Classroom Management Strategies {positive tips & freebies}

In this post I shared 3 effective elementary classroom management strategies, tips, and positive behavior reward freebies that will help you manage student discipline with ease!

Classroom management….Many teachers identify classroom behavior management as the most challenging aspect of teaching. In fact, classroom management is often thought of as a “make or break” skill in the profession because it is so essential to teaching and learning.  

behavior management ideas

Teachers of all levels think and talk about it all of the time.  Which teacher in search of a new classroom management strategy would describe you?

  • Maybe you are reading this post to prepare for the beginning of the year when you will be setting routines and expectations with your students.
  • Or perhaps it is the middle of the year when your old tricks are no longer as effective and you need a fresh idea to promote positive behaviors in your students.
  • Or quite possibly, it is the end of the school year and you need a little something new to keep those end-of-year, undesirable behaviors from popping up! 😜

It is also feasible that the management strategies that worked well with one class may not work as well with your next group. As experienced teachers know, the dynamics of each class is different.

No matter what time of the year or group of students, we know effective classroom management is key to developing relationships with students and optimizing learning in the classroom.  For that reason, I want to share with you three different ways I promote positive student behaviors in my classroom. They are easy to prep, easy to manage, and I hope they can be of help to you!

The Music Box

I got this amazing idea many years ago when I taught with Kristin of A Teeny Tiny Teacher. The music box is an easy-peasy, whole-class incentive management technique.

classroom management strategy

At the start of the day, simply wind the music box all the way up.  If students start to get off-task, are too chatty, aren’t transitioning quickly, etc. just open the music box and let the music play.

Hearing the music will serve as a reminder to them to get back on track. The kids will self-correct and you don’t have to say a word! The idea is to keep the music in the box.

At the end of the day, open the box and if there is still music left to be played, the whole class earns a point for that day.

classroom management strategy

Set a goal for a group “reward” and keep track of the points your students earn with this free scorecard!

classroom management idea

Download the Free Scorecard Here

To help you get this started I went ahead and found a few inexpensive music boxes you can purchase if you don’t already have one. Just click the images to find them on Amazon.

Positive Behavior Puzzles

The idea behind Positive Puzzles Behavior Charts is simple… if you catch a student exhibiting a positive behavior they get to color in a puzzle piece. Once the puzzle is “complete” they earn their reward!  Kids are so motivated by the visual and it is so simple for busy teachers.

behavior management chart

Here is an example of how to use Positive Puzzles: when Christina is chatting with her friend instead of staying on task, highlight the desired behavior of a student who is near her. Say, “Jaxon you may color a piece of your puzzle, great effort staying on task.”

This becomes a positive reminder for Christina (and the entire class) of expected behavior instead of singling her out for her misbehavior. In addition, Maxwell earns praise which encourages more positive behaviors in the future. 🤩

Teachers particularly like this resource because it is effective for both individual and whole-class incentives.

For individual students, there are three different ways you can use the puzzle. First, you can have the student color in all the pieces as indicated by the crayon color key.  There are about 30 pieces for each picture.

classroom behavior chart

The second option is to have the student color in only the center picture, not the whole puzzle.  This is particularly good for your special students who need smaller goals to ensure success!

classroom management strategy

Finally, students can have a puzzle that doesn’t have a crayon color key and instead they can color any color they choose.  

classroom behavior chart

Teachers love that Positive Puzzles offer so much flexibility and are able to pick the puzzle that best fits the needs of the child!

Students can tape the puzzle to their desk, a notebook, pencil box- anywhere they can easily access it.  They can bring it with them to pull-out classrooms and to their specials. This makes it easy to have consistent expectations for behavior.  

Need a whole-class technique?  Simply print out the whole-page, large puzzle and post it on the whiteboard.  When you catch the class on-task, transitioning quickly, showing excellent hallway or cafeteria behavior etc, a piece gets colored in. When the whole puzzle is colored, the class earns a reward!

behavior management chart

As for the rewards, the Positive Puzzles Resource includes an editable rewards menu that can also be posted in the classroom.  Ideas for rewards might include lunch with the teacher, bring a stuffed animal to school, pick a prize from the treasure box, or just a great note home! Allowing students to choose their reward before starting a puzzle is one way to create greater student buy in.

behavior rewards menu

They are easy to prep, just print, pass out and praise! Once distributed there is nothing left for you to manage.  Each season has four different puzzles to help keep it exciting throughout the year for the kids. Just print out a stack at the beginning of the season and you are all set to go!

Brain Bucks

The last behavior management strategy is an individual incentive that focuses on encouraging academic tenacity.

In my growth-minded classroom, I want my students to persist through challenges, openly accept feedback, set goals, welcome challenges and be okay with making mistakes.  

When I see my students growing their brains in these ways I reward them with Brain Bucks and use process praise that acknowledges the student’s effort, strategies, or actions that contributed to the success of the task.

classroom behavior management

Students can save up their Brain Bucks and turn them in for a special prize or reward.  Sometimes this extra little incentive is all they need to keep working towards the development of their own growth mindset!

Drop your personal email below to get a set of FREE Brain bucks delivered to your inbox now!


    Classroom management can be tough, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, giving you a chance to build stronger relationships with your students and create an environment that maximizes learning for all.  I hope the positive strategies I shared with you today will inspire you to try something new and help to make your classroom a better learning environment for both you and your students!

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    behavior management chart

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