Submitted by Chrys Alam, Rhode Island

Idea posted November 12, 2007

Upon entrance into my music room, children pick up two bottle caps from a large plastic jug that I keep near the doorway. The goal for each child is to be able to leave my room after each 40 minute class with at least one cap left in his/her hand. If they lose both caps, I simply inform their homeroom teacher that this occurred. If it happens a second time, our division director is informed and I call home just to keep parents informed. Third time requires a parent to make an appointment to speak with both the division director or homeroom teacher and myself about how to address the persistent concern in a way that works for the child in question, but also for the benefit of the entire class.

No child, by the way, has ever reached that point of disciplinary interaction. Even when I've told certain classes that I really didn't think they needed the caps to remind them anymore, they've insisted on having them. They love that tactile reminder of how terrific they've been... or that they are "on the edge," but have a chance to hold on and be just fine.

The bottle caps are the plastic tops of milk containers, juice containers, gallon water containers, and the like. I started by collecting the red, blue, and yellow caps from milk bottles and soon children began to bring in caps from home to add to the jug.