Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bright Ideas?? We've Got 'Em!

Bright Ideas for those bright kiddos in your classroom… we've got 'em!

This is a HUGE blog hop I'm participating in (over 140 bloggers!) that is chalk full of different ideas to implement in the classroom environment. The ideas range from things with technology to how to utilize that hallway "lull" time to classroom management idea to bulletin board decor ideas and SO much more.

My specific post is going to deal with a variety of classroom management techniques. Below, I'm going to tell you about ways to get those brain breaks in (and where to find good ones), ways to use (positive) behavior markers in the classroom, and a variety of other things! After reading my post, there will be a link to the ENTIRE blog hop where you can scan through and check out other blogs for some bright ideas. Like I said, there are OVER 140 bloggers participating, so you're bound to find some fantastic ideas.
In our classroom, we work, work, work ALL day long. So, I like to break it up every once in a while and do a brain break! This is where you give your students' brains a literal break. You do some sort of fun, get-them-moving activity to help them rejuvenate themselves. You know when you're working on something and you just need a 15 minute break??? Yup, it's the same way with kiddos!

We use quite a few different things when it comes to brain breaks. Some incorporate technology while others do not.

Our favorite brain break right now is the website, Adventure to Fitness.

I have NEVER seen such an amazing website that encourages students to get up and MOVE. We do these every once in a while and MAN do my kiddos get into it. While we're on the second floor, the classroom below us probably doesn't enjoy when we complete these activities, but it gives my students that break that they need to encourage them to get back into the game once we have completed our brain break.

We also love to use the Cranium Brain Breaks set.

When I moved into my classroom, the teacher before me had left this behind. The kids LOVE the activities where they get to either A) act out the cards or B) draw out the cards. This group of kids I have absolutely LOVES drawing on my whiteboard. They want to be the teacher a lot of the time just so they simply can draw on the board. It's hilarious! So, I make sure to include the brain breaks where they ARE allowed to draw on the whiteboard or SMARTBoard. 

We also love to do the "old" activities… Simon Says, Charades, Heads Up 7 Up, and so forth. These require NO technology or tools… just your bodies & your brains. My children LOVE to play Simon Says. It's funny that when I was young, I loved to play that SAME game, and we're now in 2014 and it's still a popular game. I love how some games just carry on, regardless of the time.

What Brain Breaks do YOU like to do in your classroom with your children?
When you see the terms "Classroom Management," what do you think of? Positive things or negative things?? In our classroom, I like to do positive discipline more than I do negative discipline… although I DO have a method for the negative discipline in our classroom, too (behavior chart). My class this year is CHATTY. If you know me, you know I am the chattiest person alive… but I am NOTHING compared to my kids. They could talk all day long about anything if I would let them!

But, I try to give those who follow the directions, listen throughout the day, and so forth the positive reinforcement that they desire because they DID do what was required of them.

In third grade, we use a behavior chart. This behavior chart has cards for green, yellow, orange, and red. Every single child starts the day out on green. Our rules are posted in the back of the room. Students do know that if they don't follow the rules (no talking when someone else is talking, no talking during tests, stay seated unless directed otherwise, listening and following the directions given/written, etc), they have 3 warnings and then they move down to yellow. After yellow, they move to orange. After orange, they move to red. I've had to give out several reds this year for behavior during fire drills, but not because of behavior in the classroom - it's amazing! 
Each level has it's own discipline method that is assigned - for example, if moving to yellow, it's considered a warning. They lose 5 minutes at recess to reflect over what happened in the classroom. If moving to yellow, they lose 10 minutes of recess and they must fill out a discipline sheet stating what they did wrong and how they can fix it. This gives them ownership over their actions. Finally, if they move to red, a variety of things happen. Students must fill out discipline sheet, lose all of their recess (although I end up giving them a few minutes off the bench so they can get their energy out), a note is sent home, and they sit by themselves at lunch (cannot sit with group). 

This is our way to show students that everyone starts fresh each day, but based upon your actions, it can change or it can stay the same. Regardless of the color, though, students know that I must sign their behavior chart stating what happened in a few short words. The whole story is up to them to explain - it's that responsibility thing we're trying to reinforce like crazy this year!

Now that you've seen the negatives side, the positives are my favorite. We have a variety of positive reinforcement type things happening in our classroom. One of them is homework club.
Students are given the opportunity to be part of homework club at the beginning of every month. Depending upon whether or not they turn in their homework the next day is whether or not they stay in! For the ENTIRE month, if they turn in their homework on time and every day, they receive some sort of prize. In the past, I've given out homework passes, "no shoes day"where students can walk around without shoes on (yuck, but they love it!), extra recess, and in December, I gave the entire class a "board game day" where they could bring their own boardgames to play for about an hour the last week of school. They LOVED it! This homework club has been a HUGE motivator to my kiddos and I am so thankful for the idea from Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics. It has worked like a charm!

Besides homework club, we've also got our star chart! 
{Sorry for the blurry picture… clearly I'm not a photographer!}
This is new this quarter but it's working like a charm, too. If a student stays on green ALL day long, they get a star at the end of the day. Those with stars across the board by the end of the quarter (which is in 5 weeks), they receive a $5.00 gift card to ToysRUs from ME. How awesome of a prize is that?! They are LOVING the fact that I am the one that has to shell out the money, but it's a way to reward those who are doing well. Those who are not doing so well are realizing that they need to shape up in one way or another because they will not receive the gift card if they receive 5 or more yellows/oranges/reds throughout the quarter. My children that are typically chatty-Cathies or those that are always not following the directions are quickly realizing how serious I am about these gift cards and that those who ARE behaving and doing as they are asked will be rewarded for it. To make this star chart, I used a blue incentive chart and gold star stickers. The fact that they're GOLD stars is what gets my kiddos… who wouldn't want a gold star?!

Another positive reinforcement tool I use is homework passes. I made my homework passes on Vistaprint, which is quickly becoming one of my best friends for teacher supplies :)
I randomly pass these out and they're good for one sheet of homework - whether it be their reading log response, a math sheet, a religion activity, whatever they would like (except study guides/take home tests and projects). They LOVE getting these and they know that I randomly hand them out. The looks on their faces when I DO hand them out is priceless… it's like they had won the lottery for children! The homework passes can come in groups of 1 or I may pass out 5 at a time… they NEVER know. But, it's those who had behaved all day and followed all directions as given that receive them the most often. I do absolutely *LOVE* it when a student who typically doesn't follow directions decides to turn his/her act around and then they receive a pass - the look on THEIR faces is amazing and truly makes it worth it.

Finally, we have our Party Puff jar.
I did a post on this during the Monday Made It series throughout the summer, but I'm bringing it back into light. This is a simple, easy, and effective way to keep your kiddos engaged in your lessons with a reward at the end. This method is actually a whole class method. What the party puff jar is is when my students receive some sort of compliment from another teacher or myself, they receive 1 party puff. If someone that is "higher up" such as our Principal or Vice Principal gives a compliment, then each student gets to put a party puff in (so 22 party puffs).

When they fill the jar completely to the top (all 100 party puffs have been used), they receive some sort of party! This party can be a movie party, a board game party, a popcorn party… anything we want it to be because THEY earned it by behaving outside and inside the classroom.

My students do know if they receive a compliment that they need to come tell me, but they know that they cannot ask if they received party puffs for a compliment. They know that if they received a compliment, that equals party puffs and that I surely will NOT forget. This shows them that they are grateful for the compliments and that they should not expect a reward - but that a reward will be applied if they behave appropriately. Does that make sense??

My kids LOVE this and love telling their parents about it - I get e-mails often about receiving party puffs in class! Such a cool tool :)

So, what kind of classroom management things do YOU do in your classroom? I'd love to hear y'all sound off in the comments below - I'm always looking for new ideas!

Rae from Mindful Rambles is one to check out next! In my class, I've got two kiddos who use fidgets to keep them on track and they work WONDERS. I sometimes catch myself playing with the fidgets as I'm talking, too. Rae has made a post on how to use fidgets in your classroom. Click on her button below to head on over for some great fidget ideas!
To hop around to other blog posts, click on any of the links below. It's divided into bright ideas for LOWER GRADES and bright ideas for UPPER GRADES - so you can find what you need!


  1. I am going to march myself right out and get some party puffs! Thanks for sharing so many great's so true that finding just the right management strategies can turn your whole class around for the better. Thanks Sara!
    Whimsy Workshop Teaching

    1. My kiddos LOVE the party puffs - yours will, too!


  2. Wow your post if full of BRIGHT ideas!! I love all of it! Thanks so much for sharing Sara!!!!
    Collaboration Cuties

  3. My students love Adventures to Fitness! They think they are playing a video game when we do an episode :) I use Learning Paths (formally known as Mentor Mob) to store all of my brain breaks... it's really convenient to pull up the one that we need! That Cranium kit looks fun-- I'm going to check it out! Thanks for sharing all of your bright ideas!

    EduKate and Inspire

  4. I love the party fluff jar! How adorable! And it's great to give kids brain breaks. I know I need them; they need them, too!

    Buzzing with Ms. B

    1. Amen to that one - we all need a break every once in a while!


  5. Great ideas! I love the party puffs idea!


  6. I also used to do homework passes too, yours are so cute, my sweet friend!! I will definitely be checking out that fitness website! :)

  7. I never thought of Simon Says type games for brain breaks - thanks for passing along that bright idea! Sara


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