How Do You "Corral" Your Kiddos? Clip Charts, Incentive Stickers and "Retired" Clips

I know. I'm late to the party. I'm so late the party is closed. Oh well - I've been working on this post for a WEEK and I am sharing it!. :) 

I've mentioned before how wonderful life has been in Room 3 since we started using the clip chart system. Our clip charts are mobile and have started traveling to Specials this year - which our Specials teachers LOVE. The kids like having the visual reminder and the opportunity to shine outside of our classrooms as well.

What is extra-wonderful about this new bunch is that they are really internalizing the language that my teaching partner and I use:

 - "A clip down is just a reminder. It just means I need to change my choices."

 - "I can always turn my day around."

The kids also know they can clip up or down right up until dismissal. We really mean it when we tell them, "You can always turn your day around."

Now if something super-serious happens, we certainly phone home or send a note home. However, that child still needs to be given every opportunity to change their choices.

One of my new favorite "clip-up" tricks is using Quiet Critters during different portions of our day.

Idea from here.

Now, we don't use these all day. We don't use them every day either. Otherwise, they would lose their magic.

I do use them during assessments.

And on "those days" when I reallyjustwantsomepeaceandquiet. 

Here is my rule for Quiet Critters: If you still have your critter at the end of our task, you can clip up. If you don't have yours, you don't have to clip down - but you're not clipping up. And, if I have to take it, that's it. The critter doesn't come back. They don't like noise. :) In all the times I have used them so far, I have only had to take ONE Quiet Critter. And the noisy child was devastated.

I didn't even give mine feet! Just googly eyes and some pom-poms. And a cute jar. With sticky letters.

If a kid makes it all the way to pink by the end of the day, they earn a sticker for their clip and they get one of these:

I ordered these from Vistaprint. I *think* I uploaded my own design. We always put their name and date on the back so they can celebrate their awesomeness with their families.

Last year, we "retired" clips after 10 pink days. We hung up their clips in the room and they were able to pick something out of the treasure box. We learned that 10 pink days is an eternity for 3rd graders. Also, hanging them up in the room didn't seem like enough of a celebration. So this year, we spiced it up a bit.

A clip is "retired" after 5 pink days. Much more attainable. This year, we don't hang them up in the room. We hang them up in the hall - for the whole school to see.

You can see that Giselle and Jose B. are superstars. They have already retired a clip. In fact, Jose B. has already retired 2 clips - he is practically perfect - but we haven't put it out in the hall yet. I also like that the retired clips are on top of the display piece, out of any other student's reach. Unless we get some insanely tall 5th graders this year.

This is our year-round display for showing off student work. We chose the pieces to hang for Open House, but we recently had a conversation with our kids about how they will choose what to display. We want them to choose tasks, assessments, writing pieces, responses, word problems - whatever! As long as it's something they are proud of, it can go up. They are so excited.

To keep up with how everyone ended their day, I use Christina Bainbridge's Classroom Behavior Log. It's FREE and fabulous. I really love that you can save and edit it, so I can add or drop students each time we need a new sheet without having to type in everything.

One of our classroom leadership jobs is Color Coordinator. This person is responsible for carrying the clip chart where ever it needs to go, bringing back to the correct homeroom at the end of the day and "coding" the clip chart log before they leave OR first thing in the morning before we need to "reset" it. 

I will leave you with one LAST idea that we tie into our clip charts: Classroom Incentive Stickers.

Whenever we have a "big event" coming up (Field Trip, Field Day, etc.) we create a sticker *about* 2 weeks in advance that spells out the event or reward.

For example:

We were getting ready to start EIGHT CONSECUTIVE DAYS of ITBS TESTING after being in school just a little more than a month. We knew the kids would need a "light at the end of the tunnel" so we brainstormed a few rewards and they decided they would like a popsicle party. As long as the student has at least ONE letter in the reward sticker left, they get the reward with the rest of the class.

There are only a few ways to "lose a letter" -

1. No Homework
2. If  your clip was is yellow, orange or red at the end of the day.
3. If you lose your mind and do something crazy. (fighting, cursing, etc.)

While we stress always being able to turn your day around, once a letter was gone it was gone. No earning it back.

They are m-a-g-i-c, people! Especially for field trips and Field Day. A-mazing!

I hope you've gotten some good ideas. Be sure to let me know if you have any questions!


  1. I love your quiet critters idea!!

  2. I'm definitely going to have to try the quiet critters! I like the idea of the big incentive at the end of a certain time period (like with the popsicles). That seems to help keep things in perspective.

  3. hey Abby! When are we going to do lunch again? Question about the incentive stickers, do you give one to each kiddo, cut the letters off when they lose them, let them color them in, etc? I'm intrigued!

    I've got two munchkins with two outstanding days each so far this year :)

    Notes from Miss Dennis

    1. Hey Lauren!!

      Each kid gets their own label and it goes inside the front cover of our homework journals. You could put it inside their daily folders/binders/where ever. It just needs to be in a prominent place so their parents can see if they've lost one (or four). :)

      In our class, the teacher is the only one who can cross out letters. I also make a note in my sub plans that I will cross out letters if needed when I come back... Thanks to a sub who went a little Sharpie crazy one day. :/

      As long as they have at least ONE letter left, they can go on the field trip, get the reward, etc. But if they lose them all - that's it. No turning back. :(

      I'm emailing Mandy about our next get together. I'll keep you posted! :)