Children, especially in the early grades, thrive on routines and procedures. Having routines and procedures does not mean that you have to be boring and totally predictable, it just means that your students know exactly what is expected of them in most situations and transitions. In kindergarten, you have to "teach" the children each procedure even if it seems silly. Teaching procedures and routines in your room will eliminate a multitide of behavior problems and opportunities for chaos.
Here are some routines and procedures that you should have in place in your classroom:
- How will your children come to your room each morning?
- Will they wait outside your room until the bell rings?
- Do you have to pick them up somewhere on campus?
- When the students enter your classroom, what will be expected of them?
- Do they hang their bags or put them on the back of their chairs?
- Do they put their lunch boxes somewhere?
- What will they do until the other children arrive?
- Where does homework go?
- Where do notes from home go?
- How will your children get to the meeting area?
- Where are the supplies (crayons, scissors, markers, etc.)?
- What do children do when they have completed work?
- What are the procedures for going to centers?
- How do your children get into line?
- Where do your children stand (any spot, ABC order, boy/girl, etc.)?
- How do children get their rest mats for quiet time?
- What happens to papers and notes going home?
- Will you send home a folder?
- Will notes go home on a certain day?
- How do your children pack up at the end of the day?
- How does dismissal work?
These are just a few of the procedures that are essential for a smooth day in any grade. The more your children know about your expectations, the more they will try to reach them. :o)
Here are a few pictures of some procedures I use in my classroom. You will see a mixture of kindergarten to 2nd grade ideas (as I've taught both).
Kindergarten Job/Line Order Chart
This is our classroom job and line order chart. You will see sneakers, red squares,
and yellow squares. The sneakers are ordinal numbers from 1st to 20th (that is how
many students I had at the time). The red squares show jobs such as line leader,
door holder, etc. and the yellow squares have a child's picture and name. I have tried in
the past to give every child a job, but I found it to be a little difficult to manage.
Each Monday, I take the child who is first and move him/her to the end. I take each
child and move him/her up one space. The line order never changes except that once a
week the line leader moves to the end. This helps our line to change weekly, it allows each
child to try out every job, and it makes it easy for the kids to remember where they stand.
2nd Grade Job Chart
This is a photo of my 2nd grade job chart. I bought the "people" cut outs at the teacher store. I think you would also be able to find them as an Ellison die cut. I used a pocket chart to store my job chart and it is located at the front of the room by the door. Each job has a photo and is attached to a library pocket (also bought at the teacher store. I like that the jobs are not permanently "attached" to the pocket chart so that I can change them around as needed. Each student decorated their little "people" cut outs on the first day of school and I wrote their name across the arm span.
Kindergarten Check In Table
This is a picture of my sign in table. There are three baskets and a sign in book on
the table. The white basket is for notes from home, the blue basket is for homework,
and the red basket is for the take home folders. Each child is responsible for coming in,
unpacking his/her folder, putting notes and homework in the bins and signing in. This
takes a little bit of getting used to, but after a short time, the children know exactly what to
do when they come in. This also prevents everyone throwing notes and homework and
lunch money at you first thing in the morning. :o)
Kindergarten Sign In Table
Here's a picture of some of my students signing in. For the first couple months of school,
I keep a chart of their names posted for them to copy in case they are still struggling.
Kindergarten Classroom Rules
I have these rules posted in my classroom. Every year I have my students
help me come up with a list of rules for the classroom. We chant these rules
often throughout the school year.
2nd Grade Classrom Agreements
This is the Talking Signal in our classroom. We move the arrow up and down for different activities. The kids really like to help keep up with this. Sometimes when I forget to move it, the children say "Shouldn't the signal say 'quiet' because we are taking a test?'" and ask to change it.
Works very well! I got the signal as a poster from the teacher store and cut it out. I added the words and made the arrow.
Many teachers use an organization folder for daily/weekly communication between home and the classroom. I have heard these folders called BEE folders, MOOSE folders, TIGER folders, BEAR folders, etc. and all of them have cute acronyms that say something along the lines of "be ready for school". Here are some links to teacher sites that explain these many types of organization tools for you.
Our Home Folders: Here are pictures of the home folder that I use for my second graders. My home folders aren't as cute as the ones above, but I tried to keep them cheap and practical. I really tried to keep the cost down for each folder. I believe the cost came to about $1.20 each. Here are the materials that I used:
- Vinyl binder - 25 cents on sale at Staples
- Zipper pouch - 88 cents at Walmart
- "Dividers" - instead of purchasing dividers, I laminated construction paper and used my label maker
- Notebook paper - 10 cents for one pack
- Pocket folder - 5 cents
This is a picture from the inside of our home folders. I used a vinyl folder this year that I found on sale at Staples for 25 cents each. Inside I placed a zipper pouch labeled for "Notes/Money".
Behind the Money/Notes holder is a section labeled "Communication". In this section is notebook paper for a continual journal to go back and forth from home to school.
Notebook paper in the "Communication" section. The next section is labeled for "Homework". Students will add reference materials for their homework for this section as well as the homework itself. This will prevent homework from being "lost" :o).
A cheap pocket folder is at the back of the home folder. The pockets are labeled as "Notes to return" or to "Keep at home" for notes and work coming from school. This year, I am using a Weekly Reflection daily report (see below) for my students and I attach it with staples to the "Notes to Return" section. I remove it and add a new one on Monday of each week.
Home Folder Motivator - The Cube Stack: Each day that ALL of the children in the class return their signed home folder to school, we add a cube to our stack. Near our calendar, we keep a set of unifix cubes. We set a goal of how tall we want our stack to be and each day we return our folders, we get a little closer to our goal. When our stack has reached our height goal, we will vote on a special treat.
Each day, my students bring home a daily folder. In the past (kindergarten) I've used a three prong folder with a calendar inside to mark students behavior. I just use a regular calendar and smiley stamps to mark each day. Any problems are also addressed with an additional note.
This year, I am teaching 2nd grade and have changed my "behavior report" into a weekly reflection. The Weekly Reflection sheet is added to each student's home organization folder (see above) and replaced each Monday. A short reflection is provided by the teacher each day - stamp/sticker for a great day or a short note to report any problems. On Friday, the bottom portion is filled out as a reflection of the week as a whole. This report initialed by the parent daily and signed at the end of each week to show that the parent has seen the weekly progress report. Click below to download a printable copy of my reflection sheet.
Don't lose your voice (and sanity) to get your students' attention. Use an attention grabber to help them focus.
- Lip Sandwiches or Platypus Lips: When I need students to be quiet quickly, I will give a quick shout and say "Lip Sandwiches!". A lip sandwich is when a student holds their two lips together with their fingers like a "sandwich". :o) Works really well! I've also heard a teacher call this "Platypus Lips".
- "Give Me Five": This is a yoga technique used for attention getting. The teacher stands and says "Give me five!" and holds up a fist. Students breathe in for five counts while each finger is raised for each count, and breathes out for five counts while each finger is brought back to a fist for each count. Students aren't able to talk because they are busy breathing and calming their energy.
- "If You Can Hear My Voice...": In a loud voice, say "If you can hear my voice, clap once". After that say in a normal voice "If you can hear my voice, clap twice." In a whisper voice, say "If you can hear my voice, clap three times". By the third time, you should have everyone's attention.
I use a conflict management system called Kelso's Choices. Kelso is a frog who has conflicts with his friends. The curriculum teaches children about choices to make when dealing with a conflict. For kindergartners, anytime they don't get their way, it is a conflict. :o) As far as I know, the curriculum is now unavailable. If you do happen to find a way to purchase the curriculum, please let me know! If you are looking for a similar program to Kelso's Choices, I would suggest using Positive Discipline (see links below in "Professional Resources").
The Kelso's Choices program is centered around a frog character named Kelso and the program contains stories that are read to the children about problems Kelso has with his friends and others around his lily pad. It teaches children the difference between a big problem (one that cannot be solved by the student such as someone being hurt) and a small problem (one that can be solved by the student such as someone cutting in front of them in line). The program also introduces 9 specific choices that the children came make when faced with a small problem. The choices are:
- Go to another game.
- Share and take turns.
- Wait and cool off.
- Talk it out.
- Walk away.
- Ignore it.
- Tell them to stop.
- Make a deal.
This program, reduces the amount of tattling in the classroom - when kids come to me ready to tattle on someone, I ask them "Is this a big problem or a small problem". If they say it's a small problem, we talk about some choices they can make to solve the problem on their own.
Note: This was my behavior chart for the past few years. I no longer use a visual representation. Because I use Kelso's Choices, my behavior chart has a frog theme. I have tried and tested many other visuals for behavior management but this one has worked the best. The children each have a frog with their name on it. In the past I have used the Ellison machine to die cut frogs, but this year I found some cute calendar cut outs from the teacher store. On one side the shapes are dark green and on the other side they are light green. I made the boys dark green and the girls light green. This year I am using my file cabinet to host my behavior chart so each of the frogs have a piece of magnetic tape on the back. They move their frogs up and down according to the choices they make. For more information on my behavior system visit my Classroom Handbook.
Many visitors have asked me about the frogs I use on my behavior chart. I found a set of frog clipart of the Print Shop Deluxe Version 20 program. They have a set of about 20 frogs that show many different emotions. Signs using the three frogs shown in the above picture are available for download below.
- Compliment Chain: In my class we have used a compliment chain. Our compliment chain uses colored plastic manipulative links but you can also use large paperclips if you don't have the plastic ones. The chain needs to kept in a high place in the classrom. We put ours at the top of our whiteboard. Each time the children get a compliment from another teacher for their behavior, we add a link to our compliment chain. We add links in patterned sequence, so the children also have to guess what color we will use next on our chain. When starting out the chain, give the children a goal such as making the chain go to the end of the whiteboard or as long as the window or all the way to the floor. Tell the children that when they reach their goal they will get a surprise. You can vote on a special party or a special treat and work together for it. I suggest that when you first try this activity that you use a goal that can be accomplished relatively quickly and then make the goals a little harder each time. This makes the kids more interested and feel as though the goal is attainable. They also feel as though it is a challenge to make the chain "even longer" the next time.
- "Warm Fuzzy" Jar: To further encourage group motivation for good behavior, we use a "Warm Fuzzy" jar in our classroom. I tell the kids that when they are all being good listeners and following directions that it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside and we talk about what a "warm fuzzy" feeling feels like. Everytime the children are all trying their best, do a super job in the lunch room, walk through the hall quietly, etc. we add a warm fuzzy (a.k.a cotton ball) to the jar. When the jar is full, I let the kids vote on a special party. We've had a pajama party, ice cream social, pizza parties, etc. Once in awhile, when your kids are behaving in a hideously ugly manner, I might take out a fuzzy. They take the fuzzy jar so seriously that they are very upset when they lose one. :o)
- Jewel Jar: This idea stems from the same concept as the fuzzy jar (above). Instead of using cotton balls, we fill a vase with "jewels". Jewels are the flat decorative glass beads that you can get at the craft store for flower arrangements and fish tanks.
- Goal of the Day: I find this activity very helpful if you deal with a large amount of behavior problems in your classroom. Make a poster in your room that says "Goal of the Day" or you can download a small 8.5 x 11 poster below. Each day, choose a classroom rule to be your goal for the day. Choose a goal such as "Keep your hands to yourself" or "Use soft and sweet voices". It is best to choose a goal that your class might have some trouble with. Introduce your children to the goal of the day each morning and discuss reasons why it is important and what the rule means. Tell the students that if the goal is met at the end of the day that they will receive a treat (5 extra minutes of center time, a lollipop, etc.). This gives children who have a multitude of behavior problems the opportunity to focus on one behavior at a time. To download a printable poster, click below.
Types of Misbehavior
I recently went to a Clasroom Management workshop by Ron Walker. He is an educational consultant who specializes in behavior and classroom management. He spoke about the three types of childhood behavior problems and explained the characteristics of each type. Here are the three types of typical childhood misbehavior:
- Misbehavior: This is the mild sort of misbehavior that occurs in children who are impulsive and do things without thinking about the consequences. They don't think, they "just do it". Their behaviors are trivial but extremely frequent. Since they do not think of consequences when they act, they are very resistant to consequences being given to them.
- Bad Behavior: This is a deliberate, mischievous behavior that is usually planned and not as frequent as impulsive behavior. Children who show this kind of behavior are aware of the consequences but do it to fulfill their attentional needs. Providing these children with consequences and appropriate attention will usually correct this behavior.
- Really Bad Behavior: This is the sort of behavior that is irrational and comes from a child who has control issues. This behavior is usually severe but does not happen often. For a child with this sort of behavior to adapt and change, a personal connection and relationship between the child and teacher must be present.
I find just this small bit of information so helpful because all of my students who have behavior problems fall into one of these categories. With this information, I think it is easier to figure out how to handle a child when he/she is misbehaving.
If you ever have the opportunity to hear Ron Walker speak at a workshop or conference, I highly recommend him. He is passionate about children and is so knowledgeable in his area of expertise which is behavior and classroom management. The information above comes from his workshop.
- Brain Gym and Yoga (I use Brain Gym and Yoga extensively in behavior management and conflict resolution)