Food Rewards, Part II–Fun and healthy alternatives!

Parents and babysitters everywhere are rejoicing! The school year is just around the corner and so I thought I’d revisit an issue that I’m rather passionate about–food rewards in the classroom. Last school year, I wrote a post about how food rewards can have an opposite effect than intended for students with Type 1 Diabetes or any food allergy or dietary restriction. I’d like to follow that up with ideas for alternatives because rewards in the classroom are important. If used correctly, they can motivate students and give them something to work toward by rewarding good behaviors and successes. So here’s my top ten list of classroom reward ideas, none of which include food or candy!

  1. Free Homework Pass–ah…who doesn’t want a day off from homework? This is great for younger and older students!
  2. Extra Recess Pass–for the younger kids! Arrange the extra time with another class and reciprocate for that teacher’s students! Or use as a whole class reward when the entire class meets a goal, such as meeting a reading goal or passing a test.
  3. Classroom Helper/Teacher’s Pet for a Day–all ages can help by passing out class materials, giving instructions for assignments, etc. Ask the student what she/he would like to do to help out!
  4. Spirit Day–If the entire class meets a goal, host a spirit day for the class–funky socks day, crazy hat day, dress as your favorite book character day…the kids will come up with a lot of creative and fun ideas!
  5. Free iPad/Game Time Pass–Allow the pass holder to use the classroom iPad during down time.
  6. Movie Time–If the entire class meets a goal, reward the students with a movie one day. Let them vote on the movie selection!
  7. Local attraction coupons–Ask local businesses to donate free passes or discount coupons. Great ideas include bowling, skating, miniature golf, batting cages, and more!
  8. Funky school supplies–Keep a stash of fun erasers, pens, and other items kids of all ages might enjoy–after holiday sales are a great time to stock up. ABC catalog and Oriental Trading also have great deals when you buy in bulk. Keep a treasure chest in class for those reward occasions.
  9. Auction Day tickets–One of Cole’s teachers hosted an auction at the end of every grading period. Throughout the period, students would receive tickets for good grades and good behaviors. At auction time, the teacher asked parents to donate items and the kids used their tickets to bid on items. Hands-down, this has been the most successful rewards program Cole’s experienced. He loved it! It also teaches students about consumerism and economic value!
  10. Water/Snow Day–in warmer climates or toward the end of spring, host a water fun day if the entire class meets a goal. Pick up water shooters for a $1 each at the dollar store, as well as some water balloons. Hook up a sprinkler and let the kids have fun! On snowy winter days, allow the kids to have recess or play time in the snow. Have a snow sculpture contest–even the older kids will love this!

What other ways do you have for rewarding children in school? Share them in the comments!

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