5 Creative Ways to Use Clothespins in the Classroom

Most of us have a pile of them kicking around our houses and classrooms, but what do you really do with them?! Here are 5 creative uses for clothespins in the classroom!

Photo of colorful clothespins on a length of brown twine with text, "5 Creative Ways to Use Clothespins in the Classroom"

Managing Student Needs
One of my greatest frustrations as a teacher is managing long lines of students who require my attention. Having kids stand around doing nothing is NOT a good use of time - theirs or mine - not to mention a huge distraction for everyone else in the classroom.

A few years ago I created the solution to this problem:
Photo of "Waiting for Teacher" management system
I traced my arm on a piece of bristol board and laminated it. My students' names are clipped to the bottom, and when they need my attention, they move their clip to the sleeve and keep working. Additional students move their name to the bottom of the sleeve. When I am finished with one student, they send the next person in line when returning their own clip to the bottom!
Managing Student Progress
A few years ago, when I was teaching fifth grade, I found myself chasing students down for their writing pieces. I tracked who had handed their work in on a simple class list, and when approaching some students for their final drafts, I'd sadly discover that they were still working on the first draft! To solve the problem, I began tracking student movement through the writing process on a class list, but this just felt like an extra bit of work added to my already large pile. I needed it to be student-led and visible.

Enter the Writing Process Clip Chart:
Photo of Writing Process Clip Chart
My students all begin with their clip on the very bottom page and move along as they progress through the writing process. The biggest surprise for me was how incredibly motivated the students were to write! Even my most reluctant writers were excited to be able to see their progress as they moved the clip along!

You can grab this is my Teachers Pay Teachers store. If you are new to Teachers Pay Teachers (my all-time favorite site for teaching resources!), you can set up a free account here!
Displaying Student Work
Using clothespins to display student work is a very popular idea. A coworker of mine uses these in her classroom:
Displaying student work headers
I don't have quite as much wall space, but I'm always drawn to the images of these setups I see on Pinterest. I may just have to find a way to incorporate these this year. Here are a few of my faves:

And take a look at these new Command clips!! Brilliant!
Engaging students at work
Clothespins can also be effective tools for engaging students in learning activities. Clip cards have become all the rage on Teachers Pay Teachers, and with good reason: little hands love manipulating them!

My friend and coworker, Christina, from Hanging Around in Primary, has these awesome task cards for addition available in her TpT store:
Photo of clip task card activities
Her first-grade students love them! Click the image to check them out.
Managing Student Movement
At my school, clothespins are also used by all staff to manage student movement during recess breaks. Each of us has a handful of clips (mine stay attached to my supervision vest) that we can easily clip to a student's sweater or jacket to indicate he or she has permission to be inside during the outdoor break. Staff inside the building look for these clips when they see students wandering in the hallways.
Photo of security vest with clothespin hall passes
Bonus Tutorial
As a bonus for sticking around, I'm sharing a great tutorial by my friend Ms. Makinson all about how to dye your wooden clothespins! Click the image to head over, and be sure to leave her a comment when you're there!
Photo of dyed clothespins
I'd love to hear how you use clothespins in your classroom! Leave me a comment below, and feel free to share Pinterest pins for your classroom photos!

If you have enjoyed this post, please share it with friends and colleagues on Facebook or pin it on Pinterest:

Photo of clothespins with text, "5 Creative Ways to Use Clothespins in the Classroom."

Want more great tips like these to use in your classroom?
Thanks to Gabby's Classrooms for the colorful frames!


  1. Love all these great ideas! I need to check out Emily's tutorial and dye some clothespins before the school year starts. Thanks for sharing!

    Hanging Around In Primary

  2. What a great post! I love that OPS uses clothespins to keep track of kids who want to go inside. Mostly because I like to know for sure that they came back out! ;) I wish other schools used this system, too!
    Thank you for linking to my post!

  3. Thanks for all the terrific ideas for clothespins. I just scored a whole bunch of them from a retiring teacher and was wondering how to use them. I especially like your first idea, but others were close behind! This post is a saver for sure!
    Always Primary

  4. You have some really great ideas - especially using the clothespins to manage students returning to the building during recess! Thank you for sharing!


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