Countoons: A Tool for Self Monitoring

  • Situation

    I teach elementary students in a resource room. It seems like I have a few students who repeatedly talk out or need constant prompting to get to work. Do you have any strategies I might use that could help…I am struggling to keep it together.

  • Summary

    Teaching a self-monitoring system to your students can help change their behaviors. Countoons are a tool that can be used to have children monitor and record their own behavior. Countoons uses stick figures and picture icons to model the appropriate behavior that your student should be exhibiting and it also show the unacceptable behavior.

    • Start by creating a simple visual Countoon with an icon for the inappropriate behavior, an icon with the appropriate behavior, an icon which depicts the reward your student can earn by practicing good behaviors and finally add a tracking measure such as smiley and frowny faces.
    • Identify a motivating reward such as a favorite book, toy, or game that your student can earn by exhibiting good behaviors.
    • Choose a specific time of day to implement this program, explaining and modeling to your student how the system will work.
    • Start by setting the success criteria low to show your student that they can be successful early in the process, encouraging them to strive to meet their goal. Gradually increase the expectations as your student becomes proficient with the program.
  • Definition

    Countoons (originally developed by Kunzelmann, Cohen, Hulten, Martin & Mingo, 1970) are cartoon versions of recording devices that students use to count their behaviors. Countoons are a simple visual representation of expected behavior and inappropriate behavior and a contingency for earning a reward. Students are taught to use the tool to self monitor their behavior. An in-depth description of Countoons can be found in the article Using Countoons to Teach Self-Monitoring Skills by Patricia M. Daly and Patty Ranalli.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13
    • Planning Effort: Moderate
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Pre-requisites

    visual representations at the skill level of the students

  • Process

    1. Identify the inappropriate behavior that you want to decrease and the appropriate behavior you want to increase.

    2. Identify a reward the student can earn and the contingency for earning the reward.

    3. Explain and model for the student how the Countoon works

    4. Practice using the Countoon with adult guidance.

    5. Identify a time to implement use of the Countoon.

    6. Remind the student what s/he needs to do to earn the reward.

    7. Implement the Countoon and revise as needed.

    8. As appropriate behaviors increase, make decisions for fading the use of the Countoon.

  • Documents and Related Resources

    Using Countoons(PDF)


    Practical Ideas for Students with ADHD (website link to book)


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