As teachers, we spend enough on classroom decor, books, and supplies. The list goes on! Add a treasure/prize box to that list, and you have racked up quite the bill every year!
That's why I said goodbye to my prize box and really got to thinking, what rewards can I offer students that won't cost a thing?
Benefits of Rewards in the Classroom
Not every student is intrinsically motivated. But, wouldn't that be nice! Extrinsic motivators like prizes can do a lot for your classroom environment. Here are a few benefits of rewards in the classroom:
- Many students need something to work towards
- Exercises student choice
- Opportunities to learn about students depending on the reward
- Keeps students engaged and motivated on the task or goal
A lot of classroom management strategies rely on students working towards a common goal. Let's think of Classroom Management Bingo, for example.
The students need to work on transitioning quickly and quietly, so a bingo game is started. Once they get a bingo, they earn a reward. Are students motivated to transition quickly and quietly on their own? Probably not. Are students motivated to transition quickly and quietly so they can earn a game day? Absolutely!
Classroom Management Games Bundle
This bundle comes with all of the classroom management games to keep things fun and engaging to help your students stay engaged and focused.
Resources included in the bundle:
-Classroom Management Bingo
-Classroom Management Connect
-Classroom Management Tic-Tac-Toe
-Classroom Management Money Deal
-Classroom Management Unscramble
-Classroom Management Crack the Code
Rewards that don't cost a thing are especially great for whole group or small group prizes. Prizes for multiple students quickly add up and deplete the treasure box. Here are some classroom management strategies where free rewards really come in handy:
Rewards that Won't Cost a Thing
Some of the rewards below can work for the whole group, a small group, or individuals. Other reward ideas are better as individual rewards only. Use what works for you!
For quick and easy management:
- Create a choice board for individual students to choose from when picking their reward.
- Provide a list of 5 options for group rewards and have students vote!
This may not be the most groundbreaking idea, but (most) elementary students LOVE a special lunch opportunity. It's simple; the student gets to eat lunch with you in the classroom, outside, at a special place in the cafeteria, wherever you decide!
Sweeten the deal by allowing the prize recipient to choose a friend to bring to lunch. It can be a friend from the class or another grade-level class even!
This reward has HUGE benefits because you get the opportunity for some quality time with just one (or two) of your students. You can learn so much about them in those 20 minutes, and your relationship will be that much stronger.
Bring a Game from Home
Students earn a day to bring in a board or card game from home. You can make this an individual or a whole group reward. Designate a day for the student(s) to bring in the game. Individuals can choose a friend to play with at the end of the day or schedule 20-30 min. where the class gets to play the games they brought.
Students can choose a special spot for the day. They could choose to sit by their friend, on the ground with a clipboard, at a flexible seating option, or even the teacher's desk!
Choose a brain break for the class! GoNoodle is a super fun FREE website for popular dances, workouts, yoga, breathing exercises, and more!
Trade Jobs/VIP for the Day
If you have classroom jobs, the student can trade jobs with someone for the day or be the VIP for the day.
Change the Doorbell Chime
Something a little silly, but students love having the opportunity to change the doorbell chime for the day.
Bring a stuffed animal to school for a day! (Be sure to check your school policy on this first!)
The student reads a book to a lower grade level. Maybe a sibling's class or previous teacher!
A coupon for a homework-free night/week.
Choose a Class Read Aloud
The winner chooses the read-aloud for the morning meeting or the end of the day.
Pass on the pencil and choose a special pen or marker to use on all work for the day!
Show & Tell
The winner brings an item from home to show the class (give some guidelines like no live animals!)
Extra Recess/Free Time
What kid doesn't like extra recess??
Tik Tok with the Teacher
Learn the latest dance trend with your students!
Arts & Crafts
Use supplies you have on hand and let kids get creative! Extra drawing time is always a fan favorite.
Rewards don't have to break the bank! We have so many options already in our classrooms. Get creative and have fun!
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