Blurt Buttons | A Fun Way to Curb Calling Out in the Classroom


Written by Bronwyn

Ever feel like there’s a whole lot of blurting going on in your classroom?

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Blurt Buttons are a bright, fun classroom management strategy to help curb calling out. If you’re looking for a new strategy to manage impulsiveness and noise in your room, read on!

Students musing aloud: “It’s cloudy outside”, telling you about their neighbour’s three-legged cat or asking you how many days there are until Christmas?

As educators it is our responsibility to help children develop social skills, to help them understand the contexts in which certain behaviours are (or are not) appropriate.

What is Blurting?

Children just love blurting – saying what’s on their minds. They may call out for several reasons including stress, impulsivity, competition, or simply because it’s what they’ve always done (and got away with).

As normal as it is, habitual calling out can be one of the most frustrating classroom management issues faced by teachers.

Our new Blurt Buttons Resource Pack is here to help!

Listen to us chat about blurting on our podcast, For the Love of Teaching.

To Banish Blurting, You’ll Need:

Setting Up Blurt Buttons

The Teacher Directions sheet outlines the basic rules of the Blurt Buttons system.

  • On one jar, glue or tape the Blurt Buttons label to the front.
  • Next, attach the round label to the lid. This is your Blurt Buttons jar.
  • On the second jar, attach your chosen rewards strips at intervals. You may wish to use some of the blank strips to add your own chosen rewards. Two or three strips will work well for a medium-sized mason jar. This is your Rewards Jar.
  • Our When Should I Blurt? Poster is a fantastic visual aide to help students decide whether it’s appropriate for them to call out to you or a friend. It could be used as a great starting point to read as a class.

Give each student a number of buttons to keep on their desks.

If you have a very talkative class or are just beginning to work on calling out, perhaps using five would be great. You can gradually reduce to two or three as the students become better at waiting to speak.

If a student blurts, he or she must put a button back into the Blurt Buttons jar.

At the end of the day, any remaining Blurt Buttons on desks go into the Rewards Jar, earning kids points towards a treat!

Using Blurt Buttons to Quell Calling Out

For older children who call out, you could simply demonstrate the process and explain the expectations, using the poster from the kit. I would recommend printing it on A3 sized paper and displaying it somewhere prominent in the room, where it’s highly visible to the kids.

For younger children, it may help to identify the issue of calling out and provide some examples through literature.

Here are two great books, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and Interrupting Chicken, which focus on interrupting and untimely calling out:

Books about calling out and blurting Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and Interrupting Chicken

Rewarding Non-blurting Behaviour!

Now for the fun part: the rewards!

As students see the buttons in the Rewards Jar accumulate, anticipation and excitement will build. What’a great about this type of whole-class system is that it encourages team work.

There are some suggestions printed on the reward strips (movie afternoon, whole class game, etc), but you may choose something more tangible, like a gorgeous certificate or small prize for each student in the class. Blank rewards strips are included in the pack.

For more information on implementing classroom management systems, check out our blog, 5 Steps to Using Classroom Reward Systems in a Meaningful Way.

So whether you’ve got a whole class of Chatty Cathys or just one back-row bandit who won’t stop blurting, Blurt Buttons may just be what your classroom needs!

I’d love to hear how you get on with Blurt Buttons in your room.

Please feel free to tag @teachstarter on Instagram with your wonderful photos.

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Comments & feedback

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Helen Wearing-Smith

I love the concept of this for a class teacher, and it would work for a Relief teacher (which l am) but it doesn’t really promote considered responses… I use THINK (is it true?, helpful at this moment? Important right now? Necessary right now? Kind? ) within a day most students begin to improve, if you remind them to go through the THINK mantra, stopping at the first “no”.

Helen Wearing-Smith · Feb 1st, 2021

Paul (Teach Starter)

Hi Helen,

That’s a good tip! Thank you for taking the time to share that feedback.

Paul (Teach Starter) · Feb 1st, 2021

Emma James

Did this with year 5/6. Worked amazingly, fabulously well! The only change I made was that if you lost all 5 of your buttons you would lose five minutes of your recess time, as my class are chronic blurters. They’re all very excited about their big reward, which will be Dodgeball ^_^

Emma James · Oct 28th, 2018


Hi Emma! Thanks for your great feedback. It makes our day to hear about your classroom experiences with our resources! I love your idea for extending this activity even further. Have fun with the Dodgeball game!

Bronwyn · Oct 29th, 2018

Lorna Neilson

Just thought I’d let you know this has been a great success with my Year 3 blurters. I started Week 3 and quickly managed to get from 7 persistent blurters to 3 in the first week. Even the stubborn ones managed to retain at least one or two buttons every day and as time went on wanted to hold on to as many as possibles. We calculated each blurt button everyday to see how much learning time was lost due to blurting and this also helped the blurters focus on learning rather than putting their hands up and calling out anyway. Our aim was to finish the term with a movie as a reward which we did. I’ll be starting Term 4 with the same system.

Lorna Neilson · Oct 3rd, 2018


Hi Lorna! Wow, I’m so glad to hear you’ve had success using our Blurt Buttons in your classroom! Thanks for the lovely comment and all the best for Term 4.

Bronwyn · Oct 3rd, 2018

Jo Brooks

Thanks for the great idea. I can’t wait to try this with my class.

Jo Brooks · Sep 17th, 2018


Hi Jo,
Thanks for your lovely comment. If there is anything I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kristian · Sep 19th, 2018

Clarissa McCreadie

Love the idea. Do you have any suggestions of texts for a year 4 class, that includes boys?

Clarissa McCreadie · Sep 7th, 2018


Hi Clarissa, thanks for your comment! You could try “My Mouth is a Volcano” by Julia Cook. I think the illustrations would appeal to both boys and girls.

Bronwyn · Sep 7th, 2018


What a great idea! I have been toying with the idea of something similar for my very chatty kindergarten class. I thought of doing a tattle monster box so that they can write down all of their tattles, but the problem is that they can’t write well enough yet to be able to write out a slip. So these buttons may come in handy!

Emma · Sep 6th, 2018


Hi, Emma! Thanks for your lovely feedback. I’d love to hear how your little ones go with their Blurt Buttons. Have a great day!

Bronwyn · Sep 6th, 2018

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