Today I pulled out my "quiet critters" to try to help my students calm down and focus on their work. I told them it feels like I've taken a remote... and both turned up their volume and put them on fast forward! They are full of energy, and moving/talking quickly and loudly. They thought this comment was hilarious!
My sister made these for me a few years ago using foam balls and foam sheets from the dollar store. She pained them and then added in little details. **If I was making them again, I would make them all IDENTICAL though, as grade 1s get their heart set on their favourite "critter" and this causes new challenges!
I don't use them often, as I don't want the novelty to wear off, but this is how I use them:
Every student gets a critter on their desk, and they have to stay quiet to keep their critter. If they are loud and off task, then I take their critter back from them. Anyone who has their critter still at the end of their time with me gets 10 minutes of free choice - a good motivator!! It made a huge difference, and all of my students were able to finish their work up this afternoon :)