Creature Comforts

Confession time: My internal thermostat tends to get stuck on sweaty mode. I swear, there’s a clan of hamsters forever running on wheels inside me; as a result, I am always too warm. Take my natural “glow,” then add the gymnastics floor routine I perform while I’m lecturing along with the heat thrown off by the whirling overhead projector and this girl needs some air.

So, thank you, taxpayers of the great state of California, for the AC humming in my room. I am grateful.

My teeny, tiny teenage girls, though, are freezing while I’m trying to discreetly dab away the twin moon shadows growing in my pits. (Let’s keep it real – my closet holds a significant number of black shirts and cardigan sweaters. You feel me, right?)

Anyway, I admit it – my classroom is cold. Students, though, need to be comfortable to learn. It’s really hard to care about Hamlet if your teeth are chattering, and it’s somewhat distracting to me as a lecturer when I see a student’s lips turning blue as frostbite takes hold.

The solution is to spread a little warmth. I have a blanket drawer, a box of rice socks, and a microwave oven in my classroom. Any chilly student is welcome to grab a snuggly blanket and I don’t mind nuking a few rice socks (a.k.a. portable hand-warmers) on especially chilly mornings. We don’t get snow very often in Northern California, but those zero-hour marching band kids are still trying to defrost by the time my first class of the day begins.

Small acts of warm kindness go a long way in making a classroom feel comfortable and helping kids learn.

drawerSome years, students bring in their own blankets to fill the drawer (yes, that’s my actual blanket drawer on the left) with the understanding that other kids are allowed to borrow the wraps throughout the day. This year, I stumbled across a clearance bonanza of college dorm-room leftovers at Target and bought a bunch of super-soft blankets at $6 a pop. I take them home once a month for laundering, a small hassle when compared to the large bank of goodwill those blankets give me with the kids.

For those rice socks, take a clean sock and fill it with any type of white rice. Then, tie a knot in the sock, making sure the end is sealed super-tight. Voila! You’re done. Now, pop that sucker in the microwave for two minutes or so and you’ll have a traveling heat wrap that will retain its heat for about 15 minutes. You’ll find lots of variations if you search “rice sock” on YouTube. Some people put vanilla extract or cinnamon inside, some people sew them up (seriously, who has time for that?), and some people even give them away as Christmas presents. Oh, it’s a whole thing. I even made a visual aid for you (see below).

I used rice socks with my own children when they were little and I needed to coax them out of bed on cold mornings, and I still use a sock whenever my lower back gets cranky. Little kids also love to cuddle a sock as they fall asleep, just make sure the rice isn’t too hot when you hand it over.

For the classroom, I suggest you buy a package of smaller socks and make fun-sized hand-warmers. Nuke a couple at the beginning of class on a cold, rainy morning and your teens will think you’re the best person on the planet.

You will need socks (new ones, of course, and don’t use white because they start to look nasty pretty quickly), white rice (buy the cheapest brand possible), a funnel (unless you like sweeping), and a microwave:


4 thoughts on “Creature Comforts

  1. Laura, these are genius ideas! My classroom is always colder than the sweet little tank-top clad girls prefer! And the upcoming winter in metro DC is quickly approaching! This simple solution is so much better than the cranky “you should have brought a sweater” retort that my colleagues brag about. Thank you!! Little kindnesses go a long way. I’m still perusing your blog as time permits, having just found it this summer. Keep on!

  2. Thanks for commenting, Stacey! So glad you like these ideas. Yes, give a girl a blanket on a cold December morning and you’ve won her heart for the rest of the year! Stay warm. 🙂

  3. Julie Keith says:

    I am just seeing this now. My room faces north and ona bluster Iowa winter day, the windows actually howl. I tell them it’s the ghosts of freshmen who died from too much homework. This is a genius idea and I will definitely be using this next year.

  4. Great, Julie! Get ready to be the most popular teacher on campus. 🙂

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