Want to promote success or good behavior among your students? While intrinsic motivation is critical to social and emotional learning (SEL), sometimes external, extrinsic rewards are just what students need to go the extra mile.
But you are busy and budgets are limited, and we understand that finding effective (and inexpensive) student rewards can be a challenge. If you’re looking for rewards students will respond to, here are six affordable — sometimes free — ideas that will motivate students to do better in class.
- Reward Passes
These make students feel special and only require a few minutes of prep. Students might enjoy rewards passes that allow them to:
- Sit with a buddy
- Wear a hat in class
- Earn bonus points on an assignment or quiz
- Chew gum
- Eat lunch in the classroom with a buddy
- Turn in a homework assignment late
Bonus tip: Feeling crafty? Turn rewards passes into DIY scratch-offs to add to the fun. Students will love the surprise!
- Treasure Box
Repurpose an old shoe box into a treasure chest students can dig through when they’ve done great work. Simply decorate it and fill it with candy or small $1 trinkets.
- Brain Bucks
Promote intrinsic motivation among students using brain bucks! Hand these out when students solve a problem in a new way, or when they find a creative solution for accomplishing a task. Students can redeem their Brain Bucks for prizes or rewards at the end of the quarter or term. Click here for a free Brain Bucks printable.
- Free Time
Allow students to have 10 minutes of free time on a 1:1 or BYO device, with a book, or simply to themselves while the rest of the class completes other tasks.
- Call Home
A simple call to a parent or guardian is not only a powerful way to reward students, but it also helps foster strong relationships between students, educators, and parents — an integral component of social and emotional development.
- Class Rewards
If an entire class is behaving exceptionally well or has worked through a particularly difficult assignment, reward them with a party, whether it’s snacking on cupcakes, eating pizza for lunch, or enjoying popcorn and an afternoon movie. Or, hold class outside for a day to give students a break from the classroom.
Have fun trying one or more of these inexpensive ways to reward students for great work or behavior! Intrinsic motivation is critical to SEL, but extrinsic rewards are an effective way to get students excited about learning. Strive to promote both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for the best results.