In the 18 years I’ve been teaching, I’ve tried all sorts of behavior management systems. I’ve had the kids pull cards. I’ve tried the marbles in a jar. One year I even gave my students tickets for good behavior and excellent participation. Another year, I awarded table points. I’ve even used an economy system where my kiddos earned money and then spent it all in a class store buying trinkets. I was always looking for that PERFECT SYSTEM! The one that would work like a charm with every single child.
After years of research in my own classroom, you know what I finally discovered? I’ve finally realized that THE PERFECT CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT SYSTEM DOES NOT EXIST!!!!!
What works one year and with one group of students, might not work the following. Another thing I’ve learned is that you need to find a system that WORKS.FOR.YOU. If you don’t have much time left at the end of the week to run a class store, then do it! Be honest with yourself and how much time you’re willing to invest.
It’s important to choose a system that fits with your teaching style and with the needs of your students. It should be a system that both you and your students will enjoy. You definitely don’t want to pick a system that is absolute torture for you. You also don’t want a system that’s going to seem like work. We have enough work on our hands, and a classroom management system shouldn’t be adding to that pile.
For the past few years I’ve used BAM’s in my classroom with much success. My students seem to love them, my parents tell me that their children can’t stop talking about them, and former students ask me if I’m still using them. Needless to say, as long as BAM’s continue to motivate my kiddos, I’m going to keep using them.
What Are BAM’s
A BAM is a fuzzy, colored pom pom that students are able to earn and trade in for tokens. In our classroom, the word BAM stands for students caught Being AMazing! We have LITTLE BAMS… and BIG BAMS. Big BAMs are worth 3 of the little ones and they are hard to come by. That’s why whenever a student earns one, it’s a B-I-G D-E-A-L
Where Do Students Keep Their BAMs
Students store their BAMs right on top of their desks inside of small containers that I usually find at the Dollar Tree. One year I used colorful plastic baby food jars like the pink one in the picture below. Another year I used clear containers with colorful lids. They were meant to store paint and had a white insert that the kids could open to drop their BAMs inside. The children really LOVED those containers. I usually look for something small, colorful, and cheap that will last the entire year. The kiddos treat their BAM containers like gold.
How Do The BAMs Stay Put
I attach each BAM container to the top right or left of each student’s desk with a small velcro dot. The velcro makes it quick and easy to remove when needed. At the beginning of the year, we set a few ground rules so the children don’t spend the entire day removing and replacing their containers from their desks. They also NEVER go home! They must always stay in the classroom and on each student’s desk. Another rule is that you’re only allowed to touch your own container.
How Are BAMs Earned
BAMs can be earned for just about anything. The point is to motivate students! If you give students a list of what will earn them a BAM than that’s all they’re going to do. They’re not going to go out of their way to do something special. So instead I just tell my students that I’m always on the look out for AMAZING BEHAVIOR and AMAZING PARTICIPATION. That’s how you earn BAMs.
Sometimes I’ll award a student a BAM even though they may have answered a question incorrectly. Perhaps they took a risk in answering when no one else dared to raise their hand. Or perhaps a student helped a classmate with a difficult math problem without being asked to. The point is, that you want children being AMAZING ALL THE TIME!
Here’s a list of some of the more common ways students can earn BAMS:
- class participation
- random acts of kindness such as helping a fellow classmate without being asked to do so
- returning weekly work folders on time
- recalling information that was learned in a previous lesson
- excellent classroom behavior when a guest enters the room. (If it’s someone REALLY important and the entire class does AMAZING, then I’ll even award them a BIG Bam!)
- working/sitting quietly when the classroom phone rings
- excellent cafeteria, hallway, library behavior
- well thought out answer to a challenging question
- excellent effort
- fantastic teamwork
- honesty (If a student finds a BAM on the floor and turns it in, I’ll usually reward them with a BAM)
As you can see, you can pretty much hand them out whenever you want. And because they are so small, you can have a few in your pocket or in your hands and award them in random places throughout the day. If I ever notice that my student’s hallway behavior is slipping, I simply grab a few BAMS in the palm of my hand and let the kiddos know that I’m on the lookout for some AMAZING BEHAVIOR. I wish you could see their reactions… BAMs are like gold nuggets in my room!
In another post, I’ll tell you all about how we trade in our BAMs for tokens…
If you’ve been struggling with behavior in your classroom or are in need of a change, I hope this post gives you a few fresh ideas to try out!
Do you have a few tips and strategies of your own that you’ve learned along the way? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Nikki CarelMarch 4, 2016 at 1:24 am
I love your idea!! What an adorable storage system. I am really interested in your tokens! I also use coupons but ❤️❤️❤️ yours! Could you email me and tell me where to find them? Thanks! firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa YalesiasJuly 20, 2016 at 12:28 am
Nikki, thank you for your sweet words! It's amazing how excited the children get with something as simple as BAM's and tokens. It actually works much better than when I had trickets for them. You can check out the tokens by visiting my TPT store at this link: http://bit.ly/BAMtokens
KarenMay 16, 2018 at 1:17 pm
I have been using these awesome bams this year however we have sticky fingers in the class. I love those paint containers with the white pop ups. Where can I get these???
MelissaApril 6, 2019 at 9:59 am
Lol, I know what you mean! I actually found those containers at the Dollar Tree a few years back, but haven’t seen them again. I know you can order something similar on Amazon. They are actually paint cups. They’re intended purpose is to store paint for little ones.
Angela BrowningMarch 25, 2016 at 9:35 pm
Do you have your tokens for sale? My email is email@example.com
Angela BrowningMarch 25, 2016 at 9:35 pm
Do you sell your BAMS tokens?
Melissa YalesiasJuly 20, 2016 at 12:29 am
Hi, Angela! Yes, just click on the picture of the tokens to be taken to my TPT store. Thanks for stopping by.
xandylouwhoMarch 26, 2016 at 2:28 am
I have so many behavior problem students, I may give this a try! Thank you!
Melissa YalesiasJuly 20, 2016 at 12:30 am
Katelyn SwensonApril 6, 2016 at 1:46 am
Love!!! I am desperate to try something new and this is it. Looking forward to starting this soon. Are your tokens available for purchase? Thanks!
Melissa YalesiasJuly 20, 2016 at 12:31 am
I'm so happy to have inspired you and to have given you some hope! Good luck with your kiddos.
Yes you can find my tokens by clicking on the picture above and you'll be directed to my TPT store.
Angela PlaceApril 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm
I love the tokens as well! I use BAMS in my classroom now but call them fuzzies instead. I love the idea of putting them on velcro on the desks. Good rules for them as well! I would love a link to the tokens as to where you got them!
Melissa YalesiasJuly 20, 2016 at 12:32 am
Howdy, Angela! Aren't BAMS/ Fuzzies simply the best? I love them!!!! I'm glad I was able to give you some new tips and tricks. Yes you can find the tokens by clicking on the picture of them above. Take care :0)
Abygail MasonMay 31, 2016 at 12:39 am
This is fabulous I do something very similar with soft fabric wristbands that I implemented halfway through the year last year (pre-k, no desks not much cubby space and no stealing at all…on your wrist it is yours not on your wrist it is getting washed) I used them as both a counting activity at the end of each day for individual students to check out and practice spelling their names. They were then placed in a celebration jar for the whole class and sometimes we would vote at empty jar for what we would like to earn and sometimes we would vote at full jar for what we would to to celebrate that everyone was being super safe and working together to full the jar.
Melissa YalesiasJuly 20, 2016 at 12:35 am
I love the idea of wristbands for the precious little ones! That's a GREAT way of keeping them from getting lost. Yea, I have my students practice their math skills as well with them when the time comes that they want to trade them in for tokens. I have them figure out how many BAMS they owe me if they decide to purchase multiple tokens or if they need "change" back. Thanks for sharing how you use the bracelets with your kids. The celebration jar sounds like fun!
Platt BlogJune 24, 2016 at 10:03 pm
Do you do anything in addition to this for negative behavior? Any type of documentation or program?
MichelleJuly 2, 2016 at 2:08 pm
How many BAMs equal a token? Will you email your response please firstname.lastname@example.org thanks
Melissa YalesiasJuly 20, 2016 at 12:37 am
The value of the tokens vary depending on the demand… just like in real life :0)
Some tokens are worth 5 BAMS others that are in higher demand are worth 15-20 BAMS. Also, at the beginning of the year I tend to give them more BAMS in order to motivate them and get them accustomed to the BAM system so I might raise the prices. It's fun to keep the kiddos on their toes.
jenjenfosterAugust 2, 2016 at 10:27 am
I love the bam idea! Do you communicate with parents on a daily basis or use any other kind of system also. I hope the answer is no! I would like to use this only!
MelissaAugust 31, 2017 at 6:30 pm
Nope I do not communicate with them on a daily basis… I mean who has time for that! If there are any major issues with student behavior, I usually just write the parent a note in their child’s home communicator. That’s a folder that goes home every week with graded student work. This work folder includes a log parents sign and column for comments. That’s usually where I’d write a note! At the end of every nine weeks, I file these logs.
jenjenfosterAugust 2, 2016 at 10:29 am
Do you use any other system also or just this? I love this idea and would love to use just this in my classroom!
Lori WilliamsAugust 5, 2016 at 12:57 am
Hi Melissa! I have already bought the "paint" cups for the students to try this for my 1st graders this year. I'm really excited about it! What do you have for repeated negative behavior? I'm trying to figure that out.
LisaSeptember 13, 2016 at 6:04 pm
Do you have the container labels available? The one for thr big jar and the little individual ones? Thanks!
Mrs. DowneyOctober 5, 2016 at 1:07 pm
A coworker and I are interested is using your BAM program in our Kindergarten classrooms. Do you have a sample parent letter that we could look at explaining the program?
LarissaAugust 12, 2017 at 1:35 pm
Hi! I love this idea! I used tickets last year and they stored them in baggies, which didn’t work! The tickets would get lost and it was hard for them to keep track of. I like the idea of them being stored on top of there desk! When were they allowed to count up there bams?
MelissaAugust 12, 2017 at 5:17 pm
Yea, I’ve tried the tickets and baggies too a few years back and it was a disaster as well. Some of the kids would take them home in their backpacks and then forget them or worst lose them. I’ve found that setting a few ground rules about their BAM containers being on their desks (right from the beginning) has worked for us! As a matter of fact, I think their jars being on their desks motivates them.
LindsayMay 23, 2019 at 10:50 am
Hey!! I absolutely love this idea!! Do you have the actual BAM cards that you put on the little containers? I am not very creative haha!
MelissaJuly 24, 2019 at 10:13 pm
If you email me I’d be happy to send that out to you. Moretime2teach@gmail.com