August 21, 2019

Low-Cost and No-Cost Student Rewards

We all know that student rewards are a necessary part of successful classroom management. But how do we keep things rolling smoothly without going broke? Easier said than done, I know.Here are a few things I’ve used over the years, as well as some interesting ideas I’ve run across recently.

Earn a movie.

I usually use the behavior points to let the class earn this as a group, and try to set the activity aside for the end of the day. I either use a video from my own collection, the school library, or ask one of the students to bring in a good one that we vote on ahead of time. This is usually a big reward that doesn’t come along every day. They have to have MAJOR points to earn it. It’s also helpful if you can schedule it on a day when you have lots of admin stuff to do, such as set up for open house, get ready for conferences, calculate mid-quarter reports, update cum files, etc.

Free homework pass.

This works at all except the very young grade levels. You can do up a bunch (4 or 6 to a page) and run them off for the whole year. Just fill in the student name and date, then sign your name.

Free time or recess.

Again, this works for all levels. I prefer ideas that do so, because as someone who has spent most of my career overseas accepting various grade level assignments, I need a professional “bag of tricks” that I don’t have to reinvent every time I move or switch grades.

A structured class game.

Outdoor and inside games apply. Just choose something appropriate to your grade level.

One more chance pass.

Ran across this idea quite recently. It’s similar to the homework pass, but is used for kiddos to get themselves out of a situation caused by a lapse in behavioral judgement. Even the well behaved kids need these from time to time. I love this idea and think it has major potential. Just make up a bunch like you would with the homework passes and have them available for individual rewards.

Take back a bad grade pass.

This was from the same place I saw the one more / second chance pass idea. Usually, I drop the lowest grade for the kids in each subject area at the end of each quarter anyway. But this would be a great replacement idea, so they don’t feel they are entitled to that extra bit of help. Keep some photocopied ahead of time and you’ll be set for the year.

Erasers, pencils, individual candies.

These fall into the low cost rather than the no cost category. I pick them up on super sale or ask the PTO to help me out. It’s really helpful to have them on hand some days, particularly at the beginning of the school year and when you get back after winter break.

A stamp on the good behavior graph.

These are inexpensive charts and your school or PTO should have no problem providing them for you. One chart can get you through an entire quarter, and a miniature rubber stamp that fits in the small squares is WAY less expensive than getting stickers. There is also very little prep to this. You just put each student’s name on their own line of the graph and write the title at the top. . . done. A good place is on the inside of the classroom door.

I hope these ideas are helpful. When I first started teaching, I thought I had to have a reserve bank of reward ideas that was a mile long. That really isn’t necessary. A few for group rewards, a few for individual, some larger, some smaller . . . it will be more than enough to get you through the year smoothly.

Photo Credit: P.P. Digital

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