This post may contain affiliate links. You pay the same and I get a small commission. Yay! (Please see my/our full disclosure for further information.)
PBIS. If you have read my blog for more than five minutes, you know that I love PBIS. And I use it. A lot. Why? Because positive reinforcements work.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t address when students are doing something wrong. It just means that you make a big deal about the students doing a good job.
Positive reinforcement is all about students earning rewards.
You can take this as far as you want to go, but buying candy for every good kid every day can get really expensive really fast.
Here are some things that are quite cheap (or free!) that your students will love a work for!
Side note: These are all intended to be for individuals, not whole class. If you want to know more about systems for behavior management in the whole class, you can check it out here.
Free Positive Reinforcements
- Class leader: Students get to be an example, get first pick at a game, get to hold rhythms cards, you name it and students want to do it.
- Instrument of the day: I’ve seen music teachers give out “green cards” (I talk about it here) to students doing a good job, and they get to play the instrument of the day at the end of class.
- Class coupons: I have not tried this, but it sounds like fun. Students can earn coupons for whatever—getting to pick a game, not wearing shoes, chewing gum in class, etc.
- Parent phone calls: Calling students’ parents when they are good is THE BEST. The kids love it. The parents love it. You build relationships and it puts you in a super great mood.
- Lunch with the teacher: You can have students come and eat lunch in your room. I’ve never done this, but I’ve heard good reviews from other teachers about this.
- Notes: Send home a hand written note! Holding something tangible makes a huge difference, and students can show their parents. You can scribble them on a piece of paper, or you can download these free notes in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
- Music Buddy: Students can hold a stuffed animal or puppet during music class.
Cheap Positive Reinforcements
- Cheap candy: No discription needed.
- Kids’ Meal toys: If you get kids’ meals at fast food restaurants (like I do!), keep the toy and put it in your treasure box. My mom also saves these for me when she goes to Chickfila.
- Marshmallows: Super weird, but it works. Especially the giant ones. I use this mostly for getting students to be quiet with positive reinforcements.
- Cereal: Kids love food. And with little kids, they will work hard just for ONE piece of cereal. Which means this can last forever. I also like to get these huge things of Goldfish from Amazon.
- Pencils: Kids are always in need of pencils. And they can be super cheap.
- Erasers: Kids also need earasers! And they love the cute ones, even when they are little.
- Stickers: Enough said. Get a ton on Amazon here.
- Notes: I put this in two places, because if you want them to be cute, you have to spend a little money. I like these, because there’s a ton and they are blank. You can also look in the Target and Micheal’s dollar sections because they always have cards there.
Other ideas for keeping cost down
- Not everyone needs a reward: When it comes to positive reinforcement, they do not all need a reward. Especially the older students. With 4th and 5th grades, I do a drawing. I see students for a week at a time, so I have them put their names into en envelope when I see them doing something good. On Friday, I pull out three names for students who get to go to the prize box. That way, I am only giving out six rewards a week. That is a lot less money than giving something to everyone. And it makes it a little more fun, because there is an element of surprise. This would NOT work with kindergarten though. But they just need a piece of paper or a piece or cereal or a sticker or something.
- Keep a box: Once you have a prize box, you will be shocked how much stuff you can stick in there. Random art supplies, little things that someone gave you (you’re a teacher, so surely you need all of these random things, right?), etc.
- Piggy Back on teachers: If the classroom teacher has a system, you can help with that. We have a school wide management system where students earn “Gotcha tickets” which are exchanged for a Dojo point. They earn access to events with their points. This is what I give out 99% of the time. Then I supplement with other things.
What’s in my prize box?
Well I have two. Here is my regular prize box:
Then I have a “big” prize box that comes out near breaks…
So those are a few ideas! I like to stay in the free sections of positive reinforcements. I give out the previously mentioned tickets, the cards from my TPT store, stickers, and experiences. I make students earn their games and instrument time (that we are going to do anyway). And then I raffle off prizes to older students.
What do you like to use in your classroom? What is in your prize box? The possibilities are endless, so let us know your favorite in the comments!