There is no doubt that children respond to rewards. The key is finding the right kind of rewards that don’t break the bank, yet keep motivation up. Teachers spend enough of their hard earned money already. Filling those treasure boxes with dollar store items can add up. It’s time for teachers to save their money and use alternative methods.
We all want our children and students to develop intrinsic motivation. Moving away from store bought items is a step in the right direction. Kids don’t need more “things” to add to their pile at home. Store bought items are exciting to get, but they quickly lose their “uniqueness” after they are received.
The key to success here is thinking of rewards for kids that are creative, fun, and make a lasting impact. Giving rewards that create moments and have meaning is what matters and what sticks in a child’s mind.
Below are 5 Creative and Cost Effective Rewards for Kids.
1. Praise and kindness
Praise a child when they do the right thing. Tell them descriptively what they did well. Give compliments when their actions and choices are the right ones. They are more likely to do those things again if they see and hear from an adult they trust that they did the right thing. Smile and be kind to students even on bad days. They look up to you and they want and need to see that you like them. Children are more willing to try and do the right thing if they feel supported and valued. Kindness and praise go a long way.
HOW: This type of rewards does not require any prep, but it does require acknowledgement and possibly a change in your thought process. Smile and say “Good morning!” to all of your students at the door. Make a plan to say something nice to each student at least once a day. For those students needing a bit more help and encouragement, make it a point to intact positively with them twice a day or more! Work hard to fill those invisible buckets!
COST: $0 and the positive results are endless!
Coupons are the perfect versatile reward system. Reward any behavior or accomplishment of your choice any time of day. When a child does something positive, they earn a coupon from a coupon box or drawers. Give children a choice of what coupon they would like to have. The coupons says things that children enjoy doing. They say things like “Wear Shades” or “Lunch with a Friend” or “Special Supplies”. Students love choosing what is important to them. Each coupon is motivating and fun.
HOW: Make an anchor chart of your classroom expectations and rules. Reward students who follow the guidelines with coupons daily. Whatever your class is working on or improving, use coupons as a motivator. Give the quietest students at the carpet or the student who solves a problem independently a coupon. Surprise students with coupons out of the blue when they deserve it, work hard, or try their best at something.
COST: There is only the initial cost of buying the coupons, printing and laminating them, and buying a coupon box or drawer organizer. You can try a free coupon pack to see how your students like it. Coupons don’t cost a thing once your materials are organized. They require some planning and time, but the enjoyment of getting and using them is limitless. Getting to pick their own coupons and experience fun at school is the reward.
This class management method is incredibly simple to initiate and effective for whole-class goal setting. Every time a marble is dropped into the jar, the class is one step closer to a predetermined reward. The goal is to fill up with marble jar. Students work together with their classmates to listen, work hard, and follow classroom expectations. They are rewarded at first with the marble in the jar and later with the class chosen reward. It’s the “hard work pays off” mentality. Success is achieved when everyone works together towards a common goal.
HOW: Have a class discussion about team work and working cooperatively towards a group goal. Create an anchor chart together and have students suggest ideas of whole class rewards. Encourage students with ideas such as getting extra recess, having a dance party, or going outside for a picnic lunch. Have a vote as a class and let the top choice be the whole-class reward once the jar is full.
Create a list for yourself of the time of the day that you will use the marble jar. Put the jar somewhere visible to everyone and easily accessible. Marbles make a sound every time they drop into the container. The sound will draw students’ attention to what is happening and remind them of what they are working towards. Remark to students how full the jar is getting as you add marbles to motivate them further. Once the jar is full, celebrate with your class.
COST: A few $ dollars at the dollar store to buy a few bags of marbles and a clear jar or container.
Students need recognition to know that what they are doing is right. Especially at school. Certificates are one way to give validation. Go a step further from praise and kindness. Let students know they have done a great job and to keep it up. Certificates are tangible and something to hold. They serve as a keepsake. Children often take them home to share with their families and post on their bedroom walls. They are a source of pride.
HOW: Decide what actions and behaviors warrant certificates. Ask yourself when they will be given, how, and to whom. Certificate rewards are great for celebrating milestones, such as reading achievements, having a birthday, or losing a tooth. They are equally special at the end of the year during a class awards ceremony led by the teacher. Prep the certificates ahead of time and organize them together in an accordion folder.
COST: Getting the certificates, paper, and ink are the only costs. The positive feelings are completely FREE!
5. Brag Tags
Brag Tags are mini versions similar to certificates. Brag Tags are given out at various times of the year to celebrate school events and to recognize achievements along the way. They are small and kept together on a chain necklace or binder ring. Classes may hang their tags together as a symbol of pride. Children love to collect them and to see their collections at the end of the year.
HOW: There is a bit more involved in preparing Brag Tags. You will want to print and laminate a class set of each type you plan on giving out ahead of time. There are many drawer organizers available that can hold Brag Tags in an organized fashion. Plan a way to give the tags out and how you will add them to their necklaces or rings.
COST: You will need white cardstock or colored paper, a printer, laminator, a heavy duty paper trimmer, a box with drawers or display shelf to house the tags, and chains or binder rings to hold the tags. Once you have your supplies ready to go, the excitement can begin! Consequently kids will feel so special as their collections grow!
FREE Creative & Cost-Effective Rewards to Try
Click both of the images below to grab your free reward coupons, Brag Tags, and certificates!
Do you use rewards? What are your favorite rewards for kids?
I hope the ideas above will save you money, let your class have fun, and leave everyone with good feelings inside!
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