Behavior management can always be a little tricky during the month of December and other holiday months. The students are ready for break, the teachers are ready for break, and everyone is a little excited by all the different activities that happen during December. I always like to have a some special behavior management ideas in my bag of tricks to keep the students motivated, behaving, and learning all month long. I have personally used each one of these ideas at some point or another. I hope you can find some of these helpful to your classroom during the crazy holiday season.
Stay Consistent (Or As Consistent as Possible)
The best tip I have is to stay as consistent as possible with your routines and rules during the months leading up any break. This is extremely hard to do during a busy holiday month, but that is why it is so important. When things are busy and not the norm, students tend to misbehave the most. Try as hard as possible to stay in your normal routines as often as you can. When you do have to change your schedule or day, take a few minutes to set expectations for special activities or review the current class expectations.
Since staying consistent is a challenge during the month of December, I have seven more ideas that you can implement to keep your students behaving, working, and under control. Include 1-2 of these ideas in addition to your consistent behavior plan, and your holiday month will be much less stressful.
Implement More Brain Breaks
I love using GoNoodle for brain breaks throughout the year, but especially during the month of December. It seems like my students are more antsy and easily distracted during this month. They need the movement and break a little more often during this time. I have found that by being proactive and giving them those extra brain breaks keeps behavior in check because the students have an outlet for their excitement. You can check out GoNoodle here.
Use Pre-K/Kindergarten Buddies
I love using Pre-K and Kindergarten Buddies with my fifth graders. During the month of December, we always plan a few extra activities to collaborate with our buddies. However, my fifth graders know that they have to set the example and show excellent behavior to get this opportunity. They love it and will work extra hard to behave for the opportunity. My favorite activities to do with younger buddies is reading picture books and reading and coloring sight word printable booklets. A fun holiday themed activity to do with younger buddies would be to make holiday cards for families. The big kid and the buddy could each make a card or they could make one together of the little buddy to take home to their family.
December Classroom Management Incentive: Bingo Board for Behavior
Bingo boards are always a popular behavior management incentive. Choose students throughout the week or day to write their name on a square on a bingo board. At the designated time (at the end of the day or at the end of the week), use pre-labeled cards to choose a winner from the board. The winner can win a prize or a special privilege. Click here to grab a holiday themed bingo board. This holiday bingo board can be printed, laminated and written on with a vis-à-vis marker to save copies.
Use Minute to Win It Challenges as Extra Positive Reinforcements
This is a favorite! The students have 60 seconds to complete a very difficult task, just like the TV show. This can be done daily or once a week. At the end of the day, the students who have met the requirements (you choose them based on your personal behavior management system – examples- stayed on green, didn’t lose any Dojo points, etc) get to participate in the challenges. These challenges use super simple materials that can be found at your local grocery store or even dollar store. Click here to read more about how I use Minute to Win it Games in the classroom. These are my favorite minute to win it challenges to use in the classroom (click on the titles to be taken to a video that explains the challenge): Backflip, Noodling Around, and Face the Cookie.
This is a pretty common behavior management idea. To be honest, I am not consistent enough to pull this off on a regular basis. However, I can definitely do this during December to keep the students on their toes. If you already do this, you could ramp it up by choosing more mystery students on a regular basis throughout the day. Basically, all of the students’ names are placed in a cup or bag. At the beginning of the day (or lesson if you want to use it more frequently and choose a student before each lesson), the teacher chooses a name in secret. Throughout the day (or lesson), if that student shows excellent behavior, the name is revealed and the student is rewarded in some way. If the student misbehaves, the teacher simply replaces the name and does not reveal the name, telling the students that the student did not earn the reward because their behavior was not where it should be.
“On the Nice List”
This is something my fifth graders love. I created these pretty simple “On the Nice List” cards. Throughout the day, I hand them out for excellent behavior. At the end of the week, the students can “cash” their cards in for rewards. I have even done it where the three students who earned the most cards received a special prize. Download the “On the Nice List” cards for free here.
Get Them Moving Positive Reinforcement Idea: 4 Corners
Four corners game can be used in a similar manner as Minute to Win It. Students who have had good classroom behavior throughout the day can be allowed to play this quick game at the end of the day. Here is how it works:
- Choose one student to stand in the middle of the classroom with their eyes closed and covered. The student you choose could be random the first time and then the “winner” of the previous game from then on out.
- The other students move to one of the four corners in your room as silently as possible. In the beginning, the corners will be crowded but students will quickly be eliminated. The students choose the corners they want to be in.
- At the teacher’s signal (I usually do a small countdown to let the other students know that they need to be in their chosen corner), the person in the middle then chooses a corner (without looking) and everyone in that corner has to sit down. Any students that are stalling and not in corners by the the time the person chooses would also be out (this is where the countdown helps).
- The remaining students then move again and the game continues until no one is standing or one person is standing.
Have you tried any of these ideas? What are your go to behavior management ideas to survive the month of December?