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3 Simple Classroom Management Games for Engaging Students

Classroom management can be a struggle any year, but this year, it seems to have gotten way harder. Why? Well, many of our students haven’t been in a “traditional” or “normal” classroom for over a year. Therefore, they didn’t get the classroom management practice they needed. In my classroom, I have found an easy and fun way to make classroom management work is to play classroom management games with my students. 

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What is Classroom Management 

Classroom management includes  the systems you have in place throughout your classroom to make sure everything runs smoothly. I have systems for my general classroom that are just all time expectations, but I also have classroom management systems for my centers. However you choose to run your classroom management is totally up to you, but I have found, especially with the challenging classes, that using classroom management games is incredibly effective.

Keep Score with a Year-Round Classroom Management Game 

Of all the classroom management games, Scoreboard is my favorite. I love it because you can play it year round and it has worked with every single class I have taught. This first classroom management game keeps it stickin’ simple even with the materials. All you need is a white board and Expo marker, a Google Slide, a chalkboard and chalk, or literally anything that you can write on and save. In order to “play,” all you  need to do is draw a scoreboard. On one side you draw a smiley, and on the other, you draw a frownie. I learned this with Whole Brain Teaching and it’s a system that is so simple that no one can mess it up or make it difficult to use.

How to Use Scoreboard

In order to play this game, you simply give students a smiley for following your classroom expectations, or you give them a frownie. When giving a frownie, you never call out a student. You simply say something like, “Man, I have friends who are not sitting nice in their chairs.” It might be one student, but that one student knows it was him/her. Then you put the tally in the frown column. Once you do that, you say, “Give a mighty groan.” In one second, the students all say, “Ugh.”

Typically, what then happens after this is awesome. The student who was not doing what they were supposed to, will start sitting right. At this point, I will call the student who corrected his/her behavior and say, “Man, I love how Steve is sitting nice in his chair! Let’s have a one second party!” Then the students have a one second party. Notice, when giving a smiley, I call the student out by name, but I don’t do so when giving a frownie. Now, you don’t always have to give a smiley back right after giving a frownie, but it can be effective here and there. You can also give smileys if your whole class does something awesome. 

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The Don’ts of Scoreboard

One of the bigger problems I have seen when teachers use Scoreboard in the classroom is they don’t follow the plus/minus three rule. The plus/minus three rule says during this classroom management game the students are never too far behind or too far ahead of you. If they feel like they have it in the bag, they won’t mind a few frownies here and there. In addition, if they are so far behind they feel like they can’t catch up, the game doesn’t seem possible to win and the classroom management helper becomes a hindrance. 

Another thing you don’t want to do is promise the world. At the bottom of your Scoreboard, you want to write what the reward is. When you reward students, you want to start small, and then they get bigger as the year goes on. Start with something like, one minute of talk time or getting to go to recess first or line up last.

For older students, you can take or give one page less of homework. Here’s the deal, you don’t have to actually add or take it away. I was in a district that required homework. So, I would just say I planned on giving you two pages but now you have three or I planned on giving you four pages, but now you have three. This might seem deceptive, but it’s a classroom management game, and your job is to educate them, not actually give them less to do. 

Regardless of what you decide to do, make sure you start small. If you start too big, you’ll have to take them to Disney World at the end of the year. This is going to apply to all the classroom management games that I share with you. 

A Classroom Management Game that Shouts “BINGO!” 

Classroom Bingo is a fun game to play that can be incorporated with Scoreboard. My students loved this game! So, sometimes my reward would be that we get a break from playing Scoreboard, and we'd play Classroom Bingo instead. To play Classroom Bingo, you open up the Google Slide and project it on the board. It’s nice to have it displayed so your students can see where they are at. You can play all different kinds of bingo. For example, you can play regular bingo, postage stamp, or black out. We often played for a black out in my classroom. 

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How to Play Classroom Bingo 

You’ll need to have the Google Slide open and projected, but you don’t want to be “Presenting” it. You’ll want to keep it in edit mode. With Classroom Bingo, you have your classroom rules or expectations. When you see your students doing what they are supposed to be doing, they get to spin. The spinner will open up a separate tab, but it is completely kid friendly. You’ll have them tap to spin, and it will tell them what they got. At this point, you will click “Close.” Make sure you don’t hit remove. Then you’re going to draw and drop the piece they got onto the board. Again, if they win, make sure you start small. The only reason this prize might be a bit bigger is if you used Classroom Bingo as your reward for Scoreboard. 

When to Use Classroom Bingo

You can use Classroom Bingo any time during the day whether it’s the whole day, during centers, or during cleanup time. I really enjoy the versatility of this game because you can tailor it to your needs. I personally liked using it when I had a specific classroom management issue. When I used this classroom management game for a specific issue, I used it throughout the week. This helped get in more practice on a needed skill. You can get Classroom Bingo in your classroom for free by joining my VIP Club

A Classroom Management Game that is as Easy as 1, 2, 3….4!

Connect 4 is an amazing classroom management game that, like Scoreboard and Classroom Bingo, is stinkin’ simple! Connect 4 is on a Google Slide, and you set it up for your students to be in two different teams. I only use two teams because that’s how many colors are on a Connect  4 board. I like to use this game if we are doing anything at tables like centers or group work of some kind. 

How to Play Connect 4

I use this game in conjunction with Scoreboard. Whenever they got five smileys, the person who got the fifth smiley gets to go up and put a marker on the board for their team. I also allowed someone to come up and put a marker on the board if they did something especially great. For example, a student might help another student when he/she is down, pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor, or volunteer to help with an undesirable task.

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Connect 4 Reminders

Just like the game Connect 4, the pieces “fall” to the bottom. Therefore, students can’t just put them all over the board. The nice thing about this game is if it ends quickly, you can easily start it all over again. Remember to keep your rewards small. You don’t want to have to take them to Disney World at the end of the year. You can also get this game for free by signing up for my VIP Club

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Classroom management can be difficult whether it's all the expectations or just one or two. When there is a struggle, making it a fun game instead of  yelling or lecturing can make all the difference in your classroom environment. Using classroom management games in your classroom can be a real, well, game changer. 

Until Next Time…

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