Secret Sticks and Shhh...I'm Talking With My Pencil {Freebie}

They will learn to work quietly.
They will learn to work quietly.
They will learn to work quietly.
We have the cutest, most adorable, sweetest, MOST talkative class ever.
For the past 12 days, there has been only one way to get them to be quiet.
Don't take a teacher breath! 
It was making us light headed...
So, we've been putting our tired brains together, and today we started something that we hope will stick!
We use the old popsicle stick trick for tons of activities throughout the year.
Picking partners, cooperative learning groups, Q & A time...just to name a few.
But today, we transformed our dull and boring sticks into
"Super Secret Silent Sticks"
Say that 5 times fast!
Sometimes these names just slip out of our mouths 
mid introduction.
Everything has to have a name with us.
They can't just be "Name Sticks" or "Popsicle Stick Selectors".
Where's the fun in that? 
It must have a snazzy name that's fun to say and catches the kids' attention.
Like rhyming.
It's a first grade teacher curse.
So the "4S Game" is what we tried to shorten it to by the end of the day, but they weren't buying it. 
Here's what we did...
We picked 3 Super Secret Silent Sticks at the beginning of each time period.
For our class, this was an entire 10 minutes.
No, sorry.
That's no typo.
It's a magic number. 
We kept our stick picks super secret in an effort to keep them silent.
We told them we were watching. 
If they worked quietly and refrained from chatting with their friends, they would earn 3 stickers to add to their Sticker Boards.

You can read more about our Sticker Board Classroom Management trick here.
They were listening.
We told them that if they didn't do it, we would secretly return their stick to the can (That needs a name... "Can" doesn't cut it.), and secretly select a new player.
They were still listening.

At the end of the time period, we revealed the names one letter at a time. We asked them to make predictions as to who it could be based on the letters we revealed.
They added a drum roll on their laps.
It was fun.
They were quiet.
We actually breathed for more than 2 seconds for the first time in 12 days.
We must keep things truthful though...
It's not all unicorns, glitter and fairy dust in First Grade Land just yet.
Namely in our seats.
It starts as a few low whispers...
We say,
"Whispering is still talking Boys and Girls. It's just a lower volume."
They hush.

Then, it begins again.
Only this time, it's accompanied by a hummer.
As in, a child humming. 
Or snapping. 
Or singing. 
Or, well...We could go on depending on how long you have?

Our teacher ears are normally sonar trained for this sort of noise.
We can spot them within moments.
It's a Superpower. You have it too.
But, this group?
They're good.
We think there are a few of them who throw signals to each other trying to allude us. Like Ninjas...
It's working.

But, that's all about to end for our Noise Throwing Ninjas...
We're trying going to stay two steps ahead of them and rely on peer pressure our quiet, rule following folks to help us out. 
We are making our point with these "Shhh I'm Talking with My Pencil" friendly table tent reminders. Sometimes a visual reminder helps them remember as well as politely remind their neighbor. Or, gives us something to point to and raise our eyebrows at...Either way, sometimes they work wonders in our first grade classroom. 

We talk often in our lessons about how writing is talking with our pencils. 
It helps ease the "fear" of writing that so many of our students have at the beginning of the year.
We tell them...
"We don't really need our mouths when we are talking with our pencils.
Our pencils are polite, you see...
They understand that perhaps our lips need a break every once in a while.
I mean, they've been moving an awful lot lately...You know?
And, lips get tired...We think.
So, Mr. Pencil wants to help by talking for you sometimes.
Only, you see...One teensy, tiny, itty, bitty thing...
Mr. Pencil can only talk Brain to Brain."

Has anyone ever heard of telepathy? 
{No, just kidding...We added that part. We only cover the 5 senses...Not, the 6th one.}
Back to the "Story"...
"He never uses his mouth. 
Because, well...
Come close...
Can you keep a secret?
Okay, good because if Mr. Pencil ever found out that we told you he would be shocked.

You see Boys and Girls...Mr. Pencil doesn't have a...Doesn't have a...He doesn't have a mouth."

Gasps fill the air. Shock and awe. {wink, wink}
Then, empathy.
Poor Mr. Pencil. 

"So, you see Brain to Brain is really the best way for Mr. Pencil and you to talk.
So, if you ever need to remind anyone around you that the reason your lips aren't moving is because you and Mr. Pencil are talking Brain to Brain, go ahead and silently put this table sign up on your desk.
  We'll understand why you might be ignoring us.
You're just being polite to Mr. Pencil.
What a good, good friend you are."

The End...
If your Noise Throwing Ninjas need a little visual reminder to work quietly too, click below to grab yourself a copy. There are three per page, and black and white too. Print or copy, laminate and chop, chop, chop...Teacher Ninja Style!!!
Fluttering Through First Grade


  1. How cute and clever are those tent reminders? I also would love to see fuzzy-head pencils back in the classroom... I content that playing with their hair helps some of the little ones clam down.

    Granny Goes to School

  2. What a great idea!! Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to give it a try with my Noise Throwing Ninjas!

  4. Oh I love it ! I love it. I love it. I really really do!

  5. Oh.My.Word...! You may have saved my sanity. Of course, I just pinned the picture! THANK YOU!

  6. Finally a way to combat this driving me crazy problem!! although I missed the post on the sticks I LOVE this idea!!! Thank you sooooo much for sharing :-)

  7. I'm giving this a try. I read for 1 1/2 hours one night all of the googled suggestions to get a class to quit talking. I'm ready to give this a try.
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  8. This is a great idea! I think these will be a great addition to our quiet writing time. Some students just need complete silence to work and those around them could use a little reminder.
    Forever A Teacher, Forever A Learner

  9. Thank you! for your ideas and for the validation that these first few weeks of first grade can be such a challenge and we must be our most creative, positive and persistent. I have 18 boys,noise ninjas and 8 girls. MAN! thank you

    1. Holy Moly Janet! May the force be with you this year. You're going to need a lot of tricks up your sleeve and we're happy to help! Best of luck this year :)

  10. This is great! And, it's probably the most entertaining blog post I've read in a while! I giggled... a lot. Thanks for this!

  11. Love the sticker station! Where on earth did you find the giant crayon for this?


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