Straws and Pennies: Cheap and Easy Classroom Management Techniques

penny headsComment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

by Kelly Quabeck

Looking for a positive way to promote good classroom behavior with my first-graders, I opted to try two concrete techniques: one involving straws and the other, pennies.

The Straw That Broke the Teacher’s Back

Each child in my classroom starts with five straws for the day. They can then earn straws or lose straws as they day progresses, depending on their behavior. Simple, but effective!

The best part of the straw technique is that the students really feel like they can turn their day around and make it better by earning back straws. Unlike most discipline approaches that only remove privileges or enact consequences, this approach allows the student to make choices to negatively and positively impact their day. As a little extra positive reinforcement, I let my students earn a star pencil once they reach 10 straws for the day.

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned

In my class, the students are seated in groups. As another positive discipline approach–and also a means to promote cooperativepenny tails learning–each group earns pennies for good behavior. The group can also lose pennies for poor choices, and the students in each group encourage one another to make good decisions during the day. Every Friday, we count the pennies (by twos, of course :-), and the group with the most pennies gets a trip to the treasure box.

These two techniques keep my students aware of their behavior and accountable for their choices–and, most importantly–they make our classroom a positive environment in which to learn.

Kelly Quabeck holds a master’s degree in education from University of Phoenix. She currently teachers first grade at Russom Elementary School in Georgia, where she enjoys meeting the needs of her students and watching them reach their full potential.



Filed under Behavior Management, Classroom Community, Discipline

2 responses to “Straws and Pennies: Cheap and Easy Classroom Management Techniques

  1. Glory Okezie

    Thank you Kelly for these techniques. They are new to me but I will incorporate them in my teaching young children. I am a student in Early childhood Education working in a Family Day Care setting. I will encourage other teachers and educators to embrace these techniques too.

  2. Michelle Mello

    I like the straws for behavior because the students get to earn them back and not just take away. If you just keep taken away, the student’s behavior will continue to get worst because you took everything and he/she is introuble already. It is great to give them a chance to get it back.