Monday, July 28, 2014

FAQs for Happy Sticks Behavior Management & a Product Update!

This post is long over due! Last summer I posted about Happy Sticks Behavior Management {here}. I was so excited about the idea that I couldn't wait to share it. That had one down side-- I was yet to implement this system in my classroom so I knew there would be some gaps to fill in the product once the school year started.

A lot of you were interested in the system and had great feedback and questions regarding it! I thought I would use this post to answer those questions, AND explain how I used the system in my classroom. I ended up making adaptations to it in my own room so I included those updates in the pack. After you read this post, if you already own my Happy Sticks product, you'll want to download the revised version! Let's get started with the FAQ shall we?


  1. How do you manage/store sticks?
    • I store sticks in 2 places. The first being my apron pocket. I'm always wearing my apron so this makes them handy for when I want to hand them out. I also keep a little container of them by our radio. It's central to where we count sticks, and in the classroom. 
  2. How do students get sticks?
    • In my classroom students can earn sticks for consistently following directions and using their "listening ears." They also earn sticks for cleaning up when it's time, or being a good friend.
  3. Do students lose sticks?
    • Personally, I don't take sticks away. My philosophy doesn't support taking away something you have just given a child. They clearly did something to earn that in that moment. Now, this is not to say that every once in a while you won't have that one child who ONLY responds to that negative of losing. But I don't make a habit out of it. That also doesn't mean that there are not consequences for poor behavior. I created this system because I didn't feel that my color clip chart was working in the classroom. Well by December I had added the clip chart back, but it correlated to our happy sticks. If a child was on yellow or red, they didn't count their sticks when it was time it earn. So if I hand out sticks, and that child makes poor choices, I can have them move their clip down and/or visit the thinking chair for their consequence. If I don't feel they have shown me they deserve to earn, then their clip stays down on yellow or red when it's earn time.  
  4. How often do you count sticks?
    • We have 3 "earn breaks" during our daily schedule. The first one is after greeting time. Then the next two are after we clean-up from centers. This is a great motivator for cleaning up. "We need to clean-up so we can count happy sticks and chose our earn!" 
  5. What about a different colored stick for negative behaviors?
    • A purchaser asked me this question and I thought about it. I decided this could be a great alternative to negative behaviors. For example, If a child is continually calling out in class, you can say "I'm sorry you keep calling out, I'm going to have to put a red stick in your pocket." When it's earn time that stick could mean a loss of 1 min at earn time for each red stick. Now, because the red stick is a negative consequence itself, if you were using something like this, I would say YES these sticks you can take away. Should the child get it together, stop calling out, and start raising their hand, then you reinforce that behavior positively by saying, "great job raising your hand! I can take your red stick back."
  6. What do you do for students who make poor choices?
    • As I mentioned above, I re-incorporated our color clip chart, but tied it in with our sticks. A child who is making poor choices is going to move their clip down. They can always move their clip back up. At the beginning of earn time, we look to see what color our clips are on. Students earn additional sticks depending on what color they are. If they are on yellow or red, they don't earn. The sticks they already have will stay in their pocket and they will sit out while their peers get their earn time. 
  7. How do you keep track of sticks?
    • I thought about creating a form that allowed me to communicate to parents how many sticks their child earned that day. The more I thought of it, the more I decided not to. There really is no point in telling the parents whether their child earned 12 sticks throughout the day, or 22 sticks. Either way, that child earned. If they did not get their earn time, then yes, that is going to be communicated to the parents. 
  8. How do you communicate behavior to parents?
    • Since I added the color clip chart back in I went back to using a behavior calendar to communicate at the end of each day what color their child was on. If they had to move their clip down to yellow or red, but went back up, I color 2 colors on their day. If they stayed on green or higher, I just color in one color. I use these editable calendars by A Cupcake for the Teacher. In the box on her calendars I added an explanation of what each color means. 
  9. How do you introduce the sticks to your class?
    • At the beginning of the year anytime a child earned a stick they would need hand over hand or one on one support to guide them to where their pocket was, identify their pocket, and put their stick in. After a while they were able to do this on their own when given a stick. The first 2 weeks of school, we count our sticks, then we have an earn. Everyone gets the same earn, they do not make a choice based on how many they have yet. Once they have the routine down, I introduce making choices based on how many sticks they have. It doesn't take long for the students to adjust to this. 
Now that we've reviewed the FAQs, I can share in a bit more detail, the changes I made to the Happy Sticks System throughout the school year.


Here is our happy sticks display in the classroom. (The topper for our pocket chart somehow went missing. But it is included the pack when you purchase.)


So to the left we have a pocket chart for our sticks, then our earn board that displays our choices, and our color clip chart. By looking at the clip chart you can see how I made it tie into the sticks. Purple = 4 extra happy sticks, blue = 3 sticks, green = 2 sticks, light green = 1 stick, and yellow and red are no sticks, no earn time. When students end their day on purple, they also get to pick from the treasure box. You can also see that I edited our choice board. When school first began, this is what our display looked like: 


No color clip chart, and our earn chart went up to 25 sticks. The numbers were also displayed in segments of 5, versus having each number on the card. After a while using this system I realized 2 things. One, I wasn't giving out enough sticks, nor was I going to be giving out so many that they reached 21-25 sticks since we count 3 times throughout the day. Why keep those options displayed if we aren't going to use them? So I cut off from 11-15 down. Next, I realized, well my students aren't old enough to understand the concept that 1-5 means if I have 2, 3, or 4 sticks, I'm picking from that option. They need to see the actual number on that card. So I edited mine.


Now students would count their sticks, then come up and identify the correct number. This also gave me another opportunity to practice number identification! After identifying their number, they would make their choice. After everyone counts and makes their choice, I set the timer. Typically for 3-4 minutes. Our last earn time of the day is right before dismissal. So if we're running behind I'll set it for 1-2 minutes since we need to get to the bus! 

I change our earn items each week, or every 2 weeks if we had a short week for some reason. The pack includes a variety of visuals that you could use for your earn choices. Or you can easily create and add your photos to the chart. I usually do a mix of toys, sensory, or food items. Sometime all 4 are toys/games, or food. (And a brownie means, brownie bite--not a full size brownie!) 

If you need to re-download this file to snag the updates for your classroom, just click the photo below Or, head on over to my store if you've wish listed this item and I've now convinced you to buy! ;) My TpT store is 20% for the rest of today-- snag this item for $2.80 instead of $3.50! (Through July 28th, 2014)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Happy-Sticks-Behavior-Management-Strategy-764174

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What color do the kids start out on for your clip chart?

Thanks so much!

Erin Blecki said...

They start every day on green.