I was warned about Silly Bandz this summer by a friend in Chicago. They were the rage at the end of the year with her young ones, but they had not hit my classroom here in Tucson.
I should have known we would meet on the first day of school this year. Wrapped around the tiny wrists of seven students, I saw rainbows of rubber band bracelets. Reminiscent of the circular rubber bracelets I wore in the 80s, these took on the shape of almost anything.
It was only a matter of time until the Silly Bandz showed their true colors. During whole group instruction, I saw these colored pieces of "jewelry" traveling around the rug area. While working independently, students became transformed into characters of the many worlds of animal, superhero, and Justin Bieber bracelets.
By lunchtime, I had banned the Bandz for the rest of the year alongside toys, trading cards, and gaming systems already banished from school due to distractions during class, problems with stealing, losing items, and the ever popular "borrowing" drama. Would these bracelets cause the same issues?
Of course. As our whole school gathered in the courtyard on Friday morning, our principal addressed the issue of Silly Bandz. As innocent as they seemed, these accessories were traded during class in other rooms, sold on the playground during recess, and flicked to the front of the classroom during instruction. She announced that students should keep them on their wrists, and if taken off were at risk of having them taken away. At the end of the announcement, she asked parents to help us and encouraged them to keep the bracelets at home.
What are the positives about Silly Bandz according to students?
Sharing. Students let friends borrow them so they do not feel left out.
Math. When children sell them at lunch, they learn about computation and giving change.
Entertainment. Sometimes class is boring, so by trading them or catapulting them across the room they provide some life to the lesson.