Classroom Management Ideas

Classroom management skills are necessary when working with groups of children. You may be a classroom teacher, Sunday school teacher, or work in an after-school program. These are a few tried and true management tools for you to help provide structure within the groups of children you are working with.

100 Squares Bingo

Objective: Provides medium structure and is an intermittent reward system designed to reward the behavior of the whole class.


Poster paper, Markers, Envelope, Paper


  • With the class, identify the reward they will be working toward
  • Review and model the classroom rules
  • Create a large Bingo board and put it somewhere in the classroom where everyone can see it
  • Put all the numbers of the bingo board in an envelope
  • Occasionally, when the class is working well and exhibiting one of the classroom rules stop the class and have a student draw a number from the envelope
  • Have the student put the number over same number on the Bingo board
  • When 5 squares in a row have been filled in horizontally, diagonally, or vertically, the entire class gets the group reward the class was working toward
  • Have a different student draw each time so that every student has a chance to participate


  • Identify a big reward that the class wants to work toward and set a higher bar for earning that reward, such as requiring a BINGO vertically and horizontally or diagonally
  • Have the class work for a total blackout of the board for the biggest reward

Desired Outcome: Students will be encouraged to exhibit desired behavior(s)

Jar Reward System

Objective: To have the class increase or decrease targeted behavior(s).


Clear jar or clear container, blocks, marbles, or other items to place in the jar


  • Put a line around the jar to indicate where it will need to be filled
  • Find out what motivates your class by using a reward survey or by a class discussion
  • Explain to the class the desired behavior(s) expected to earn the item to fill the jar
  • Let the students know what they will be rewarded with once the jar is filled.
  • Each time you notice the class exhibiting the desired behavior(s), put an item in the jar & explain to the students why the item was put in the jar. (e.g. “I am going to place a marble in the jar because I like how everyone is sitting in their seats ready to work”)
  • Once the jar is filled, the class is rewarded. You can empty the jar and start all over again


  • When students are working or behaving above and beyond, add more than one item to the jar

Desired outcomes: The class will be encouraged to participate in the desired behavior to obtain the reward selected. Peer to peer encouragement may also be promoted.

Mystery Behavior of the Day

Objective: To have students increase the number of times they display positive behavior.


Tickets, small envelope, index cards, box or bucket


  • Teach/review with your classroom the expectations for the day
  • Pick a behavior you want to focus on, without telling the students
  • Write the behavior on an index card and place it in an envelope marked Mystery Behavior of the Day
  • During the day observe and note which students are exhibiting the Mystery Behavior for the Day
  • Give out tickets to those that displayed the “Mystery Behavior”
  • At the end of the day have the students guess what the Mystery Behavior of the Day was.
  • Allow a student who received a ticket to open the envelope and reveal the Mystery Behavior of the Day.
  • Discuss what the “Mystery Behavior” was, even if they guessed correctly
  • Indicate that you will be looking for a different behavior the next day
  • Allow students to earn incentives for the tickets, or allow students to put their tickets in a bucket for a drawing
  • Monitor the frequency with which students are recognized, so that not one student goes too long between exhibiting one of the Mystery Behaviors


  • Allow students to chart their progress by using a graph or other measurement tool to keep track of many times they display the Mystery Behavior weekly
  • On occasion instead of using tickets, use stickers, a stamp on the hand, or other small treats.
  • Use the tickets for a student store, raffle, or other prize

Desired outcomes: Students may exhibit the desired behavior(s)

Race Track

Objective: The class will exhibit desired behaviors outside of the classroom.


Cardstock, construction paper (yellow, black, and white), white bulletin board paper


  • Discuss with your students what rewards that they would like to work toward, such as a favorite activity
  • Have the students cut out a race car out of cardstock, color and put their name on it
  • On a wall, design a racetrack. Place 30 to 40 marks or squares on the track dividing up the space equally
  • Create a large car (class car) on which everyone can place their individual car
  • Place a reward that the class identified every 10 marks or squares
  • Every time the class receives a compliment about their behavior from someone outside of the classroom, move the class car one mark or square
  • Once the car has moved 10 marks or squares provide the reward that the car lands on
  • Once the class has completed the track, start over or make a more challenging racetrack.


  • Use the individual cars to have students earn individual rewards
  • Change the criteria for the class car to move a space – good behavior at music, transitions between settings, etc.
  • Add more actions in other racetrack spaces – “Move forward a space”, “Free pick reward”, etc.

Desired Outcome: The class will be encouraged to exhibit desired behavior(s) inside and outside of the classroom.

Sub Zero

Objective: To encourage replacement behaviors


A laminated number line chart (e.g. thermometer), velcro markers or dry erase markers


  • Select the target behavior and the replacement behavior
  • Describe and model the replacement behavior to the class. Contrast this with behavior you do not want to see anymore
  • Discuss possible rewards with the class
  • Introduce the number line to the class (e.g. thermometer)
  • Explain to the students that the goal is for them to be ‘ice cold’.
  • Starting at zero explain that each occurrence of the desired behavior will be charted with a negative number while each occurrence of the target behavior will be charted with a positive number
  • Decide on monitoring interval (e.g. every 10 minutes, every activity, 3 times a day, etc.)
  • During the interval, when you observe students engaging in the replacement behavior, chart it with a negative number
  • During the interval, when you observe students engaging in the target behavior, chart it with a positive number
  • Meet with the class after the selected interval to discuss the charting
  • When the class reaches “ice cold” on the chart, give them the reward

Desired Outcome: The students will be encouraged to exhibit the replacement behavior(s)

Table Team Points Game

Objective: To motivate students through competition with each other during class time to increase the desired behavior.


Small dry erase boards for each team, dry erase markers, rewards/incentives


  • Set up the student’s desks in groups/pods. If you have rows you can make each row a team
  • Allow each team to come up with a team name or assign one yourself (students will have more buy-in if allowed to choose their own)
  • Set a target number of points needed to win the game
  • Pinpoint a problem behavior(s) and/or times that students really need to work on improving
  • Review behavior expectations with the class. Teach the expected behavior to the class and/or role play the expectation if necessary
  • During those problematic times, reward each successful team a point if they meet the behavior expectations
  • Have the points displayed visually on the team’s table


  • Change the teams weekly or monthly
  • Vary the incentives/rewards.

Desired Outcomes: Students will increase desirable behaviors. Students may also encourage or remind peers about the desired behaviors.

Use of the well-known clip up chart has been a popular system utilized in classrooms for years. There are concerns with this type of classroom management system. Individual students are clipped up or down dependent upon their behavior for the day. This method of behavioral management does not teach a child how to behave and only provides a momentary cessation of an undesired behavior. Additionally, the confidentiality of the individual child is compromised as every other student is aware of the misbehavior. Adults walking into the room view the chart thus providing them with personal information about the student’s or students’ behavior.

Sample Chart

Positive Behavioral Supports for Classroom Behavior Management that incorporate strategies for specific students requiring more intensive supports:

Classroom Structures and Procedures


  • Review classroom rules at least once every 2 weeks
  • Reinforce students daily for following classroom rules
  • Classrooms should have regular routines and procedures that are clearly expressed, taught, and practiced at least once every 2 weeks
  • All students should be offered leadership opportunities throughout classroom jobs or by serving as a group leader
  • All students should be offered the opportunity to respond to questions and to participate in discussions
  • Expectations for tasks/activities and transitions should be expressed prior to being executed

Increasing Compliance

Objective: Strategies that affect compliance, when giving a direction:

  • State your request using a polite command, such as “Please start your work.” rather than using a question format such as “Isn’t it time for you to do your work?”
  • Get close to the student. The optimal distance for giving a command is about three feet. Do not give command from far away or from behind your desk
  • Use calm, quiet voice. Do not yell. Do it up close, with eye contact
  • Look at student and talk. For example, “Kipp, I want you to…………..
  • Allow five to ten seconds to lapse before giving the command again, or giving a new command. In other words, give the student time to respond
  • Do not nag. Issue a command to more than two times, and then follow through with a preplanned consequence. The more you request, the less likely you are going to get compliance
  • Do not issue multiple requests. Make only one request at a time
  • Describe the behavior you want. It helps to give specific and well-described requests, rather than general ones
  • Make more start “Do” requests than stop “Don’t” requests. If the majority of teacher’s requests are “Don’t” requests, it probably means the classroom rules or planned consequences are poorly designed or are not being implemented correctly
  • When the student complies with your request, reward the behavior with verbal acknowledgment.

Managing Attention Span Behavior

Objective: Provide students with an “activity change” before they reach the end of their ability to pay attention


  • Have students call back facts or other parts of the lesson being taught
  • Have students bat a beach ball around the room for one minute
  • Instruct students to stand up and stretch
  • Instruct students to stand up, find a partner with the same shoes (shirt, eyes, hair, height, etc.) and discuss something from the lesson you are providing
  • Have students spend 2 minutes doing yoga at their desks
  • Put some music on and let the students stand and dance at their desks for 1 minute
  • Have students turn to their neighbor and repeat back a fact from the lesson
  • Children in the 3 to 6 year-old range will have difficulty with remaining seated for long periods on the carpet. It will be important to incorporate movement and activity into carpet routines and keep routines short. Due to their short attention span, young children require variety in their activities in the course of an hour


  • Opportunity to move around
  • Singing a song or reacting a rhyme as a group
  • Standing up and shaking the wiggles out
  • Moving from one area/center to the next
  • Change in activity

Positive Behavior Support Strategies

Objective: To implement positive behavior support strategies that will increase desired behaviors.


Redirection: redirect the student and then move on so the student has time to process and implement the redirect. At the same time, the teacher avoids engaging in a power struggle in the interim.

Proximity control: By moving close to, touching the desk of walking by, etc. students who are off-task.

Offer choices: Offer students choices within a given task.

Nonverbal cues: Pre-plan nonverbal cues with the student before implementing.

Planned ignoring: Use only for those behaviors that you are sure can be ignored. The behavior must be ignored by anyone who is around the student including the class, visitors and the teacher for planned ignoring to be effective.

Private talks: Focus on the behavior that you want to see.

Praise 3 then redirect if needed and go–praise 3 other students who are exhibiting the behavior you want to see before addressing the student who is not being appropriate. If the student continues to be inappropriate, redirect and then immediately move on to the next task. Avoid power struggles.

  • Heavy focus on and recognition of what students are doing right with minimal focus on what students are doing wrong. The bulk of interactions. This ratio should increase to a minimum of 10 positive to 1 negative interaction for students with challenging behavior. Positive interactions are characterized by one of more of the following:
    • Praise
    • Greeting
    • Compliment
  • Non-contingent attention such as holding a conversation or otherwise interacting with the student.

Positive Reinforcement

Objective: How to implement positive reinforcement strategies effectively.


  • Be specific about the behavior you want. Pick one behavior at a time and specify an action verb. For example:
    • Raise your hand before talking
    • Ask for help when you don’t understand.
  • Use praise statements that describe the specific behavior you want. For example:
    • Thanks for waiting so quietly.
    • Great job for getting started so quickly.
    • It’s still okay to make more general statements like “Super” or “Good work”, but more specific statements help students to keep focused on the most important behavior.
  • Create a menu of reinforcers and change it often. (See example on the back of this page). If you copy the menu on heavy paper and laminate it, you can change the menu daily or weekly by checking off different boxes
  • Instead of using the menu, let student roll a reinforcement die. Write the reinforcers on the cube template. (link for a cube template:
  • Make sure you (and anyone else working with the student) reinforce consistently. It is very important that students understand how the reinforcement works and that you keep using positive reinforcement even after the student’s behavior beings to improve

Replacement Behavior

Objective: To select a behavior to take a place of an undesired behavior and meets the same need.

Things to do:

  • Identify the problem behavior to be replaced
  • Identify the behavior that the student should do instead of the problem behavior
  • Remember that the replacement behavior must serve the same need as the problem behavior, and that it is more socially acceptable
  • Ensure that the replacement behavior will serve the same need as the problem behavior
  • Teach and practice the replacement behavior with the student. Have the student role play the replacement behavior in a variety of settings, activities and with different people
  • Deliver the reinforcers when the student uses the replacement behavior
  • When the student demonstrates the replacement behavior, immediately provide reinforcement
  • For example, if the problem behavior is running out of the classroom for the purpose of escaping from doing an assignment, and the replacement behavior is to ask for a break. When the student asks for a break, immediately reinforce by allowing the student to take a break

Behavior Contract

Objective: To have a written agreement between student and teacher.

Things to do:

  • Make preparations
  • Identify and define the behavior(s) to be increased or decreased. Select behaviors that are observable and measureable
  • Select the reinforcers (items, activities that students will earn/work for)
  • Negotiate. During negotiation, the student will identify several rewards that he/she would like to earn. Define the criterion. This is a description of what the student must do in exchange for a reward. The contract criterion includes:
    • The behavior
    • Amount of reinforcement (or reductive consequence)
    • Time limits
    • Select a bonus or penalty. Use a bonus to encourage the student to meet a criterion in the least amount of time. Occasionally, a penalty clause is necessary. If so, keep these consequences small and mild by simply with drawing a privilege. Some examples of penalties can be: Losing participation in a preferred activity if an assignment is not finished: Staying after school if disruptive behavior continues; Waiting 3 minutes after the bell rings for talking out in class
    • Explain the purpose and rule of the contract.
  • Open negotiation. Share your ideas. Describe the behavior you want to work on with the student. Discuss rewards and criterion. Be sure to ask the student for his/her input. Make sure the student’s criteria are sound. Explain that it is important to start slowly, and then gradually increase the requirement.
    • Write it
    • Sign it
    • Post it