Classroom Management for Younger Kids

Classroom Management for Younger Kids

Last Saturday, I met with my amazing team of small group leaders to check in with them and bring them up to speed on any new happenings around the church or ministry.  One comment I heard over and over again was:


It seemed to be a struggle across the board (I’m sure you can relate!), but I wanted to take a closer look at some of the younger kids who were being especially rowdy.  These classroom management tips are geared specifically towards 1st and 2nd graders, but might easily be adapted to other groups of kids as well. These ideas are pulled from various websites which are all listed at the end of this post.

#1 Develop a Signal or Sign

Let the kids know that you’ll be holding up your hand with a specific sign or signal (it could just be a raised hand and a hand over your mouth) to let them know it is time to be quiet.  Practice the sign with the kids a few times and allow them to respond.  Whenever the focus seems to be drifting, use the practiced signal and wait for things to calm down.  When the noise level is again acceptable, proceed as normal without any further instructions.  It may take a while the first few times, but the kids will quickly catch on.

#2 Marble Jar

Bring two empty jars and some marbles to class.  Label on jar “Good Choice” and the other jar “Bad Choice”. Explain that you will put a marble in the “Good Choice” jar whenever someone responds to a question appropriately, raises their hand or whenever the class as a whole is acting calmly.  On the other hand, you will put a marble in “Bad Choice” jar whenever someone talks out of turn, does not listen right away or acts inappropriately.  At the end of small group time, if there are more marbles in the good jar than in the bad, everyone gets a sticker or a piece of candy.

The Marble Jars: Classroom Management for Younger Kids

#3 The Music Box

Buy an inexpensive music box. Each morning, wind the music box up completely. Tell the students that, whenever they are noisy or off task, you will open the music box and let the music play until they quiet down and get back to work. If, at the end of the day, there is any music left, the kids receive some type of reward. Maybe they can earn tickets for a weekly drawing or a few minutes towards end-of-the-week free play time. Be creative and find the perfect no-cost reward that your students will really want to quiet down for. Kids love this game and will quiet down immediately as you reach towards the music box.

#4 Speak Only When Ready

This golden nugget was given to me by a 20-year veteran my first year. She told me that I should just wait and then wait some more until all students were quiet.

So I tried it; I fought the temptation to talk. Sometimes I’d wait much longer than I thought I could hold out for. Slowly but surely, the students would cue each other: “sshh, she’s trying to tell us something,” “come on, stop talking,” and “hey guys, be quiet.” (They did all the work for me!)

#5 Sssssssssss

Hang the poster pictured below in your classroom and let the kids know about your expectations.  Whenever someone has forgotten, gently say their name followed by a “Ssssssssss” sound to remind them of the 4 expectations.

#6 Use a Rehearsed Attention Grabber

Check out the fun chart I spotted on Pinterest of some attention grabbers for kids.  You’ll have to practice a few times before using them during class time, but kids should hop right on board with these.


Hope it helps get you started in the right direction!

I would also recommend the following books:

The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher

Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids: (and the rest of your class, too!)


Ideas Gathered From:

 The Cornerstone for Teachers

K6 Educators

K6 Educators: Nonverbal Methods

Second Grade Sparkle


Teaching Heart

Adventure of an Art Teacher

Dragonflies in First

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