Classroom Management

Behavior Bingo: My Favorite Classroom Management Tool

Real talk: classroom management has always been my biggest struggle as a teacher. I think that this is true for a lot of teachers. It’s one thing to read about classroom management strategies in a college classroom, but it’s a whole other ballgame when you’re standing in front of a roomful of middle schoolers and you are somehow expected to keep them all in line!

I’ve had a few tough groups over my first few years, and I needed something to up my classroom management game. The classroom management strategy I’m going to share with you today has been a total game-changer for me, and I hope it can help you, too!

Classroom management can be so tough! Try out Behavior Bingo for an easy-to-use, fun classroom management strategy!

This strategy is called Behavior Bingo. To implement it, you will need a 10×10 chart numbered from 1-100. I used to draw mine out on big chart paper, but I’ve since created this handy printable board so that I don’t have to draw it out each time! You will also need 100 popsicle sticks each labeled with a number from 1-100. I keep these in one of those metal pails from Target, and you will also need another pail for the sticks to go in once you have pulled them. You will need a board and set of numbers for each class you are using this with – I have used it with up to 4 classes at once! I marked each class’s set of sticks with a different color and then discarded them all into the same tub. If you don’t want to buy or have to label all the popsicle sticks, I have also seen teachers use small slips of paper numbered 1-100, or even just a random number generator online!

For Behavior Bingo, each class has its own bucket of popsicle sticks numbered 1-100.
Each class has its own bucket of popsicle sticks numbered 1-100.

Here are the rules that I use:

  • The object of the game is to get 10 numbers in a row (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) and get a bingo.
  • At the start of each class, I write the numbers 1 2 3 on the front whiteboard.
  • During class, I erase a number any time the students are not meeting my expectations, starting with 3, then 2, then 1.
  • At the end of class, however many numbers are left on the board is how many popsicle sticks they get to pull that day. For example, if only the 3 was erased, then they get to pull 2 popsicle sticks. They can earn up to 3 numbers each day.
  • The students pull out the correct number of sticks for that day. I let them take turns. I hold the jar up above their heads so they can’t peek inside. Then I color in the numbers that were pulled on the bingo board.
At the end of class, students get to pull out however many numbers they earned that day.
At the end of class, students get to pull out however many numbers they earned that day.
I discard all the sticks pulled in this bucket - each class's sticks are marked slightly differently so I can tell them apart.
I discard all the sticks pulled in this bucket – each class’s sticks are marked slightly differently so I can tell them apart.

You can certainly adjust these rules to meet your needs. For instance, you could use a smaller or bigger bingo board, depending on how quickly you want them to earn their reward. With the 10×10 board, it usually takes 1-2 months to earn the reward. You could also adjust how many numbers they can earn each day.

Another thing you could do is tie the numbers to specific goals. For instance, my students know that at the beginning of class they need to be in their seats with homework out and working on their warmup. If this doesn’t happen, they know I will erase a number.

As for the reward, we choose this as a class before beginning the game. I have the students brainstorm ideas (I tell them that they need to be something either relatively inexpensive or free and can only take up about 20-30 minutes of class time) and list them all on the board. Then I have the students vote for their top two choices. Some ideas we have come up with in the past include an ice cream party (I bring the ice cream, they bring the toppings), root beer float party, time outside, free time, board games, donut party, dodgeball, or popcorn and a short movie. I write their choice at the bottom of the bingo board as a reminder of what we are working toward.

And that’s it! It’s very easy to keep it running, and it has been very motivating to my students, especially when they are down to only one number left for the day.

You can find the printable board that I use in my Teachers Pay Teachers store if you’re interested!

Do you have any awesome classroom management strategies? I would love to hear about them in the comments!


    • Math With Meaning

      Happy you can use it! It’s made a huge difference in my classroom, and has definitely helped these last few weeks of the school year to keep everyone on track!

  • Nicole Gracia

    Might start this next year; trying to think of a way to use it in conjunction with class dojo which I find VERY helpful with my 4th graders… this would give them a nice visual as well… thanks!

  • Brieanna Trahan

    I absolutely love this idea and even bought your printable from teachers pay teachers. I have one question though, after the students have gotten their 10-in-a-row, do you erase the numbers they “redeemed” or do you leave them shaded in or clear the board?

    • Math With Meaning

      Hi Brieanna! I completely clear the board when they get a bingo. I usually just print out a new one, but I’ve seen other teachers laminate the board and just wipe it off after a bingo. You could definitely leave the row they completed though as a little headstart on the next one – I kind of like that idea!

    • April

      I started using this this year! I tried starting with 3 numbers but then Id forget by my last two periods. So now I add the numbers when I catch them being good. Seems to work better for me and thought Id share!

  • Erin

    I just purchased and printed this! I look forward to using it. Thank you so much!! I’m thinking that instead of using sticks, I will print extra bingo boards, cut apart the numbers, and put them in cups. This is mostly because I will hae six classes and I don’t want to write numbers on that many sticks!

  • Liz Carey

    Wow! I may just make it through! This is great. I have 5th graders that are not into my class at all! (Music, new teacher to them this year!)
    THank you!

    • Math With Meaning

      Hi Akeem! In my classroom, the two systems don’t really overlap at all – my classroom economy is not behavior-based. They each just kind of run separately from each other. You certainly could make them work together if you’d like, though!

  • Canna J Mittelman

    Hi Megan,
    You are so right about the way classroom management is handled in college versus the “real classroom”. I taught middle my whole career and wished I had this idea. I teach 5th grade in a private school and cannot wait to try for the spring semester.

    • Math With Meaning

      Hi Canna! Yes, it’s something you really can’t learn from a textbook! If you tried Behavior Bingo this semester, I hope it’s working well for you!

  • Linda

    This is a fantastic idea! I have used several things throughout the years and never really was satisfied with them. I could do this. I would also like more information on the Job economy.

  • Amy

    I love this idea! Thanks for sharing! I have a question about timing. You mentioned that it takes 1-2 months to get a “bingo.” Is this seeing your students 5 days per week? I see my students 4 days per week and I’d be giving them 6 weeks to earn their reward. I want to make sure I give them a realistic chance of getting a “bingo” with a 10×10 grid in 6 weeks. I’m sure there’s a complicated math formula I could do to figure out the probability, but I don’t know the formula. Ideas?

    • Math With Meaning

      Hi Amy! Yes, that’s 5 days a week. I’d say that they aren’t guaranteed to get a bingo in 6 weeks, but they’d have a pretty good chance, especially if they’re usually earning all or most of their numbers every day. If you really wanted to play it safe, you could bump it up to 4 numbers a day – not sure if that would end up going really quickly, though! You could always start with 3 and if towards the end of the time it seems like they’re not getting close, you could bump it up at that point. Hope that helps!

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