Scatter: A Self-Paced Alternative to Scoot

Scoot is awesome – I remember using it in my high school world history class and thinking it was a way better review activity than completing a study guide packet. There’s a lot of school counseling topics you can cover with scoot as well. Unfortunately, it’s not a great fit with my students. That is…until I discovered a quick modification I could make.

scatter activity as a self-paced alternative to scoot

The problem with scoot at my school is that my kids don’t all read awesome and their academic levels vary WIDELY within each room. This means a handful of students struggle to complete each ’round’ and, the more time you give them, the more students you have on the other side that get bored waiting to scoot over. I tried it with my fourth graders fall semester thinking “don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!” but it didn’t go wonderful. I considered putting them in pairs which would have solved the problems somewhat, but would have added an additional logistical challenge with space. It can also be time consuming if you aim for them to respond to every prompt and in the traditional regimented scoot format, it feels odd to stop before everyone has ‘scooted’ back to their seat.

Then my co-counselor showed me a picture from Instagram (social media for the win!). It was from @thegypsyteacher and showed math task cards being laid out side by side under numbered tape (and idea I think she said she got from another teacher on IG). Instead of scooting around the room, her students would pick a card, take it to their desk, respond to it on a tracking sheet, then return it and grab a new one. It allowed for self-pacing and sounded awesome. A few months after seeing it, I had an opportunity to test it out with my 2nd graders for a lesson on identifying emotions in others.

I created super short scenarios and asked students to identify what the character was feeling. Couldn’t print on cardstock so grabbed a highlighter and wrote the number of each scenario on the back (highlighter won’t bleed through paper like pen or marker will) and scattered them, big number side up, over the rug. Since I don’t have my own classroom, the numbered tape thing wouldn’t work – but I found I didn’t need that structure anyways. I let them know that there could be more than one right answer and encouraged them to write whatever came to mind, even if meant writing one or two.

Because spring semester second graders are still not all fluent readers, I asked the teachers to help me pair them up for this. I also like them working in pairs because 1) I’m all about collaborative learning and 2) these prompts weren’t cut and dry and working with someone allowed for more discussion.

identifying emotions acitivtyidentifying emotions activity

Then I set them loose! They scattered around the classroom and began. For being the first time they had ever done this type of activity, it went super well. They were on task and engaged. They were moving around. They weren’t being rushed. Because there was no clear cut start/end, I could let them work for as long as our time allowed and then end it without their being a lack of closure. It was great.

So great in fact, that I decided to do it again, this time with the same conflict resolution task cards I’d tried with my 4th graders before. Spring time means everyone needs a reminder on how to solve conflict peacefully! I projected the conflict resolution strategies (ignore, walk away, talk it out, etc.) that they were familiar with then scattered the cards and scattered the kids! Again, big success.

conflict resolution activityconflict resolution strategies visual


conflict resolution activity

I highly recommend this activity/modification with your students. I think there are ways this can be used as young as K/1st if you’re using visuals.

Want to give a try? Here are some tips to help it go smoothly:

  • As always, model it! Model using walking feet. Model selecting a card, reading it, and finding the right spot to write your answer. Model bringing your recording sheet to the rug to see what you’ve already done and what you still need to answer.
  • Let them know that any potential ‘word bank’ responses (I gave a list of feelings for one and a poster of conflict resolution strategies) can be used more the once. My kiddos were so used to their teachers giving them worksheets where they can use each answer only once that this through them off a bit.
  • Remind them 27 times to answer on the correct number on their recording sheet.
  • Carry around your own ‘suggested answer key’ if the prompts have right or wrong answers to quickly check for understanding.
  • Make at least five more task cards than pairs of students – at the end, when everyone has already answered several, there’s still plenty left to choose from.
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scatter activity as a self-paced alternative to scoot

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Hello, I’m Sara!

With 10 years of experience in
elementary school counseling,
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