic! I'm always happy to share ideas! Hope it's a hit!

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  3. I've done the M&M activity before in high school when getting to know people, and it was always fun! Love the idea of tying it into writing.

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
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    1. Thanks Melissa! It's always my favorite part of the first week!

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  4. Adorable!! Makes me wish I had my own class this year so I could do this activity. Thanks for sharing!
    Julie
    The Techie Teacher

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    1. If you were at my school, you could definitely come hang out with us during this activity and share in our fun! :-)

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  5. I do something similar with skittles. They take at least 4 but no more than 7. Each color represents a type of information that they have to share, and this is done orally. Example: red can mean they share info about family, green can be info about school, and so on. They are talking about themselves, so you find out a lot about them fairly quickly, and they get a treat! They will remember this, too.

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    1. I love the idea of each color representing a different sentence topic! The idea of limiting the number of candies is fabulous, especially for reluctant writers. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  6. Great idea! My child has never tried soda - hopefully another drink would be offered if any of his teachers try this. On the other hand, I could see him trying to get as much as possible of candy or whatever snack is presented! I could just imagine the panic on students faces!

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  7. Hello fellow Mrs.O..I'm Miss O, my last name is Opoku-Diawuo and nobody attempts to pronounce it. When they do , they get a treat!! Anywho, I loveeeeeeeee this activity, I will definitely be doing this during the 1st week!! Your awesome...look forward to reading your blog and thanks so much for sharing your ideas and experiences !! Much Love

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  8. Love this idea. I'm tickled sitting here thinking about the looks on the faces of the students who grab a whole handful of m&m's. Can't wait to try this. Excellent way to introduce writing sentences with substance. Love it! Thanks for posting.

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  9. I love this idea! Just trying to figure out how to tie it to math since that's the subject I teach instead of just writing. I teach 6th graders.

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