Hot Tips & Topics

We are dedicated to providing you with a comprehensive collection of relevant and up-to-date K-12 education news and editorials. For teachers, by teachers.

Spice Up Your Class Rewards

Mrs. Mimi's Chalk Talks

Here we are, quickly approaching winter. This is the time of year when I routinely feel

a) so sick of inside recess and the resulting afternoon of madness that I could scream,

b) like I have million things to cover and oh-my-goodness where did the time go and

c) bored to death with my prize box. 

 I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you are bored by your routine, blah, been-sitting-in-the-treasure-chest-since-September prizes, so are your students. 

And let’s be real with ourselves. Do you really feel like spending a million dollars to rejuvenate your stash of prizes? I mean, one can only scour the dollar aisle at Target or the 99-cent store looking for deals so many times. 

Related Articles
High school students exiting the school throwing papers in the air.
With the school year coming to a close, providing closure for students is...
Young girl smiling and wearing headphones while using a laptop.
Delivering quality education to students through eLearning can be difficult....
Young girl writing notes while looking at a laptop with open books around her.
With the move to eLearning, educators must find creative ways to keep student...
Two young boys reading a book together in their elementary classroom.
Differentiated literacy instruction is vital in elementary classrooms to reach...
Young boy working at a table listening to a video lesson with his teacher and classmates.
Remote learning can make assessment of student learning more difficult but not...


Whether you believe in bribery or not, classroom prizes can be a big motivator for some kids. I always struggled with the whole idea of rewarding a student who had an impossibly hard time focusing on their class work yet had finally had a breakthrough, with a toy designed only to distract. It kind of seemed like shooting myself in the foot.

So, I tried to fill up my prize box with low-cost prizes that were also related to school success but still cool enough to be considered “fabulous” by my students. I wrote the prize in a funny way on a scrap of fancy paper, folded it up, and viola! You’ve got yourself a mountain of new prizes and a brand new Treasure Chest filled with Wonderful. 

My Favorite Class Rewards:

  • Free time in the art center – Set up the child quietly in a corner of the room with a medium of their choice, but a time of your choosing. 
  • Free computer time – Headphones help to keep your prize-winning student quiet and the rest of your students focused. 
  • Lunch date with the teacher – We can all sacrifice one lunch a month for a date with our students. If you don’t want to spend money on a pizza, just have them bring their lunches up to eat with you. That’s special enough.
  • A day of warm fuzzies – The winning child got to carry around a classroom stuffed animal of their choice all day AND take it home that night.
  • Free time with a math game – The big winner could choose a partner, a quiet place in the room and their favorite math game.
  • Free partner reading time – Choose a friend, choose some favorite books, grab a pillow and snuggle up in a quiet corner.
  • Class Photographer for a Day – This works if your school has digital cameras you can sign out or if you have one of your own. The prizewinner gets to spend a day snapping photos of their friends, and their favorite parts of the school day. Think about imposing a number of photos as a limit. Print out the photos and give them to your student to arrange at home or some time to display them at school.

These are just a few ideas, but I think you get the point. If you hype it up enough and make your ideas really original, you can find a million ways to make your prize box fun, exciting and relatively cost free!

What are you favorite class rewards, prizes or student incentives? Share in the comments section!

Today's Poll

Which types of articles would you like to see from us in 2020?
Classroom Management
Classroom Activities/Games
Teaching Strategies
Technology in the Classroom
Professional Development
Total votes: 257