I made these partner sticker cards to help me form different sized groups for any activity that I don't need to plan out who is in which group. Until now, I've always just had my kids count off by the number of groups I wanted to form. Hopefully, this will inject a bit of fun into the classroom. Here's how the cards work:

Each card contains one sticker from each of several different categories. For example, every card has exactly one music note, one sports ball, one star, etc, though there are different colors or types of each category in the set of cards. To put students in groups, hand each student one card. Then call out, "Get in a group where everyone has the same kind of sports ball!" The students won't know who will be in their group, how many kids will be in their group, or how many groups there will be until everyone has compared cards.

It's not totally random, however. Each category corresponds to a different size group:

So, using my set of cards, if I wanted students to work in groups of three (perhaps for small group book shares), I would tell them to find everyone else who had the same star sticker.

purple star group:

yellow smiley star group:

If I wanted the class to split into three groups (for a game of Jeopardy, maybe) I would tell them to get in groups based on their fish stickers, according to my "cheat sheet" above.

I'm excited to use these cards throughout the year, but especially for lots of community building during the first few weeks of school. If you're intrigued and would like to make you're own set, here are instructions based on my trial and error.:

Since I don't know how many kids I will have and since I want to be able to use this set for several years, I made 30 cards and arranged the stickers so that they will still work with fewer students. That's what made it so complicated!

You'll need 3x5 index cards and at least 10 different categories of stickers in various quantities (see below). This will allow you to create any size group, whether you want to create the groups based on the number of students in each group or based on the total number of groups in the class.

1. Number blank index cards 1-30 and lay them out in order. (I numbered my lightly in pencil on the back.)

2. To be able to form groups based on the number of students in each group here are the stickers you'll need and how to lay them out:

groups of 2: 2 each of 15 different stickers (this was really hard to find - I used hand prints)

groups of 3: 3 each of 10 different stickers (I used stars)

groups of 4: 4 each of 8 different stickers (I used school supplies; you'll only use 2 of the last kind)

groups of 5: 5 each of 6 different stickers (I used music notes)

Place these sets of stickers on the index cards in order starting on card 1, placing each of the different varieties in a row: A, A, A, A, B, B, B, B, C, C, C, C, and so on. For example, I placed blue music notes on cards 1-5, green music notes on cards 6-10, etc.

3. To be able to form groups based on the total number of groups you want, here are the stickers you'll need and how to lay them out:

2 groups: 15 each of 2 different stickers (I used peace signs)

3 groups: 10 each of 3 different stickers (I used fish)

4 groups: 8 each of 4 different stickers (I used veggies)

5 groups: 6 each of 5 different stickers (I used sports balls)

Place these sets of stickers on the index cards, starting on card 1, alternating each variety as if you were counting off: A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D, and so on. When I was sticking on the veggies category, I put corn on card 1, carrots on card 2, lettuce on card 3, peas on card 4, and started the pattern again with corn on card 5, continuing until all cards had one veggie sticker.

By placing the stickers this way, the last few cards can be removed to create a smaller set without messing up the groupings. It was only after I placed all of these stickers that I realized that I had a few redundancies. This is because, in a set of 30, making groups of 6 students in the same as making 5 groups! If you look closely at my cards, you'll see that I also used penguins, planets, dots, and smiley faces. They don't mess anything up, and I can still use them - they're just overkill, because I already have all scenarios covered based on the lists above.

My sister (who just graduated from college with honors in math and who is now a software engineer) and I thoroughly boggled our minds sorting this all out. I thought this would be easiest to use in the classroom if I made the cheat sheet above, along with a card for each category showing all of the different stickers in that category:

If anyone else stumbles upon this blog and gives these cards a try I'd love to hear how they turn out! I know this post was super long and probably confusing. Let me know if I can clarify anything! I also thought that you could make a digital set of cards to print out using shapes, math equations, or clip art.

So that's how I spent my Saturday evening. You know, 'cause I'm cool like that. I'm

OMG love this idea! brilliant!

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