Note: I actually wrote this on Monday and forgot to post it! [head slap!] Hopefully, it’s not too late for those of you who are a couple of weeks behind my community. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Today’s the big day: my first class of Essentials students gets to cash in their hard-earned tickets for prizes! I’ve had fun looking through the dollar bins of various stores over the past couple of weeks trying to find some cool prizes for them, but it occurred to me last week as they were begging to play “Battleship” yet again that maybe I had the ability to make a few prizes at home and save some money.

I decided to create “mini” versions of two of the more popular games–Board Slam and Battleship–and packaged a set of 4 of them (printed front and back and then laminated) in a simple zippered sandwich bag along with a pack of playing cards (80 cents) and a set of dice ($1). I made a simple fold-over topper for the bag, which I taped/glued to the top. I think they turned out pretty cute and I’m fairly certain they’ll be a hit with my kids. If not, I guess I can always try to pawn them off on next year’s newbies! 🙂

Mini game boards in a bag

If you’d like to make these for your own students, you can find the mini boards and bag toppers here. They’re designed to be printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper with Battleship on one side, Board Slam on the other, then cut so that they are roughly 5.5″ square, which is pretty much the exact size of a sandwich baggie. I laminated the ones I made because I laminate everything (!) but you certainly don’t have to. I also generally staple the bag toppers to the baggies but my stapler wasn’t cooperating with me today. You can’t tell from the photo above, but I included cards and dice in each bag.

I don’t know for sure but it occurs to me that if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making “mini” versions of these boards, you could probably do this exact same thing with the original files I designed (here and here), placed in gallon sized zippered bags. I just thought the small ones were cute so I shrunk them down to this size. If you decide to do that, you’ll need to make your own bag topper that’s wider so it will fit the bigger baggie better. Ha, couldn’t resist a little Essentials alliteration humor! Ding ding ding! Ticket, please!

P.S. This photo doesn’t show all of the ticket prizes that I bought, but I’d love to hear what others of you use for prizes if you do the ticket thing. I got the Story Cubes from Amazon in a 3fer deal that made them less expensive than purchasing each one separately. They’re the priciest thing I bought but I thought the kids would enjoy them and I really did want them to feel like they were getting some neat stuff (originally wanted to get Bananagrams but those things are more expensive than I realized when you need to buy 4 or 5 of them!). Among the stash: crossword puzzle books, stickers, crayons, markers, erasers, mechanical pencils, candy, whoopie cushions (my class is mainly boys), bath gel, chew toys for dogs, foam airplanes, journals, and lots and lots of photobooth props. I’m also going to have a Samaritan’s Purse shoebox at the “store” so that kids can purchase things to give away. Win-win for them!

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