A little spur-of-the-moment idea that has surprisingly turned out to be halfway effective.
First Serendipitous Idea – Popsicle Stick Warnings
Initial Situation: A rowdy group of K-6 graders who refused to be attentive (or anything resembling it) during story time. We wanted to put a discipline procedure in place but everything was too confusing and ended up being more distracting than the misbehavior in the first place.
Good Idea: Each kid gets two popsicle sticks representing their two warnings before ultimate punishment (i.e. no candy and/or removal from the group). Each time someone is disruptive, the teacher or helper simply takes a stick away. No need to speak to the offender, stop the teaching time, etc. In our situation we gave each kid who had kept at least one of their sticks a piece of candy following story time. Optional: we have also allowed kids to earn sticks back occasionally.
Room for Improvement: As boring as popsicle sticks are, kids still find different ways to amuse themselves in distracting ways. They can hit them together, drop them on the floor, mini-sword fight… I have yet to find an alternative, however, that is as equally boring, inexpensive, and durable.