Classroom rewards can be an effective way to motivate students and reinforce positive behavior or academic progress. When designing a reward system, it’s essential to consider the age group, individual needs, and cultural background of the students. The most effective reward systems are those that are consistent, fair, and promote a positive classroom environment. Additionally, make sure that the focus remains on intrinsic motivation, as external rewards should complement the joy of learning and personal growth. It’s essential to celebrate and recognize all students’ efforts, whether big or small, to foster a supportive and encouraging learning environment.
I love to find awesome classroom management ideas. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a commission for purchases using my links. Below are some ideas for classroom rewards for student behavior and academic progress.
Classroom Reward tokens and incentives
These classroom rewards are tangible items that you can purchase in bulk to give to your students incrementally, through reward systems.
Erasers in a mini gumball machine: Store pencil top erasers in a mini gumball machine as a reward for students. You can change the settings to no-coins if you wish and spray paint it to match your classroom theme. One benefit of having students use coins to purchase their own erasers is that it can help to deter students from tearing or cutting erasers into little pieces.
Scratch Off Cards: Use scratch off cards as secret rewards for your students. When they pick out of the prize box at the end of the week, they can have an option to pick one of these cards instead. Put prizes like “lunch with the teacher”, “bring a stuffed animal to school”, “pick 2 prizes”. Things like “Lunch with me”, “friend of my choice”, or “teacher chair for a day” can be way more valuable to them than a treasure box prize. This is a great way to have cost free prizes in your classroom. The scratch of part usually comes off perfectly when scratched, the card is thick and sturdy so they shouldn’t tear.
Large stickers: If your students love collecting large stickers, you can have lots of large 2″ stickers on display in a pocket chart, and give them out as rewards at the end of the week for good behavior. Keeping them on display is like having a carrot on a stick for them to stay motivated during the week to ‘earn’ the sticker of their choice. Note: students love the water bottle stickers like these, but you must check through them first! Typically, you might have to throw out two or three out of the two hundred. It is a good deal because you get so many classroom reward stickers for just a few bucks.
Croc Shoe Charm incentives: Many students wear crocs and they love collecting charms for them. This pack of 25 assorted minion shoe charms is a good choice for classroom rewards as they are of good quality.
Squishies: Squishie toys are loved by students but they can be a choking hazard. However, they are still very popular as classroom rewards.
Certificates and Awards: Create certificates or awards for specific achievements, such as “Most Improved Reader,” “Outstanding Team Player,” or “Kindness Ambassador.”
Stickers or Stamps: Younger students often enjoy collecting stickers or stamps on a chart as a visual representation of their progress. See how you can manage your sticker collection in this blog post.
Reward Ticket Coupons: A first grade teacher used my free reward tickets template to create a reward jar in her classroom to reward good behaviors. Anytime a student is on task, working hard on an assignment, or helping out a fellow classmate, their name goes on a ticket. At the end of each day, she pulls a name from the jar and that student receives a prize. Teachers can design coupons that students can redeem for privileges or classroom rewards, such as extra computer time, choosing a game for the class, or sitting with a friend during lunch.
Classroom Points: Implement a point system, like punch cards, in which students can earn points for positive behavior or academic achievements and exchange them for rewards from a reward catalog.
Personalized Notes or Letters: Write personalized notes or letters to students’ parents, praising their child’s behavior or academic efforts. This teacher mail note set has pre-set options for you to select the positive behavior that students displayed.
Classroom Rewards that do not require spending money
These classroom reward ideas only require planning and effort, not money.
Verbal Praise: Simple and effective, praising students verbally in front of their peers can boost their self-esteem and encourage positive behavior or academic efforts.
Classroom Privileges: Offer privileges like sitting in a special chair, choosing the next class activity, or being the line leader for the day.
Extra Free Time: Allow students to have extra free time at the end of the day or during recess as a reward for good behavior or completing their tasks.
Homework Pass: Provide a homework pass that allows students to skip one assignment or get an extended deadline for a specific task.
Team Competitions: Divide the class into teams and reward the team with the most points, positive behavior, or academic improvement with a special activity or treat as a classroom reward.
Special Recognition Board: Have a board in the classroom where you display the names or pictures of students who demonstrate exceptional behavior or academic progress.
Positive Phone Call Home: Make a positive phone call to the parents or guardians of a well-behaved or academically successful student.
Special Events: Organize special events or activities, such as a movie day, game day, or themed party, as a reward for the whole class.
Grand Gesture Classroom Rewards for Students
Chair of Honor: Each week, choose a different student to be seated at a designated honor desk that is called the ‘chair of honor’.
More ideas like this will be added as I find them.
How to store and organize classroom reward tokens
Tangible classroom rewards, like tokens, can be stored in classroom toolboxes, treasure boxes, rolling drawer carts, or plastic modular storage drawers. I created more blog posts about each type of storage for you to see examples of roller carts, drawer carts, plastic modular drawers, and how teachers are using them for classroom storage.
Flat classroom rewards like stickers and punch cards can be stored in pocket charts, or in zipper pouches within binders. It is explained in this tutorial post all about how teachers can store reward stickers. They can also be stored in the same ways that teachers store their bulletin board cutouts. See some examples in this blog post.
While classroom rewards can be motivating, they should not become the sole focus of a positive classroom environment. It’s crucial to continue fostering a culture of learning, growth, and intrinsic motivation where students understand the value of their efforts and progress. Additionally, make sure the rewards are fair and accessible to all students, regardless of their background or abilities.
More ideas for classroom rewards will be added as I find them. Do you have a new way to reward your students? If you have, please share about it in the comments. Teachers are the ones who innovate and think up the most creative solutions for their classrooms.
If you have any questions, you can ask me anything in the comments below.