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November 28, 2011

Shh! Ideas for Keeping a Quiet Classroom

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X Ideas for Keeping the Classroom Quiet

Ideas for Getting a Quiet Classroom

Sometimes classroom noise levels can threaten to get out of control and getting a handle on them right away is critical to successful classroom management.  The ideas below are perfect for controlling classroom noise and redirecting students’ behavior.  Best of all, they have been classroom tested!

Quiet Classroom Strategies

Magical Music

This idea comes from Gloria, a 2nd Grade Teacher, in Altoona, PA.  It is both simple and ingenious!  “To help with classroom noise levels I challenge my students to ‘keep the music in the box,’” she explains.  “Whenever noise levels start to rise or we need to get quieter I open up the music box. The music box, which is wound up once a week, plays until everyone is quiet. At the end of each week we check the box for music. If there is still music in the box the class gets a reward. They are so excited that they remind me each week to be sure to check the box. Not only is it effective, but it puts a little music into our day.”

Marshmallow Mouths

Imaginary fun is a great way to help students remember to stay quiet.  Try this idea by Natalie, a Kindergarten Teacher, in Tamarac, FL.  “Here’s a way to keep students quiet in a line,” she shares.  “Have the students put a pretend marshmallow in their mouths. Have them take the marshmallows out of their pockets and stick them in their mouths. If they make noise in the line, remind them to put their marshmallows back in. They students love it and remind others to do it, too.”

What’s Your Name?

Although Sharon, a 4th Grade Teacher, from Waterford, PA used this idea with her students in the cafeteria, it can also be adapted for classroom use.  “Our cafeteria staff was struggling with keeping our students quiet and sitting down during lunch.  We tried various strategies to help, even asking them to log the names of individual students who were especially loud.  This was time consuming for the ladies, especially if they didn’t know the student’s name.  We even tried deducting recess time for the entire class.  Nothing seemed to work,” Sharon admits.  “Finally, I decided to create a necklace for each of my students to wear to lunch with their names on them.  If caught misbehaving or being loud, this necklace was simply taken away and placed in a basket.  When I came to pick up my students, I would check the basket and only those students whose necklaces I found would lose recess time.  Students who were able to keep their necklaces all week were allowed to participate in a drawing to visit the prize box on Fridays.  It worked so well, all the teachers in my grade level are planning on having their students make necklaces the first day of school.  Staying with the theme, this year I thought it would be fun to reward students with consistent appropriate behavior to add ‘fun’ beads (sports theme beads, smiley faces, hearts, stars, etc.) to their necklaces!”

What are some of your favorite techniques for controlling noise levels in your classroom?  Share them with us below!

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17 Comments.
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  • Jess
    March 25, 2012

    I love the music box idea! I am going to have to incorporate that into my classroom…. without breaking my pockets for rewards. Maybe free time or something?

    I do something similar to the marshmallow in your mouth with my kindergartners – they keep a bubble in their mouths – bubble in your lips and duck tails in line. ~I got it from another K teacher 🙂

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  • Kim
    March 23, 2012

    Thanks for the great ideas!

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  • Sarah Doyle
    March 11, 2012

    Wow! The music box is such a great idea! I am a special education resource room teacher, so I have several different groups every day, but I think it would work really well if I told them that they had to work together with the other groups. You would think with smaller groups that would lessen the talking, but they seem to think that is an invitation to talk more…I’m trying the music box tomorrow!!

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  • Linda Sanchini
    February 5, 2012

    I use the music box idea in my third grade classroom and it is great. I carry a rainstick in the hallways to assist the class to get to their specials – we have the longest walk in the school. I love the marshmallow idea – in December I had the cafeteria lines pretend they were as quiet as snowflakes falling to the ground and it worked well!

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  • Eva Dodson
    February 5, 2012

    Like Jon, I am also a beginning teacher. With only one year under my belt, I have found some WONDERFUL ideas on here. I love the “Keep the Music in the Box” and the tuning fork. I want to try the 4th Grade Freeze though, I think my kids would really like that one! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas 🙂

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  • Jon Spexarth
    January 29, 2012

    As a beginning teacher, classroom management is the area I have determined to be the area I need to work on the most. Thank you for all of the great ideas! I really like the music box idea and the way it acknowledges positive behavior rather then punishing for negative behavior. This is in contrast to the system of clocking time to deduct from recess, which I am not a big fan of.

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  • JJ Hernandez
    January 7, 2012

    I am a second grade teacher in Sapulpa, Oklahoma at Freedom Elementary. We use several different quote callbacks. Not only do the students get quiet, but they are also memorizing and reciting various quotes. For example, if our quote of the week is “Peace begins with a smile.” by Mother Teresa, I would say, “Peace, and the students would reply “begins with a smile by Mother Teresa.” In addition, one of our teachers just came up with this one. To get my students quiet, I say “FLAT TIRE”. They immediately say SH!!! beginning loudly, but decreasing like a flat tire sounds. It works really, really well!!!

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  • Bonnie Fraylick
    December 4, 2011

    The noise level of the classroom varies depending on the activity. During group work, I encourage “12 inch voices” so that everyone in the group can hear the person who is speaking. With partner work, I encourage “6 inch voices” so that only the partner can hear the other one. These seem to keep the appropriate noise level under control during times when you actually want the students talking!

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  • Allison Brocking
    December 4, 2011

    Wow I love the idea of the music box. I usually have classical music on in the background and students know that if they can’t hear the music that they are too loud but I love the idea of them working challenging them to keep the music in the box. I have music boxes at home so I will definetly bring one in and give it a try. Thanks for the great idea

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  • Rhonda
    December 4, 2011

    I love the musical box idea–I’m on a mission to find one now! When I want students to stop and listen, I’ll say SALAMI–Stop And Look At Me Immediately.

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  • Vicki
    December 4, 2011

    We use voice levels at my school. When students are working independently or even in small groups I remind them of the appropriate voice level to use. I often ask the students to check their voice levels. It seems to work and most the time I do not have to have them check their levels.
    I have also played music that I put at a level that is loud enough to hear and yet still low enough to work. When we can no longer hear the music I tell my students that I might as well turn it off since no one is listening. I usually do not have to ask a second time as they like the music. Pandora is great because I use the Kid Bop channel which has clean versions of the popular songs.

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  • Julie
    November 29, 2011

    I love the music box idea! I plan to try it tomorrow — if I can find my music box. . .

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  • Kelly
    November 28, 2011

    This year I have an especially chatty class; I like the music box idea. This year I’ve had to resort to: rolling the marbles in the marble jar around; setting a timer for 5 minutes and it runs as long as they talk and after the 5 minutes are up, they owe me back that time; using a “tuning fork” star wand to get their attention; turning off the lights. Nothing works consistently but it’s a good thing I have a bunch of tricks in my bag, including the ones shared here! Thanks!

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  • Kristen
    November 28, 2011

    I teacher 1st grade and love the music box idea! I’m going to have to find one and try it out. Brian- I too use the give me 5 and it seems to work most of the time.

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  • Brian
    November 28, 2011

    Love the ideas, especially the musical box!!! I’m going to have to get me one. haha Give me 5 seems to quiet them down the quickest for me. It means stop and look at me. They have to close their mouth, stop whatever they are doing with nothing in their hands and turn and look at the speaker. If that doesn’t work I start counting backwards or up and that gets them quiet!

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  • Jill
    November 28, 2011

    I use a harmonica to get my 6th graders attention. I only have to play one note (which is great bc I dont really know how to play it). They were trained early in the year to stop whatever they are doing when they hear the harmonica. It has worked very well!!

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  • Megan
    November 28, 2011

    I do 4th Grade Freeze in my classroom. Whenever I am getting ready to give instructuions, relay important information, or end recess I announce 4th Grade Freeze and the students freeze exactly where they are. My students love it because it’s almost like a game to them and they do it so well! I t is also a. Reminder to them to make sure that they are on the right track!

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