Fill Your Palette – Classroom Management Strategy

I finally found a place in the room on which my palettes and classroom management and reward system stick.  See, we can’t use tape or anything on the walls and my sticky tack isn’t handling the job very well so finally, I compromised and like an old article for my state Magazine that I wrote said, I used the cupboard space to display. Because you should really use your space.

But that’s not what this post is about – this post is all about my management system.


It is very simple.  I use the A-R-T letters like so many elementary/middle level teachers choose to do so.  Most I’ve seen use the rule that when students loose all three, they don’t get their daily reward – I do this a little differently.  I’ve also seen it done mostly with crayons but I wanted to mix it up by using palettes! 🙂

You can see the three A-R-T palettes hanging in the picture. While the front each has a letter, the back is actually a big fat X.

If my class leaves the day with all three letters intact, they receive a splotch of paint on their class palette – you can also see these on the cupboard. But it takes a lot of good behavior to keep the three letters. If it didn’t, I’d have too many splotches to count.

When I have to redirect the classroom, I remind them that the next redirect is a letter turned.  Sometimes I am lenient on how many time I redirect because I want to give them a chance but when it becomes necessary, I follow through. Once I turn the letter T, they have lost their splotch for the day.  This deters them from being redirected again but if we continue to have problems, I turn the R and unfortunately, that means students will have 5 minutes of silent time.  If it continues to be poor behavior, then we turn the T and it means “heads down, art over”. And we collect materials and put away our fun art.  If there is time, we discuss the importance of behavior expectations and we model them appropriately. (Hasn’t happened this year.)

On a good day, students keep all three letters they do earn their splotch, as you can see who already has.  Keep in mind it’s the beginning of the year so we still have some expectations to meet and relearn.  But anyways, when they earn 6 splotches or all the colors of the rainbow, they earn a reward day! That day is filled with fun art stations that allow them to choose their own adventure.

Kids seem to really want to earn these splotches after they see other classes getting close.  A lot of my younger grades have started noticing how quickly the fifth grade has been earning splotches and they have started to turn their behavior around.  This makes me happy. 🙂 Important to remember though, they can never earn a letter back.  There are other school wide rewards I can bring into play if students are choosing better behavior but it takes a team to keep our letters.


9 responses to “Fill Your Palette – Classroom Management Strategy

  1. I likie your idea of using palettes for the art room. This year I’ve done something that serves the same function. I’ve had a Part Popcorn Race. The class gets to move their popcorn bucket one space if the class stays on task and remember basic classroom rules. When they get to the end I make air popped popcorn with a really old air popper that I didn’t use at home anymore. I usually try to schedule this reward during a dry activity. They each get a small hand full of popcorn on a paper towel. Its really cheap and they love it. I also make a little popcorn for the classroom teacher. It is a little bit of a competition for the homeroom teachers to see whose class gets a party. The smell is all over the school, so everyone knows when someone has won. Alot of the classsroom teachers put a little more effort into prepping their class for good behavior, so they have the bragging rights of winning. Manipulative? Yes! Some times you do what you need to do.

  2. Pingback: Welcome Back! | Art Class With LMJ·

  3. I like the positive spin on earning the splotches versus losing splotches or letters. I teacher 24 classes so I’m not sure I’d have room for all of those palettes! LOL! What’s up with your walls? Why can’t you use them?

    • We had been recently renovated so we were very closely watched and told not to use the walls. It has been a bummer but since the renovation, I’ve started to break the rules. 😉 And wow – 24 classes!!!

      • Ah, yes, the ol’ “Don’t mess up the new walls!” mentality! Boy, I’ve heard that before. One good thing is that it is a GREAT color! I suppose it could be some institutional color like gray or tan or (GASP!) some pastel color like somebody vomited out the entirety of the Spring collection at Baby’s ‘R Us!

        Yup, 480 K-3 kiddos. I’m exhausted just typing it! LOL! 🙂 I enjoyed checking out your blog.

  4. Hi there! I love this idea and tried it last year. I, too, have 24 classes and found it very hard to keep up with the “free art day”. I have three classes a day, all the same grade level. So, if 1 class of the 3 failed to make it, I found it more difficult and harder to plan because they all do the same grade level art project. So, it was too much for me to plan. Can you think of an easier “reward” they could do while continuing to work on their grade level project so as to not get behind? any ideas appreciated 🙂

    • I’m sure it depends on how you have your day-to-day set up but I would think maybe having music playing or maybe they choose their music? That or instead of the reward being a full day, you could do a 5 minute of social hour at the end of one class or 10 minutes of out door sculpture games. Don’t hold true to the idea that they have an art party or free art day – I’ve adapted this idea completely since I posted this article. Now I do small rewards and big rewards depending on the situation. If I’m in a bind, I do a treat day where everyone gets a jolly rancher – no I don’t like to reward with candy, but when I want students to continue the good work they are doing in a project then it does help continue that.

  5. Hi Lisa! I love this idea! Could I link it to an article on my blog about elementary art management? I want to make sure you get all the credit for this idea! It saved my bacon this year!

    • Chelsea – I apologize as I took a personal hiatus from blogging for some time – please share away if that is still of interest to you. If not, totally understand!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s