The one with simple DIY classroom incentives

DIY Classroom Incentive

As a type B teacher (and also as a part of my classroom philosophy), I like to think less is more. Most of the year, I’ve done a simple class incentive, FUN FRIDAY. We earn letters for working hard, persevering through a challenge, and being complimented by other adults in the building. Once we’ve earned the letters, students choose a reward like a snack, indoor recess, lunch bunch, or game time like Blooket. 

This works *most* of the school year. Occasionally, I need to switch it up, especially after a classroom management reboot. (Read more about those here!) 

Here’s what we do: (I’m using “we” because I work with my students on this)

  • Choose goals. Reflect on our class norms and decide what we’re struggling with. I try to stress the positive in goals, but it’s not always possible. Some of our goals included: using hand signals, asking to go to your locker, being kind to each other, no teasing, and not interrupting during small groups. 
  • Determine the reward. Every class is motivated by something different. Since this was bigger than our typical Fun Friday, I wanted them to have a bigger reward. When we did our snowman, we earned hot chocolate and pajama day. We added that we needed to finish in 9 days because we wanted to be finished before our winter break.
  • Make a visual. The visual is something I have to make, but I have no problem giving my class choices. Student choice goes a long way for buy in. I do make sure our options are inclusive. For example, several students wanted to make a Christmas tree when we did this in December, but I pushed for a snowman because not everyone celebrates Christmas. Whatever the visual is, they can earn parts by completing each goal. Other ideas include: drawing a rainbow where each color is a different goal or a thermometer where they’re “on fire” with their behavior.

To make the visual, I doodled a snowman, but you could also easily look up directed drawing or use a piece of clip art and cut it up into pieces. This was how I sketched out my snowman and came up the the plan. Scroll down through the images to see the process! 🙂

Snowman Classroom Incentives
Used anchor chart paper, markers, and a laminator to turn my doodle into a full size snowman.
To go with the snowman, I printed our goals on sticky notes and covered up each part of the snowman that we earned.
This was part way through our challenge.
I forgot to take a picture once we were finished, but this was what the snowman looked like after I cut and laminated it.

There are two big goals for this incentive: switch it up from the usual to get students attention and give students specific behavior goals to focus on. It helped us to make through a bumpy (and exciting) December. I will definitely be doing this in the future and share more ideas! No matter when you need to switch up that incentive, simply follow the steps- choose goals, determine reward (and timeline if needed), and create a visual for tracking.

Need to work on a full classroom management reboot before your incentive? Download this free guide to help you facilitate a reset of your classroom. P.S. There’s a DIY Incentive Planning Sheet bonus included!

Classroom Management Reboot

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