A Quick Way to Make Groups

Here are two random quick ways to make groups in the classroom. I used the first one for a while, but then, got even more creative to create some small laminated cards.

This post is inspired by Barry Hoonan, co-author of “What Are You Grouping For?” who shares his strategies on episode 539 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast. Listen to his strategies for grouping which are much more complex and helpful for reading groups.

Robert Marzano had suggested to get colored poker chips and write the letters on one side and numbers on the other. I did this at first but decided I didn't like the connection with poker.

So, I got cardstock and created them as follows with enough for 20 students (the maximum size of my class).

5 Colors

So, with five different paper colors, cut each into four small squares. This gives us five teams of kids with four students on each team.

4 Letters

With the letters A, B, C, D – I write each of these five times on one side of the colored tiles. Now, if I want four teams of up to five students each, I ask them to draw in letter groups.

10 Numbers

For pairs, I write the letters 1-10 on the other side and use lettered groups to make pairs.

What about odd numbers?

Well, this is recent, but I used some stickers I had with emojis for the odd numbers. Of course, you would use eighteen and have three of the same stickers on each of them to make six teams. If you need to have 21, then that would be seven types of stickers.

Laminate and cut off the edges

I used a laminator to laminate these beauties, although I did have to cut off the edges.


Now, any time I need to make groups, I count out how many I need, figure out the size of the group and I have a quick and instant way to make random groups with a draw out of my Google cup in the classroom.

A simple way to make groups

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere