Rewards and incentives

I try to remember to tell the kids how awesome I think they are when they do a good job. I find that this is the best way to reinforce their good behavior.

Compliments are a great reward

  • The more specific the compliment, the more effective it is. Like, “Sammy, I like how you pushed in your chair and came over to your spot on the carpet for group time right away! Thank you for listening and following directions quickly.”
  • I always try to use the reward system that is already in place for a class. Sometimes it is a clip chart, table points, or points for girls vs. boys.
  • I also try to have extra rewards available to motivate the kids when those systems are not working so well.

Small items that can be handed out

  • Stickers, pencils, mechanical pencils, erasers (especially the little ones shaped like animals) and coloring pages can be nice rewards.
  • Some days I pass out tickets to kids that are doing an outstanding job following directions. I have them put their names on the ticket and then put it into a small container that I can draw from at the end of the day. There are usually several “winners” that get to choose one of the rewards that I have brought with me.

More reward ideas

  • I have seen coupons used as a reward system and I am thinking about making up my own set to hand out. Buddy passes, sharing time, first choice passes for workstations/ free choice time, first to line up, and choosing a friend to eat lunch with are some ideas for the coupons I am going to make.
  • I recently picked up a class set of finger flashlights and I plan to use them as a reward activity. I may make it a recurring choice if classes are having a great day where they can do “Lights Out” reading using only their finger flashlights. I plan to hand them out before the activity and then collect them at the end so that I can keep using them for other classes. I think this will work best for 3rd grade.
  • Another item that I will be using soon is a class set of glow in the dark witches fingers that kids can use for tracking while reading. I think these will be fun for 2nd and 3rd graders to use just for the day. I plan to collect them at the end of the activity to use for another time as well.
  • Giving kids extra recess or showing a short video (like a Berenstain Bears show or an episode of Arthur) have also been great ways to motivate good behavior. It depends on the schedule and school, but I have found that they both work well for Kinder through 3rd grades.
  • 4th and 5th graders really like free time, so for them I like to have extra activity pages or games available.

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