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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. 

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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!