Water Bottles in the Classroom

There are certain questions kids like to relentlessly occasionally ask over and over from time to time in the classroom.
   "Can I go to the bathroom?"
"Can I get a drink of water?"  

Can you relate?

We tackled our bathroom procedure {here}, so today we're taking on the H20. We know full well that this is a loaded question and one that will most certainly cause an avalanche of askers...It's called the "Domino Effect" and primary students are experts...Olympians...World Champs, really. We are certain they wait with parched tongues waiting for us to exclaim, "Free Drinks for All!", but mostly we sort of just want to channel our inner Seinfeld and exclaim, "No Soup Water For You!".  

We've battled with this procedure in our own class for quite some time.  We truly believe there is a time and a place for fulfilling their basic necessities during the school day, but we also realize that we are the Keepers of those needs, dictating when and where they can partake.

So this year, we decided to implement a strategy of our own and end this lil' game once and for all...or at least try. :)  On the first day of school, we provide each student with their own reusable water bottle to be kept on top of their desk.  We usually pick these up at the local dollar stores, and believe us...We have shopped water bottles. 
We highly suggest using the "pop top" style bottles, rather than the open, "I'm going to spill all over your desk and classroom floor" model. Trust us...It's not pretty. :) We found the above and below water bottles at the Dollar Tree last year. They came with a little snack cup on the bottom, which we quickly removed and created a class set of math manipulative containers. Cha Ching! We always pick up a few extras for new students or the very rare bottle breakage.

We put each student's name on their bottle and they keep them up on top of their desks at all times.  Though they are not free to drink whenever and wherever they'd like, they have learned to be responsible with their water bottles in class. We teach them appropriate times to drink (like when we are headed out to recess or in transition between activities) and inappropriate times to drink (like when we are all sitting on the rug in the middle of a lesson). They learn quickly what their privileges and limitations are with their class water bottle. 
When we are working at our tables, we encourage them to stay hydrated and drink their water as they need.  As time allows, we give them permission to refill their water bottles at the class water fountain.

Our main concern when starting this new procedure, was the spills.  We began the year by stocking up on paper towels and making at least 10 extra copies of every worksheet, just in case.  But, they really surprised us.  Aside from the occasional dribble, we have only had 1 major spill all year.  That's a pretty good track record, we think! 

We also debated about the cleaning procedure.  Surely, we weren't going to bring them home each week and clean them!  So we came up with a Water Bottle Clean Up system for the class.
You can grab your own copy or our Water Bottle Clean Up routine too.
Each student is responsible for and very capable of washing their own water bottles.  We stick this sign up by our sink each time, post a class list for the kids to cross off as they go and call the next friend...It pretty much runs itself.  It does take some time to get through everyone's water bottle, but the few minutes the kids take to wash their bottles are well worth the time wasted getting up in the middle of lessons to quench their thirst. 
Fluttering Through First Grade


  1. My kids bring bottles from home, but of course, not all of them bring them. I like your cleaning system. Very smart. I tried to get a copy, but it didn't act like it wanted to share. :)
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Oh, I just had to laugh reading this post! It is so true...that domino effect. I just "love" it when I am teaching and think someone has something awesome to contribute, only to be told that they went to Wal-Mart a week ago or something else just as important. :-)


    1. Oh yes we can relate. You are in the middle of a rockin lesson. They are all engaged. They're hanging on your every word. You can hear a pin drop. You ask a question. All these hands go up. Little Johnny who never participates is even raising his hand. You finally got him to engage. He is learning. You are the best teacher e-vuh! Then, when you call on him, he asks if he can go to the bathroom! Crimey!
      That's when we teach the sign language for the letter R for Restroom (it's 2 fingers crossed). Now when we ask the lesson engaging question and all the hands go up and we see Johnny with his fingers crossed, we now know we still don't have him and he's going to have an accident if we don't let him go. Wu-wuhhhh.

  3. I have several domino effects going on. I really like your system and buying each kid their own water bottle!! SMART!!!! I am going to have to do this!!! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Now, what's your bathroom policy?????
    A Teeny Tiny Teacher

    1. We love the way it looks when you walk in the room and see all the matching water bottles on their desks. So purdy!

      We have our tally page but for the consistent "we just walked in from recess and I gotta go" culprits, we sometimes do however long it takes them to go during class time, they can park it for that amount of time at recess. That works amazingly well too!

  4. What IS it with... the ened of the year is near so I'm going to forget all of the class rules now... thing? Drives me wacky.

    You guys totally crack me up. I have the kids bring in water bottles and take them home at least once a week to be cleaned... but the thought did cross my mind that it would be less imposing on my OCD if they all matched! :D.... hmmm plans for next year.

    I have the same question as Kristin... bathroom policy? The "I need to go to the bathroom. It's an emergency" is Out Of Control!
    Dragonflies in First

    1. Oh Traci~ Have we got a case of the summer squiggles bad in our room right now!! It's bootcamp time! Everything we have put in place is so forgotten this time of year.

      Might be time for some management bloggin. . .

    2. HA!!! I call my first month of school bootcamp!

      We don't have a sink in our room but I would love it if we did.

      I feel like I am the Potty Po Po at times! =)

      Y'all are hoots!

      Come grab my 2 butterfly math *freebies*! They made me think of y'all and your cute blog.

      Heather's Heart

  5. Love the idea of providing and washing water bottles in the classroom! My kids tend to bing them from home (well, most of them). My problem right now are those sweet parents that decide to freeze the water bottles and the the condensation runs all over my students' desks. Ugh!!!! Let's not even mention how many papers this has ruined. I think it may be time for a friendly public service announcement.... And maybe some classroom-color-coordinated water bottles!

    1. We agree. We started out with a -bring your own bottle free for all- and quickly learned to the limit the type. So then it became "pop top" only. Then, we had the same problem with the condensation and parents trying to be "helpful" so we had to do a friendly announcement as well. Finally, we decided they looked really neat on their desks (a bit OCD possibly :) to have the water bottles match. This has worked very well the past few years and we like keeping the cleaning in class and managing it ourselves.
      The bottles also makes for a sweet little welcome present on the first day of school and is also a parent "impressor".

  6. My kids bring them from home. But then I sometimes have to monitor them for sticky drinks like Gatorade.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers

    1. Oh ya Barbara-big policy with us. Water only! But parents don't always think it through that far. Can't imagine Gatorade or juice spills with the ant potential! Eeesh! :)

  7. I use water bottles and put socks over the bottom of the bottle to keep the bottles from "sweating" on their desks and making a watery mess! I provide the socks!


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