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Super Quick, Easy Short-Term Classroom Management

You’re sure to love this short-term behavior management hack that’s been a real game-changer for me time and time again.

Quick, Easy Behavior Management

This plan is all about positivity and motivation, and it’s a breeze to put in place.

Plus, it’s a blast for the whole class as they team up to build community.

Puzzle piece behavior plan for class incentive to earn a reward

The picture above is a monster truck – and it was my secret weapon to nudge a student who was shying away from class discussions. 

On days when he joined in, the class snagged a puzzle piece.

Now, here’s the trick: keep it under wraps that any one student is the puzzle piece focus. Let them think it’s all just a fun game.

Making the Puzzle Pieces

Print out a colored picture of anything your class will find interesting or amusing – maybe something cool from a subject you’re studying or an upcoming holiday.


Choose a fun, exciting picture that will catch your class’s eye – it could be anything related to your lessons or upcoming events. 

Keep ’em guessing – the mystery adds to the fun! 

Laminate the picture and cut it into pieces. You choose the number of pieces, but make sure the pieces aren’t so small that the goal feels impossible! I suggest starting with six pieces.

Tip: Start with larger pieces, then scale down for added challenge.

Add magnetic tape to the back of each puzzle piece, and BAM! 

You’ve got a simple, cost-effective reward system. 

magnetic tape on the back of a behavior management puzzle piece

I write students’ names on sticks, and each time a puzzle piece is earned, I pull a stick. That student gets to choose the next piece to go on the puzzle. 

I usually turned the puzzle piece choices face down, so it was a surprise, but that’s up to you.

Puzzle Placement

You’ll want to hang the puzzle in a location that’s easily seen by students. That will help keep motivation high. 

I usually hung mine on the whiteboard up front. 

Excitement will grow as the picture grows.

When to Roll Out This Strategy

This strategy is perfect in the days leading up to holidays, like Christmas or Halloween. That’s a great time to use themed pictures for added fun.

It’s also handy for reinforcing routines or when habits need a shake-up.

Got a tricky new student? Perfect time to bust out the puzzle. 

Excited about the upcoming field trip? This is the perfect plan.

Behavior Management Incentives

Incentives? Get creative! They can be anything you choose. What you choose depends on your students.

Free (And Easy!!) Rewards:

Often, students prefer Free rewards over candy or pencils.

  • Extra iPad time
  • Take your shoes off during class
  • A video clip (my class LOVES funny cats on YouTube – preview first – you never know what you may see or hear on YouTube!!)
  • Extra recess time
  • Favorite book read during class
  • Sit on the floor for homework
  • Homework passes

Tailor rewards to suit your crew – it’s all about keeping it fresh and exciting.

This strategy isn’t a long-term fix, but it’s golden for gently reinforcing routines and smoothing out minor bumps in the road.