Home » What to do About Tattling in the Classroom

What to do About Tattling in the Classroom

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If you’re a teacher, you know the tune. The familiar tune of “Ms.___, so and so “fill in the blank!” might really irritate you. Or maybe you’re one of those teachers who is more patient and smiles when a student does the sing-song of tattling. If that’s you, I applaud you. I had to go a different route.

A few years ago, I bought a small digital recorder, named it “Bob,” and taught the class how to tell Bob their problems instead of me.

This worked out really well for a couple of reasons, but the main was that, after Bob lost his novelty, students learned that the person they were essentially trying to get in trouble, didn’t and they didn’t get that sneering satisfaction most of them were looking for (neener neener, neener neener). So, I only ended up getting a few students who actually had something to tell Bob. And, since it was a digital recorder, I got to save them on iTunes and laugh about listen to them years later. Then, I lost Bob and decided not to replace him and just go a different route.

I got a beaver (our mascot) stuffed animal and a spiral notebook and had the kids write their problem to the beaver. That pretty much nips it in the bud for a lot of kids (especially ones that hate to write!). You can do the same, or just buy something like this (reallygoodstuff.com).

But, a couple of years ago, I discovered one simple tool to use: a book.  Well, that and a discussion.  At the beginning of every year, I read the AWESOME book, Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal by Jeanie Franz Ransom. We discuss the sound of  a tattle, the 4 instances from the book that you should tell an adult (our school identifies these as “Big Problems”) and all of the “Little Problems” that don’t need adult help.  I give situations and the class identifies each as a “Big” or “Small” problem.  This book really has been a lifesaver. In the past, I’ve done a few different things, but nothing seems to end tattling faster than reading this book (and consistently reminding them “Is that a big or small problem? Did you use an I-message to the person you are upset with before you came to me?”).

Or this one, A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue:

There are plenty of ways to curb this habit and save you more time for teaching/learning and less time putting out little fires. Is there a great tool or activity you use? Comment below! I’d love to hear about it!



  1. August 28, 2013 / 12:32 am

    Genius! I used to have a tree in my room…"The Tattle Tree". They would walk over to the tree and start tattling. After a while they figured out they looked really silly and quit doing it. I like the writing idea.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. August 28, 2013 / 3:33 am

    I've used a Snitch stuffed animal before and I only had a few who would take the time to write in the book, but boy were they funny to read. I will definitely be checking that book out…I absolutely hate tattling! I did a lesson on I Statements today, but I think the book would really help everything click.
    The Traveling Teacher

  3. August 30, 2013 / 4:18 am

    Great idea! Tattling drives me crazy! I ordered the book as soon as I read your blog.
    Debbie K.
    Always Primary

    • September 4, 2013 / 6:16 am

      Yay! I'd love to hear if it works for you! Come back after you've read it and let me know how it went 🙂

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