keeping kids quiet

September's HOT TOPIC is:

Discipline Tips

  • ·        What works for you?
  • ·        Do you have some great classroom management ideas?
  • ·        Do you have a tip for lining your kids up?
  • ·        Do you have a song you sing to get ready?
  • ·        How do you keep children quiet in the hallway?
  • ·        How do you handle the ADHD child whose parents don’t believe in medication?

     Here's a booklet I wrote that might help with one of the #1 reasons for discipline problems: Keeping your HANDS to yourself! Click on the link to print a color booklet for yourself  as a wonderful read-aloud.  I put 2 on a page for easy copying so you can send a booklet home with each of your students to share with their families. I've also included a CERTIFICATE to help promote great behavior. Children will want to become a member of the "High Five Helping Hands Club!"  They'll receive one when they understand the concept and have helping, not hurting hands. There's also a SKILL SHEET where a child can ZAP and X out the hurting hands, as well as a cute ART ACTIVITY where they'll make a "handy" heart-print, sure to become a cherished keepsake that makes a terrific bulletin board too!  Have your little ones trace and sign the Helping Hands CONTRACT and watch great behavior grow!  FREE BOOKLET

UPDATE: I just made a Teacher's Edition so you can have a BIG copy of  the children's size. I laminated my copy, put it in a folder, laminated the children's edition, cut up the picture pieces and put magnet strip on the back.  When I'm reading my big teacher's copy I pass out the picture pieces.  When I come to that picture the child holding that piece puts it on the white board.  We sequence the story. Everyone says the phrase "Please keep these to yourself." when a child puts a picture on the board.  I keep these pictures in a baggie in the pocket of my folder.   Click on the link to print a copy. 

I've also made a Classroom Rules Promise Pledge. Click on the link for a copy.  I have my students raise their left hand and then put their right hand over their heart and promise these things, and then sign the contract.  I think it makes it official.  Promises are a big deal in a young person's life.  When an infraction takes place I remind them that they broke their promise and that I'm disappointed in the choice they have made.

If you need an easy Happy Gram Daily Behavior note to send home click on the link.

If you need a note to send parents when their child moves from the green to a red zone click on the link. FYI red zone note.

I also have Windows Of Good Behavior a great behavior modification technique that helps motivate even the "toughies"! At least it's worked on mine!  Click on the link for 28-pages of help, including the game, self-esteem building incentives (bookmarks, badges, slap bracelets), happy grams, and directions.

Need some tips to get those students in line and quiet? Click on the link for my 70+ Transition Tips!  

  •  discipline tips in the classroom, teacher tips, making kids behave
  • I have my tips listed through out the site, but here are a few more things.
  • I think the bottom line in discipline is have a set of procedures and rules and make sure that your students know what they are from day one.
  • Practice them, model them, hold children accountable, make sure they know that they are responsible for their behavior and that that behavior has consequences, follow through with consistency and you wil have few discipline problems.
  • My rules for Y5's are basic. Keep your hands, feet and mouth to yourself. Mouth entails not only biting, but not saying naughty words, or unkind things.
  • I also have them observe the "Golden Rule." They definitely understand the question: "Would you like it if someone did that , or said that to you?" Therefore do not do or say that to anyone else!
  • Those hands are for helping not hurting and WE are responsible for the things we SAY and DO.  It's important to define responsible.
  • I have a "Thinking Chair". It's where you go to think about your inappropriate behavior, or your unwise choice. It's for 5 minutes. I do set a timer, because it's very easy to forget a child and some don't complain.
  • I also have a little stool that I call my "Sweet Seat." Sometimes children are simply "Cranky Pants." because they are tired. So I say, "Ya know what? You need a minute in the Sweet Seat. Go sit there and sweeten up."discipline tips for the classroom, making students behave
  • The best time to put children in Time Out is when it's Free Play Center Time. When they see others playing it has much more of an impact than when they see others working at a skill sheet. They know they are missing out.
  • When the timer rings I go over and talk with the child. I ask them "What were you doing? What should you have been doing? What are you going to do now?" I tell them that they are a good boy or girl and that I don't expect those kinds of choices from them. Then I give them a hug and send them off.  If it was something that I think a parent needs to know about, I jot down a note and pin it to their back so that they can't pull it off.
  • I never keep a child in for recess. That only compounds problems. A hyper child needs to run out the wiggles or you will exaserbate the problem. Besides, you are also punishing yourself. You won't get your 15 minutes of sanity time, or be able to leave the room to run an errand or go to the bathroom.
  • I NEVER tell a child that they are naughty. I tell them that they are good and smart so that I don't expect them to be making unwise choices.
  • I ALWAYS give children a chance to explain their side of the story and tell me why they did something. Sometimes what they do actually makes sense. For example, one little boy came to me saying that 2 of my Y5's were tinkling on the floor. When I asked them why, they told me they were tinkling in the drain in the middle of the floor because the one bathroom was being used, and there were already 2 boys at each of the 2 urinals and they couldn't hold it anymore and they didn't want to have an accident.  I told them that this really was inappropriate, but it actually did make sense to me, so I did not punish them. 
  • I recommend the techniques of the  book Love and Logic and I also recommend the program Capturing Kids Hearts. If you ever have a chance to attend any of these seminars they are well worth the money and you will come away with a few more tricks to put in your teaching bag.
  • I greet my students in the hall, and as they enter the room I give them a hig five and compliment them on something. Right away I have a personal connection with them and show them that I care about them.
  • I never raise my voice. When things are loud, I wait for a break or lull and then I whisper. This truly quiets down a room, and I have their full attention.
  • discipline tips in the classroom, making students behaveLike Pavlov's dogs, I have trained my students that when they hear a the tinkling of a little bell, or the lovely ringing of a chime, they stop what they are doing and listen for a command.
  • Make sure you tell your students that only  YOU can ring bells and chimes.
  • Tell them the procedure, practice the procedure, tell them the consequence of not following the procedure, as well as the postitive consequences of following the procedures then be consistant.
  • For example. on the first day of school I tell my little ones that when the 1st timer rings they must stop playing and help pick up the toys. If they do not have everything picked up by the time the second timer rings, the tubbies that are left out will not be able to be taken out the next day.
  • This is my 11th year with Y5's. Not one year have they ever obeyed that rule on the 1st day. They are used to doing as they please and having their parents give them more chances, or even picking up for them. They are in essence reinforces negative behavior.
  • The timer rings. Only a few children stop playing a start to pick up. They usually see no one else is stopping so they continue to play. I say nothing. The second timer rings. Everything is still out and the room is a mess.
  • I ask the children: Did the timer ring?   Yes. What were you suppossed to do?  Stop and pick up the toysDid you do that?  No. What's the consequence?  We don't get to play with the toys.  Whose fault is that?  Ours.
  • I let them take responsibility for their actions. The next day I cheerfully say.: "Yay! It's time for Free Play center time!" and then I pause. "Oh no, we don't have any toys to play with. Could anyone tell me why that is?"  They know the answer. "Oh dear, I so wanted you to play. Mrs. Henderson loves you. She bought all of those toys for you to play with. Let's see we could lay on mats and take a nap. Does anyone want to do that?"  No one wants to. "Hmmm." No one had the books out. I guess we could look at books. Would you like to do that?"  They happily look at books. I let them look at books for 15 minutes. That's a very long time for a 4-year-old. The rules are all sinking in now. Because no one had puzzles out. I rescue them and say. "Children, I just remembered no one had puzzles out, would you like to play with puzzles? Just remember the timer OK?"
  • Well when the timer rings you can imagine that they are all falling all over each other picking things up, because they want ALL of the toys out next time.
  • Whatever your rules you must be consistent and follow through and your students will too.
  • Some teachers laminate a pizza box, or an ice cream carton and then cut it up into puzzle pieces. Each time their class has had a great day they get to put a piece of the puzzle together on the board. Once completed, they get a pizza or an ice cream party.
  • Other teachers fill a jar with a scoop of pop corn kernels, for pop corn and a video.
  • I've put the word Popsicle and Hot Chocolate on the board and had my students earn the letters to earn those treats. Like wise, they can also lose a letter. These are all activities where children work as a team and we build community.
  • I saw a poster that used team as an anacronym. Together Everyon Achieves More.
  • When I taught 1st grade I had "3 strikes and you're out!" I used 4 small mushroom cans that I put contact paper on.
  • I put them in my chalk sill.
  • I used 4 different colored sets of Popsicle sticks so that children did not have to search more than 30 seconds to find their stick..
  • One can held all of the Popsicle sticks. The other cans said: strike one, two and finally three.
  • If I caught you misbehaving, I'd say " Strike one Kelli." "Please go move your stick." When you had 3 strikes you owed me 10 minutes after school, or you got an extra homework assignment. etc. or whatever you decide will be the consequence for misbehavior. Some teachers have their students think up the consequences.
  • Most of the 1st grade teachers in my school use the "Move Your Apple" poster. All of the apples sit in the SAFE green section. The 1st time a teacher talks to them they move it to the warning yellow section, the 2nd time the teacher talks to them they move their apple to the red you get a consequence section.
  • Some teachers write out their discipline plan/rules and send it home for parents to read, sign and send back. Some have them sign the bottom and cut it off and send back that portion.  I think this is important if you have older students. I've never run into a problem with my parents understanding my simple rules or their consequences.  It certainly wouldn't hurt to add the sentence:
  • Mrs./Mr. ________________ I have read and understand your discipline plan, rules and consequences for your classroom and have reviewed them with my child. Signed: ____________________ Child's Name: ____________________________

behavior modification chart, discipline tips for the classroom


  • Here's the little chants and techniques I use to get children to be quiet that I teach my students on the very 1st day of school:
  • Give me 5! EYES on me. EARS listening, MOUTHS closed, HANDS folded in lap, FEET flat on the floor, or criss-cross-applesauce if we are sitting on the cardpet.
  • I say: "Bup-Bup-Bup-Bup-Bup!" My students say: "Eyes up!"
  • I say: "Ten hut!" My students say: "Line up!" and then get in line.
  • I say: "Count off!" My students say: "1-2"
  • I repeat: "Count off!" they say: "3-4"
  • I repeat: "Count off" they say: "1-2-3-4 we're ready to go out the door!"
  • Then we whisper: "SHHHHH! 1-2-3-4 we're really ready to go out the door."
  • I say: Clap-Clap and clap my hands and my students echo and do the same.
  • I say Slap-Slap and slap my thighs and my students echo and do the same.
  • I say Snap-Snap and snap my fingers and my students echo and do the same.
  • I say Tap-Tap and tap my mouth and my students echo and do the same.
  • I say Shhhhhh! With my finger at my lips and my students do the same.
  • I'll clap a pattern and my students will try to copy it. I'll do it twice more 'til they get it correct.
  • I'll say "Slap-Smack! Put your hands behind your back!" Children will slap their thighs and smack their bottoms and hold their hands behind their back as we walk down the hallway. They repeat the phrase that I just said as well.
  • I'll flip the lights off and they'll need to freeze and be dead-quiet. We'll practice it 'til they are.
  • “5-4-3-2-1 quiet in the hallway has now begun. Shhhh!” We clap the 5 beats with a 2 slow and 3 fast pattern.
  • Since counting by 2's is one of our K standards I made it a "line up" phrase.
  • 2-4-6-8
  • Please line up
  • oh-so-great.
  • Tip toe-Tip toe Tip toe
  • Please...
  • Do it quietly
  • with ease.

(Children say the first 3 lines with you rather loudly, then as they tip toe they say the last 3 softly.)

  • I'm a smartee!
  • I won't be tardy!
  • I'm ready to go!
  • I'll line up just so!

Ideas from other teachers: (Thank you!)

The Traffic Light System:
I put up a cardboard traffic light and write names on clothespins.  Every morning, everyone starts off on the green light.  When they have broken a rule, their name goes on the yellow light, if they break another rule,  their name gets put on the red light.  At any time, children can gain their way back to a yellow or green, but if at the end of the day they are still on the red, a note gets sent home to parents.  Children on the green light at the end of the day get a little reward (jellybean, sticker, etc) it works wonders at this age!
Quiet Game:  Whenever someone stops in, or the phone rings and I have to step away from a whole group activity for a moment, I have the children play the Quiet Game. Where they sit in the teacher's chair and they choose someone, to take their place where they were sitting and then the person they chose then chooses the next person to sit in their place. No one can say a word and they have to be whisper-quiet changing places. They can also play paper-scissors-rock on the carpet. It's also a great way to keep them entertained if I’m busy for a moment
  • I positively reinforce all the good  behaviors with treats of some sort.
  • Dealing with a HYPER CHILD:
  • I have a small round child-size table where I can have a child  work undistracted. You always want to make this a "positive" thing. "Johnny let's you and I move over to our special table."  Is far more affective than telling a child you are moving them because they are misbehaving.
  • To keep one of my more hyper active children calmer when walking in line in the hallway I hold his hand.
  • ·        He was always flailing around touching everything he came in contact with, with his other hand,  so I invented Wally. Cosco™ & Sam’s Club™ have the square white milk jugs so I decorated Wally with wiggle eyes and some black marker facial details and filled him a 1/3rd full of water.
  •         This child enjoyed carrying Wally whenever we’re transitioning in the halls and it kept him preoccupied. He also had his hands full and couldn't touch anything on the walls.
  • ·        When that novelty wore off,  I gave him a large manila envelope to deliver to the other teacher.
  • ·        I also let this child sit in a little rocking chair during parts of the day. The rocking motion helped sooth him and he tended to stay seated throughout story time and other moments when I needed him to be focused.
  • ·        If he needed a time out and wouldn't stay in the chair, I let him choose a timer. I also let him hold one of those colored dripping novelty things that when you turn it over drops of liquid slowly fall onto little wheels or change color.· It kept him calm while he sat there. Our school also had a sand vest available, and also a weighted rectangle that he could put on his lap that was also filled with sand. I simply said, "We're going to wear this right now, putting no negative connotation with it whatsoever."   
Super Successful File Folder Games:
  • I also made an ANIMAL ADVENTURE; JUNGLE JAUNT file folder for this child. I stuck 10 Velcro dots on a folder and laminated 5 different clip art animals. He got to choose an animal each morning.   Every time I caught him being good, staying on task, or if he completed a task, he got to move his animal to the next dot. When he got to the end of the "jungel trail" he received the "prize" that he had chosen that day. It could be a prize from the treasure chest, or some one-on-one time with me, or he could be the helper of the day, or line leader for the day etc. I kept the animals in an envelope taped to the back of the folder. He loved it!
  • This has been so successful that I designed SOLAR SYSTEM BLAST OFF  (Move your rocket) as well as DINOSAUR DESTINATION (Move your dinosaur away from the erupting volcanoe and through the swamp.) Click on the bolded links to print a copy of the playing pieces, and backgrounds.
  • I've also included a matching certificate that the child keeps track off. As he moves his animal/dinosaur/rocket on my board, he also gets to trace a line on his certificate and color a numbered heart. When he completes his certificate I sign and date it and he has something to take home to share with his parents to let them know that he had a great day. This saves me from having to write a note. There's also a behavior log for you to fill in for the week. You could have the child choose a bigger prize for completing 5 game boards (an entire week's worth of school!)
  • Click on the link for DIRECTIONS of how to make the file folders.

What To Do With A Real Problem Child

Document: Start a notebook on the child. Have a page for each day and make a bulleted list of everything that they do inappropriately. Have a tally sheet where you time how many times they are out of their seat in one minute intervals.  List how many times they were in the Time Out Chair and why they were in it.  Have a page of the behavior modification plans and special things that you are doing to help this child.  Use the documentation to get the child observed by others, evaluated, tested, etc. Keep documenting.

Make Contact: Keep the parents informed of the child's behavior: Make a form letter so that this is not time consuming for you. Make it a check list. Sign it and have a place for them to sign and return; after so many notes home ask them to call you if your phone calls are not being returned which is usually the case.  Set up a conference.  Pin these to the child's back so that they will see them. Give copies to your principal.

Ask for help: Inform your principal that you need assistance; can you qualify for an aide? When there are extra volunteers/subs in the building could they please send them to you? When older students are in a block or not doing something could that teacher send down a few helpers to your class? Can the Psych department help?  Can the parents/grandparents come in and work-one-on one for an hour one day a week?  Is there a near by teacher willing to let this child sit in a chair in their class to get him out of your room for 5 minutes to settle down?  Can you set up a program where you can send him to the office, or to the principal for an intervention time when nothing else works?

Set Up Ultimate Consequences: Can you make parents accountable so that If their child continues to be disruptive or hurts another child you can send them home?

Is this child a runner? Keep your door shut, keep that child's seat as far away from the door as possible, they are not to use the bathroom with out adult accompaniment, set up a "Child-On-The-Run" alert system. You have a walkie-talkie and so does the office.  If the child runs, you notify the office and they take over.  When the child leaves to go with another teacher, they get the walkie-talkie etc.

Cover yourself: You need to make your principal aware that other parents may complain and that this child is a potential threat to your, their, and his safety and that could involve not only complaints but a potential lawsuit.  This always seems to give administration a wake up call that they need to listen.  Sometimes they are not even aware of what a handful you have.  Ask them to come in and observe the situation.

Explain: The rest of your class is definitely affected by a "wild child".  You need to explain to them when this child is NOT present that he has a bit of a problem and that you need their help.

  • Could they PLEASE not follow his behavior.  I explain to my students that they are sort of like his big brothers and sisters and it's like when they have a baby brother or sister that doesn't know any better and they help him, and don't do things that they do.  They are good boys and girls and I know they will make wise choices and if we model great behavior maybe this child will copy US!
  • I also explain that sometimes it is best if we simply ignore his negative behavior, and that I might let him wander and go play with something while we are all doing something else like a lesson.  This is so that I can teach them, which is what we are here to do and that we will have lots of fun doing that and that this child will miss all the fun learning. Later when they are playing I will go and work with him one-on-one and he will miss more fun.  They seem to understand this concept and then when they say: "X is not listening, or he's over there and not in Circle Time." I can just say that's OK this is our time and he's missing the fun and they'll know.
  • I also ask them to keep an eye on him when I'm working with other students and let me know if he's in a "No Touch Zone", or trying to get out of the door.  I tell them this is not tattling and it really helps me relax a bit knowing that I have 19 extra pairs of eyes helping me keep an eye out.  They also enjoy that responsibility and I let them know that they are helping keep X safe too.

Positive Praise: As with all children the importance of praise is so imperative.  A really challenging child may only have ever felt how it feels to get attention negatively.  I try my best to notice any kind of positive behavior and then recognize it immediately and praise them.  This can be a high five, thumbs up, a pat on the back, or simply an encouraging word or a combination.  Putting a sticker, or drawing a smilie face or star on their paper is also very rewarding.  At times I announce to the class:  "X has completed their work, or stayed in their seat, or not been in the Time Out Chair this morning! Let's all clap for them." This child just beams.  As with my other students who do a great job, or improve, when this child completes anything (!) I'll hold up their paper and say: "X finished his paper!"  Always make sure the praise is genuine and just enough at just the right intervals.

  •  Click here for my handout I give parents during conference time if their child has been in the Time Out chair too many times.
  • ·        Click here for my template of “I was in the Time Out chair today.I have these on hand to pin to a child, so when this happens I quickly pin this note to their back (where they can’t remove it) and I don’t have to waste time with further correspondence. Parents know they can give me a call and this is also an opening for discussion with their child.
  • If I have a child that's repeatedly in Time Out we put them on a Behavior Modification plan where I get the parents involved at home. I send home a calendar and if they haven't been in Time Out at school, they get a star on their chart at home, that ='s some sort of reward that they have worked out with their child. Ironically one reward that is especially high on a child's list is a special one-on-one quality time with either parent. Parents are surprised when I suggest this as a "hot button". They think that their child will want a toy, or trip to McDonalds. A weeks worth of stars is also another, bigger reward. Likewise, if the child WAS in Time Out a negative consequence happened. This program has never failed me, as long as the parents were on board and followed through at home I've had great success.