Creative Ideas

Babbling Abby's Teacher Week topic today is Creative Ideas. (How about that use of alliteration!?) I am going to share some ideas of things I do in my classroom that make life a bit easier for me and hopefully will for you too! Some of these ideas are actually activities that you can use when teaching content areas.

1) Gem Jar - This is a classroom management idea I use to reward whole class behavior. I have a cut out of a jar taped to my whiteboard. There are also a bunch of magnetic gems. When the class WOW's me, I add a gem to the class jar. When other classes compliment our behavior in the hallway, the cafeteria, or Related Arts, I add a gem. When the class fills the whole jar, I let them vote on their class reward. We've done Pajama Day, Popcorn Party, Brownies, Ice Cream Sundaes, Movie, etc...

2) Flow Charts - I love flow charts! They are great for all subject areas and for classroom procedure. I made a flow chart this year for my morning procedure which is pictured below! I also have a print out of the flow chart for their PRIDE Planners. You can use flow charts for a ton of different math skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, etc...) The possibilities are just endless.

3) Finger Language - I am sure many of you use your own version of this, but I like to keep it simple. I just have three hand signals. 1 finger for a question, 2 for the restroom, and 3 for using the trash can. I love not having children ask me if they can go do something. This way, I can just acknowledge their request in silence so as not to disturb the rest of the friends while their working. =)

4) Classroom Map - In third grade, we teach South Carolina history and geography. This year, I decided to make a blank giant map of South Carolina posted to one of the front bulletin boards. At the start of the year, we will mark our location and a few other major cities. As the year goes on, we will add important locations, events, regions, and people. For example, we teach about the 3 major Native American tribes in SC, so we will mark their locations as we discuss each. There are also 6 regions of South Carolina which will be added to the class map when we come to it. The map itself was made on laminated poster board. This way, I can write on the map with Vis-a-V or white board markers so I can wipe it clean at the end of the year and use it again!

5) 8 Step Model Drawing - This is the method used in Singapore where problem solving is a whiz due to the use of this method. I implemented it last year and have noticed a significant difference in my students abilities to understand and SOLVE word problems correctly. The thing I love most about this, is there are steps and children can feel successful when completing the steps. For more information on Singapore Math, visit this link. I purchased this book to help guide me last year when I was just starting out. I really recommend it!  

6) Wheel of Choice - This is an idea I got from a previous teacher to help children learn to solve their own problems instead of always "tattle-telling!" This is a great idea for students to build a better classroom community and teach kids more responsibility for their actions. This isn't my actual wheel (mine has more choices), but this is a good example. My students are told to try two strategies to solve their problems before they come to me to deal with the situation. This rule obviously doesn't apply to situations that are more serious. The trick is to teach them the difference between serious offenses and minor ones that can be solved on their own.


  1. I'm intrigued by the whole Singapore math thing! Maybe it'll be something I look into this year!

  2. Wow! Great ideas! Love the hand signals!

  3. Awesome ideas! Loved the hand signals and wheel of choice!

  4. I think I'm going to "borrow" the morning procedure flow chart! Great ideas!

  5. I am a huge fan of the Wheel of Choice! I made my own my first year teaching and it was great! I'm gonna have to dig it back out. I love that thing!

    I like that morning procedure flow chart as well. We use Thinking Maps in my district but I can definitely see how it could be adapted for that. It's a great idea!

  6. Thanks so much for sharing these management ideas. I especially love the Wheel of Choice and Gem Jar ideas! Have you had any problems with students moving the gems on the jar board without permission?

  7. Thanks for the idea for the Behavior incentive jar. This is what I came up with for my classroom!

  8. Where did you get the magnetic gems,


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