A Magic Word for Classroom Management

Do you ever begin to give directions to your students, get less than halfway through a sentence, and students start moving?  They’re so eager to begin or be first for the activity that they don’t hear the rest of the directions!  My classroom management needed some help, because this was disrupting the flow of my lessons.  It used to drive me crazy, until one class period, I got an idea.

magic word for classroom management


I asked the kids if they knew how to play the game Simon Says, and then we tried a quick round.  Then, I added my twist.  “Instead of saying ‘Simon says’ when I want you to follow directions, I will say a magic word.  Only after that magic word can you move.”  So I needed a magic word.  It was October, so that day, my magic word was pumpkin.  The students waited to hear the word “pumpkin” before following any of my directions.  Awesome.  …But I couldn’t use this same magic word all year, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep track if I switched it regularly. I wanted an evergreen word, that I could use any time I wanted the students to wait for directions.  I wanted something that I had a connection to, and something fun for the kids.  Since my students call me Mrs. Cookie, I went with “sprinkles.”  Why not chocolate chips?  It doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily.  Also, I really like sprinkles; they’re colorful and fun.


I introduced our new permanent magic word to my kids, and we were ready to try it out.  We practiced following directions as if it were a game.  I would tell them to stand up and make a circle.  Some would immediately get up and start holding hands, but they quickly realized their mistake, and sat back down.  I winked at them, and shouted, “springtime!”  Most of the students raced to make their circle before they realized I had tricked them.  “Sprinkler!” I tried again.  This time, I hadn’t fooled them.  “Very well done, friends.  Okay.  Sprinkles!” Finally, the kids all happily stood and made a circle, quickly and quietly (minus a few joyful giggles).  Success!


For almost two years now, we’ve been using this magic word, and that’s exactly what it’s been for my classroom: magic!  My kids listen to all directions before acting.  When a student forgets, their classmates quickly remind them with a whisper, “she didn’t say the magic word yet!” It truly has helped my classroom management, and I highly recommend it!  Choose a word that works for you and your kids, and make it joyful.

Happy teaching!


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