I'll never forget my first principal telling me that teaching the students classroom management strategies was the most important among any curriculum I'd ever teach. And I never forgot it. She was most definitely right!
Our Classroom Family
Do you see that palm tree in the back corner? When we start the year, we start with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and I give the kiddos cutouts of the letters that come at the beginning of their names. They write their names on the letters, and we pop them on the wall. We talk about how all of the letters work together to form words, and in the classroom, all of the students work together to become a family. In the first month of school, our students are assigned to bring in a family picture. We place their family pictures next to their letters because now their family members are ALL apart of our kindergarten family! This is the foundation that we refer to all year. Classroom family.
We have a classroom mascot who helps us with a lot of classroom management strategies. Did I mention that she's magical? She is. Totally magical. Every tenth day of school, she delivers something in her magic number bag because she is Uni-Zero. She loves zero. Get it? One. Zero. 10? You can read more about her in our number of school days routines by clicking the button below.
The Magic of Rainbow Tickets
So when we meet Uni-Zero for the first time, she brings us rainbow tickets. When I press her foot, she giggles and spins around. I act completely surprised by her movement. She whispers things to me so I know what to tell the kids. So we cast a magic spell over the tickets, like this, "Boppity boo, bippity crickets, you are now, MAGIC rainbow tickets!" The kids repeat. We swirl our hands over the magic bag of tickets and make a pretty big deal out of it.
Are those just pieces of paper???
Yep, those rainbow tickets are just pieces of paper, sliced into rectangles. But, you guys, the kids think they're the most amazing thing! Each kiddo is assigned to a classroom number at the beginning of the year. These numbers correlate with last names in alphabetical order, and the numbers are on their lockers, mailboxes, and cubbies. We sing a song with their names for line up order, turning things in, and I even sing it to myself when writing class lists! So anyway, we mix up the rainbow tickets in a big Tupperware, and again, I make a pretty big deal out of it. Since they're magical, they hop all around in that Tupperware, and it almost gets away from me! I have Ziplock bags prepped with everyone's numbers. Then students place a handful of tickets in their bags. The bags are kept in their cubbies.
How do students earn tickets?
When students do something great, like help a friend or throw away trash without being asked, boom! Rainbow ticket! When they complete an assignment, rainbow ticket. If they complete an assignment in an amazing way, TWO tickets! This is all the rage! When they earn tickets, they get them from their cubbies and place them in their rainbow pouches. If you scroll to the beginning of this post, you'll see their "Rainbow Pouches" hanging on the sides of the tables.
So do you count the tickets?
When students start to run out of tickets in their cubbies, I know it's time to count them. No set times. No assigned day of the week. We just count them during center time when students are getting low. I have a basket we keep near Uni-Zero that has extras to get us through, as needed, too. When it's time to count them, students empty their Rainbow Pouches and bring the pile of tickets to the teacher table. They tell me how many they have, and then they put them back into their Ziplock bags that are inside of their cubbies. I type the number of tickets earned on a spreadsheet that is projected on the board. As I type, they gather around the board, going crazy over the numbers they see popping up!
This sounds way to easy. Are there prizes?
It really is way too easy. It is! And it's amazing! No prizes. The kids are just motivated to earn more and more and more!
do you have students who try to cheat?
Yep, it happens every year. BUT it usually happens just once or twice. BECAUSE if a student is caught putting extra tickets in their pouch, I quietly walk over to the child's pouch, remove it from the table, and empty the tickets back into the cubby. No words said. But woah. All tickets lost. The kids know I mean business.
Have you heard of the Project Kind program by the Ohio State University? Our guidance counselor comes in every week for 12 weeks to do lessons with the kids. They focus on new skills every two weeks. At the end of the second week, they earn a key on the treasure map. We focus on the skills she works in our classroom two, repeating the language she uses in her lessons over and over. This program really helps to lay the groundwork for creating a positive classroom environment. I feel like the kids remember it more because it's not all coming from me, too.
Role-Play and CLassroom Management Strategies
Our little buddy, Uni-Zero, has lots of friends! Most of them are from the Kohl's Cares program. Throughout the year, Uni-Zero role plays with them. For example, those flowers are Lazy and Daisy. Lazy doesn't always try her best on her school work, and Daisy reminders her that it feels good to try her best on everything she does. Pete the Cat comes on the first day of school to remind us not to worry because it's all good. Tigger has a lot of energy, and Uni-Zero has to remind him that it's appropriate to run on the playground, but it's not safe inside of the school. Elephant pushes really hard with his crayons when he colors, and it hurts his hands. He gets frustrated when all of his crayons are broken, too. Uni-zero reminds him to take special care of classroom supplies. Grinch isn't always kind to his friends, and it makes our friends' hearts sad. Other friends come out to play when various situations arise among students. The characters I just referred to are situations that we talk about in the classroom a lot. I refer back to the stuffed animals, and the kids make references to them, too, when students break rules.
Character Education Books for Kindergarten
Books serve as AMAZING teaching tools for classroom management as well! I am sure to read at least two character education books a week to go over a wide-range of social-emotional skills with the students. The classroom discussions we have are the best! I'm always so proud of the way they get into the conversations.
Book Companion Crafts and Writing Prompts
The students connect with characters, and the love to make their very own craft to take home! So they get to practice fine motor skills with cutting and gluing during center time, and during writing time, we make direction connects to the books! Here are a few of our favorite titles for teaching guidance lessons. We have an entire category dedicated to book companions in our shop, too!
Character Education Book Companions and Kindergarten Arts and Crafts: Giraffes Can’t Dance, The Koala Who Could, The Good Egg, You Get What You Get, Too Tall Houses
Character Education Arts and Crafts Writing Lesson Activity Pack for Kindergarten: You’re Finally Here, My Mouth is a Volcano, Spaghetti in a Hotdog Bun, Lacey Walker Nonstop Talker
Back to School Character Education Arts and Crafts Writing Lesson Activity Pack for Kindergarten: Milk Goes to School, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, Click Quack School, After the Fall, The Bad Seed
Back to School Crafts for Kids: Book Companions: Rainbow Fish, Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, The Kissing Hand, Chrysanthemum, Molly Lou Melon, Wemberly Worried
Back to School Activity Pack for Preschool and Kindergarten
Book Companion Crafts and Activity Pack for Preschool and Kindergarten Kids: Interrupting Chicken, Llama Destroys the World, Caps for Sale, Wordy Birdy, Dragons Love Tacos
Jory John and Pete Oswald Craft and Differentiated Writing Prompt Activities: The Cool Bean, The Great Eggscape, The Bad Seed, The Good Egg
Kindness Kindergarten Arts and Crafts Writing Lesson Activity: Be a Rainbow In Someone’s Cloud (Back to School)
So That's a Wrap!
But here are more posts you might find helpful!