Simple Classroom Management: The Magic of the Australian Flag

Need an easy classroom management idea you can implement TODAY? Use Australian Flags along with the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day as a classroom management strategy. These work wonders with 2nd and 3rd grade students!

This idea goes along with the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and comes from a fantastic college professor of mine.  In his room, he had a table reserved as “Australia”.  If one of his students was having a bad day they could go work at the Australia table for a few minutes until they were feeling better.

Don’t have room for an entire Australia table?  No worries! Just use mini Australian flags.  You can either stack them on a counter or put them on your white board.  Not much room needed at all.

Not only is this a simple management tool you can use all year, it’s a perfect mini-lesson and read aloud for the first week of school! 2 birds one stone!


Australian Flag Classroom Management Instructions:

*Read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
*Discuss times students have had horrible days – during the school day, or before school even starts where events outside of school have affected how they feel when they get there
*Show students the mini flags (or your Australia table if you’re lucky and have a ginormous classroom with tables to spare) #unlikely  
*Brainstorm reasons students might need to use the flags – a difficult morning at home, feeling frustrated with schoolwork, had a fight with a friend at recess
*Set expectations proactively  

  • Where should students put the flags on their desks? (In the corner on top so you can easily see it and come check in with them to make sure they’re ok)
  • How long can they keep one? (Less than an hour usually – if something is making you sad for longer than this you probably need more help than a flag)
  • When should they put it back?  (As soon as they start feeling better so the teacher knows they’re on the mend)
  • Can they live in Australia? (Nope! Not metaphorically anyway.)
  • Can they get up any old time they want to grab a flag? (If it’s not distracting – at the carpet during a mini-lesson is NOT a good time to get a flag!)
  • Should they spend all day choosing which of the (exact same) flags they need to take to their desk? (Nope. Take the one on top of the stack.  They’re all the same for goodness sake!)
  • Should they congregate around the flags after recess instead of getting started on their after recess task? (Heck no!  If there’s a big recess issue the teacher will know about it anyway.)
  • Should they give fiendish stares to another student in the class who may be causing the Australia emergency? (Nope again.  Just put the flag on your desk, take a few deep breaths, and know that your teacher will know something is up.  No fiendish stares in this classroom my friend!)

By the end of your mini-lesson and eventful Q&A students should know the basics: if they are having a bad morning/recess/feeling sad/having some sort of other undisclosed mental emergency, they can go get an Australian flag and put it on their desk.  However, we do not live in Australia.  If we feel constantly sad, there are special doctors called therapists who can help us.  Flags are for times we need a little break and want our teacher to know (quietly) that we are feeling sad so he/she can check in with us and make sure we’re going to be alright, because our teacher loves us and wants to make sure we are happy and safe at school. πŸ™‚

Need an easy classroom management idea for the elementary classroom? Use Australian Flags along with the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day as a classroom management strategy. Would work great in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade.

I love using this simple strategy! Australian flags give students an immediate way to show you they’re upset, and are a great reminder for you to check in with them when you have a chance.  It’s so easy to just keep on keepin’ on with so many things to do that it’s nice to have a visual reminder!  Two seconds after recess ends is NEVER the best time for mental check-ins, so these give students the power to show you they might need a bit of extra love while not needing to wave their cute little arms in your face while you usher 29 other little kidlets in from the playground. #exhausting

Australian flags can also be a great tool to tell parents about at conferences.  If a parent happens to mention that their child is feeling upset or frustrated with a classmate and feels as if you should be noticing said frustration, tell them all about the flags and ask their child if they’ve been using them. (You did introduce them on the first week of school after all).  You’re not a mind reader (you’re a Super Teacher!), but you can see a flag if one of your littles puts it on their desk.

This simple strategy has always worked really well in my classroom, although there have been a few times I’ve had some fiendish stare-ers who needed a reminder or two on appropriate flag usage. These work especially well for shy students who might not want to talk about exactly what is bothering them immediately, or for students who need time to process before talking about something that is bothering them.

If you are short on time and don’t want to make your own flags/poster, check out my TpT product that includes 8 different posters and 3 different styles of flags.Β  Just print and go!

I hope you can use this idea in your classroom.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

If you’re interested in more ideas for simple summer projects, or items you can make or buy for your 2-3 classroom this summer to help save some sanity in the fall, head to the Summer Tasks for Teachers Post HERE.

*If you like my blog please consider using these links for your online shopping. This means when you click on these links I earn a small percentage of any purchases you make, but the prices stay the same for you. Thanks for helping to support my blog!*


  1. I like this! I'm using a stop sign as something similar with just one student, but I like that any student can use this!

    Do you have a few kids that seem to 'live' in Australia? I might have to find some cheap sand timers or something to go along!

    Excited to follow you!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  2. I have definitely had a few little cuties who wanted to move to Australia permanently :), but I try to give some disclaimers about this when I introduce the flags at the beginning of the year. If someone needs a perma-flag then we usually have some one-on-one chats and they're good to go.

    Thanks for following me! I'm following you too.

  3. This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing.
    Following you! I'm a brand new blogger as of….today!



  4. I'm your newest follower and I love this Australia flag idea! My kiddos love the Alexander stories, but I've never thought of this. Such a great idea! πŸ™‚


  5. Katie, I forgot to mention that I use this book at the beginning of the year and tie it into part of my classroom behavior and setting rules for the year. After reading the book, we discuss what kinds of things that might happen in a classroom that would make for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at school. Then we talk about the opposite – what we need to do to have a wonderful, great year in 3rd grade.


  6. Anonymous says:

    haha I wasnt sure what to think about naughty kids getting sent to Australia but I assume it is to do with the book. πŸ™‚ I guess most of us Australians are here because we were naughty in the first place (convicts) ……funny, not offensive

  7. Anonymous says:

    Where can I get this?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I might make an American table for my Aussie class lol

  9. Anonymous says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Love this! I have a little corner in my room that is not used for anything, so I am in the process of turning it into Australia! I am making a eucalyptus tree to attach to the wall, posting pictures of Australian animals, as well as calm down techniques and the zones of regulation. I am making a glitter water bottle timer that I will float mini koalas and kangaroos in. When they need a break, they can go to Australia to calm down. They shake the bottle when they get there, and when the glitter settles they can rejoin the class.

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