Basic English, Intermediate English

All Aboard! A game to encourage positive behavior

all aboard!

I’ve used variations of this game in several different classrooms. The students really enjoy it, and it definitely helps to modify their behavior. Throughout the school day, students can move their team’s boat forward along a game track by showing agreed-upon desired behaviors. As the boats pass markers along the river, the students receive rewards for their progress. The game works through positive peer pressure – students work in teams so they encourage each other.

The main things you should know about All Aboard are:

  • It works alongside your normal classroom routine.
  • This isn’t a game that you play once and then forget about. It’s an ongoing behavior management tool that you can use and refer to at any point during the school day.

  • It’s non-competitive (sneakily)
  • Although this game looks competitive, it isn’t. All students will finish and get the same result at the end, but some will get their results quicker than others. It’s fair – all students receive equal reward for equal good behavior, just not necessarily all at the same time.

  • It gives students a sense of control
  • I’ve found that students are far more likely to work towards rewards they have chosen themselves, and stick to rules they have suggested themselves.

  • It’s temporary
  • Long term, the best way to ensure good student behavior is to make sure that students are engaged, motivated, and feel confident in your classroom. Sometimes though, we all need a little help. All Aboard works best for a short, set period of time when everyone needs a little boost. That way the novelty doesn’t wear off, and you can bring it back again later in the year.

    Here’s everything you need to use All Aboard to improve your students’ behavior – click the thumbnails to download each component of the activity.

    Step 1: Display the game track

    There are three pages to this game track – a start page, middle page, and end page. You can print as many copies of the middle page as you like, depending how long you want the game to be. Then put the game track together and display it in a prominent place in the classroom, like along the top of the board.


    Step 2: Define target behaviors

    Have the class brainstorm a list of behaviors that they would like to see in others. For example – ‘use a quiet voice when I am working’ ‘help me out when I am stuck’ ‘tidy up after yourself’. As a class, come up with the top 10 target behaviors, list them here, and keep them displayed. Each time you see the students showing these behaviors, you can move their team’s boat forward to the next flag on the river. I find this also works well if you use the students as extra eyes and ears – they can tell you when they see someone else (from a different team) showing the target behaviors.


    Step 3: Choose rewards

    Every action has consequences, and positive actions have positive consequences. Have your students brainstorm a list of positive rewards that they think classmates should get when they show positive behavior. I suggest starting them off small by giving a few suggestions such as ‘choose a sticker’ or ‘line up first for lunch’ so they don’t get too carried away! Write each reward on a signpost, and then place the signposts at various points along the river. When a team’s boat passes a signpost, everyone in that team gets that reward.


    Step 4: Choose teams and get started!

    Groups of about 4 students work best. Have each group choose a team name and a team boat. Write the team name on their boat. Keep a reference list of who is in which team! Place each team’s boat at the start of the river. Throughout the day, whenever you see students showing the target behaviors you can move their boat one space forward along the river. Depending how long you made the game track, it can take between a day and a week for all the teams to reach the finish line.


    Thanks for looking at my resources! How do you manage student behavior in your class?

    Freebie Fridays


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